Ankara’da

20181103_134559.jpgI am long overdue for an update, I know.

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I will spare you the boring details and get straight to the good stuff.

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After nearly four years of living in Turkey, I FINALLY made it to the capital city of Ankara.  A good friend of mine invited me to spend the weekend with her there (it’s her hometown) and show me around.  I didn’t have too many expectations, but what I found was a charming city with an abundance of good restaurants (I’m looking at you, Quick China!), cafes, shops, and TREES!

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I started off my trip by stuffing my face with the best Asian cuisine I have ever managed to find in Turkey and tucking in for some much-needed sleep.  I am still dreaming about the körili ramen.

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We started off the morning by heading to Atakule, which is a mall/giant tower from which you can get a pretty nice view of the city.  The orange and yellow leaves were a welcome sight.  We don’t get to see many green spaces in Istanbul, so we often feel homesick for that fall aesthetic.

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We stopped for a quick coffee picnic on a hill overlooking Seğmenler Park, which was gorgeous and peaceful and reminded me of my college days (picnics = cheap food and entertainment).

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My favorite part of the trip was wandering through the alleys in Ulus.  The traditional Anatolian architecture blended with cool vintage vibes and we happily spent a few hours strolling through artisan shops and taking frequent coffee breaks.

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On Sunday, before catching our train back to Istanbul, we stopped for a long, leisurely breakfast where I had a delicious cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing (again – not common in Turkey, which made it extra special).

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Ankara, you were a delight.

 

Belgrad Forest (Belgrad Ormanı)

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After two weeks of being stuck on campus for various work obligations, I was desperate to get out for the weekend!  We decided to venture out to Belgrad Forest with our friend for a last dose of autumn before winter rolls around and to get some fresh air.

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It’s strange that such a sprawling city has this amazing slice of nature right beside it.  I absolutely love the city, but having been raised in a small town in the country, it was so refreshing to escape the crowds and to take in the smell of damp leaves as opposed to the usual combination of smoke and garbage.  We were also blessed with a beautiful day on this outing – no rain and just the slightest cool breeze.

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When we first walked in, we felt a little out of place (it seemed that this was a place mostly reserved for couples to make out or to take pictures together); however, once we got past the entrance and off onto some of the smaller trails, we were able to explore without accidentally elbowing any young lovers.

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We were very excited to find some pretty red oak trees that had been imported from the States.  Look at those leaves!  Also, my friend and I accidentally color coordinated with said leaves.

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I love him.

Besides frolicking through the forest, our main weekend activity was to eat like kings!  I had a third trimester food baby by the end.  We had Chicago style hot dogs at Shake Shack and a massive Lebanese brunch at Tahin.  We thought we were doing pretty good on Sunday when we opted for a vegan lunch, but we pretty much ended up pigging out there as well.  It was all just so good!

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The highlight of the weekend gluttony was a FABULOUS little Italian joint on the Asian side called Semolina’s.  They had delicious bruschetta and all kinds of fettuccine, all of which tasted like the real deal.  I got the fettuccine puttanesca, which was amazing and also reminded me of The Bad Beginning, which in turn reminded me of the Netflix series that is coming out soon!  Ahhh!

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I’ll have to make up for a lot of slacking this week, but I think it was worth it.  In just one more week, we’ll have finished up our first term of the year, which seems insane.  Bring on the Fall Break!

Chasing Fall

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I may or may not have had two pumpkin spice lattes

Sweaters, boots, bright colored leaves, cold air, Halloween, the promise of a new school year, and pumpkin everything.  I love it all.  Fall has always been my favorite season, for so many reasons.  Unfortunately, few places seem to be able to match the cheery vibrancy that an American fall captures so well.

When I first moved here last year, I kept waiting for the leaves to change and the fall spirit to soar.  It didn’t.  What I found instead were grey skies, lots of rain, and a lot of mopey people.  No Halloween, no pumpkin patches, no cider mills.  It’s really just not the same.  Honestly, this is the time of year that homesickness hits me the hardest.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give for my long break to be in October and November instead of July and August.

I don’t want to fall into a rut the way I did last fall.  This year, I’m determined to get into the spirit, even if the weather doesn’t exactly match.

Here are a few things I’d love to do to make this season a little more snazzy:

Make some home-y fall recipes.  I’m thinking pumpkin pie and lots of chili.

Decorate.  My husband and I plan to get crafty this weekend and make some Halloween decorations and watch scary movies.  I can’t wait!

Play with yarn.  Nothing says fall like cozying up with my crochet needle and making some cool scarves.

Find some foliage.  I need colorful trees in my life!  Turkey is mostly pine, but we’re thinking of heading to the Belgrad Forest once it cools down a bit more around here.  Also, I’m strongly considering a weekend trip out of the country before the season is over…I’d love to go to England or Scotland!

Make a playlist.  My music taste definitely changes with the seasons.

Any other American expats out there who miss this time of year?  I feel like it just isn’t the same anywhere else.

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Apple picking, back in the college days