Kyiv

img_4803

Gold-domed churches, pastel colors, a thriving art scene, autumn leaves, and any kind of food you can imagine – these are only a few things to love about Kyiv.

img_4773-animation

It has been pretty warm in Turkey, so we were ready for a little cold weather.  The pastel buildings and bright-colored leaves were a welcome sight – we even got some snow!  Fall and winter in one trip.

img_4751

To be honest, we didn’t plan much (aside from our Chernobyl trip, which I’ll save for another day).   We were content to walk around the city and play things by ear.  We are in the process of interviewing for jobs for our next big move and I am also taking Master’s courses this year, so we needed the flexibility.

img_4792

The architecture was unlike anything we had seen before – particularly the churches.  We spent a whole day walking around the cathedrals.

img_4953

1900 – great coffee!

My favorite day, however, was the day we spent doing nothing but walking around the city in search of the best food, coffee, and bars!  We started at about 9 a.m. and didn’t get back to our hotel (very full) until midnight.

img_4961

img_4966

A personal fave was Nikolay’s pies!  These homemade pies were the perfect comfort food on a cold day and they had both sweet and savory pies.  A must-try if you are in the area.

img_4974

We also sampled several chocolates (and grabbed a few for the road) at Lviv’s handmade chocolates.  The coffee and sea salt dark chocolate bar is to die for.

img_4994

We also found a cool gastro pub called Dogs and Tails where they serve fancy hot dogs, fries, onion rings, and any cocktail you can imagine.  Pictured here is the Kiev with pickled cabbage, avocado, and a sweet and tangy sauce.  The homemade ketchup was bomb.

img_5010

We rounded out the night at a cool witch-themed bar which might have been the coolest bar I’ve ever seen.  The drink you get is determined by the cards you draw.  Our cards represented the element of fire, meaning big changes are ahead for us..

img_4989

As if the cool architecture and great food scene aren’t enough, quirky Kyiv is also extremely budget-friendly.  Seriously, it’s crazy cheap, yet it rivals almost any other European city I have visited.  If you haven’t been, it’s time to add it to the list.

img_4815

Ankara’da

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

IMG-20181102-WA0003

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

IMG-20181103-WA0015

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!

IMG-20181102-WA0004

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.

20181103_125141

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.

IMG-20181103-WA0009

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).

20181103_144212.jpg

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.

20181103_164316.jpg

IMG-20181103-WA0024

IMG-20181103-WA0030

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).

20181103_175451

Ankara, you were a delight.

 

A Little Taste of the Cotswolds in Castle Combe

20180823_160248You can never go wrong with narrow streets, quaint houses, cafes, and great pubs.  Castle Combe – a veritable Shire –  did not disappoint.

20180823_154604

20180823_155042

Logistically, it is not the easiest place to get to, but we managed.  If I were to visit again, I would probably rent a car.  Still, there are bus connections most days of the week – you just really have to watch out for the times because they are infrequent.

20180823_154046

20180823_151853

20180823_150138

20180823_151058

If you are looking for excitement, you won’t find it here – but that’s okay.  It is enough just to be, to wander the cobbled side roads and wooded paths, enjoy the mossy green surroundings, and perhaps stop for a great pub meal or two and a cream tea.

20180823_151848

Bath

20180821_165113

Of all the places we visited on our trip to England, I think Bath was my favorite.  The stunning architecture and scenery took my breath away from the moment we stepped off the train.

20180821_151027

20180821_160229

We started off with a lovely afternoon tea at the Jane Austen House.  I felt like a fanciful Mrs. Darcy as I not-so-elegantly stuffed scones with clotted cream into my face (yum!)

20180821_162054

After our spot of tea, my sister and I went to the Thermae Bath Spa to soak in the thermal waters that initially drew the Romans into the area when the city was founded.  Talk about a perfect day!

20180821_171610

20180821_164603

20180821_165038

20180821_164848

We watched the sun fade along the water, walked by the abbey, and did a little souvenir shopping before catching the train back to our place in Bristol.

20180821_144430

20180821_165205

Bristol, U.K.

20180820_155815.jpg

After exploring London for a few days, my husband, sister, and I decided to base ourselves out of Bristol so that we could explore more of the English countryside.  While it’s a great base to see places such as Bath or Stonehenge, Bristol in and of itself is a very cool city worth a visit.

20180820_155328.jpg

I am a huge fan of street art and Bristol has it in spades.  Home to the famous street artist and political activist, Banksy, the street art scene there has exploded in recent years.

20180820_155245.jpg

20180820_154647.jpg

20180820_155518.jpg

20180820_155701.jpg

In addition to a cool street art scene, there is a big demand in Bristol for people to shop local; as such, there is no shortage of unique shops and restaurants to discover.

20180820_160135.jpg

Words to live by!

 

London

20180817_161836-EFFECTSAs a self-proclaimed Potterhead, London has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.  How it took me this long to get there, I have no idea, but I was lucky enough to finally make it happen and even luckier to have my sister along for the ride.

20180817_185538

We stayed in the adorable neighborhood of Hackney – highly recommend!

This was her first big international trip and I was so excited to share the experience.  We hit the ground running after she landed with all of the main tourist sites and started the next day with a very cool (and very nerdy) Harry Potter walking tour, where we got to see various film locations and the parts of London that inspired some of the magical locations as well (shout out to the real-life Diagon Alley!).

20180819_150640.jpg

20180818_145852

The street that inspired Diagon Alley!

20180818_150608

…and Knockturn Alley!

I had really hoped to catch a show while in London, but alas – the two shows I wanted to see most were sold out.  I still grabbed photos of the venues, if somewhat bitterly.

20180819_145053.jpg

20180818_162433.jpg

We met up with a good friend and former colleague for some drinks at a super cool roof top bar, indulged in Cornish pasties, wandered through as many neighborhoods and parks as we could manage, and shopped until we dropped (I don’t think I will ever see a bookstore that tops Foyles!  They really had everything!)

20180818_161801.jpg

20180818_200319.jpg

20180819_161325.jpg

It was a really great start to an awesome adventure.

IMG-20180823-WA0005.jpg

American Summer

20180628_155526Greetings from the U.S. of A.  This is my third summer back in the motherland, and for once, I was able to celebrate the 4th of July in all of its smoky, sparkling, fiery glory.  The first leg of our whirlwind journey took place at my grandma’s house in the country, complete with family, sweltering heat, a DIY frisbee golf course, and way too much food.

20180704_201018

20180704_202515 20180704_213810

My husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary in the nearby town of Yoder, a tiny but thriving Amish community.  My dad and stepmom surprised us by renting out a chicken-coop-turned-Airbnb for the night and I think it might be the cutest place we’ve ever stayed.

20180628_155449

I visited my sister in Kansas City, where I tried some amazing coffee shops, hung out at a great arcade bar, read books by the pool, and watched some old childhood favorites on Netflix.

20180707_123613.jpg

20180707_131252.jpg

I discovered a board game cafe in Wichita, tried my hand at some marketing for my mom’s boutique in Manhattan, relaxed at my grandpa’s lake house, and circled back to the beginning to pack it all up and say goodbye.

20180714_204329.jpg

20180730_203242.jpg

It was all really great, but something hit me this summer:  I feel more like an outsider in my own culture than I ever have.  Perhaps it’s just the stress of the last year or a symptom of the ever-rising political tension.  As great as it is to be home with friends and family, I’m realizing more and more each year that it feels less like home.  I guess reverse culture shock rears its head at every expat now and again.

IMG_0364

Until next time, America!