Köszönöm szépen. Mulţumesc. Thank you.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's Miccs time!

For those of you who do not know what miccs are... these be them...

For those of you in Romania that know what Mici are, meet the Hungarian spelling.

When the weather is fine, it's time to whip out the grill and cook (not so thoroughly) these little sausages without casings. Summer has arrived.

Spice Girls, Charlie's Angels, J. Lo, Marry me?

I cannot tell you how ready I was for a break. I needed it. I CRAVED it. I had to satisfy that itch to travel to a new place and just embrace being a tourist. Sticking out. Not trying to blend in or... integrate. :)

Istanbul was the place.

With my backpack packed and my shoes tied tight, I headed to Bucharest. There I met Jon, Abby, and Alex (more PC volunteers) for some Starbucks, Indian food, and some settlin' of Catan. Ah the tastes of home and a former life. Continuing upon this theme, the next morning I met up with Lindsey and Megan at the McDonald's in the Bucharest train station to begin our ADVENTURES IN TURKEY!

But first, no vacation could begin without an icing. Lindsey, unfortunately for her and fortunately for me, fell victim to Megan's Smirnoff and had to take a knee at the fine establishment mentioned before. Well played.

The next phase involved actually getting to ISTANBUL! We boarded our flight with a nalgene of mimosa to begin celebrating Megan's birthday and enjoyed the 50 minute flight that included a meal. That's right. Here's your food, enjoy, and in 5 minutes we'll be back to take it from you. You better bet I scarfed it down, cuz I did.

Guess who's in the Emergency Exit aisle?!
View from the hostel

When we finally arrived in Istanbul, and got settled into our hostel, we decided to take a stroll around the area. We had a great location in Sultan Ahmet close to the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque. These places are very close to each other and it was so surreal to be surrounded by such historical and palatial sights. Our first little stroll around the area took us to the seaside. I had forgotten what it was like to stand next to a large body of water. And even though the Sea of Marmara is not the Pacific Ocean, I couldn't help but think of all the fond memories I have alongside the water. The smell, the feeling of its vastness. For a brief moment, San Diego felt so near. But alas, tis not, and this adventure had just begun. First on the must-do list was celebrate Megan's birthday properly, which was done by finding her a birthday hat and proclaiming through out the streets "It's her birthday!" Along a small side street we were drawn to an art community that offers classes in an old university building. One of the artists showed us a traditional way of ink painting.

Later, we met up with a couple other volunteers to complete our Turkish tour group minus the guide and itinerary. Went out for some hookah and drinks and let the apple tea, pomegranate juice, and *spangles obsessions begin!

Photos from our time touring...

The Hagia Sophia

The Blue Mosque

The Grand Bazar and the Spice Bazar (from whence came the inspiration for the blog title)

 The Cisterns

The Bosphorus


Topkapi Palace

 The Turkish Bath

Just kidding. No photos allowed. ;)

Other things that made Turkey memorable...

Whirling Dervishes.
Fish Sandwiches...
Made on rocking boats.
2 hours in Asia.

It was a lovely vacation with some of my favorite people. And thanks to our flight being overbooked... our next vacation is courtesy of Turkish Airlines. Oh the possibilities...

*Spangles = Pudding 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bits of Timi

Last Winter I met my Assistant Director's children at a cabin. We frolicked with the deer and had some good times. After the long day his daughter, Réka, told me. "Too bad I don't live in Udvarhely, we could have been friends." Well, she does live in Timisoara, which I have come to find is a beautiful city. I promised to visit in the Spring to preserve our friendship, and that I did.

The journey got off to a rocky start with some night trains across Romania. I was accompanied by Kelly, praise the Lord, because we had some... interesting encounters on the night trains. Let me just advise you: when a not-so-sober man offers you a slice of apple, you take it. Especially when said man has a knife in his hand. In that case, also take the onion, garlic spinach mix he offers you. Take it all. Maybe also don't stay in the Arad train station between the hours of 2:00 am and 4:00 am. We arrived in Timisoara VERY early, and in our delirium we could not find the hostel. Once found, things started looking up.

As promised, I met up with Réka for a smoothie (WHAT?! A SMOOTHIE?!?!), and after we took a walk along the river. While we were walking, who should call? Jóskabacsi/Joe! I answered the phone to his surprise, and said to the nervous fellow, "Hello, Joe! It's Meg, and here's Réka!" He, I am sure, was calling "randomly" to tell Réka all the places she should take me and all the things we should do while I am in town. That man has captured my heart.

I have realized that this trip was one of indulgence (mostly in the food arena). When I  travel to larger cities, I indulge. And, let me tell you, simple indulgences for others are phantasmagorical experiences for us volunteers. So let me take this time to describe a sandwich I had in Timisoara. It was a simple sandwich really, but it was made with ciabatta bread. Between the warm sliced ciabatta were thin slices of pastrami lying under a bed of fresh basil and mozzarella. So simple, yet so delicious that we went back and got the equivalent of a "foot long" the next day. I never wanted that sandwich to end. I still think about it... clearly. Just the fact that there was a sandwich shop that didn't just microwave the plastic wrapped piept de pui was magical to me. But fresh basil? Such goodness. Because of that sandwich, the fresh lemonade, the coffee, ice cream, Chinese food, and the baked goodies I can say I really enjoyed Timisoara. Keep my belly happy, and I will love you forever.

Here are some pics!

Piața Unirii (gotta have one)
Of course.
Happy Easter!
And don't forget a souvenir...
 P.S. 'Twas here I chopped off the locks. The Biebs has arrived.