December 3, 2013

Honeymoon in Turkey - Ephesus, Troy, Canakkale

We had a few family and friends that were concerned about our trip to Turkey considering that Syria was located in the south, but during our entire trip not once did I feel unsafe.  I was expecting to see lots of military trucks or personnel on the highways or patrolling the roads, but the only time I saw any signs of the military was when we drove by the NATO headquarters in Ankara or by any major financial / government institution or national monument. 

I'll admit, I had my reservations about traveling to Turkey, but I'm so glad I did.  Now I know why it's a favorite of one of our most well-traveled friends, and I can say it's mine too.  If anything, visiting Turkey only made me want to be more adventurous in our choice of travel destinations.  Hopefully one day we can add Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan to the list.  

Library of Celsus in Ephesus, built in 117 A.D.

Home of where the Virgin Mary supposedly spent her last days, also in Ephesus

Wall near the Virgin Mary's cottage where people can write their hopes and prayers

Theatre near Troy

Replica of the Trojan horse in Troy

Town of Canakkale

At the Canakkale port, waiting to board the ferry to get to Gallipoli

December 1, 2013

Pamukkale and Kusadasi, Turkey

I would have to say that visiting the Cotton Fortress in Pamukkale and lounging by the Aegean Sea in Kasadasi was the highlight of my trip.

En route to Pamukkale, we visited the mausoleum of the Sufi philosopher Mevlana.  Sorry, not pictures were allowed inside, but it's definitely a sight to visit.  

Beautiful sunset near our Pam Thermal Hotel in Pamukkale.

I know...totally confusing.  Um, do you swim or ski?  That's not snow btw, it's calcium deposits from the mineral waters.

More of the Cotton Fortress.  I've never seen anything like it.  And the views from the pools are spectacular with the mountains in the distance.  

I was speechless when I got to this hotel in Kusadasi.  They literally have a cart full of refreshing fruity drinks and hand it to you the minute you arrive at the hotel.  I highly recommend the Charisma Hotel- just blew me away.    

The infinity pool from the Charisma Hotel.  That's Greece in the background.

The infinity pool at the Charisma Hotel located by the Aegean Sea.  Full moon out that night.  Peaceful, quiet, perfect.  

Sunset from the balcony of our room at the Charisma Hotel.  That's one of many cruise ships in the distance, 
no doubt heading for Greece.  

November 29, 2013

Day 3 and 4: Cappadoccia

Ah, I'm back from a hiatus and finally I can continue to write about my amazing trip to Turkey.

Cappadocia was one of the highlights of our trip.  The moon-like rock formations of the Red Valley, Goreme fairy-chimney houses, underground cities of Saratli, and the 9th century caravan hotel we visited were all fascinating.

It's funny, when I told co-workers my husband and I would be honeymooning in Turkey, everyone had a strange look on their face that said, "Why Turkey?"  And now all I can think of is why hasn't anyone told me about this amazing country sooner?  Now I know why our most well-traveled friends and family highly recommended visiting this country.  Given that you have the time and money, how can you not?

Goreme fairy chimney houses


Red Valley - The name of this spot would probably have more meaning if I took this picture during sunrise.

Camel rides offered to tourists, for a fee of course.

Catching a show of the Whirling Dervishes in an underground cave.  

Local women selling handmade dolls in Saralti, an underground city. 

A souvenir shop in Goreme

September 29, 2013

Day 2: Bosphorus Cruise and Ankara, Turkey - Mausoleum of Ataturk

Day 2:

After an early morning cruise on the Bosphorus, we headed for the capital of Ankara to visit the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk- the First President and the Father of Turkey.  

A fortress built in 1452 by Sultan Mehmet the conqueror

After our cruise, we drove on the mausoleum in Ankara. 

Steps leading to the mausoleum were purposely made this way.  You're forced to look down so you don't trip, but at the same time you are keeping your head bowed as you approach the Mausoleum of Ataturk.

Views of Ankara from the Mausoleum

September 28, 2013

Traveling in Turkey

I just arrived from my honeymoon in Turkey - a 10 day whirlwind in which we visited Istanbul, Ankara, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Kudasi, Troy, Gallipoli, and cities in between.  I was a little apprehensive about coming here when all the political turmoil in Syria was making headline news, but I'm so glad I carried on and flew to this AMAZING country. Turkey has many UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it was humbling to have an opportunity to visit a few of them as well as their many other ancient sites.

Having visited Italy in 2009, I thought I knew what the definition of ancient was.  But in Turkey, ancient is more like 5000 BC.  What surprised me the most was how much ingenuity people had in 3000 - 5000 BC. I saw armory and intricate, embroidered costumes - it was just mind-blowing.

Below are pictures from our tour of Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque- just unbelievably spectacular

The Blue Mosque

Topaki palace

Topaki palace

Topaki palace

Views of Istanbul from terraces of the Topaki Palace

Hagia Sophia Cathedral - unfortunately the pictures don't do justice

The madness of the Grand Bazaar - we were told that the Spice Market is a lot better, though smaller in size.  Sadly we didn't have the time to visit.

Views of Istanbul from the Conrad Hilton hotel.  

June 23, 2013

My gray and lavender palette wedding

In terms of decor, I'd have to say my favorite elements were the gray satin linens we used and the white satin sashes used on the Chiavari chairs.  I took a chance on the gray satin linens; I knew it would be an odd choice of color for a Spring wedding, but I was having Picasso's version of his Blue Period.  Mine was just gray.  

My fiance at the time wasn't crazy about the sashes on the Chiavari chairs and figured people would just cover them with her coats and jackets, but I thought they added a nice elegant touch to our very rustic venue.  If anything they made the banquet room pop.

 Wedding favors- Chantal Guilon's macarons, from what our guests have told us, they're as good as the 
historic macaron shops in Paris.  

Menus my fiance and I created 

We named our tables after our favorite San Francisco hang-outs and international cities, and included a small blurb describing its significance to us as a couple.