California and its coast

Well, I’m back to my blog writing. It’s been a very busy last few months, as I made the big move to California and started a new job. It’s funny how the entirety of my experiences can be summed up in a single sentence, that somehow doesn’t even begin to explain the infinite list of things to do in order to transplant myself into a new world. It’s starting to settle down, though, so I think this is a good time to get back into my normal swing of things.

I had a particularly relaxing weekend last week, when the boyfriend and I went down to Monterey and Carmel. It’s an area that I’ve wanted to explore for quite a while, but the extra day of the long weekend gave us the opportunity. It was definitely worth it.

Monterey Harbour

One of my favourite things was the coastline. As a Vancouver girl, I’m deeply and madly in love with the ocean, and it’s been a little sad not seeing blue every day. (I have to admit, the blue sky is a nice substitute, though).

Carmel beach

We did the 17-mile drive near Carmel, which I would highly recommend. It’s a loop that goes through everything from extremely fancy houses tucked away in the woods, to golf tees hovering perilously close to cliffside drop offs, to the actual drop offs that turn spectacularly into the beautiful seaside. It’s very easy to stop anywhere for a walk and pictures, which is exactly what we did.




The town of Carmel was also very cute. You could tell it was touristy, but forgave it because it was so charming. We ate some delicious pasta at a place called Yafa – trying to find a restaurant on Saturday night was crazy! We didn’t realize most places were reserved until 8 or 9, but the very nice waiter at Yafa squeezed us in.

The next day, we visited Point Lobos state park, which was also very beautiful. One of my favourite things was seeing sea otters playing far down below in the water. They were too far to photograph, but my boyfriend had to drag me away, or I would’ve stayed there watching for hours.




Later in the day, it started to get really foggy, which made the views both picturesque and a little eerie. Looking out at endless blue and white from on top of a cliff gives you vertigo like nothing else.

The last day, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which I had been extremely looking forwards to. I thought it was a very nicely done aquarium, and they had a special jellyfish exhibit. My favourite were the blubber jellyfish, which seemed to have no other purpose than collide aimlessly with one another, causing giant clumps of rapidly pulsating jellies.


Overall, a really neat trip, and a welcome break from the normal work-weekend schedule. Though this weekend we made homemade cabbage rolls, and I played with my Kitchenaid and made snickerdoodles, so ordinary life isn’t so bad either.

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Izmir and Istanbul

Well, the European part of my adventure is over – I can’t believe it! I’m in Boston now with my boyfriend’s family, and still thinking about our last week in Turkey. As previously mentioned, we found Izmir to be rather boring, and in retrospect I think I would’ve skipped it and spent more time wandering around Selcuk. There were a few interesting sights – namely, the clock tower and the seawall.




They did have the remains of an agora, but it was fenced off and a bit hard to see. For something to do, we decided to take a day trip to Cesme on our second day there. Cesme was actually quite pretty – it’s a little town on the western edge of the coast. We ended up buying some souvenirs there because we found it was cheaper than in the city. Unfortunately, we went on the one day that the castle is closed (Monday), so had to content ourselves with walking by the water.

We did catch a pretty sunset in Izmir.


The final stop in our trip was Istanbul, a city that I’ve heard great things about and that didn’t disappoint. Istanbul is amazing – it’s so full of life and history. One thing I learned is that they have good bonds with Korea, which I was surprised by. They were putting on a Turkish-Korean cultural expo while we were there, so we saw both Korean breakdancing and Turkish folk dances. It was really interesting as a way to see more of the culture.


Most of our visit in Istanbul consisted of sightseeing. Our first day we saw the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, two incredible religious buildings.

Blue Mosque:



Hagia Sofia:



We also checked out the Grand Bazaar, which was enormous and a bit of a labyrinth. Luckily for me, the boy got bored of looking at the stalls and kept track of our whereabouts. The next day, we visited Topkapi Palace, which is also enormous but beautiful. It took us over three hours to walk through everything, but it was worth it.






We also visited the Basilica Cistern, which is underground and used to be the water system for the city. It’s dark, slightly eerie and very cool.


On our final day, we took a trip to the Asian side – just to say we had been – and had lunch, before traipsing back and climbing up Galata Tower. The views were amazing!



Other stops on our visit were the Spice Bazaar and Suleymaniye mosque, both worth a visit. In conclusion, a city definitely worth visiting, and one I will remember for a long time. I do have to admit it’s nice being back in an English-speaking world, though a bit odd.

A final food picture to sum up my trip.


Goodbye Europe, until next time…off to a different adventure!

Oldies but goodies in Turkey

We shifted countries – hello, Turkey! I wasn’t really sure what to expect from here. I think I had a decent picture in my head of what Greece would be like, but Turkey was a mysterious blur that promised cool coastlines and old stuff (my favourite). So far, it seems to be delivering, though our current stay in Izmir has been a little lacking.

Our first stop was Bodrum. We only spent a night here, as it was more of a stopping point on our way to Selcuk. Both the boy and I were extremely sleep-deprived, as we took an overnight ferry and then another ferry to get from Santorini to Bodrum, and I think this affected our ability to sightsee – it was more wandering around in a bit of a haze. My impression of Bodrum was that it had a pretty harbour and seaside, a cool castle (see below for pictures), and not much else. To be fair, we didn’t look too hard for more sights. The castle was about all we could manage.






Oh, and some food.


We then took three buses up to Selcuk. We stayed in a really interesting and unique hostel called Atilla’s Getaway – it’s a ten minute drive from Selcuk itself, but it had a springwater pool, delicious food and was isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city. The highlight of our visit was Ephesus, ruins of a city that were absolutely amazing to see. To me, it topped the Acropolis, which is saying something. Luckily for us, there was a long dusty walk from our hostel to Ephesus that let us see some of the countryside.




Ephesus itself is so, so cool.








These looked like alien space debris to me.


After Ephesus, we headed to Sirince, a small little village 20 minutes outside Selcuk. The highlight of the area was fruit wine, and I fell in love as soon as I tasted it. I’ve decided it’s the best wine I’ve ever tasted.


We’re currently in Izmir, and to be honest, a little bored. After the wonders of Ephesus, Izmir doesn’t seem to have as much to offer. We’re going to take a day trip tomorrow, though, and then it’s time for Istanbul, so I’m sure it’ll pick up. I can’t believe there’s less than a week to go – time is flying by!

Swept away by Santorini

Well, we’ve reached the end of the Greece portion of our trip, and I am writing this from Bodrum, Turkey. The boy and I agree that though we greatly enjoyed Greece, we’re excited and ready to move onto our next country. However, I must dedicate some time to Santorini, which was my favourite Greek destination. Santorini is essentially what you think of when you picture Greek islands – whitewashed buildings standing on the cliff of a beautiful blue sea.


Our first afternoon, we took a trip up to Oia, which is the more “traditional” village. I found it very similar to Fira, just a bit sleepier. The view was astounding, though, and watching the sunset was amazing.





Fira was also fun to walk around, though we got rather lost in the twisty streets trying to find a particular restaurant (figures that’s what we’d be doing). Lots of tourist shops, but the higher you climb, the quieter and prettier it becomes.





We also visited Perissa, a black beach.



Our last day was spent visiting the excavation site at Akrotiri, which was very cool, and made even more interesting because we had already seen a lot of the removed frescoes and objects at the archeological museum in Athens. We then tramped over a small mountain to reach a red beach, which I maintain was red-black and therefore a teensy bit disappointing.





We then spent a killer overnighter on a ferry heading to Kos, then to Bodrum, and are currently both sleep-deprived and ready to hit bed early.

Oh, and how could I forget the food? Santorini was pretty good food-wise, we had some yummy eats.







Destination number two completed – we have conquered Crete! (More like half of Crete, but I like the alliteration).

Our visit to Crete consisted of three spots – Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, and Heraklion. We decided to stick to one section of the island because of limited time, and sadly didn’t see any of the western side – another trip, perhaps. My overall impressions of Crete are positive, but in a strange way I think I was slightly disappointed by the amount of tourism here. In both Agios Nikolaos and Ierapetra, it’s obvious that the entire town caters to the tourists, which leaves you feeling like you experienced zero of the actual local culture. Heraklion is also pretty touristy, but there’s more to do, so I didn’t feel that quite as much. The island itself is pretty cool, though – quite arid, very hot and dry with mountains, but with beautiful crystal clear aqua water that makes you want to fling yourself into it at every moment.

Starting with Agios Nikolaos – we spent an afternoon here, and that’s pretty much all that was needed. There’s a beautiful harbour and bay, and that’s about it in terms of interesting sights.


We actually had a much better time in Elounda, which is a 30-minute bus ride from Agios Nikolaos. Elounda is this sleepy little fishing village, and it was much quieter – perfect for a stroll by the ocean, a drink, and some down time for us.





Our next stop was Ierapetra, which is on the southern side of the island. Ierapetra, like Agios Nikolaos, was very touristy – though we did discover a fortress! Our main activity here was swimming to prevent overheating. We also had a gorgeous hotel here, El Greco, where we had a free bottle of delicious Cretan wine. Does life get better?



The next day we did a day trip to Chrissi (Chryssi?), an island about 45-60 minutes away from the mainland. Chrissi is this entirely deserted island that makes you think of the kind of island people get stranded on – there’s nothing but trees, sand, and breathtakingly beautiful water. We had an awesome day swimming and lounging. Nothing quite like the feeling of being caked in salt for five hours.




Our final destination on Crete was Heraklion, the capital city. Heraklion is definitely much bigger than the other places, and there’s a bit more to do. We saw the Natural History Museum – notable only for its ferocious fruit-consuming tortoise – and the Palace of Knossos, which was very cool. The boyfriend and I couldn’t stop mocking a review we saw on trip advisor, which said “there was nothing to see – just rocks”. Just rocks that are thousands of years old. No big deal.






Palace of Knossos:









Overall, I liked Crete, but I think it’s time to move on to Santorini. Also, I can’t forget my food shots. Food here has been average, with the exception of two meals – veal/baklava in Elounda that was to die for, and a pork knuckle in Heraklion that was delicious.









One week down, and we still want to be together. Yay! Two more weeks to go! :)

A Greek (and Turkish!) graduation

Well, I’m back on the road, trusty humongous turtle bag in tow. It was a tough end of the semester, but I am finally done my undergraduate career! What do you do when you are finished the endless amounts of homework? You take your boyfriend and go to Europe, of course. In my case, Greece and Turkey.


The first stop on our trip was Athens. I had mixed feelings about the city, where the sights are amazing but the city itself feels a bit grungy. Our priorities, of course, were the old stuff. We saw the historical sites, and they were amazing – the Acropolis, Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Ancient Agora – as well as the National Archeological Museum and the Acropolis museum (which, by the way, is one of the most beautiful museums I’ve ever seen – it’s brand new and flawless).








As well, we wandered through the National Gardens – hoping for a bit of shade, as it’s averaging around 35 degrees Celsius a day, which for a poor little Vancouverite like me is blistering hot – the Olympic stadium, Parliament and Syntygma Square. On our wanders, we saw the Changing of the Guard, which has to be the silliest solemn ceremony I’ve ever seen. The guards, who wear giant pom-poms on their feet, perform a rigid set of movements which involves kicking the ground a lot and touching their toes to each other.






Of course, who can forget one of the best parts of the trip – the food! Greek food is delicious.





So far, my favourite food in Athens was moussaka and roast lamb. It was droolworthy. Since then, though, we’ve moved to Crete, where our dinner earlier tonight blew everything out of the water. We just finished day one in Crete – it’s looking promising, as long as we don’t melt from the heat! Also, Greece has an amazing amount of stray cats. They are everywhere. It’s a bit disconcerting to see them attempting to eat food from underneath someone’s table.


I was thinking about blogging earlier, but I haven’t really had much to say – it’s been pretty homework-filled over here. That beautiful sun hasn’t been all so helpful in this regard, as all I want to do is lie in a puddle of sunlight and fall asleep. Preferably in a way that allows me to get a nice all-around tan.

The other thing that’s been taking my time has been sweating it out on my mat. I’m on day 22 on my 30-day yoga challenge. It’s been a really interesting and enlightening experience, which I honestly didn’t expect. I’m the kind of person that feels fat a lot, no matter my activity level or health-food ingestion. I can run for 10k, come home and eat a salad, and still feel obese. I’m finding that yoga is helping, though, in teaching me to just breathe, focus on how I feel in the poses, and try to forget about who is the skinniest in the room and whether I’m working as hard as the person beside me. It was a difficult thing to do at first, and I still succumb to the temptation to peek at other’s warrior 2s, but after 22 days of yoga even I have to admit that I feel healthier – which leads to me feeling better about myself. It also helps with the homework stress. How can you tell I’m a Vancouverite? Obsessed with yoga, sushi, sun and sky…

The other thing I did this past week was make macarons with my mom. We took a macaron making class a few weeks ago, and this was our first crack at them.


We decided to make lemon buttercream and chocolate macarons. They came out pretty well for our first try, but we agreed that we probably overbeat the egg whites because they were a little crispier than we wanted. Macarons are tricky little buggers.



I think it’s definitely a practice makes perfect type of thing, but here is attempt number 1. I am determined to become a macaron queen. In my moments between essay writing.