Sunday, June 28, 2015

A (relaxing?) weekend in Cesme

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If you read the last couple of blogposts, you'll know that after a long struggle to get to Izmir, Mike and i decided to leave and go to the beach for his birthday weekend. You were probably thinking something along the lines of "You worked so hard to get there and now you're leaving?!?!?!"  Don't worry, I was right there with you.  When Mike proposed this little excursion, I wasn't really feeling it either, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

I had worked hard to get there and it had been quite a struggle. All I wanted to do once I got to Turkey was relax.  What better place to relax, though, than the beach?  

So, Friday morning, we packed our bags and headed to Cesme (pronounced Cheshma) for the weekend via bus because apparently we're European now and that's what Europeans do.  The bus was super crowded and Mike and I didn't even get a seat together.  Besides a moment of panic where I thought Mike had gotten off (translation: he had moved seats so we could sit together after a bunch of people got off at the first stop), the bus trip was an uneventful hour where I stared out the window in amazement of the mountains and countryside. Add in a little Spider Solitaire and it was a party.

Since I had bragged about Izmir being on the water, I figured it would be kind of confusing that Cesme is west of Izmir.  So, voila! A map!

The bus driver assured us that the bus went to where our hotel was.  What he failed to mention was that the bus stop was on the side of the road and the hotel was about a mile away.  So we walked. Thankfully, the hotel in Izmir let us leave a few bags with them for the weekend, so we only had two bags each (overpacking much?).  

Mike found our hotel on Hotwire, which meant that he didn't know the name of it before he booked it.  Hotwire tells you the price and the ratings (this was a four star resort for pretty cheap) and you book it.  It's almost always works out.  We (read: me) were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the Altin Yunus.  The rooms were nice and big, the beach was comfortable and clean, and the views were stunning. We checked in, put our bags down and headed to lunch (carrying two bags each can work up a hunger!). 

They had a buffet lunch which was okay, but way overpriced (read: $20 for a salad and some poorly cooked meat).  We finished lunch and headed to the beach where I took a nice long nap basking in the sun.  This was the relaxing part I had been waiting for. And the views.... I mean, really?  

We came back to the room to learn that the Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage! Go Supremes!!  It is amazing to witness such a monumental moment in history.  That being said, we also got to experience our first taste of censorship here in Turkey.  A lot of the articles about the ruling were blocked thanks to Turkish censorship. It was frustrating to not be able to access the news directly, but luckily, Facebook filled me in.  

We had been told that we received free breakfast and dinner at the buffet, so we decided to give it another try. We checked in and got our food.  Again, we were sorely disappointed.  Not only were we disappointed in the food, we were also disappointed to find out that it wasn't free.  After we had finished eating, we received a bill for our meal, which led to lots of arguments in broken English and Turkish. The poor hostess who had to deliver the news that our meal was not free then had to translate for her manager and then for the guest relations person.  We ended up only paying for one of the meals (that was their compromise for the confusion), but left feeling a little more than frustrated.  We would have just gone to one of the other restaurants on the property, or maybe even in to town, but we chose this one because the receptionist had told us it was free when we checked in. We also weren't told that we would have to pay when we checked in, just when we had already finished our meal.  Oh well.  You live and you learn, I guess....

Anyways, after that fiasco, we went to the outdoor bar to grab a drink and listen to live music.  It was beautiful sitting on the docks watching the sun set and listen to the music. 

The next day, Saturday, was Mike's birthday!! He had signed up to go Scuba Diving, so we were up early.  We ate breakfast and Mike went on his way to go diving.  Little did we know that diving in Turkey takes all. day. long.  In the United States, it's like a 4-5 hour excursion and if you leave early enough, you're back around lunch time.  You live you learn. I spent the day relaxing at the beach, walking around the resort taking pictures, and blogging.  Honestly, it was kind of nice, being the introvert that I am.  This week has been exhausting, both physically and emotionally.  It was nice to just have a day to relax and spend the day how I wanted.  Mike was pretty disappointed though because the dives weren't as good as in Hawaii (I mean, that's like saying salads aren't as good as ice cream. Duhhh.) and he said there was a lot of time where he was just sitting around on the boat.

American flag! I may have shrieked in excitement.  We noticed that most of the boats had American flags, as well as Turkish flags.  A lot of them were registered in Delaware. Anyone know why? Fill us in!

On the walk to the beach

The view from our hotel room

and more from the hotel room

After he returned at 7:00 (!!!!), we quickly got dressed and went down to the restaurant for dinner.  We obviously avoided the buffet due to the previous night's ordeal, plus it was Mike's birthday, so we wanted to do something a little bit nicer.

This was when we encountered another mishap.  We went outside and down to the nicer restaurant at the resort in hopes of having the Turkish equivalent of a steak dinner, whatever that would be.  When we got downstairs, we were greeted at the door by the host.  When he asked if we had reservations, we replied no. I didn't think this would be a big deal since there was literally no one there, but he told us that we would need reservations and that we could make them at the front desk.  We turned around to leave when they quickly called us back and told us we could stay for dinner.  I think this was not as much of a cultural mishap as it was a communication misunderstanding.  We (okay, Mike) was trying to speak in Turkish while the host was speaking in English.

View from dinner
The completely empty, but very charming restaurant,

I don't always take pictures with my food (okay only sometimes), but curly fries served with filet mignon called for a food pic. Don't worry, I didn't instagram it (but seriously considered it).
A complimentary cheese platter.  I don't know if it's a good thing (aka more cheese for me!) or a bad thing (more cheese/calories for me!) that Mike doesn't like slices of plain cheese.

After crossing that bridge, we sat down to a nice water view for dinner.  We ordered filet mignons and a bottle of California wine, both of which turned out to be very good.  Afterwards, we got ice cream and were in bed by 10:30.   I know, wild, right?  Maybe Mike was on to something when he said "Twenty Seven is the new sixty."

On Sunday (today), we slept in (jet lag hit HARD last night for yours truly) and slowly made our way to breakfast.  We were going to get massages yesterday for Mike's birthday, but due to the marathon of a scuba diving trip Mike went on, we had to reschedule them for this morning.  We originally had them planned for the same time and I thought I relayed that the hostess when I rescheduled them, but alas, that message was not relayed, so one by one we went.

A massage is a massage in any language and country and it did feel great. The second half of the massage package was to sit in a tub with jets.  As the masseuse was preparing it, she said to me "This will be good for you.  You have problems."  I just smiled and nodded, but thought in my head "If you knew how stressful the past month has been, you'd be happy I'm in one piece."

After Mike finished his massage, we grabbed our bags from the hotel and headed back to Izmir. Despite a few misunderstandings, we had a nice weekend away and definitely recommend Cesme to anyone looking of a weekend getaway in Turkey.

Once back in Izmir, we checked back into the hotel that we've stayed at every time we've been here, the Marriott Renaissance. If you find yourself in Izmir and not at Hotel de Hogan, we highly recommend the Renaissance. We were both here in April, then Mike has been here for the previous two weeks, and now we're here again for another week before moving into the apartment.  I think they appreciated our dedication (and the Navy's money) because we ended up with a sweet (or should I say suite?) room.

We quickly settled into our room and have been relaxing ever since.

Think we have enough stuff?

I think this is their way of saying we're their favorite customers

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Happy Birthday Mike!

Happy birthday, Mike! Can you guys believe this guy is 27?!?!  He's basically an old man.

In all seriousness, happy birthday to the guy who makes me smile the largest, laugh the hardest and makes me me. There aren't many people that I would move to Turkey for, especially considering all that it took to get me here.  You make me do adventurous things, motivate me when I'm feeling lazy or uninspired and are always my biggest fan.  Your sense of humor, love of baseball and general passion for life are just a few of my favorite things about you.

Happy birthday Mike!

Marhaba from Turkey

Marhaba means hello! I'm finally here.  I can't believe it.

Last Friday, I found out that my passport still had not made it to the Navy office that needed to get it, so that meant that I wouldn't be able to schedule my flight until Monday.  Since I was in Virginia Beach, I knew I would need at least 48 hours to get from Virginia Beach to Northern Virginia.  On Monday, I get the confirmation that my passport had arrived, so I would be able to leave on Wednesday.  I probably would have not rushed, except that TODAY is Mike's birthday and I wanted to be sure to be there for it.

Once I got the word that my passport was in, it was a crazy, emotional roller coaster.  I booked a train ticket for Tuesday and arranged to stay with my friend Rachel in Arlington Tuesday night since I'd be getting in so late. I also had to figure out how to get to the base to pick up my passport and then get to the airport.  Luckily, Mike's dad was more than willing to lend his car and drive me to the airport.

When Tuesday finally came, I was a basket case of emotions.  Saying goodbye to my family was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  The memory of me crying on the train as I'm watching my mom wave goodbye still brings tears to my eyes.   Luckily, I had the entire row to myself, so I could just curl up and cry.

The train was late, but I eventually made it to Rachel's.  The next day, the day started pretty early, but I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to pick up my passport and get to the airport in plenty of time. I got to Mike's dad's house, borrowed his car to drive to the base (about a 45 minute drive each way), and picked up my passport. When I walked in to the office to get my passport, I half expected them to be like "Oh, we actually found something wrong with your passport" but luckily, they handed it right over and I said my farewells to them.

On my way back to Mike's dad's house, Mike messaged me to say that my flight was delayed three hours! Honestly,  I was beginning to think this move was doomed.  I had a three and a half hour layover in Munich, but with the delay, it was going to be cutting it close.  Since I had been delayed so much, I spent the entire afternoon hanging out at Mike's house. I thought that Wednesday would be easy since it would be busy and the hard part of saying goodbye to my family was over, but as I sat around waiting, I got more and more nervous.

I got to the airport with plenty of time to check in and get through security.  I was so nervous and kept running into little road blocks.  I got to security, where they check your tickets.  My ticket had the original boarding time (5:30) on it, but it was past 5:30 since my flight had been delayed, so the security people had me stand aside while they checked my flight status. Of course it was fine, so they let me go, but it just added a little tension to my already nervous self.  Then, I was so flustered that I forgot to take my laptop out of my bag as it was going through security, so they had me step aside again as they wiped it down for bomb/gun residue.  I was pretty overwhelmed at this point and glad to get to the gate where I could just sit and mindlessly browse facebook before board.  Once I got to the gate, things went off without a hitch.

I boarded the plane and settled into my window seat.  The flight was pretty uneventful.  I watched Still Alice before sleeping for a few hours.  Once we landed, I knew it was going to be tough to make my connection, but nothing about this move has been easy and I wasn't about to give up now.  Luckily, I didn't have to go through customs, so I could just sprint from gate to gate.  Picture little old me, with two large carry ons, running through the Munich airport. I made it to the gate just in time to jump in line with everyone else and just like that, I was on my way to Izmir.

After the two hour flight from Munich to Izmir, I landed at the airport and made my way through customs to baggage claim.  After grabbing my bags, I exited the airport and saw Mike waiting. I wish I could say this was some joyous reunion (and maybe it was for him), but I was so nervous and overwhelmed that I just hugged him and cried.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think I've ever been so happy to see him, but the other emotions that follow moving to a new country and leaving my entire life behind also presented themselves.

We had to wait about a half an hour for the bus to take us from the airport to the hotel, but we eventually made it on the bus and to the hotel.  By the time we made it back to the hotel, it was 4:00 (Thursday).  We hung out for a little while before going out for an early dinner.  Since Mike has been here for a week, he'd already found an apartment for us! Go Mike!  It's right downtown on the same road as all of the bars and restaurants, so we stopped by on our way to dinner.

Open Concept isn't really a thing here, so the kitchen is pretty closed off, but look at all of those cabinets!! SO.MUCH.STORAGE!

A little blurry, but this is the master bathroom.

This will be the main guest bed room.

All of the furniture in the pictures will be gone, but you can get the gist.  The main common/living room is L shaped, so the dining area forms the bottom of the L.  We'll sign the lease on Thursday and hopefully move in Friday.  Our express shipment of stuff (pots, pans, silverware and an air mattress) are here and ready to be delivered, so we'll schedule them for Friday.  The rest of our stuff was in Germany last time we checked and they said it shouldn't be more than a week or two before it arrives in Izmir.  Hopefully not too long!

Anyways, after we stopped by the apartment, we went to dinner at a restaurant right below our apartment.   I had a potato and vegetable dish, which was pretty good.  I was really hungry, so anything would have tasted good at that point. Mike had the same dish, minus the vegetables and add in meat.   

We were back at the hotel by seven and called it a night.  I told Mike before I left that I was going to need a bottle of wine waiting for me in the hotel room and he delivered.  He went to the commissary and bought the most expensive bottle they had ($16).  It wasn't that great, but it did the job. 

We spent the rest of the night in the hotel room. God bless Mike because he dealt with a lot of crying and emotions from me that night.  Like I said earlier, I was so glad to see Mike, but extremely overwhelmed, knowing that this would be my home for the next two years.

We left on Friday morning for a birthday weekend at the beach.  The beach is an hour west of Izmir, so we figured we'd get away for the weekend and celebrate Mike's birthday.   When we get back tomorrow, I'll update you all on that. Thanks for reading!

Oh, and go SCOTUS! You guys rock! :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's not goodbye, it's see you later.

It's actually happening.  After almost a month of endless phone calls, lots of tears, and a call or two to my congressman, I'm actually moving to Turkey.  See you on Thursday, Izmir (and Mike)!

In case you haven't been following along, I've had a little trouble getting my passport and, therefore, couldn't book my ticket to Izmir.  I think my mom said it best when she said "Ya know, this would have been a lot easier if you could have gone with Mike."  Ain't that the truth!

Speaking of my mom, she's great.  So is the rest of my family.  I always knew I loved my family, but man, this whole move confirmed it.  Everyone, from my aunts, uncles to my grandfather and my brothers, have been nothing but incredible.

And then there's my parents. Man, am I lucky! My dad's endless positivity and constant reminders of how this is "the opportunity of a lifetime!" kept my spirits high when I was scared and nervous.  My mom could tell when I needed a hug, a good cry or just a glass of wine to calm my nerves.  They were the perfect combination and exactly what I needed in the weeks leading up to the big move.  A lot of people complain about their parents, but this week, I couldn't help but think about how they are some of my closest friends.

It's scary leaving, not knowing when you'll be back. It's also scary leaving everything you know for something completely different. Put those two together and you've got a slobbery, crying mess of a Sarah.  I'm sure that when I board the plane tomorrow, I'll be scared, nervous and sad, but nothing can be as hard as saying goodbye to the people I love most.

"Ubuntu. I am because you are." -African Proverb

Hopefully, tomorrow will go off without a hitch and I will be on the plane to Izmir. Despite all of the tears and emotions, I am so excited to see Mike and begin transitioning into life in Izmir.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Aren't you moving to Turkey?

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If you've been reading the past couple of blogposts about the Hogan Farewell Tour (thanks! You da best!), you know that Mike left last week for Turkey.  When you read that, you probably thought something along the lines of "Wait! Didn't you get married?  Aren't you supposed to, ya know, be together for better or for worse?  Yes! We did get married.  Here's a picture in case you were beginning to doubt us. :)

Despite our nuptials last fall, we realized about a month ago that it was starting to look like I might not leave for Turkey the same day as Mike.  We were knee deep in the Hogan Farewell Tour when we got a phone call that I needed what is called a No-Fee Passport.  I had a tourist passport (the blue one) that everyone has, but needed the No-Fee Passport because it lets other countries know that I'm travelling as a dependent of active duty military stationed abroad. Because it is a "no fee" passport, we were unable to pay to expedite it and were told it usually takes about 4-6 weeks to get approved. Lucky for us (note the sarcasm), we were at the peak of travel season, as well as military move season, so images of millions of waiting-to-be-approved-passports sitting in piles on desks were flashing through my head when I received the news. 

We begged.  We pleaded.  We cried. Okay, that was just me. I cried.  Despite all of this, we quickly realized there was not much we could do except wait and say some prayers that it arrived on time. 

So we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

As time progressed, the likelihood that I would be leaving with Mike grew smaller and smaller. I REALLY didn't want to fly by myself across the world after leaving my entire family, friends and life behind.  Something told me this wouldn't be good my emotional state. 

When we realized that it wasn't going to be possible for us to both leave at the same time, we cancelled my flight.  So, the plan was for Mike to leave on Wednesday June 10th and arrive in Turkey on Thursday June 11th.  Meanwhile, I would take the train down to Virginia Beach and wait for my passport to arrive. It's a weird feeling leaving each other, not knowing when you'll see each other again.  Add in all of the other emotions of moving to a foreign country and you get something like this....

I wish I was being dramatic....

Amidst the uncontrollable sobbing, I boarded the train and headed back to Virginia Beach. Mike boarded a flight and made his way to Turkey and that is how we ended up married and (temporarily) living in two different countries. 

Once I got to Virginia Beach, I began harassing calling anyone I could about my passport. I became besties (again note the sarcasm) with the people in the Navy who are in charge of international moves. I had the phone number on speed dial and one day I called them six times.  I even called my congressman. I may not be a lot of things, but one thing I am is persistent.

When I called the congressman's office, they said they checked the status and said that it had been approved.  When I called the Navy, they said it was still pending.  So, I just kept calling the Navy and having them check.  

Finally, I called today and it had changed!! Cue the emotions!  Joy! Excitement! Nervousness! Sadness! All in one!  It will take a day or two for the passport to reach the transportation office in the Navy, so it won't arrive until tomorrow or Monday.  Plus, there's the factor of me being in Virginia Beach.   Therefore, I won't be leaving until Tuesday, but it is something. I'll arrive in Turkey on Wednesday. 

In the long run, I think it was a good thing I couldn't leave with Mike.  I'll get to spend Father's Day with my family. It gave me an extra week at home, which was good for my soul.  I've spent the extra week at home, cherishing the long walks, family dinners, and the special little moments that make being home so special. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hogan Farewell Tour: Part Two

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Well the Hogan Farewell Tour has basically come to a close.  One Hogan is in Virginia and one is in Turkey (more on that later), but the farewell tour has definitely slowed down if not ended. It has been a blast travelling around seeing our friends and family the past six weeks and I am so glad we got the opportunity to do so before leaving for two years (eeeekkk!!!).  That being said, I think we'll both be glad to have our own house and a place to put our clothes that isn't a suitcase when we get to Izmir.

Anyways, here is how the rest of the Hogan Farewell Tour as gone.    It's been relaxing, exciting, and a great last few weeks.

Sunday May 23rd: We spent the day getting ready for the Hogan Farewell Cookout.  It was nice to just have a day to kind of hang out at home and just relax with everyone.  That night, we had cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandfather come over for hot dogs and hamburgers.  Can't get more American than that!   Plus, it was a great way to say goodbye.

Monday May 24th:  Mike, Mom, Dad, me, Ben and Aunt Mary spent the day at the beach.  It was therapeutic, to say the least.  The sun beating down on my body, the waves crashing in the background and being surrounded by my family was just what I wanted.  I could have stayed there all week.  Although, we were sitting next to a group of high schoolers who were obnoxiously loud and were drinking/smoking.  I could have done without, but whatever. That night, we met up with Mike's friend Nick for drinks after dinner.  Nick was Mike's room mate in Hawaii and is a great friend.  We're lucky that we've been able to meet up with him in Virginia Beach when we've come to visit.

Tuesday May 25th: We went down to the ocean front again to try out some of the breweries down there.  Back Bay Brewing is pretty good and there was another brewery that Mike liked, but I can't remember the name, unfortunately. That night, we went to Aunt Mary's for dinner of the famous Uncle Morgan ribs.  Mike was in heaven and we both left feeling full to the brim.

Wednesday May 26th: We knew that we would be going to the San Diego zoo the next week, but I wanted to check out the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, so we headed down to Norfolk to check out the zoo.  It. Was. Awesome. We saw so many animals out and about and Mike got to see his Red Pandas. My favorite was the elephant who was probably 10 ft away and was drinking water and eating. So funny and cute!

We had dinner at 80/20 with Mike's friends Jen and Scotlin.  We again are so lucky to have another set of good friends stationed here because it means we can see them when we come to Virginia Beach.  Our dinner turned into drinks afterwards and didn't end until almost 11:00. If you're in Norfolk, 80/20 is a must!

Thursday May 27th: Mike left for New Orleans for a boys weekend.  I don't know much about what happened in New Orleans except that Mike broke even at the casinos and then went to a jazz bar...I think.

Friday May 28th: During the day, I went to watch Mom ride.  Even though I haven't ridden in a while, it's still fun to go out and watch Mom.  

Then, that night, I headed down to the oceanfront for the Patriotic Festival with Rachel.  Every year, the Patriotic Festival puts on two concerts (one Friday and one Saturday).  Usually they're great bands and if you don't mind sitting far back on the beach, you can go for free.  Anyways, Rachel and I headed down to the beach and parked.  Before the concert, we went to Planet Pizza for dinner.  We both got fruity, girly drinks that were actually pretty strong and a split a delicious pizza.  Little did we know, this would be the highlight of the night. We got to the beach around 7:00 and met Rachel's friends.  The opener was playing and was mediocre, so we settled in on the beach and did some people watching. Lee Brice came on at 9:00 and, y'all, let me tell you, he was NOT good.  We were shocked.  I mean, jaw hanging on the ground, staring at the stage shocked.  He didn't remember half the words, was way off pitch and was really struggling.  I'm pretty sure that they just started playing his CD after a few songs.  Needless to say, we left around 10:00.

Saturday May 29th: I got a much needed haircut, hung out at Rachel's, and had a brother/sister date with Benj. :)

Sunday May 30th:  When I was in middle and high school, my dad coached my softball team with "Coach Mike." Somehow, Coach Mike has convinced my dad to coach with him again, except this time it's 7-9 year olds.  God bless them! I went and watched their game and it was one of the cutest things I've seen in a while.  The girls got stickers for swinging when they were at bat.  Although, it was probably a better strategy because if you stood up there long enough and didn't swing, you'd probably get walked.  They tried so hard, but it was ultimately a loss.   Still, it was a ton of fun for both me and the team!

May 31st:  Such a proud day!! Ben had his Eagle Scout ceremony that night and you better believe the Russos were there! The ceremony was really nice and Ben did a great job with his speech. I am so proud of Benj for sticking with this and completing it.  Only 2% of people who start Boy Scouts make it to Eagle Scout, so this is a huge accomplishment.  He's worked so hard to get this done and I couldn't be prouder of him! Go Ben!!

Tuesday June 1st:  I went to lunch with Mom and Dad before heading off to San Diego. Originally, this was supposed to be my final farewell with my family, but luckily it wasn't. I need another week at home and that's what I got! This travel day was less than ideal.  Thunderstorms in Norfolk caused my flight to be super delayed, which meant that I missed my connection in Dallas.  When I realized this was going to happen, I tried to get a new flight as soon as I got to Dallasbut they told me that this was the last flight to SD from Dallas and that I would have to spend the night in Dallas and fly out in the morning. I was not happy about that and went to check the departing flights list myself.  Thank goodness I did because there was a departing flight in two hours and when I went to the counter, they got me a seat.  I'm still not sure why the first people I talked to couldn't let me on, but whatever. I got on the flight and arrived in San Diego shortly before midnight to a very sleepy Mike.

Wednesday June 2nd: Our first day in San Diego!!  We met up with the bride and groom-to-be and walked around La Jolla.  We saw seals, ate breakfast at a delicious restaurant, and enjoyed the West Coast.

That night, we met up with Mike's friend Joe who was also here for the wedding, and went to a Padres game.  Padres games are awesome because the tickets are so cheap! We were able to sit basically right behind third base for the price of the ticket of way up on the Green Monster in Boston.   We even made it on the big screen with our selfie that I tweeted!  The game was super fun and the Padres won big!  Go Pads!
Not our best selfie, but it made it on the big screen!

It's kind of hard to see, but our selfie is on the right in the middle!

Thursday June 3rd:  Joe's girlfriend Michelle (who met Joe at our wedding!) arrived late on Wednesday night.  Thursday, Joe, Michelle, Matt (the groom of the wedding), Mike and I got up early and went to the zoo. We heard that the animals were the most active in the morning and that was true.  We saw all sorts of animals moving around.  There were monkeys climbing all around, elephants eating, pandas sleeping. You name it, we saw it.  It would be unfair to compare the Norfolk Zoo to the San Diego Zoo. That would be like comparing a high school sports team to the major leagues.  We had a great time at 

Pretty sure this was in the kids section of the zoo, but Matt and Mike couldn't resist.

After the zoo, we went to a late lunch with Joe and Michelle at El Indio's which was a Mexican restaurant recommended to us by multiple people.  It was delicious!! I refused to go to San Diego without having Mexican food.  Little did I know that we would be having Mexican for dinner that night as well. After Mexican and a quick nap, we met Mike's friends Heather and Mike (Mike was on the Jacksonville with Mike Hogan) for dinner at Cafe Coyote, which was another Mexican restaurant.  It is always fun to travel to places where there is a military base because we can almost always find someone to hang out with. 

Friday June 5th: We started the day late, which was fine with me.  We went for sushi with Joe and Michelle (again, I refused to go to the west coast without having sushi) and it didn't disappoint.  I could eat sushi everyday if it were possible.   After sushi, we decided to go to the beach.  We didn't have a ton of time, so we didn't bring bathing suits or anything, but it was worth it just to be on the beach for a couple of hours. We walked on the board walk, laid in the sun and people watched.  Maybe the most exciting part of this excursion to Coronado was the discovery of the ice cream sandwich shop.  This place was incredible! you can choose which fresh baked cookie you want on the top and the bottom of your sandwich (they don't have to be the same!) and what ice cream you want in the middle.  They have about 10-15 different kinds of cookies and probably 10 different types of ice cream.  If you were really ambitious, you could get a topping to go on your sandwich, but we didn't go that far. 

Red velvet cookie on the bottom, cookies and cream ice cream, and a sugar cookie on top for yours truly.

After ice cream and a couple hours of salt air, we had to head back to the hotel and get ready for the rehearsal dinner.  Katy's sister lives outside of San Diego and hosted all of the out of town guests for dinner.  Despite a little hiccup in the dinner plans and some last minute calls for pizza, we had a blast at the rehearsal dinner.  The weather was gorgeous, the house was incredible and the food was delicious!

look at this little one! The snaggle tooth gets me every time!!

The night ended downtown at an Irish Pub with an awesome cover band that sang everything from your traditional Irish songs to Hootie and the Blowfish! 

Saturday June 6th: Matt and Katy's wedding day!!  We spent the day kind of running around getting things ready and running some random errands.  We were dressed and ready for the wedding around 4:30, took and Uber with Joe and Michelle and were at the base around 4:30.  Mike and Joe were in the sword arch, so they practiced with the other guys before the ceremony while Michelle and I scoped out the BEAUTIFUL landscape and took pictures. We even convinced the boys to take some with us.

Congratulations Matt and Katy!!

The winner of the best date night ideas go to Matt and Katy's nephews (all under the age of ten).  Pretty sure their #1 idea was to do nothing. :)


We had SO much fun dancing the night away at Matt and Katy's wedding.  Katy made a playlist that had everyone dancing.  Her 3-year-old nephew Carson stole the crowd with his nonstop dancing and cool moves.  The toasts were wonderful and the people at our table were a ton of fun. 

June 7th:  The next day, we spent the morning packing and sleeping late (we are on vacation!) and recovering from the late night.  We met the bride and groom for a late lunch and then just went and watched baseball at a bar.   That night, we met another one of Mike's friends from the academy and his wife and daughter for dinner before we headed to the airport for our red eye flight back to Dulles.  We had a ton of fun in San Diego and I think we both want to make sure we go back sometime soon!

June 8th:  I slept on and off on the red eye flight to Boston, unlike Mike who did not.  We caught our connection in Boston and were back in DC by mid morning.  I took a LONG nap that morning, as did Mike.  Mike ran a few errands, but for the most part, that day was pretty laid back.  That night, we went with Mike's mom and her boyfriend to Mike's great aunts' house.  They made us a DELICIOUS Turkish dinner and told us all about Turkey and Turkish culture.  It was really interesting and we all left so full and content.

June 9th: We had one last round of shots that we needed to get, so we headed to Bethesda.  Our total trip took less than 2 hours back and fourth, which is actually amazing! We went to Big Bowl for lunch where I had delicious stir fry.  That afternoon, Mike and his dad played golf while I relaxed at home with the dogs. It was a relaxing day.

June 10th:  Unfortunately, the way things worked out, Mike was going to be leaving that day for Turkey and I was going to be heading back to Virginia Beach.  We really tried to make this not happen because I didn't want to fly by myself after leaving my whole life behind, but that's how it's going to happen.  Anyways, Mike was leaving for Ankara that day, so I took the train back to Virginia Beach.  It was a very tearful goodbye , but it was the only option at that point. 

June 11th:  The next day, I went with my mom over to my grandfather's house to help him get ready to move.  We decluttered some of the bedrooms, which was actually kind of fun.  We found all sorts of stuff from when my mom and uncles were little.  I guess that's one perk of NEVER. THROWING. AWAY. ANYTHING.  

June 12th: After sleeping until 11:30 (WHAT?!?!?!! Who does that????), I woke up and headed out to the barn with my mom.  It was super hot and  I was impressed that they could even ride.  Going to the barn is a lot of fun, even I don't ride because there is always something going on.  This time, there was a very pregnant horse and another who had just had a baby. Babies are cute, but baby horses are something special.   The little hooves, the legs that are too big for their little bodies....
It was hot, so my mom sprayed him off after riding. He got some water in his ear and he was not happy about it. Hence the bent ear. 

Pretty sure my caption on Instagram was "Guys, I can't..."

Just because he's the cutest!
June 13th: That morning, Mom and  I headed back to Grandfather's for a morning of cleaning.  Once all of the bedrooms were done, the house looked really nice! Hopefully someone will think the same and buy it! That night, we went down to Pungo for the Flying Proms.  There are pilots who fly WWII planes while the Virginia Beach Symphony plays.  It wasn't really my thing, but there were a ton of people there and most people seemed to be enjoying it.

June 14th: Sunday was a day of rest. Hahaha.  But really. After a day of lots of Orange is the New Black, I went with Aunt Mary for a pedicure and then everyone came over for dinner at Aunt Mary's.  It was really sad to say goodbye to the Rileys.  I'm a crier naturally, but I'm a mess in these situations. 

June 15th: Today. Wow.  I can't believe that I am leaving on Thursday! I spent today wandering around Target one last time and watching more of Orange is the New Black.  Can't get more American than that!

I guess that my next post will be from Izmir, so say a little prayer for safe travels and start looking up flights to come visit!