Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Household Quirks and Accomplishments

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We've been arranging furniture, unpacking various items, and hanging lots of pictures over the past week.  While doing so, we've noticed that our new living quarters have a few quirks, to say the least.  While there are wonderful aesthetic aspects to our casita, such as granite counter tops and crown molding, there are some aspects that leave us just saying "What?!?!?!"

Let's take a little look....

  1. We've been hanging pictures all week and have concluded that our walls and ceilings are not level.  If you look at the floor, you can see where the floor isn't even.  Then, we went to go hang pictures and used a level to make sure it was even.  Despite the fact that the level said it was, my eyes told me it wasn't.  Yup, the ceiling was crooked so all of our pictures and frames look crooked while hanging.  Good thing I'm not OCD....
  2. While hanging said pictures, we quickly realized that a hammer and nails was not going to be effective because the walls are made of CEMENT.  Yup.  Our entire house is made of cement. I'll let you figure out how we managed to hang those lovely pictures. Get creative. We did. 
  3.  The office and the back guest bedroom share a wall. Or so we thought.  Mike was hanging his "Don't Give Up the Ship" sign and realized that it was a little bit different from the concrete walls.  He left the nail in and went into the guest bedroom and opened the closet door that is on the "shared wall" and, yup, you guessed it, there was the other end of the nail.  So, the supposed wall that these rooms share is non-existent.  The (current or previous) owner decided to just put up closets in this L-shaped room and make it two! We had heard that most rooms don't come with closets, but I guess we just thought we were lucky. 
  4. The counter tops have these little lips so you can't wipe things off of them.  It's kind of annoying, but mainly just weird. I guess it prevents things from spilling on the floor. Maybe?

I'm sure there are others that we've yet to discover, but these are the fun ones we've discovered thus far.   I actually love our apartment and think it is perfect for us, despite these little quirks.  Attention to detail has never been one of my strong points, so crooked pictures and oddly shaped rooms don't bother me.  I just think it adds a little character to the house.

And now for the accomplishments!

  1. Congrats to my brother Andrew for getting hired as a Program Manager with City Year DC!! Andrew and I both served two years with City Year in various cities, but Andrew is now on staff making the big bucks (comparatively)!  He snapped me this gem on his first day of work, which made me chuckle, so I broke the number one SnapChat rule and took a screen shot to share with all of you.
  2. Mike got accepted to the University of Izmir School of Economics!! Wahoo!! It's his back up school, but it's definitely a relief to him (and me!) to know that he'll be going to school somewhere.
  3. And maybe the biggest accomplishment of them all... I beat Mike at cribbage! Hooray! Don't worry.  He beat me the game before that and the game after, but for one game, I was victorious. 


Oh and since it's Wednesday, here's a little something extra I like to call Michael's Musings to get you over the hump of the week. These are probably the you-had-to-be-there funny, but they make me laugh, so you get to hear them too.

Mike has been reading To Kill a Mockingbird (my all time favorite book) and shortly after starting it...
"Scout is kind of a bitch."
Are we reading the same book?

Knowing that I have the bladder the size of a pea....
"Wait. Wife. You don't have to pee?"

After our humbling experience with the oven 
"Do you feel as dumb as I do right now?"  The answer is yes, yes I do.

While we (and by we...Mike) was hanging pictures
"I can't hear you over all the slave driving" 

During our time without an oven, I tried a lot of new crockpot recipes.  Since Mike is an extremely picky eater (no fruits or vegetables), I made a board on Pinterest called "Things Mike Likes" to save the recipes that were good and met the approval of the Mister.  This particular recipe for chicken curry was not that great. 
"You can defriend this  from the Things Mike Likes board."

Mike: Smell my feet.
Me: No thank you.
Mike: Please, it'll be good for you.

As you can tell, it's a wild world in the Hogan Household.  Until next time

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Lesson in Humility

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In case you haven't been following along with us in the oven saga, here's a quick recap.  We haven't had a working oven since we moved in.  Yup. The struggle is real.  We've asked the landlord about it and found out that it was not her oven, so she couldn't help us (she did look at it though and said she'd ask the building super).  We also asked the movers while they were here, thinking maybe it was a Turkish thing that we were missing.  We spent hours scouring the interwebs for any sort of manual or insight into how to get it to turn on with nary a clue as to what to do.

I was getting a little desperate and, since I'm not one to hold back a complaint, Mike was getting a little desperate too (mainly to make me stop complaining).  He went to the base to see if they could send someone to come look at it (because our building super seems to work on his own schedule and even when he says he's going to come, we're never sure when that will be.  #turkeyproblems).

They arrive and are shown to the kitchen.  They take one look at it, smile and tell us it's not broken.

Say quoi?????

They explain that when the time is blinking, that means that the timer is done.  All you have to do is press the two buttons on the left at the same time and it resets the timer.  Then, you can use the knobs on either ends to set the temperature and the setting (bake, broil, fan, etc). Sure enough, they had the oven up and running in no time.

I wasn't sure if we should laugh or cry out of embarrassment. Here we were thinking we've kind of sort of maybe figured out this Turkey thing we call life and then we're just put right back in our place.  We tried to console ourselves with the fact that neither the movers nor the landlord could help us out, but we still felt really silly.

So, now that we've gotten a nice little lesson in humility, what are we going to make in our oven as it's inaugural meal?  Memom's meatballs of course!

Side note: if you knew my grandmother at all, you've probably had her spaghetti sauce.  And, if you had her spaghetti sauce, you understand my obsession with it (when my bridesmaids asked what my favorite meal was to make for my bachelorette party and I responded with this, Karen attempted and came very close to succeeding) you've probably become a spaghetti sauce snob and not been able to enjoy the store bought stuff ever since.  Many people have tried to replicate this sauce, but no one has completely succeeded, although I think my mom has come the closest.  The fact that her recipe is made of "a dash of soda" and "salt and pepper to taste" doesn't help.  Even when people have had her come to their kitchen and help them make it, it doesn't always come out.  I honestly think it's in the pot (Tom, you're a lucky guy to have inherited that pot. I expect nothing but perfection. jk jk jk).

Anywayssssss, I attempted to make the sauce and the meatballs to go in it.  The meatballs require broiling and I think I found the setting for broiling, although one may never really know.  I love that I have this recipe because even though I will never be able to completely replicate it, I love thinking of my grandmother and all of the memories surrounding the spaghetti sauce.  I can see her shaking her head at me for not using fresh rosemary, but smiling because I went with the fresh Parmesan and not the fake Kraft stuff (she'd probably roll over in her grave if I did).  I also think about all of the times that my family sat around a big table with spaghetti and meatballs.

So, tonight, Mike and I will find solace in some spaghetti and meatballs (and wine, obviously) after a nice lesson in humility.

Monday, July 27, 2015

House tour

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Take a step in to our humble abode!

To the right of the entrance is the dining room/living room combination.  I used the panorama setting on my phone, so I feel like this looks huge, but it's just the phone.  They say the camera adds ten pounds, right?

If you turn left when you walk in, you'll find yourself in this lovely hallway. 

It's not as scary as it looks. Promise.

The first door on the right in this hallway leads you to the kitchen.  If you remember moving day, it looked a little bit like this (my Mount Everest)....

And the after.  Thank goodness for all those cabinets because as seen above, we have a lot of stuff.  Unfortunately, we need transformers for almost all of them, so we have these ugly grey boxes on our counters.  Whatevs.

When you leave the kitchen and go back in the hallway, there is a bathroom almost directly across from the kitchen.  It's a small half bath that probably won't get used that much, but it's nice to have.

As you continue down the hallway, on your right is a storage closet.  Aka put all the stuff in there that doesn't fit anywhere else.  I'll spare you the picture. 

Across the hall from the storage closet is the full bathroom.  Not much has changed....

Across from the bathroom is the smaller of the two guest bedrooms.  This is where Mike and I were staying pre-furniture because it had the only bed. 

Now it actually looks pretty nice since it isn't cluttered with suitcases and endless amounts of clothes.

Continue down the hall and to the right in the corner is our lovely bedroom.  Again, I used the panorama feature so I think it looks bigger, but you get the idea.  We hung up the canvas photos from our wedding and by we I mean Mike.

It looks big and it definitely is a lot bigger than our bedroom in Arlington, but I definitely miss my walk in closet.

Looks a lot better than this mountain of mess, right?

Across the hall from our bedroom is the office.  It houses a desk, a wall full of closets, a hockey jersey and this lovely flag.  You can guess who decorated this room.

At the end of the hallway is the guest bed room (and dryer home).  The lighting is bad, but it's a good sized room and will (hopefully) house lots of guests.

Hope you enjoyed the tour! I'm off to watch Jeopardy on our television! We get the Armed Forces Network, which allows us to watch a few American channels, as well as LOTS of military made corny commercials. I'm not sure what is more entertaining, the actual show or the commercials. Feel free to youtube if you're feeling curious.  They're all there for your viewing pleasure.

Oh and you'll be glad to know that I've ventured back to the gym and successfully avoided all human interaction, so success? I'm still trying to figure out how these women don't sweat in this 100 degree weather.  I'm leaving puddles wherever I go.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

All Moved In!

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I think I said that the next post would be a home tour, but we're not QUITE done yet.  We spent all day yesterday looking for random things for our home, such as a bath mat that randomly got lost in the move, as well as a transformer so we can plug in our wine fridge (priorities).  While we did find the bath mat, we did not find the transformer, sadly.  Don't worry, that hasn't stopped us from enjoying a nice glass (or three), but I would like to put that wine fridge to good use over the next two years, especially with some Turkish wine!   

While the wine fridge transformer was of the utmost importance on the list, there were other things on the list, although I kind of had a one track mind.  The hardest thing to find was the hardware that is used to hold the shelves of our bookshelf.  Somehow (don't ask me how), the movers lost the set for one shelf.  We have the little pieces for the other three shelves, but this set of four got misplaced.  How? We'fl never know.  We barely know how to get to the hardware store in the United States, much less in Turkey.  We ended up at a mall (a real, actual mall with actual stores! It even put some smaller American malls to shame) that had a huge hardware store.  I'll need to check with my intellectual property mom, but I'm pretty sure this hardware store (yes, it was located in the mall....weird, but we don't ask questions anymore) is breaking some serious rules because it's logo looked like Home Depot, but with a different name. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, then.... yup. Probably some serious intellectual property issues, but....Turkey. 

Anyways, we ended up at this hardware store and spent a half an hour wandering around trying to find where there were things like nails and screws.  Our worst fear was that we'd have to ask someone.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have just gone home and paid the $30 in shipping from Amazon in order to avoid that mortifying interaction. Luckily, Mike is ten times braver than I am and would have stepped up to the challenge, I'm sure. After 30 minutes of wandering around, we found the aisle with nails and they even had the little pieces we needed! Calling it a success, we headed up to the mall's food court for lunch where we were greeted with a Burger King, a SBarro, a McDonalds and a KFC.  We ended up at a sit down restaurant which was actually decent and served burgers and pasta. 

After our adventure to the mall, we (I use this term loosely) spent the rest of the afternoon hanging up pictures.  We were not-so-pleasantly surprised to find out that our walls are made of cement, which makes hanging pictures extra fun.  Add in the fact that our ceilings are not level, so hanging pictures always look crooked and you've got yourself just a little fiesta of a picture hanging party. We continued this little fiesta today and will keep on partying tomorrow until all of the pictures are hung.  

I took a break from slave driving Mike and allowed him to stop last night and go out for a drink (I'm kind, I know). We have found a bar that is pretty cool and has more than Efes beer on tap for Mike. Plus, they make a plethora of the fruity drinks for yours truly, so it's really a win win.  We even met up with one of the Air Force guys stationed here, although he'll be leaving in a few months.  It was really nice to have social interaction with someone other than Mike. I love Mike, but I know he's bound to get tired of his slave driving wife, so it was good to meet up with someone.  Hopefully we'll get to hang out with him a few more times, as well as spend time with whoever replaces him.

We ended the weekend by going to see Ant Man at the movie theater. I probably would have opted out if we had been in the United States and instead chosen Inside Out, but considering Ant Man was in English and Inside Out was actually in English, my decision was already made for me. It was actually entertaining.  There were some funny parts and the plot was easy to follow.  I wouldn't pay American movie theater prices for it, but $6 a person is definitely worth it.  Side note: movie theaters here have intermission.  I love it!

Alright, I promise promise promise that the next update will be a house update.  I know you'll be anxiously waiting (probs not, but a girl can dream., right?)  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Apartment update

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Just popping in to let you know that we're surviving the move! I've climbed Mount Everest in the bed room, K2 in the kitchen and the smaller, yet still challenging Appalachian Mountains of stuff in the future guest bedrooms and living room.  We actually have some semblance of a home going on, although there is a long way to go in the decorating department.  Hopefully, this weekend, we'll be able to finish unpacking and organizing and get a good start on decorating.  

Our biggest issues are not with the furniture, but with the apartment itself.  The landlord came by earlier this week.  She took one look at the oven and said that it was not hers.  A former tenant (we'll never know who) bought that oven themselves and then left it there.  So, she's not responsible for helping us figure out what is wrong with it.  Our next move is to find the cappacu (the building super) and see if maybe he can fix it.  We're hoping that it's just a bulb that is out or a loose wire, not something major that would require a new oven.  

In the meantime, we (and by we I mean me) have been using the Crockpot like it's our job.  Between the Crockpot and the skillet, I've discovered a lot of new recipes.  If you have any recommendations for meals that can be made sans oven, send them my way! Although, keep in mind I live with Mr. No-fruits-or-vegetables, so that adds an extra challenge, but I'm sure you're up to it. 

That being said, you better believe I'm going to make a cake, cookies, brownies and multiple casseroles when we get a working oven.  All for one meal.

The other major issue that we're having is the power.  At night, when we are both home doing things, we seem to lose power due to power surges every half hour or so.  Last night, it was every fifteen minutes. Granted, we were running both AC units, the washer and dryer and the lights in our living room, but who needs energy conservation, right? (just kidding just kidding!) When we called the landlord about this one, she said we can't really do that in Turkey.  You have to just pick and choose what you want to run.  JOY!  So, when you come, don't expect anything fancy like air conditioning or electricity.  I can't make any promises. 

Besides that, we're great hosts. 

Okay, I think I've bored you enough.  I promise the next blog post will be a little more exciting. Maybe some pictures of the new crib?  Guess you'll have to check back and see.....

While you're anxiously awaiting my next post, you should go check out my sister-in-law's (still so weird to say!) blog about her adventures in London.

LYLAS (because I'm channeling my inner 13 year old).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Moving day!

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Today was moving day!!!  I can barely think straight enough to write this post because I'm still so excited to be sitting on a couch instead of a beach chair.   It honestly is like my Christmas/birthday/New Years/Halloween/4th of July all wrapped up in one. 

We knew that it would take a while for our stuff to be shipped from the US to Turkey and they estimated 60 days, so we planned accordingly.  Luckily, we had the Hogan Farewell Tour Parts One and Two as well as a couple of weeks of house hunting to pass the time.  So, we shipped our furniture and moved out of our apartment May 6th and let the waiting game begin.  

We got word that our furniture would be in Izmir no later than July 15th, which meant that it could be delivered July 16th.  Cue excitement and visions of lounging on a couch!  Not so fast, though, because that was Bayram and apparently our street would be closed for the holiday so we couldn't get our stuff.  Plus, they had a move scheduled for Monday, so they couldn't deliver our stuff until today. Like we predicted, our street wasn't actually closed and they very well could have delivered our stuff, but that's all water under the bridge and all that jazz.

Moving forward to today.   We were told that the movers would show up at 7:30am and be done by 1:00 pm.  It took them almost 12 hours to pack up all the stuff, so I wasn't sure how they would be able to unpack it all in about 6 hours, but they did!!! They showed up at 7:30 and got right to work. 

The view from our balcony.  I probably looked like a little kid at Christmas because I just kept running from our balcony inside and vice versa to see everything.
After about an hour of watching the movers bring stuff up, I had to leave for Turkish school.  Although I was sad to leave my beach chair (note the sarcasm), I knew it would probably be close to being done when I got home.  

Oh beach chair. I never thought we'd be spending so much time together. I wish  I could say I'm sad to see you go, but this couch is awfully comfortable and my back and neck are thanking me, so SEE YAAAAAA!!!

Sure enough, when I returned home at 1:00, they were pretty much done unpacking. I ran from room to room looking at all of our stuff and shouting things like "This is the best day ever!" and hugging inanimate objects, such as our bed and mattress (again: picture little kid on Christmas).  

After I hugged the couch multiple times and got over the fact that we now have luxuries such as a can opener and a trash can, reality set in.  The movers are great because they come, bring your furniture and boxes and even take all of your stuff out of boxes and unwrap it. What they don't  do is put everything away. Really, this isn't a huge deal because everyone has a certain way they like to organize their house, but the excitement of having your belongings is quickly overtaken by the daunting task of having to put everything away. 

So, after one last hug to my coffee table, I started to survey.  This is what I found. 
All of these clothes are supposed to fit in our dressers.  We shall see....
Unpacking the kitchen....

Which looked like this once they were done.

We also realized that a few pieces of furniture had been damaged or broken in the move. While it's frustrating, we're pretty lucky because it was nothing of sentimental value, basically just furniture that can be eventually replaced.
Scratches on a chair

Goodbye cheap bookshelf.  You didn't really match, so I can't say I'm sad to see you go.

Goodbye dining room table chair.  Be glad there are only two Hogans because otherwise you and fellow chair that also broke would be missed. 

Overall, we have discovered:
  • two broken chairs
  • a scratched and broken kitchen table (but still usable)
  • the broken bookshelf
  • the foot board of our bed was cracked and is temporarily rigged to work, but we'll see how long that lasts...
Like I said, it's not that big of a deal because most of the furniture (minus the bed) were pretty cheap and definitely replaceable, but you better believe we'll be filling out that reimbursement form!   

Anyways, Mike left for school around 1:45, right after the movers left, so I began to tackle Mt. Everest formerly known as our bed.  After two hours of folding clothes and telling myself I really need to downsize (we'll see how that works out), I attempted to bring some order to the chaos that was the kitchen.  While I knew there was no way dinner was being cooked in there tonight, eventually, I'd like to put some of those kitchen appliances to good use.  

This kitchen has infinitely more storage than the last one.  After only having a drawer and half, and three cabinets in my last apartment (shoutout to Ballston where the cost of living is absolutely ridiculous), my one requirement was lots of kitchen storage.  I spent the next two and half hours trying to make a functional kitchen.  Mike came home about halfway through and stated that it didn't look like I had done anything.  Just imagine my look. He quickly jumped in, though, and was a huge help.  

After we finished the kitchen, we headed out for a quick dinner and some tea.  There is still a ton to be done, but we're hoping that by the end of the weekend, we'll be all unpacked and settled in to our humble abode. I'll post pictures once we're done.  A little before and after for ya. 

Hasta luego mi amigos. 

Whoops. Wrong language.  Gule Gule or something Turkish like that!

Monday, July 20, 2015


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First, thanks for all the texts, gchats, facetimes, and snapchats (Mary) over your concern about our safety after the violence in Suruc.  I am constantly reminded of how many people love us and support us, even if it is thousands of miles away.  That being said, the violence was hundreds and hundreds of miles away. 753 to be exact.  So, that's like from Virginia Beach to Montgomery, Alabama. Definitely far away from us.  Although, our apartment is located directly above a no drive street, which is where protesting is legal, so we have been hearing a lot of protesting tonight, but nothing violent or too exciting. Washington, DC would put these guys to shame. 

Second, thanks to everyone who reads this blog.  I started it so that I could keep my parents in the loop with what we were doing and hopefully preserve a few memories along the way.  I am always hesitant to post updates on Facebook out of fear of being "that girl" that nobody wants to see pop up on their newsfeed.  I talked to my parents last night who just spent a week at the beach with my extended family.  Picture three beach houses, 40 Russos and lots of food (and probably alcohol).  My mom just kept saying how people were reading the blog (Hi guys!) and I was so happy! I wish I could have been at the beach with everyone, but I'm glad you all are reading along!

Anyways, we went to Bodrum this weekend because we had Friday off.  This past Thursday evening to Friday was Bayrum, which is the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan.   Since 98% of Turkey is Muslim, Bayram is a federal holiday and everything closes.  Add in our lack of furniture and you're looking at a pretty boring weekend.  So, we flocked south to the beach.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and in hindsight, we would have checked the weather to see that it was going to be literally 100 degrees, which wouldn't make for the best beach weekend.  In hindsight....

Instead, we failed to check the weather and headed south.  We arrived late Thursday night and checked into the hotel.  When we woke up on Friday, we went upstairs for the free breakfast (we wouldn't be true Americans if we didn't love free food!) and were sorely disappointed. Somehow, olives and cheese just doesn't do it for breakfast. Oh well.  We put on our bathing suits and headed to the beach.  Bodrum is a beach town and has tons of restaurants and bars along the water.  They also have free beach chairs along the water to sit in, which Mike and I jumped at the opportunity to do. I lasted about 2.5 seconds in that beach chair before I started melting and had to stick my (not so little according to the trainer at the gym) body in the water.  I was pleasantly surprised at how cold it was and repeated this pattern of 10 minutes in the water, 2.5 seconds out for the next half hour before giving in to the sun and napping.  After an hour, Mike and I had reached our limit and gave in to the heat.  We headed back to the air conditioned hotel.

That night, we walked along the water and found a restaurant with a great view.  Not long into our meal, we were greeted by this guy.  Turkey has a ton of feral cats and dogs running around and while none of them are going to run up and greet you, they are usually pretty clean and well fed.

Dinner wasn't great, but the view was beautiful.  We walked further along the water and found that the beach chairs we melted in earlier had been replaced with lawn sofas and chairs.  We chose a sofa and were quickly greeted by the waiter who brought us drinks. The waiter asked where we were from and as soon as he heard America, he was hooked.  He began talking to us and asking us all sorts of questions.  My favorite was "Do you like Obama? Obama is good."

Being the old married couple that we are, we were ready for bed way earlier than the average person in Bodrum.  We asked our waiter what time the performers come on at this big stage in Bodrum and when he responded with 12:00, my eyes grew the size of saucers. I like to stick to my geriatric bed time of 10:30 on weekdays and 11:30 on weekends, so a performance starting at midnight was just not going to work.  After a few drinks, we headed back to the hotel to make our bed time while the rest of the city geared up for a wild night. To each their own...

Saturday, we knew it was going to be hot, so instead of heading to the beach, we made our way to the Castle of St. Peter, which is this huge castle in Bodrum.  It's open to the public for 25 TL ($10) and is definitely worth it.  You can see all sorts of artifacts and there are some great views of the water.  Plus, there are cool things like a dungeon and towers.  I wore flip flops (trying to cover the least amount of my body in order to survive the 100 degree weather) and in hindsight (they say it's 20/20) I would have worn tennis shoes because you do a lot of walking and climbing.

The chapel on the castle

After the castle, we walked around a bit guessed it...heading back to the hotel.  One hundred degrees is really hot.  We spent a couple of hours in the hotel napping (me) and reading (Mike).  Around dinner time, we went on the hunt for the top restaurants in Bodrum.  We found this restaurant called Avlu thanks to and it was well worth it.  Because we're Americans and eat earlier than the average European, we were the first ones in the restaurant.  It had a great ambiance and we quickly ordered a bottle of wine with the recommendation of the waiter, as well as steaks.  I'm not a huge red meat person, but this was a delicious meal.  The steaks were juicy and the potatoes and vegetables that accompanied it complimented it greatly.  Yum.

Most of the restaurants in Turkey have free wi-fi, but this one decided to go against the grain and not have free wifi. Instead, we were ordered to talk to each other and get drunk.  Tough life. 

After our delicious meal, we headed to the water for a few drinks and a decent view before calling it a night.

We woke up on Sunday unsure of what to do.  It was hot again and we had to catch the bus at 3:15 to head back home.  After consulting our handy guide book (Lonely Planet is the way to go) we realized that one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was right around the corner!  The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was located in present day Bodrum.  Key was.   This is what is located there now.

Granted, they had a museum and some of the artifacts were pretty cool, but it's disappointing that it was destroyed.  Oh well, at least we can say we went!

We grabbed lunch at a pizza restaurant and headed to the bus stop for a long journey home.

And, as a bonus edition to this post, I'm starting a little section called Michael's musings.  Mike had me laughing all weekend at different things he said and I wanted to share them with you because...Monday.

"It's like the Mike Hogan of restaurants." -Mike describing the number one restaurant listed on TripAdvisor.  We're obviously lacking in the self-esteem department around here.

"It's like we're living in a freaking zoo." -Mike describing all of the dogs and cats around

"Do you love me? Do you love me?" -Mike singing the Dirty Dancing song every time he thought I was ignoring him (aka reading, trying to fall asleep, etc).

As if this weekend wasn't hot enough, we're in for a scorcher here for the next few days. Even though I am usually one to vocalize every sort of complaint, nothing can break this girl's good mood because our furniture comes tomorrow!! Can you say Christmas/birthday/Thanksgiving/Valentine's Day/4th of July/Memorial Day all in one?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lost in Translation: Gym Edition

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So, I've never actually seen the movie "Lost in Translation," but I figured it was a good title for this blogpost.  You can decide for yourself.

After we moved out of the hotel , I lost access to the gym and knew that I would need to join one here.  Mike joined a Crossfit gym but there was no way I was going to be even putting my big toe in that gym.  No thanks.  So, we set out looking for just your basic gym pour moi.  In the United States, I just used the little fitness center at the bottom of my apartment building which served me just fine.  They had your basic weights, some treadmills and a few elliptical.  It was all I needed and saved me from paying for a gym membership.  When we moved here, I knew that the liklihood of finding an apartment building with a gym in it was slim to none, so I'd have to join a gym. 

Fast forward to last week and the hunt began.  After a little bit of research (aka googling Turkish gym and various other similar combinations), I stumbled upon what looked like a great gym with more than what I needed. Plus, it was block away from my apartment! Perfect!

So, after a week of walking by, looking in, but not daring to attempt to interact with anyone, I finally mustered up the courage to go ask about joining. When I got there, I was greeted by a woman in business attire who explains the monthly costs and asks if I would like to join.  I agree and she has me follow her to a table where she has me fill out a bunch of paperwork.  After signing my name at the bottom of four or five Turkish paragraphs (what did they say, you ask?  You should probably ask her because I have no idea), she leads me downstairs to the locker rooms. She shows me how to open the lockers and starts to leave.  As she is leaving, she says "Once you are done, you meet with personal trainer."

uhhhhhhhhh what?!?!?!

I just want to do my run ( walk) and get out of there. 

Oh no.  That was not what was going to happen.  I end up meeting with multiple trainers over the course of an hour where they strap me into things, have me perform all sorts of tests, and write down all sorts of notes about me.  All the while, I'm just standing there, not sure where to even begin asking what was going on. 

Trainer 1:  Weighs me and takes my height.  He has me put my hands on these handle bars that measures stuff inside my body.  After about 30 seconds on that thing, I sit down and he looks at his computer.  He starts talking and goes "your heart looks good and do I say this (points to kidney and liver) are healthy but you are a little fat."  WELL THANKS. I mean, I know the #hoganfarewelltour added a little fluffiness to my muffin top, but don't you think this is why I'm joining the gym? I'll just chalk it up to being lost in translation.  After we are done going over my stats, he hands me a belt and shows me that I need to lift up my shirt and wrap it around my rib cage. Not sure how to ask what this is for, I go in the locker room and buckle this belt around my ribs as well as plaster the I-have-no-idea-what-is-going-on look all over my face.

Trainer 2:  When I come out of the locker room, trainer #1 hands me off to trainer #2 who escorts me upstairs to the treadmill.  He plugs in a key into a treadmill and has me do this 15 minute walk with varying paces.  Somehow, the key and the belt are connected because the treadmill is measuring my heart rate even when I'm not touching the treadmill with my hands.  Pretty cool. So anyways, this little test ends after 15 minutes and, while it wasn't particularly tough, I guess it got the stats it needed.  So I head back downstairs where I meet Trainer #2 and

Trainer #3:  They escort me to the elevator where we go up to the fourth floor where there is a weight room.  They show me how to do different weights and write down the different weight I can do for each machine.  This is all fine and dandy, except me saying "heavier" or "lighter" is basically a moot point because none of them speak English and my attempts at learning Turkish have only gotten me as far as "My name is Sarah."  They also underestimated my horseback riding thunder thighs, so I can guarantee whatever weight they wrote down for the leg muscle machines is wrong. About halfway through, I guess they decided they were done with this, because I got handed off to....

Trainer #4: This was the first woman I interacted with.  We continue with the weight machines, but whenever I start a set, she leaves to go talk on her phone or do something else in the weight room.  Luckily, 

Trainer #5: comes over and he speaks a little English, so he tells me what to do and I finish.  When I'm done, he hands me the list of weight machines that I've done and the weights for each machine.  He tells me that I need to take this downstairs.

I take the sheet down, thinking they're going to give me some sort of workout plan/regimen. Nope! Trainer #2 just says "Okay thank you bye bye!" (side note: everyone here says this to us when we leave anywhere. It's kind of funny.)   So I left.

About halfway home, I realized I still had on the heart rate belt, but there was no way I was about to go back there then. I also realized that I never got any sort of membership card or key or anything to show that I joined.Not sure of what took place yesterday, I had no idea what to expect when going today.   

I walked up to the gate and smiled at the guy behind the desk.  I paused when I walked in and smiled at him, giving him that look like "Do I need to do anything? Sign in?" but he just smiled back so I just kept walking. I walked downstairs where I originally received the heart rate belt.  There was a guy (not one of the five trainers I met with yesterday...another one) sitting in front of the desk.  I shoot him the same smile I gave the guy at the front desk, but again, just got a smile back, so off to the treadmills I went.  

I did my normal run/jog, all while looking around for any sort of hint that maybe I needed to sign in or do something.  There was nothing of that sort.  Also, have you ever heard the saying "Girls don't sweat, they glisten" ?  I sweat.  I am a hot and sweaty mess when I leave the gym.  Turkish women, though? Oh they glisten.  They also look great while working out. 

Anywaysssss, after my time on the treadmill, I head over to a bike, mainly so I can watch people as they come in to see if I am doing something wrong. Nope. Everyone does exactly what I do. 

I guess I'll head back tomorrow and repeat today's series of events. Maybe if I'm feeling brave, I'll head up to the weight room, but I'm not sure if I need that paper with my weight and if I do, how to get it.  And maybe, one day, if I'm feeling especially brave, I'll attempt to take a fitness class they offer, although it better be one where I can just watch what the instructor is doing and copy them because who knows what kind of test they'll have me do if I have to speak to them. 

Overall, it seems like a really nice gym.  The facilities are nice, it hasn't been too crowded and it has more than enough equipment for me. I just think that somewhere between me motioning that I wanted to join the gym and the woman handing me the papers, it got lost in translation that all I really wanted to do was run on the treadmill. 

Monday, July 13, 2015


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WOW! That's really all I can say about Pamukkale.  Just kidding, I have lots to say, but WOW is a good summary.  Pamukkale is amazing and definitely something you should do if you're in Turkey in the summer time. We knew we wanted to go somewhere this weekend because the thought of spending the weekend sitting in our lawn chairs just really wasn't that appealing. A weekend isn't really enough time to travel very far, so we knew we'd have to stick to somewhere close and after a little bit of research Pamukkale won the vote.

Mike doesn't get done with class until 6:00 on Friday, so leaving Friday night is pretty difficult. Instead, we decided to stay in Izmir on Friday night and go see Jurassic World in 3-D! It was playing in English with Turkish subtitles, which added a little bit of entertainment. Even I could pick out a word or two every so often, which means I'm basically fluent, right?  Just kidding. I've got a long way to go.  Anyways, it was a fun little date and the movie was pretty good.  Predictable, but good. Oh, and the movie prices? Super cheap for a Friday night.  We paid the equivalent of $15 dollars and that included the 3-D glasses (which we had to pay for but could keep).  Definitely worth it!  Plus, they had a few other American movies playing there in English, so it was a good find.

Saturday morning we woke up before the sun (read 5:00am) caught a taxi to bus station.  It was funny to be up and out so early because we were catching the very end of Friday night because we saw some true characters.  I think my favorite was the girl who was striking a pose in front of a motorcycle.  My idea of a wild Friday night is staying up until midnight, so the thought of being up when the sun rises is on my top ten list of things to never do, but to each their own I guess.

I digress.  Where were we? Oh yes, the super early bus ride.  We took a taxi to the bus station and caught the 6:30 bus to Denizli.  Being in Izmir without a car is not an issue at all because there are tons of buses that go almost anywhere in the country.  We boarded the bus and quickly fell asleep for a couple of hours, which helped make the 3.5 hour bus ride go quickly.  Once we were in Denizli, we caught a Dolmus (pronounced dolmoosh) to Pamukkale.  The dolmuses are like minibuses or cabs.  Each one says it is going to a general area, so you board the one that is going to your area and then it will drop you off in your location. They're great and are a lot cheaper than taking a taxi.

For those of you who don't know what Pamukkale is, I recommend google image searching it because the pictures are breathtaking.  Pamukkale means "cotton castle" and that's exactly what it looks like.  The water from the falls is full of calcium carbonate that has deposited and makes these huge white rock formations.  The water that falls over these rock formations forms into pools of water which you can swim/wade/relax in.
We quickly dropped our stuff off at the hotel and headed to the park.  We had a quick lunch before going into the park.  It was 25 TL per person to get into the park and definitely work every bit.  We started at the bottom and walked up, which is the opposite of what they recommend, but it was actually worth it because it wasn't crowded at all at the bottom and we could actually enjoy the park instead of weaving through the throngs of people.

The pools and rock formations were one of the coolest things I've ever seen, as I stated many a time when I said "This is so cool!" to Mike every two seconds. It's a weird sensation because it looks like snow from a distance, but it's pure rock.   People were wearing their bathing suits and going for full swims.  I didn't realize this was going to be thing and wore shorts and a t-shirt, which was fine.  I probably wouldn't have worn a bathing suit anyways, but you definitely could.

Once we got to the top, there is a museum and a bunch of different ruins that you can walk through.  We paid the 5 TL each to go in the museum and it was actually worth it.  They had statues of the Greek gods and goddesses and a lot of other smaller artifacts.  Definitely worth it for 5 TL (about $2 USD).  The ruins were also cool, although Mike kept saying that they weren't nearly as cool as Ephesus, but whatever. I thought they were amazing.  There is an amphitheater that you can actually go in and sit down, which was incredible.  Apparently, St. Philip's Martyrium is there too, but it was closed.

We ended up at the top where there is a shuttle that will take you back down to the bottom, but we had a ton of time and ended up just walking back down through the pools and falls.   It was so hot that it felt good just to get wet, even if it meant a little bit of a hike.  At least it was downhill!

Hey Dad, it's your namesake!

Even the ruins were beautiful!!

After we finished the park, we went back to the hotel, surveyed our sunburns (the current author of this blogpost is actually lobster Sarah), and took a nap.  It had been a long day and a nap was much appreciated.   After we woke up and got ready for dinner, we headed out.  There are a few restaurants that we had passed on our way to the park, so we went back to one of them.  On our way there, we saw this guy!!

World, meet Karen* the camel

  I didn't think our dinner was anything to write home about, but it was nice to sit outside and drink some Turkish tea before heading back to the hotel.  When we got back to the hotel, we were greeted by the owners who were serving tea to some Canadian guests, so we sat down and had tea with them.  The Canadians had just finished a 12 day boat tour around the Aegean Sea and were spending the next week travelling around Turkey!  It was so fun to just sit and talk to them and the owners about Pamukkale, Turkey and where everyone was from.    My biggest regret about this trip is that we didn't eat dinner at the hotel because it is all homemade and I'm sure a true Turkish dinner.

Pamukkale is definitely something I recommend to people who come to Turkey in the summer.  We went on Saturday and it was super crowded, but it was still worth it.  We also spent the night, which is completely unnecessary.  It took us about 4 hours to do the entire park.  We could have spent more time in the pools, but I think 4 hours was just enough.  If you do end up staying the night, I would recommend staying at The Sinter Terasse House Hotel because you'll get the true Turkish experience.
homemade and free breakfast!

*When I found out that Mike and I would be moving to Turkey, one of my best friends, Karen, (jokingly?) said we should get a pet camel.  I didn't think there would be any camels in Turkey, but I told her that if we found one we would name it Karen the camel.  So, when we found this big guy just hanging out in someone's backyard on our way to dinner, we knew that we had to name it Karen.