dragojustine: (Smug face)
In the last two days, I have
- Written up two resumes from scratch
- Applied at three temp companies
- Advertised for tutoring
- Put out traps to kill all the ants in my apartment
- Done my laundry and cleaned the kitchen
- Set up my now-working desktop and caught up on all my record-keeping from the last three months
- Finished a book and started another
- Gone grocery shopping and made really good Mexican food
- Ran several errands
- Gone swing dancing
and STILL had time to watch massive amounts of TV, read fic, play BioShock and Portal, pass some more songs on Guitar Hero, go shopping, have a fun board-game party night, and sleep.

I win at life. Take that, Unproductive-Funk-I-Have-Been-In!

On the downside, I have just inputted "(my current address), WA, 90094" into three different online forms. Why is it so easy to mentally change my address and zip code, but IMPOSSIBLE to enter "CA"?

Also, I have promised several people pictures of various things, and there are more people who I wanted to give pictures but haven't yet.

So, first is the Turkey trip gallery. Mom and Constance, you have seen most but not all of these.

Then comes the apartment gallery.

Enjoy!

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood )
dragojustine: (Turkey)
So today was my horrible scheduling heart-attack-moment day of reprieve.  A whole extra day in Istanbul, guilt-free!  There was a lot of awkward standing around and much hugging this morning, while Carmel presented Nina her card and tip, and everyone started to scatter.  Tony and Carmel and Damien were the only ones left in the city for a full day, so we arranged to meet for dinner.

I got to take two of the local ferries across the Bosporus and back, which I'd quite wanted to do.  The view of the European side is wonderful (and of course, it's another bit of inner-romantic-indulgence.  This trip is rotting me from the inside).  The rides are short, but they're dirt-cheap and interesting and beautiful.  I ended up by Dolmabache palace, the palace built around 1850 after the sultans left Topkapi.  Supposedly built to rival Versailles.  I don't know if it manages that (at least, not from the outside it doesn't, though parts at least of the inside certainly do) but it is, to say teh very least, quite satisfyingly ostentatious. 

Tram back, cheap lunch, and a very long evening shopping.  It's quite an experience to walk around in or near the bazaar as a woman traveling alone- Despite making a minimum of eye contact, I racked up 12 dinner invitations, 3 gropes, and one guy sticking his tongue down my throat.  It would certainly take some getting used to, and some reconditioning of your normal impulses toward eye contact and smiling and small-talk pleasantries (and my impulses toward that last are already pretty low, by Western standards).  The shopping itself was great, many gifts bought and a pretty dress for me.  Much sparkly jewelry ogled. 

One last dinner and then bed in my truly crappy hostel, where I ended up getting quite sick and throwing up for the first time all trip- because making it the whole three weeks would have been too much to hope for, I guess.  The hostel didn't have towels either, and I didn't want to pack mine wet, so I'm leaving for the airport exhausted, sick, and unwashed.  Oh, traveling! 
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Early morning and long bus ride back to Istanbul. The Istanbul otogar is a complete circus.  Took an hour to get ourselves to a dolmus back to Sultanhamet.  Settled in and decided to e-mail Dustin first thing- good thing too, as I realized my flight leaves Sunday, not tomorrow!  I mixed up the end of the tour and though the departure day was the day AFTER the end, not the same day.

Very embarrassing, but good, as I was very disappointed about my lack of time in Istanbul at the end.  Freaked out but managed to book at the hostel across the street for 10 Euro.  I've been really pinching pennies all trip, so I think one more day will be fine.

Got out to Aya Sofya finally.  That building has been the thing I most want to see in the entire world since... I can't remember, but I think it was when I did that paper on the Ottomans winter quarter TS year.  So, seven years. 

It was more of a mix, more of a hodgepodge, than I expected, but that just made it more interesting.  The restored mosaics are beautiful beyond belief- even after all I've read about Byzantine mosaic work, this is my first time seeing really good ones in person and it's just... striking.  The dome is boggling, and (even despite the horrible unfortunate scaffolding) the entire impression is of light and air and space and soaring vaults, just like it's always described.  It's wonderful.

Spent an hour or so in the bazaar- no buying yet, now that I have another whole day.  It really is pretty overwhelming, disorienting, but that's the fun.  The jewelry sections are quite satisfyingly sparkly.  I'm getting quite a hankering for really sparkly necklaces now.  Those lariat style ones, maybe, or the shaped collar ones that don't actually connect in front but curlicue over your collarbones, something in red gold if possible.  I would have to be in another strata of society entirely to actually wear such a thing, and I feel a bit little matchstick girl pressing my nose up to those windows, but wow. 

Our final dinner together was a place on that pedestrian underside of the Galata bridge.  You settle down on these beanbag chairs on the outer walkway, with the restaurants behind you and this incredible view of Suleymanye mosque (there are three mosques right there, actually, and I can't recall the names of the other two) and that huge fountain on the water, and the bridge stretching out to either side, and the Galata tower and the ferries, and everything spotlighted or strung with lights.  It's the most incredible date-spot I think I've ever seen, and I would give a truly astonishing amount of money to be there with a date someday, especially when it goes silent except for the splashing of the water and the call to prayer just drifts, eerie and otherworldly and beautiful, from a dozen directions at once.  I am convinced that, at least at night, Istanbul is the most beautiful city in the world. 

The big day

Sep. 6th, 2007 06:44 pm
dragojustine: (Greek warriors)
Today was the big highlight day: Troy then Gallipoli. First, the hostel is awful, the shower is awful, the breakfast was weird and skimpy (except, apparently, if you order vegemite. Apparently that's quite good here). This whole town is so Aussie focused it's hilarious.

Troy )

So I am soft-headed, just in a slightly different way.
Gallipoli )
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Kind of a nothing day.  I napped in the room till a ridiculously late hour, then did the loop of the Temple of Artemis, museum, basilica.  More napping, good dinner.

Got sucked into the shop of a carpet seller, a Kurd named Ennis, for an hour or two.  Lots of tea and backgammon.  Much talk about the people he's met, how he loves talking to travelers, about the woman from Seattle his brother married.  Then a lot of talk about Eastern Turkey and Lake Van, about the Kurds and being Kurdish and the Turkish government and identity and the pace of change in the younger generation and the need for education to resist oppression.  Good talk.

After dinner, the hamam.  That was pretty incredible- it felt completely luxurious but without being fru-fru and new-agey like spas at home. It's interesting how completely unselfconscious you can be-I thought the scrub guy and masseuse would bother me at least a little, but not at all.  The amount you can sweat, and the amount of skin you can take off, and the intensity of massage you can stand, is all pretty incredible.  you come out feeling five pounds lighter.  It also really evens out funky tan lines.  I find myself desperately wishing for someplace like that at home, just cheap and businesslike and effective. 
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Half day travel to Selcuk, which is a lovely town utterly swarming with Kiwis and Aussies.  I find it funny how the tourists segregate themselves.  The town has a lot to see- the Ephesus museum, Selcuk mosque (one of the only major non-Ottoman style mosques around, I understand, and strikingly different looking) and some lovely small towns nearby.  We settled in at the hotel and then went to Ephesus, again late in the day for the heat.  Good guide, if a little dry, spent about two hours with him.  We missed the newly excavated terrace houses, though, which is too bad (and might be worth braving a little more heat and crowds for).  It looks like the city is being pretty constantly excavated and restored, and I would quite like to go back in a few years.  The theater made me all mushy and romantic (of course!) especially so because you can look out past the stage to the huge, broad, paved Harbor road that led through the heart of the city down to the docks.  How am I supposed to resist that?  

Headed back and had a birthday dinner for Joy.  Melinda bought a highly-suspicious cake, and Nina arranged for the restaurant to put up this huge banner.  There was another huge table, an older tour group of Kiwis, and they insisted on singing to her quite heartily.  

That restaurant had a kitten, absolutely tiny thing with its eyes barely open, and we got to cuddle it and syringe-feed it.  It was quite possible the most ovary-melting cute thing I've seen sine the very first time we visited Roxy.

Ephesus really is fantastic, and you time it right you can have the whole city practically to yourself.  The facade of the library is spectacular.  And that harbor road, just stretching out like an arrow, lit by led to the ghost of the bustling docks... My god I am creepy and gushy and sentimental.  
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Half-day travel to Pamukkale, to one of the nicer hotels we've been in- big complex with this spring fed swimming pool, all un-chlorinated and mineral-y, with this big courtyard with nice decks and those cushioned tree-house things I've been seeing around, which are startlingly comfy.  Also, really nice bathrooms, actual shower curtains, little sample bottles of shampoo, and a computer with free internet! *does the awesome hotel dance*

We waited around, didn't actually head up to the site until about five, for the heat.  I'm sad that I missed the museum that way, but it's a fantastically long hot walk through the travertine pools, a long way UP from the town.  

There are old baths made into a museum, the absolutely beautiful restored temple mineral pool (which you can swim in for a jaw-dropping fee, considering it's the same damn mineral water in every gutter in town).  Ruined building complexes, the old Plutonium, where the springwater and all the lethal gasses come out.  Remains of city walls and several gates and arches, nice amphitheater, the martyrion of St Philip.  Old amphitheaters make me so sentimental, in a really embarrassing way- I have, somehow, built them up in my head in a symbolic way, until they just seem to contain all the LIFE of the entire city, for centuries, and you sit there and just drink it up until all the ghosts around you and on the stage seem real enough that walking back out into ruins is an utter shock.  I am a romantic, and classical cities are so alive and vibrant to me that it is rather embarrassing.

The travertine pools themselves are quite something, far huger in scope than I was remotely prepared for.  Absolutely beautiful, calcified lace and wedding cakes.  We saw at least four brides having their pictures taken there- it's obviously quite the trendy spot.  Also lots of stunningly immodest tourist dress- those with digital cameras were playing a "most inappropriate tourist" scavenger hunt, which Damien won with matching his-and-hers flesh-colored thongs.  I am not making that up.  

Watched sunset at the top and walked back down through the pools in the cool.  It's just about the most ludicrously romantic thing on the planet.  
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Up and out pretty early for the promised 3 hour hike that Nina sort of badgered and shamed me into going on despite my difficulties at Nemrut and on the Goreme hike. We started in the old ghost town of Kayakoy, cleared out in the population exchange in 1924 and later abandoned by the transplanted Macedonian Muslims sent to replace them. It's all stone, and at just that level of ruin where you can still see everything very clearly, quite creepy. It's the only town we've seen with no minarets, and it's incredible just how startling that looks. Lovely basilica with intact mosaic on the floor.

Our guide was just some local teenager Nina roped in, far more interested in canoodling his girlfriend than in us. The actual hike was beautiful but a complete bitch, and if we hadn't been tackling it so early in the morning I never would have made it. It's incredible how much more exhausting than just walking it is, when you have to carefully plant and brace every individual footfall. I ended up glad I'd done it in hindsight, of course, but only barely.

Wonderful day on the public beach at Oludeniz at the end. Watching the storms of paragliders like dandelion seeds off a cliff the brochures say is 6500 feet. Whole day there, giving myself a quite satisfying sunburn. Got chatted up by a really hot Turkish guy who teaches English in the Black Sea area during the year and works the paragliding shops in the summer.
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Complete hell. I've been hacking and coughing and sniffling and sneezing and Kelly told me she'll take another room because I kept her awake all night. I got some pills from the pharmacy, and they work a bit but only for the cough and only for a short time.

Dolus to Fethiye. new pension is associated with a hotel with a pool, which is icy cold, so that's wonderful. Everyone else went out to trek in the Salikent Gorge- the one where Nina was telling us cute stories about schoolboys pulling you up over the rocks for 50 kurush- also, where you have to wade through the icy water. But I just couldn't face hard physical activity 3 days in a row, and I really want to hike tomorrow. Swam, gave in and paid too much for a cool swishy skirt, and ate a crepe with honey and bananas (YUM). Planning on sleeping and resting as much as possible in the air con to try to be okay for tomorrow. Met a guy at the pool whose cough sounded exactly like mine, and it turns out he has bronchitis. Oh, fun.
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Sea kayaking today! I've been getting steadily sicker since the fever that night in Antalya, though I think the fever hasn't come back. I'm hawking and sneezing and sniffling like mad.

The kayaking trip was wildly fun. Just about everyone bagged out on it because of the heat, but it was quite cool and pleasant on the water and not such hard work at all. Two absolutely fantastic guides- Bez and Ally. They were absolutely exceptional, just damn fun. Bez was fantastic with the little girl in our group, and I've never seen anyone look like they're having so much damn fun on the water. He was paddling circles around us and rolling over and picking up starfish and urchins and jellyfish for us. The other guy was just gorgeous. I mean, beautiful. And just rocking the shirtless long haired pirate headscarf look. Just... wow. The sort of person you just want to sit and look at, as long as possible.

The sunken city of Kekova- pretty bare ruins, some foundations and stairs plunging into the water. Lycian tombs standing straight out of the water. A nice lunch.

Really badly sick by the end of the day. Tire blowout on the bus back. The pharmacy doesn't have any cough drops, just these pills I don't have any faith in. I am getting desperate for comfort and familiarity in that way you do when you're sick, but none to be found.
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Kas is beautiful. It's strikingly Greek-looking, the first properly Aegean town we've been in, with the white terraced houses and red tile roofs plunging straight down to the sea. Except, of course, for the flags and Turkish signs and all the damn minarets. Apparently they don't have anyone to do the call to prayer here, so all the mosques use a tape-recorded one, and you can clearly hear the cassette player tones. It's funny.

We walked down to arrange the sea kayaking for tomorrow and ate at this fabulous place called Mama's Kitchen, with these huge meat-filled dumpling things.

Finally to the beach, which is actually a steep plunge off barnacle rocks with some slimy ladders. I've never seen a rock-cliff beach like that, but it was cool and wet and refreshing and perfect. Damien is quite the enthusiastic diver, so that was fun.

Back to the pension, which has an absolutely lovely terrace, and, amazingly, free internet.
dragojustine: (Turkey)
In Antalya, which is the most charming and beautiful old city center I've seen yet in Turkey.

Turns out I had a bad fever last night- full on, disconnected from the world, like I'm hearing everything from underwater, trouble keeping my balance, alternating hot and cold chills, the whole deal. Slept a lot, took lots of Tylenol, and bagged out on anything strenuous today. Did lots of errands- bought a razor, those evil eye keychains, did postcards, stopped at an internet cafe. Sat by the old harbor for awhile. Walked to the museum, which was excellent, especially the statuary collection. Low key day but wonderful and relaxing. Just... soak up the atmosphere.
dragojustine: (Turkey)
The homestay was cool and comfy, best bathrooms yet spotted in this country. Then a long bus travel day. East, Kurdish territory to stay in a pension right near the summit of Nemrut. Sight of the day- donkey with a washing machine strapped to its back. I don't even know.

After dinner Kelly, David, and Carmella all came up very badly sick, and we all felt bad for them. Lovely evening playing cards with Kelly's deck. Turns out Tony loves a version of Dal Muti/Peasant.

Woke up at 4 in the morning. Kelly was violently ill all night and didn't sleep at all. Drove up the mountain. You have to walk the last 500m, which doesn't sound like far except that it's straight up rocky shale with no food. It was hell. I am completely angry and embarrassed about how out of shape I am, haivng had it proven to me 2 days in a row now. Nina had to come back and wait quite a long time for me. It was awful and I desperately need to get into shape.

The actual mountain top looks exactly like the photos. It's absolutely beautiful. The view is breathtaking (especially when you realize that that little stream down there is the Euphrates. Christ). The monument is impressive and awe-inspiring and it's everything you hope it will be. However, a lot like New Years in Times Square. Did it once, have memories, never have to do it again.

The whole rest of the day was bus travel with many very sick people. Arrived in Silifke. Very nice restaurants. I seem to be out of the woods on food poisoning, had a very cheap and spicy kebab, enjoyed it and was fine. Go me!

Cappadocia

Aug. 22nd, 2007 09:29 pm
dragojustine: (Turkey)
This was our free day in Cappadocia. The big-ticket attraction is the hot-air ballooning, but it cost a fortune and, frankly, you can see the scenery from the ground and balloon anywhere in the world, and I'm not sure the combination justifies that much money. Only one person wanted to go (or, rather, wanted to pay for it) which seemed to sort of bother Korinna. Several others walked over the hill to see them lift off, but it was at an inhumane hour of the morning. Apparently a spectacular sight. The rest of the day, Korinna hooked us up with a private guide. It was all of us, so a very reasonable price for the whole day. Several lookout/photo points, including the highly amusingly named Love Valley. Short hike through a canyon, more cave-cut churches. Fun hike, but the promised "very nice" restaurant at the end with the mind blowing fresh trout was actually fairly lousy. Fixed menu, most of which I didn't want, expensive water, and a major major wasp problem. 20 to 30 wasps buzzing around the table at a time, crawling on people, landing on food and in drinks. The trout was wonderful, but it finally got so bad that you couldn't open your mouth wide enough to get a bite in without seriously risking eating a wasp. Hungry all afternoon.

Finally to the underground city. Highly highly cool, though again, the lack of signage and documentation is sad. As a result, I don't have a very good sense of how much is even known, especially about the age of various sections (for instance, how much was originally carved by Hittites). The size and depth of the thing was incredible, as were the defense and ventilation systems. But, claustrophobic- it's one thing to keep bumping your head, it's another to keep scraping the small of your back!

Our guide all day was this adorable little blond woman who I think was Danish. She kept taking calls on her cell phone, and spread that standard tour guide misinformation rumor that Star Wars was filmed in Cappadocia, and didn't seem to have a firm grasp of Bronze Age history. But cute and personable.
dragojustine: (Turkey)
Beowulf

One of those things that I should have read a long time ago, and have read, and don't think I got as much out of as I should have.  In any case, it does indeed have that particular feel of oral heroic epic, which appeals, and I'm going to read more and try to get into what I know I missed, and I'm glad I did.  There's obviously some incredible play of language in the original, and I think the translation I read was good.  The history is fascinating and the linguistics certainly would be if I had a clue, and the glimpses of heroic culture are both very familiar and in some ways quite foreign to a classical mindset. 


Tales from the Expat Harem (Foreign Women in Modern Turkey) edited by Anastasia Ashman and Jennifer Gokmen

This was charming and wonderful and sweet and made me desperately, desperately long to see Turkey.  More than that, it made me long to be a braver person than I am- to be the sort of person who travels the middle east alone and learns Turkish and lives in a stone house in the Cappadocian mountains and...  a braver person than I am.  Maybe someday. 


Game of Thrones, George R R Martin

Ah, what delightful fluff.  I re-read this one on a whim, and had forgotten how enjoyable door-stop fantasy can be, if it has any tinge
of originality.  Martin's refusal to fall into the traps of an utterly black and white world with strangely invincible characters is
refreshing.  This series might have more truly memorable characters per pound than any doorstop fantasy I've read.

What really makes it good, though, is the strange amalgamation of sources.  The political struggle in the South is two-thirds War of the
Roses and one-third Hundred Years War.  Daeny's struggle across the sea comes half Ghengis Khan and half Anne McCaffrey.  And the Wall and the north is part Hadrian's wall but mostly Germanic myth.  You never could have convinced me that these elements could come together for an enjoyable whole (in fact, they don't really come together, and I am still withholding judgment on whether Martin will be able to pull that off), but they sure do work here.


Clash of Kings, George R R Martin

Yea verily, more of the same.  Martin can be brutal- he tears hard at your emotions, challenging you constantly to face what he gives you
without shutting it out.  Many people think he is just too unpleasant to read- I think it's about damn time one of these high-fantasy
mideaval authors took a hard look at the historical setting they've chosen and face it.


The Crucible, Arthur Miller

Oh my.  What an incredible and tear-jerking thing about honesty and integrity and hypocrisy and goodness.  More than that, about community and hysteria and vengeance and repression and.. oh my.  Quite something.

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