Canakkale II: Daytrip to Bozcaada

Stardate May, 2014. Canakkale, Turkey

I have a confession to make.

I played hooky on the last day of the Onsekiz Mart University conference and visited the beautiful little island of Bozcaada. This gem in the northeastern Aegean Sea is only a 35 minute ferry ride from Canakkale. It is blessed with a Mediterranean climate that is perfect for growing wine and table grapes. When you see the photos, you’ll know why I chose a day of sightseeing and sunshine.

Bozcaada Castle

The Bozcaada Castle is so old that no one knows who originally built it. No kidding. It was used during the Venetian, Genoese, and Byzantine periods and completely renovated by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. This photo was taken from the ferry as we approached the island.

Ferry from Canakkale

Our ferry just docked!


The harbor is picture pretty. Those are fishing boats in the foreground.

Walkway to City Center

One more photo of the walkway to the city center: More fishing boats, the harbor master’s office and an outdoor cafe.


Bozcaada’s center is filled with shops, cafes and sidewalk vendors. I had a cup of tea with Leslie S. and two of her brightest students.  I wasn’t the only one playing hooky that day!

Ottoman Cemetery Mosque

After tea we visited this Ottoman era cemetery in the courtyard of a mosque. Turkey travel tip: you can  find clean public restrooms in almost any mosque. It’s polite to leave a small donation but not required.

Greek Neighborhood

Bozcaada is divided into Turkish and Greek neighborhoods. The architecture looks pretty similar but the Greeks seem especially fond of blue accents. We’re posing under a grape arbor in the Greek neighborhood.

Greek homeI

More blue trim and an intricate wrought iron entrance.

Greek homeII

I love the bouganvilla arch and pretty lace curtains in the window of this home.

Blue Skies Aegean Sea

This is the money shot. Have you every seen a more beautiful sky and sea?

Castle by Sea

Just down the beach from the last photo is the Bozcaada Castle. Although the summer season hadn’t officially begun, there were a few sunbathers enjoying the gorgeous day.

Ayazma Beach

Last stop: Ayazma Beach. We took a minibus to the most popular beach on Bozcaada and found it clean and uncrowded. A long walk in the sand, bare feet in the surf, and a few smooth beach rocks in my pockets made this the perfect end to my day off.

ELFs at Hotel Akol

All the ELFs who attended the conference gathered at the rooftop bar at the Akol Hotel Saturday evening to watch the sunset and talk about plans for the future. We’ll all be heading in different directions as our fellowships end and our time in Turkey comes to a close.

I didn’t quite meet my goal to catch up all the Turkey blogs this summer and fall. But I’m close!

Next week I’ll fly to Ecuador for my new job teaching English at Yachay City of Knowledge. So should I change the name of my blog to Letters to my Daughter from Ecuador? or something more generic? What do you think, Lili?

Anyone else have suggestions for a new blog name?



Canakkale: Where the Dardanelles Meets the Aegean

Rewind to May 2014: I traveled to Canakkale attend a conference at the Onsekiz Mart University.

Canakkale is a  medium-sized seaport city in the northwest corner of Turkey. Located on the Dardanelles Strait, which links the Marmara and Aegean Seas, it boasts a wide waterfront promenade and beautiful views from every high point in town.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!  Canakkale Province has real estate in both Asia and Europe, it is the setting for the ancient city of Troy, AND the site of an important World War I naval battle.

I think I’ve been watching too many infomercials. 🙂 Here are a few of my favorite images from the trip.

IMG_0447 copy

This photo was taken at the university. You’re looking at the Dardanelles and on the other side of the peninsula, the Aegean Sea.

ELFs gone wild

ELFs gone wild! On a lunch break from the conference with fellow ELFs Jacob, Dorothy, and Leslie K. Dorothy, second from left, was posted in Canakkale and said that it is almost always windy here. Maybe because of its location on the water?

Hotel Akol view

I stayed at the Hotel Akol, which the snotty travel writer at Lonely Planet called “the old orange mare.” Granted, it’s a little worn around the edges and caters to similarly aging tour groups but you can’t beat the location. This photo was taken from the private terrace off my room.

Farmers Market

This lady at the farmers market did NOT want her photo taken. Oops. I apologized and bought some dried fruit. She is wearing the traditional Turkish farmer’s outfit: loose harem pants in a floral pattern, long sleeved top, and scarf tied under her chin.

Troy horse

The other Leslie and I in front of the Trojan horse. Actually, the horse was a prop used in the movie “Troy” (with Brad Pitt). It was donated to the city of Canakkale and is now a permanent attraction on the waterfront promenade. Another ELF took a short bus ride to the ancient city of Troy and said there was nothing to see but a pile of rubble. Sad. I guess Turkey has so many archeological treasures that the government can’t afford to excavate and restore all of them.

Cobbled street view

Cute cobbled streets with between-buildings slices of blue skies, puffy clouds and the Dardanelles.

Yalova Restaurant

The Yalova Restaurant, recommended by my guidebook.

Yalova fish

The server took us upstairs to choose our fish, then weighed it to figure out how much to charge us. It was delish!

Yalova mezes

Hot and cold mezes, mostly vegetarian but some made with fish. Served as appetizers, they are my favorite Turkish dishes.

I didn’t make it to the Gallipoli Peninsula memorial to 500,000 allied soldiers who died during World War I Gallipoli Campaign. I had to return to Ankara on Sunday but several of my friends went and posted their photos on Facebook. It’s a gorgeous hilltop setting and the site of an annual gathering of hundreds of Australians and New Zealanders whose relatives are buried there.

That’s all for now. My next post will be about my day trip to the island of Bozcaada. Stay tuned!

ILY, Mom

Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast: Antalya

Get ready for turquoise waters and warm sea breezes as we travel back to Antalya during the third week in April, 2014.

I took the bus from Ankara to Antalya, approximately a seven hour ride. It was my first long bus trip and I was impressed. Comfy, reclining seats; a personal screen for entertainment; and tea and snack service. The only thing the bus didn’t have was a bathroom. I learned that Turkish buses usually only make one stop, halfway through the trip, for a bathroom and meal break. Note to self: Don’t drink so much tea next time.

I was meeting my friend and fellow ELF, Leslie, at The Marmara Antalya and I had reserved a room with two twin beds. When I arrived, the front desk upgraded me to a view of the Mediterranean. I’m not sure why – maybe because it was Wednesday?

View from room copy

The round building had additional hotel rooms and meeting and event rooms. That was a serious pool! The hotel also had a large garden area with paths overlooking the Mediterranean. Beautiful landscaping. Well done, Marmara Antalya.

Hotel Beach from garden walk copy

I saw this nice beach just below the hotel’s garden path. But there are no stairs leading down to the sea. So how d0 I go there? It’s a mystery.

Med Sea Park II copy

Met up with Leslie and walked to the downtown area. We passed several beautiful seaside parks on the way.

Med Sea II copy

The stairs to the water are obvious here. It’s a steep climb back up! The tiny blip in the water is a swimmer.

Harley Shop copy

Made in America. This Harley shop in downtown Antalya looked a little surreal surrounded by Turkish flags.

Hadrian's Gate copy

Hadrian’s Gate was built to honor the Roman Emporer Hadrian when he visited Antalya in 130 BC. It is one of the entrances to Kaleici, or Old Antalya. This district was governed at various times by the Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, and the Ottoman Empire. It is now a tourist area but hasn’t lost its historic feel.

Old Antalya copy

The narrow streets of Old Antalya are lined with shops, restaurants, historic wooden houses, and  boutique hotels.

Old Town Cafe II copy

We stopped for tea at this seaside cafe. Nice view, huh?

Old Town Cafe view copy

Another photo taken from the cafe’s patio. I could have spent all day here.

The Marmara Antalya copy

Back at the hotel: Remember that photo I took of the beach with no access? Found it! The round, white building is hiding an elevator that goes down, down, down to the Mediterranean.

Tunnel Elevator to Beach copy

Tunnel from the elevator to the beach.

Marmara Beach copy

Finally! The beach area was a work in progress and the only way to get into the water was by climbing down steps. It was very cold – I put my toes in.

I hope you enjoyed this look at the sunny Mediterranean coast of Turkey. There are many more resort cities that I didn’t get the chance to explore. Maybe I’ll be able to go back someday.

Have a great time in Atlanta!

ILY, Mom




Greetings Time Traveler,

Hold on to your Jolly Ranchers. We’re rocketing back to the first weekend in April.

Erzurum is a largish (pop. 400,000) city in northeastern Turkey. At 6,200 feet, it gets lots of snow in the winter and is home to a popular ski resort. I went there to present at the Effective English Teaching Symposium at Ataturk University.

The conference was organized by James, the Senior ELF posted in Erzurum. Connie, the ELF from Van, was also coming to present. I was excited to explore a new place and speak English with my friends!

I arrived on Friday afternoon and took a taxi from the airport to the city center, where I checked into the Esatas Hotel.

Street scene

street scene ErzurumOutside my window, the street is bustling. And no snow on the ground! Yay! I’d gotten bad reports from James about the frigid Erzurum winter.

Tiny Turkish lift

elevatorI took this picture for you, Lili, because I know how much you like elevators. Especially little ones. This was about the size of a broom closet, but on the bright side, it had lovely wood paneling.

Out and about

Street scene IIConnie wouldn’t arrive until later that evening and James was home with his family so I decided to walk around the neighborhood.

Shoeshine Book fairI passed a line of shoeshine men with pretty brass stands, waiting for customers. In the background a huge tent had been set up for the Erzurum Book Fair.

borekI stopped in a nice little bakery-cafe for lunch: Borek, a side of cucumber and tomato, and hot tea. Borek is like lasagna but it’s filled with peynir beyaz (turkish white cheese) and a little basil. A tasty dish for vegetarians!

puddings cakes breadsbaklava

There are two or three bakeries per block in every city I’ve visited. Really. It’s a wonder that Turks don’t all weigh 300 pounds. I might have had a baklava or two. Who could resist?

Cold, clear waterCommunity fountainJames and family – wife, Brittany, and kids, Hannah, Sofia, and TJ – met me that afternoon for sightseeing. In this photo, Brittany is lifting one of the girls to drink from a community fountain. The water is piped from a mountain spring. The traditional roof on this fountain is built from lumber from local trees.

Yakutiye Medresesi

Yakutiye MedresesiBuilt in 1310, the Yakutiye Medresesi served as a school for children and youths. It is now a museum that houses relics from the Seljuk period. This is a typical family home from that era. Notice the wooden, honeycomb-style ceiling.

Door to exhibit

Hobbit-sized doorways lead from the central area into class/exhibit rooms. Hannah and Sophia demonstrate just how small the doors are.

Hannah antique riflesHannah poses in front of an antique gun display. The rifles are much prettier than today’s models!

Smokin’ da hookah

Hookah IIHookah bar

When Connie arrived that evening, we went in search of a glass of wine. Alas, the closest thing we found was a ho0kah bar. Erzurum is known throughout Turkey as an extremely conservative city. The young people at the bar seemed to be having fun, chatting, playing backgammon, and sharing hookahs. We didn’t indulge.

Palandoken Mountain

Palandoken Mt ski area

After the conference on Saturday, our Turkish host took us on a tour of the city and up the hill to the Palandoken Mountain ski area. The locals are very proud of their ski facilities, and rightly so. The 25th Winter Universiade, a huge event in Europe, was held here in 2011.

Connie Oktay MeConnie, Oktay, and I at a scenic overlook above the ski area. Oktay is a vice dean  at Ataturk University and he was a gracious host during our visit.

Cag Kebab

James Oktay Ca kebabThe last stop on the Oktay tour was a very nice restaurant that serves the local specialty, Cag (pronounced “Jaa”)Kebab. The service was wonderful, the side dishes delicious. The only thing I didn’t like was the lamb kebab, which was . . . chewy.

Wine, at last

Hannah SofiaOn the way back to our hotel, James stopped by a major chain grocery store, which is evidently the only place to purchase wine in Erzurum. My two favorite girls, Hannah and Sofia, kept everyone in good spirits. They asked James if I could live with them. Awww!

Erzurum Airport

Taxi rideA crazy young driver took this picture of me before we departed for the airport on Sunday. He was very proud of his tricked out taxi. I thought it looked like he killed Chewbacca and covered the seats with him.

Women's dressI took this photo because it shows the conservative dress of women in Erzurum. Many women wore scarves and long coats. Some covered everything but their eyes, which is unusual in Turkey.

Ride home

My ride home. Bye bye, Erzurum. It was great meeting you

And bye, Lili.

ILY, Mom





Tarsus Revisited

Howdy from Nevada!

My last post here was about two months ago. Since then, I returned home to Laughlin but I don’t feel quite ready to move on to the next adventure. Maybe posting my Turkey pictures will help me get unstuck.

Tarsus, home of St. Paul, was one of my favorite day trips in Turkey. Here are the rest of my photos.

Tarsus street vendor

Tarsus Fresh chickpeas copy

This gentleman was selling some kind of bean at his street stand. We couldn’t figure out what it was and, of course, he couldn’t tell us because he spoke no English. He ate a few and encouraged us to do the same. Fresh chickpeas! They were delicious. He also had fresh beet juice for sale.

Street vendor II

Tarsus Beet Juice copy

Beet juice is available all over Turkey but it’s especially popular in Tarsus as beets are grown here.  The woman at this stand gave us an ice cold sample. I loved it. My travel buddy hated it.

Turkish delight

Tarsus Best Candy Store copy

Turkish delight, nut and nougat rolls, candy made from pumpkin and the regional specialty, cezerye (made from carrots) are just a few of the treats available. This was my my favorite candy store in Tarsus.

Daniel’s tomb

Daniel Tomb copy

This was a combination Roman-era archeological dig and the tomb of Old Testament prophet, Daniel. One of the signs stated that Daniel’s body had been hidden so the Jews couldn’t steal it. Sigh. Religious rivalry is as old as time. Look carefully in the center of the photo to see the green tapestry over Daniel’s tomb.

Separate but not equal

Daniel Womens Prayer Rm Right copy

Upstairs and to the right of Daniel’s tomb (center) was the men’s prayer room. It was large, glassed in, with a plush, light blue carpeting on the floor and air conditioning. Downstairs, to the left of where the women and children are standing, was the women’s prayer room. Small, crowded, no carpet, no air conditioning.

Roman ruins

Roman Bath:Student Father copy

While chatting with the ticket takers at the tomb/archeological site, we discovered that one was the father of my travel buddy’s student. What a coincidence! This is the father standing in front of the ruins of an ancient Roman bath.

The Cave of the Seven Sleepers

Cave Inside copy

Like many sites in Turkey,  the Cave of the Seven Sleepers is considered sacred by both Christians and Muslims and has parallel legends. According to the Christian version, seven young men fled to the cave to escape persecution by the Romans. In the Muslim version, they were escaping from evil men in the town. Both versions agree that when the young men awakened and sent two of their fellows into town to buy food, they discovered that they had slept for two hundred years. The woman dressed in black in the center of the photo is collecting water dripping from the ceiling, which is believed to have healing properties.

Sunlight and shadows

Cave Inside III copy

Another picture inside the cave. I think the woman on the upper level who is all in black may be a religious pilgrim from another country. Conservative Turkish women generally wear brightly colored scarves to cover their hair.

Berdan River water park

Berdan River copy

After the cave, we stopped by a water-front park on the Berdan River. These local boys were enjoying a swim.

Proud papa

Berdan River Proud BaBa copy

I ran into this Baba (Turkish for father) on the bridge over the Berdan River. He invited me to take a photo of him and his beautiful baby girl.

Fish dinner with a view

Falls Restaurant sign copy

We had a wonderful fish dinner with Efes (Turkish beer) and mezes (Mediterranean-style appetizers) at the end of our long, action-packed, and very warm day in Tarsus.

Perfect ending

Falls Best copyThe restaurant overlooked the Berdan River Falls. Beautiful!

Bus station scene

Tarsus Typical dress: woman copy

While waiting for my bus to Ankara, I noticed this couple who had just put their college-aged daughter on the bus. The woman is wearing traditional clothes, which are common outside of Ankara and Istanbul. Both men and women wear the baggy pants. I think they must be comfortable and practical for working outdoors.

So that’s the scoop on my day in Tarsus. Like so many places I visited, there didn’t seem to be enough time to do everything.  I loved Tarsus because it held so much history but seemed relatively unspoiled. It definitely wasn’t overrun with tourists  the day we visited.

I’m excited about your October visit!




“This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the English Language Fellows’ own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program or the U.S. Department of State.”

I had such a wonderful day in Tausus with travel buddy, Noele. We covered a lot of territory and took so many pictures that I had a hard time choosing just a few to post. So buckle up! This is going to be a long one.

Tea time at the Konak Efsus


Meryem, center, is an English teacher at Cukurova University but her home is in Tarsus. She very kindly gave us a ride to Tarsus after the conference and showed us her beautiful home and garden. Noele, Meryem and I are pictured here in the front patio of the Konak Efsus Hotel.

Ambassador Kopek


This elderly Cocker Spaniel was the good will ambassador for the hotel. He greeted guests and generally kept an eye on things. The Konak Efsus was the only hotel in Tarsus recommended by Lonely Planet. They described it as a “delightful boutique hotel converted from a traditional Ottoman house . . . eight rooms with stone walls, antique furniture, and 21st Century plumbing.” All that and a free breakfast!

I wonder what St. Paul would think . . .


Although Tarsus has several notable shrines and archeological sights, it’s best known as the home of St. Paul, to whom Jesus appeared on the road to Damascus. This restaurant, across the street from the Konak Efsus, used to be called the Antik Cafe but evidently changed its name to cash in on the tourist trade.

Inside St. Paul’s Cafe


The neon sign didn’t prepare me for this rustically beautiful interior. I love the seat covers in traditional kilim designs. They remind me of Navajo rugs.

St. Paul’s Well


I hate to say it, but there really wasn’t much to see at St. Paul’s house. Ancient well, partial excavation of a foundation and a few blocks (under plexiglass) to the right. The garden was beautiful and well kept.

Another view


I like this photo of the well and excavation because it shows historic Turkish houses in the background. St. Paul’s well and house were just a few feet from our hotel in Tarsus’ Old City (Antik Sehir).

In the footsteps of CleopatraImage

Discovered in 1993, this 2000 year old Roman road may have been traveled by St. Paul, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. Really. The sign said so.

And speaking of Cleopatra


The Roman Kancik Kapisi – translation, Gate of the Bitch – was later renamed Cleopatra’s Gate. Ouch! It’s thought that the Egyptian Queen might have rendezvoused with Mark Anthony in Tarsus in 41 BC.

Forty Spoons Market (Kirkkasik Bazaar)


It was a very warm and humid day. These Turks enjoyed their afternoon tea under the trees in front of the covered market.

A peek inside 


The Kirkkasik Bazaar was built in the 19th Century. Practically new by Tarsus standards!

St. Paul’s Memorial Museum


This church was commissioned by the Orthodox Arab-Greek Congregation in 1850. It was used “for other purposes” until 1994 when the Ministry of Culture made it into a museum.

Interior St. Paul’s Memorial Museum


The interior wasn’t incredibly ornate but it had clean, white-washed walls with some beautiful murals over the altar and in the back of the church. Noele adds perspective to the photo.

Look up


Ceiling frescoes depict Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. That’s the Angel Gabriel in the middle, I think.

Ulu Camii (Great Mosque)Image

Built in the 16th Century, with a the minaret/clock tower added in the 19th Century. After we put on head scarves, Noele and I were invited into the women’s prayer room. We didn’t realize we had arrived just in time for the service. The imam gave a sermon to the assembled women, young and old. Of course we couldn’t understand a word but he seemed kind and the women were obviously moved. It felt very spiritual.

After prayers


Women leaving the mosque after prayer service.

Okay, that’s it for tonight. I’ll stop here and do Tarsus II tomorrow.




“This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the English Language Fellows’ own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program or the U.S. Department of State.”

My time in Turkey is almost over. I’ll have to do more time traveling to catch up my blog but for now, I’ll just post the most recent photos of my trip to Adana and Tarsus.

First, I want to tell you how proud I am of your accomplishments: A new job with the Housing and Urban Development Agency; a cross country move with Brian and all the pets; and settling into your new life in Washington, DC. You’ve experienced a lot of change during the past few months and have dealt with it admirably. Congrats on a new chapter! And later this month, happy birthday to you and Brian!

I traveled to Adana to give a presentation at the 8th Annual Cukurova University State School ELT Teachers’ Conference. Adana is in the south of Turkey, not quite all the way to the Mediterranean but close. One of my fellow ELFs is posted at the university and helped organize the conference. Here are my photos.

I’ll take it!


The morning of my departure I got a call saying that my regular bus had broken down. A very nice young man told me to come to Window 51 at the Asti Station and he would put me on a different bus. And here it is! I’d never ridden with this company before but the bus was a Mercedes Benz and quite snazzy. Each passenger had a personal console on the back of the seat in front of him/her with TV, movies and games. I played Angry Birds and Candy Crush for the first time. I know, I’ve led a sheltered life. And they gave me a cup of dondurma (Turkish ice cream) as soon as I got on the bus. I was a happy camper.

Dorm life . . . again


I stayed in a residence hall for visiting faculty and Erasmus (foreign) students. Utilitarian but clean and the price was right – 40 Turkish lira or about $20 a night.

And then there were 30


One of the residents got a pair of bunnies as pets and look what happened! This courtyard, surrounded by residence halls, used to be covered with grass and vegetation. It’s now home to a huge herd of bunnies of all shapes, colors and sizes. I think the resident later introduced at least one more bunny to vary the gene pool. Several are shown here enjoying some purple cabbage. What are a bunch of rabbits called??

Seyhan River Dam Reservoir


Cukurova University has a big, beautiful campus with lots of open space, trees and wildlife (besides bunnies). It is located on the Reservoir of the Seyhan River Dam. The Seyhan River is the longest in Turkey. It flows past Adana to the Mediterranean. I took this photo on the way to dinner my first evening in Adana.

Spring festival


The primary school on campus held a spring festival and displayed all the kids’ crafts. The woman behind the eggs is my travel buddy and fellow ELF, Noele.

Fish for lunch bunch


Hassan, the gentleman in the white shirt, was the chief organizer for the conference. He treated all the presenters to lunch at a  lovely fish restaurant on campus. Pictured from left are me, James, Noele, Hassan, and Leslie. Leslie is the ELF at Cukurova University and worked hard to help organize the conference. Thanks, Leslie and Hassan. Great job!

After the conference Noele and I added another day to our trip so we could visit Tarsus, the home of St. Paul. More about that in my next post.


Time Travel

“This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the English Language Fellows’ own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program or the U.S. Department of State.”

I was so excited to hear about your job interview in DC! Keeping all my fingers and toes crossed. I have a very good feeling about this one. Call it . . . kismet.

Semester break is over, alas, but I have lots of adventures to tell you about. Since I haven’t posted for quite a while, I thought I would start with recent history and work my way back through time.

The Greek Islands

I just spent three days in the Greek Islands. Not enough time, but it was beautiful and relaxing. I’m so glad that my travel buddy and I went during the off season. A server in one of the coffee shops on Santorini told me that they get three thousand passengers off of the cruise ships every day during the summer.


View of port of Santorini from the Blue Star Ferry

It was a five-hour ride to the Island of Santorini. Although it was a rainy day, the sea wasn’t rough. Thank goodness! I came prepared with seasick gum.

When we arrived, a van was waiting to take us to our hotel. We had reserved a room at the Margarita Hotel but ended up staying at the Kafieris apartments on the cliff. The same family owned both places but only kept the apartments open during off season. We arrived to find a clean if slightly shabby apartment with twin beds, a kitchenette, and a small terrace with a killer view of the Aegean Sea. Breakfast included – $45 a night.

Bus to Oia


I took a short trip to Oia, on the northern tip of the island, the morning after we arrived.  Much of Santorini rises straight up from the sea. The terraces on the hillsides are intended to stop erosion. I don’t know what is grown on the farmland below although I’m pretty sure I saw grapevines. Santorini has a winery that produces some good local wines. The farmers also grow a special variety of white eggplant.


The eco-system on Santorini could be classified as chaparral (think San Diego). Check out the prickly pear cacti!


I took a short walk during my hour in Oia and saw this beautiful new house with a private chapel and an amazing sunset view.


Next door was a more modest house with planters, a garden, and an equally amazing view of the sunset. Which homeowner do you think is richer?


Island dwellers tend to use whatever building materials are handy. This wall was constructed of volcanic rocks. And landscaped with more prickly pear cacti.


Back to the big city of Fira. We had a couple of delicious meals here with traditional Greek food. It’s pretty easy to be a vegetarian in Greece as the restaurants offer many dishes made with beans, fresh vegetables, cheese and homemade breads. Yummy!


A bus load of Chinese tourists rode over on the ferry with us. They seemed to prefer more familiar food. 🙂


I took a wrong turn on the way home and discovered this amazing cliff view.


A few minutes after I took the last photo, a train of pack mules began winding up the hillside. At least, I think they’re mules. Correct me if I’m wrong – mules or donkeys?


This gentleman kindly let me take his picture. His companion looks like a well-loved senior citizen.

My camera battery died right after that photo. We took a different ferry back to Athens the next day. The captain charted a zig zag course north on the Aegean with stops at six islands to load passengers, cars and freight. I felt like we’d stumbled onto an incredibly cheap cruise of the Greek Islands. The weather even cooperated; we had blue skies and sunshine much of the way. Although the trip took twelve hours, I enjoyed every minute. .

Looking forward to talking with you soon. Can’t wait to hear about your interview.


PS The islands we visited were Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros, Melos, Sifnos, and Serefos.



A Blast of Winter

“This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the English Language Fellows’ own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program or the U.S. Department of State.”

Although this blog is addressed to my daughter, anyone who is interested is cordially invited to skim, scan, or intensively read the content herein. Peace and blessings to all.

Nasul sunuz, evlat kIz? (How are you, daugher?)

We had our first snow this weekend. It was beautiful, as first snows always are. And just as inevitably, it was followed by days of cold, frozen misery. I’ve been taking taxis to the university to avoid walking on icy streets and sidewalks. I really have to buy some snow boots this weekend.

On the bright side, the ELF from Eskesehir came to visit me last weekend. Sorry to disappoint but she didn’t wear a cute little green outfit or have pointy ears. No shoes were cobbled or toys made. Leslie came to Turkey by way of San Francisco and Chapel Hill, NC. She took the train from Eskesehir to Ankara (only an hour and a half) and we had a super fun weekend.


I had my first cup of Turkish Coffee at Big Chef’s restaurant, just up the hill from the Ankara Sheraton. I was surprised that I really liked it! It was very dark and had a distinctive flavor but wasn’t bitter or acidic. There’s some thick, black stuff at the bottom of the cup when you finish drinking. Leslie told me that people turn their cups over to read their fortunes in the sludge.

Big Chef’s served a delicious breakfast for a very reasonable price. Did you know that in Turkey pancakes are served with warm chocolate sauce instead of syrup? Two thumbs up for Big Chef’s and Turkish Coffee! Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, the pretty little silver bell hid two pieces of Turkish Delight candy. Yummy.


And then it snowed. This is a picture of my street, John F. Kennedy Caddesi. If you walk in the direction the camera is pointing, you’ll arrive at the American Embassy.

So what do two ELFs do on a snowy night in Ankara?


Have a Homeland marathon! With Turkish subtitles. We had to suffer through lots of buffering but it was worth it. Thanks, Leslie for supplying me with a Homeland fix.


Take selfies. This was under duress on Leslie’s part. She hates to have her picture taken.

And consume lots of snacks – cookies, hummus, artichoke dip, bulgar-red chili stuff (sorry, I don’t know the name) and pita bread.


On Sunday morning we braved the cold weather to visit my favorite bookstore on Tunali Street, D & R Books. They have a good-sized English language section, where I found my Turkish cookbooks. Yay! I’m going to try out a couple of recipes next weekend. Leslie turned me on to two Turkish newspapers that print English language editions. Check out the headline. It will be interesting teaching journalism electives next semester. Also purchased, some tea candles to overpower the smell of my sometimes odoriferous bathroom drains.


A page from one of my cookbooks. I think every country/culture must have a recipe for tripe soup.


After Leslie left, I made a big pot of what has become a staple in my diet. Rice or Bulgar mixed with sauteed vegetables. Sometimes I add peynir beyaz (feta cheese) and olives. Tonight, I mixed in some garbanzo beans. It’s not easy being a vegetarian in Turkey. I find that I’m relying more on milk products, eggs, and fish for protein. If they sell tofu here, I haven’t found it. Now that I have my new cookbooks, I’m going to try some bean dishes.

I’ll leave you with a final photo of the first snow. The doorman had just cleared my walkway.


Looking forward to your January visit. As always, I love you and make good choices!


New Friends

“This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the English Language Fellows’ own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program or the U.S. Department of State.”

Although this blog is addressed to my daughter, anyone who is interested is cordially invited to skim, scan, or intensively read the content herein. Peace and blessings to all.

Iyi Aksamlar, (Good Evening)

I was going to call this post “The Kindness of Strangers” but, really, it’s hard to meet a stranger in Turkey. During my first full week in Ankara,  I made several new friends and met a couple of angels. I will post some of their pictures and stories here.

Ali and Family

A few days after I arrived, my landlord, Ali, invited to to go with him to the Ataturk Mausoleum and Museum. Ali and his lovely daughter, Jada, came to pick me up after Jada’s piano lesson. Then we drove to their home so I could meet the rest of the family. Ali’s wife, Mahi, greeted me with the tradition kiss on each cheek and I immediately felt welcome.


Jada (eleven), Me, Mahi, and Melda (four)

The museum was impressive. I especially liked the life-size dioramas of World War I Battle scenes with a realistic sound track and many authentic items that were used by Turkish soldiers. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum but I’ll include a few from the courtyard and mausoleum.


In front of the Ataturk Mausoleum. Kemal Ataturk was a general turned statesman who led the fight to keep Turkey united following World War I. He instituted many reforms after he was elected president and is viewed as the father of modern Turkey.


A ceremonial honor guard made up of all branches of the military keeps watch over the mausoleum.


Ali is standing in front of the above-ground portion of Ataturk’s tomb.


Can I count him as a new friend? Mmmm . . . maybe not. Although I certainly admired his ability to stay focused.

University Friends

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures of my new friends at Ankara University, Faculty of Communication, School of Journalism. As I get more, I’ll post them here.


This is Arezou, my office mate and the teacher who graciously took over my classes during the two months that I was waiting for my work visa. Arezou is from Iran and before starting at Ankara University, she was an interpreter for the United Nations.

Neighborhood friends


John, on the left, is a former ELF who decided to stay on in Ankara for a while. George (right) is originally from England. He is the librarian at the Turkish American Association’s English library. We had a lovely chat and George helped me figure out the bus routes. I hope to return to the TAA to take Turkish classes.


I fell in love with this little dog because she reminded me of Juno. She was not impressed with the tall, blond lady who talked funny. Check out the expression.

Transportation Angels

No surprise to you, Lili, or anyone who knows me, finding my way around has been one of my biggest challenges since I arrived in Ankara. I have to take two buses to get to the university and since I don’t speak Turkish, I can’t really ask for directions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank two gentlemen who assisted me.

Angel #1

On the day I was scheduled to observe my Academic English class, I decided take a taxi to make sure I got there on time. I got out my city map and showed the taxi driver the Ankara University campus, which I’d highlighted in blue. When we reached our destination, I noticed the buildings didn’t look familiar but I thought maybe the driver had just let me off at a different entrance. It wasn’t until I saw the life-size statue of a cow that I realized something had gone horribly wrong.

I went to the administration building in search of someone who spoke English. The security guard escorted me to the office of Prof. Dr. Ergun Akcay, the vice dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. After I explained my dilemma,  Ergun asked his secretary to call me a taxi. While we waited for the cab, we had a glass of tea and I learned some interesting facts about College of Veterinary Medicine. For example, did you know that there are approximately 1,000 students enrolled there and half of those hope to specialize in small animal care? When the taxi arrived Ergun escorted me outside and gave the driver instructions to take me to the correct campus.

If you read this, Ergun: Cok tesekur ederim!

Angel #2

Kenan copy_2

First week in town, again. I walked through construction dust and noise to a bus stop on Ataturk Avenue, where I knew I could catch a bus to KIzIlay. I had my fare ready but every bus that stopped was a city bus, for which you need a bus pass. Finally, I boarded a bus and held up my two lira. “Okay?” I asked.

A kind gentleman sitting two seats back jumped up and handed me his bus pass. I took the empty seat next to him and found out that he spoke English. He told me he had been a colonel in the Turkish army and had served as a military attache at several embassies. He made sure I got off at the right stop and showed me a snack kiosk which also sold bus passes. Then he walked me to the corner where I could catch the second bus to the university. Thanks so much, Kenan Unal, for taking the time to help a newcomer to your city. May Allah bless you.

Embassy Friends

Andrea Aycan bats

Andrea Schindler, left, is fairly new to Ankara, too. She was assigned as the Regional English Language Officer at the American embassy in Ankara this summer. Aycan, right, is the Regional English Language Programs Director. It looks like they had a festive Halloween!

Okay, honey, I’m late posting this week so will hit the publish button pronto. It’s getting cold here and I’m sure it will be even colder when you visit in January.

Dress warm and make good choices!