Thursday, December 18, 2014

Around Adana

So, as our time draws to a close here in Adana, I thought it would be fun to show you dear readers some "around town" photos. This is what we see on a daily or weekly basis that makes living in Turkey fun, interesting, frustrating and enjoyable all at the same time.  These are photos from around the downtown area mostly, and near the lake in North Adana.  I would have loved to post photos from the older part of Adana, known as Old Adana, but I never remember to bring my camera or iPad when I am over there.  Just know that Old Adana sounds exactly like it's name implies...cobbled stone, narrow streets, ancient buildings and small little vendors and shops at every turn. It is very easy to get lost back there, but it is a lot of fun to explore.  If I get a chance to venture over there before we move, I will be sure to post those photos as well.  In the meantime, here is Adana as we know it day-to-day.


This is the road that runs in front of the Consulate.  Those are cows grazing on the side of the road.  Sometimes it's goats. Or sheep.  Today, it's cows. 

Sorry this photo is so grainy.  This is a common scene around Adana.  That man is pulling a sack on his back to collect recycling items like bottles and cans.  On garbage day, these guys try to beat the garbage pickup, and walk around town sifting through garbage cans for anything recyclable so they can turn it in for money.  You will usually see young men anywhere from 10 to 35 years old doing this.   

Typical street scene in Adana

Adana from the roof of our building.  The haze is pretty typical during the late summer/early fall when farmers burn their fields, or in winter months when people burn coal for heat.  

This is the produce market near our home on Wednesday/Thursdays.  I tend to buy most of our produce here each week.  It's all seasonal, so once it's gone, it's gone.  Turkey has some of the best fruits and veggies I've ever tasted.  

The egg seller at the market.  I read an article recently that said the only reason Americans refrigerate eggs is because the U.S. cleaning process strips the eggs of all protective layers.  Most countries, including Turkey, don't refrigerate eggs, and in fact, it's not uncommon to see them sold outdoors in the sun.  (I am reusing this picture from the Flat Stanley project my nieces did last year)

The simit seller (another Flat Stanley pic).  These guys walk around town pushing carts of simit, the bagel-type bread you see here, and Ayran, a watered down yogurt drink.  Simit and Ayran go hand-in-hand and is probably the most popular snack.  I personally love simit, but I am not a fan of Ayran, mostly because I don't like yogurt all that much.

The large park in Adana: Merkez Parki,

This is the "Women's Market" that is set up every Wednesday in the north part of Adana, near the lake.  Women sell handmade items like knit baby clothes, crafts, jewelry, linens and other things.

You can also find food at the market. This is a vendor making and selling sikma.

Dried fruit: raisins, apricots, etc.

Olives, cheese and eggs--staple items in the Turkish diet.

The lake--this was taken from a restaurant in North Adana.  It's beautiful here, and there are tons of amazing seafood restaurants.

Zyapasa Bulvari - One of the nicest streets in Adana.  You can find high-end boutique shops here, as well as coffee shops like Starbuck's and Caribou Coffee, and nice restaurants.  

Zyapasa Blv.

Sephora on Zyapasa

Mmmm...Tantuni restaurant in our neighborhood.
Kunefe shop.  I had never tried kunefe until I moved here, but now I am obsessed.  I love it.  For those who don't know what kunefe is, you can read about it here.
Train Station (Central Station) in Adana.  This is where a lot of protests happened during the Gezi Park demonstrations last year.  
Ataturk Park on Ataturk Street, near Zyapasa.  This is a smaller park that's nice for walking around. Another location popular for protests.  
Inside one of the many carpets stores here.  Great prices for both handmade and machine made carpets.

And finally, I leave you with the most elegant street cat in all of Turkey.
There are tons of stray cats here, but even more stray dogs.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Exploring Germany: Dusseldorf, Cologne and Berlin

As I stated in the previous post, our crew hopped a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany the morning after Thanksgiving.  S and I decided last summer that we wanted to have one more fun European adventure before we move to South America, and we were craving some Christmas spirit this year. So, we did a little research and picked Germany as our Christmas destination. Turkey is great, but for obvious reasons it is lacking in Christmas spirit.  Sure, you will see Christmas trees and lights up around town, but you only start to see it after December 25th.  Why?  Because the Turks have adopted western Christmas culture (Santa, trees, lights, presents, etc.) and applied it to the New Year.  So, all the trees you see are not Christmas trees, they are New Year's trees.  And Santa brings presents on New Year's Eve. No, I'm not kidding.  E was very confused last year, when on December 31st, his school had a New Year's party where the kids got to sit on Santa's lap and open presents under the New Year's tree. He came home and said, "But mommy, I told my teachers Christmas was over. They didn't listen to me."

Anyway, we went to Germany to explore the Christmas markets and to visit with friends.  Our first stop was Dusseldorf where we met up with two very good friends and their 8-month old daughter. Lots of good conversations were had over warm cups of coffee and gluhwein, and I think it's fair to say we all ate our weight in bratwursts. We enjoyed family dinners together, including one memorable night that accidentally landed us at a fancy Thai restaurant requiring us to take off our shoes and sit on the floor. Nearly three hours later the babies were going nuts and E was about to fall asleep on the pillow-covered floor, but because we were having too much fun laughing and telling stories, we were in denial that it was time to leave.  However, we quickly paid the tab, grabbed dessert to go, and made a speedy exit as the table next to us gave one final side eye. It was probably one of the best Thai meals I've ever tasted in my life.  And all too soon, it was time to say goodbye.  Our friends made their way to Frankfurt to visit family and we made our way to Cologne.  

We only spent the day in Cologne, but man, it left quite an impression on E.  Well, the cathedral did, anyway.  We saw it as soon as we stepped out of the train station and he was in awe.  He spotted the gargoyles right away and started asking a million questions.  I did my best to answer as we made our way inside, but then the inside blew his mind.  The gargoyles were forgotten and he became obsessed with the stained glass windows and statues.  He asked who everyone was, and insisted S and I tell him "their story."  Now, I have to confess, even after 13 years of Catholic school, my knowledge is a bit rusty.  I mean, sure, I can tell you the ins and outs of Jesus and Mary and the disciples, but all the saints?  The popes?  Not so much.  And this is what E kept asking about, so I did my best.  He also insisted on knowing the story of Jesus over and over again.  S and I realized we have done a real bang-up job introducing religion into our kid's life (insert sarcasm) and decided that even if we have our own doubts about certain things, we should at least educate E on the finer parts of religion. Especially since the boy loves a good story and the Bible is chock full of them.  Although, does anyone else worry about describing Jesus' death to a 3-year old?  Because I found myself being very tip-toey around that subject. Of course, E picked up on that right away and insisted I tell him "really how he died."  So, I did. And after a few moments of silence E asked a million more questions.  I kid you not when I say we spent nearly an hour in that cathedral and went back two more times before getting back on the train to Dusseldorf later that afternoon.  And no, he hasn't stopped talking about it since.  

After our day in Cologne, we took the train to Berlin.  The four hour train ride was rather pleasant, but we realized 3.5 hours into the trip that there was a separate family car that is closed off  from the rest of the train, and would have made our trip just a tad less stressful.  We would have been able to let D crawl around and let E talk as loudly as he wanted.  Oh well, you live, you learn.  It was still fun seeing the German countryside, and we even caught a glimpse of snow.  Another close friend lives in Berlin, so we spent a lot of time with her.  She did an amazing job researching kid-friendly places for us, and was very patient when the reality of traveling with two kids and a stroller slowed things down. Still, we went to a fun children's museum, walked by the Brandenburg Gate, saw the U.S. Embassy, the East Side Gallery where part of the Berlin Wall still stands, and toured the Checkpoint Charlie museum.  S and I could have spent all day in that museum, but alas, children don't allow for such luxuries. Despite the cold and rain, we had a fabulous time.  Germany is an amazingly beautiful country, and we are so glad we got to experience it.  

And now, because I know you're just dying to see them, here are a gazillion photos from our trip. Enjoy!

One of the stalls at the Christmas markets

One of many bratwurst vendors

E on our friend's shoulders.  I love how happy he looks!

Another stall

Riding one of many carrousels/merry-go-rounds

My littlest guy!

Some clown gave E this balloon sword and he played with it to death.  Seriously.

The Ferris wheel in Dusseldorf

Inside the Ferris wheel with my boys

Dusseldorf, Germany

Another merry-go-round


Enjoying a cup of gluhwein with my friend, J.

And with the hubs!

The kids were all bundled up.  It was freezing!

Our crew.  So much fun.

One of the Christmas markets

My favorite  market in Dusseldorf

The Cathedral in Cologne

E annoyed that I'm taking a picture because he just wants to go inside.

Inside the cathedral.  So beautiful.

Just one of the windows E kept asking about. 

Trying to keep my happy little guy warm!

A market stall in Cologne

Christmas market with cathedral in background

E with German Santa

E trying to talk to Santa in Turkish.
He knew English wasn't the language he was supposed to use, lol!

Inside the cathedral

Along the river front in Cologne


E literally jumping for joy inside the chocolate store.

Yup, that thing is made out of chocolate.

That Santa is chocolate too.  He's skinny to represent East Berlin.

Chocolate nutcracker behind us.

The box says "Selection Diplomat" which was perfect for S :)

In front of the Brandenburg Gate

S photobombing my attempts to be artistic.

Riding the U-bahn

We found a slide!

This playground was tucked away in the courtyard of some buildings.  
I loved everything about it!!  


E climbing at the children's museum

D-man crawling around at the museum.

S and S!

Taking a break from the cold.

East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall.  This was the coldest and rainiest day of the trip.

In front of the wall.

E in front of the wall

One of the more famous paintings on the wall

Checkpoint Charlie: the U.S. checkpoint at the Berlin Wall back in the day

Excited about his Christmas tree lollipop.

The stone path that runs through the city where the wall once stood.

Another shot of Checkpoint Charlie.