Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Istanbul, Turkey part II

We spent a quick 3 day vacation in Istanbul, Turkey. We went last November 2006 for 4 days and liked it so much we decided to go back. It is about 6 hours by bus, with a delay of about 2 hours at the border of Bulgaria/ Turkey.

We traveled with a colleague, Jonathan, and two friends we met in Sofia- Dave and Naomi, who are both from Washington and studied at Evergreen University. We went to the Grand Bazaar and a Turkish Bath on Saturday to receive massages and steam baths. We walked about town on Sunday and met our housemate, Ebru, for lunch. We went to a shopping mall and then walked about the downtown older district. On Monday we went to the Topkapi Palace, where the Sultan's lived during the Ottoman Empire from 1299 to the early 1900's. Topkapi has amazing architecture along with national treasures and artifacts- such as an 86 carat diamond.

Gordon and I bought five Turkish carpets. We each bought one for each other as gifts for our first wedding anniversary, to be celebrated on Tuesday, February 13th, 2007. They are beautiful! Mine is the one on our laps above and Gordon's is the one we are sitting on, to the right. We also bought the one we are sitting on to the left. It was very difficult to make the final decisions, they were all so nice!

Vitosha Snowboarding

Gordon and I went snowboarding on Thursday, February 1st on our local Mount Vitosha, about a 30 minute walk to the gondola from our house. This was our first time snowboarding together! It was 5 leva (about $3.67 USD) for the gondola lift ticket and then 30 leva (about $20 USD) for an all day ski pass from 9am to 4pm. We had Thursday off from work because of semester one exams, the students got a day off to study and the teachers were to 'work at home' preparing or grading exams. I was ran over by a skiier on my last run and have a large bruise on the back of my thigh. Some of the locals go crazy on the mountain and are way out of control for their ability levels. The lifts are newer but poorly designed, making loading and unloading difficult. The runs are pretty steep and the snow was mostly groomed and icy in places. There was some deep powder off in the trees, where Gordon ventured but I was too inexperienced to attempt.