Monday, May 31, 2010

Instanbul in the morning

Monday 31 May 2010

Back in Turkey for the last few days of the trip.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our hosts

Sunday 30 May 2010

Nicola and Boyana, our couchsurfing hosts.

Friday, May 28, 2010

New bees

Saturday 29 May 2010

Here is Boyana's aunt, catching a swarm of wild bees. They were all gathered on the tree branch, so she rubbed the inside of that basket thing with lemon verbena, which they love. You hit the branch with a stick, the bees are dislodged and fall into the basket. They stay in there, I guess, until you put them into the hive.

We spent the day helping them gather honey from Boyana's grandmother's hives, which was both interesting and very informative.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Friday 28 May 2010

Our couchsurfing hosts, Boyana and Nicola, took us out to Boyana's family's village for the weekend. Two days of good fresh farm food, hmmm!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oooh, feathered hair

Thursday 27 May 2010

This guy's posters are all over Varna - handsome, huh?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Field of poppies

Wednesday 26 May 2010

We spent the whole day on the beach today, getting a little sun. So, here is a photo I took on the train on the way here. A whole field of poppies - they're everywhere right now.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Varna Cathedral

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Tall Ships

Monday 24 May 2010

We arrived in Varna today, on the Black Sea, just in time to see an armada of old tall ships take one more lap around the harbor before heading off to sea.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Prayer fruit

Sunday 23 May 2010

Got out of the city today, and went up to a popular working monastery. (We saw a miraculous icon! We don't know what it did, but it was miraculous!) After visiting the church and whatnot, we went for a walk on the nature trail through the neighboring hills and woods. It was gorgeous.

We saw a lot of these red and white bracelets tied to the trees and bushes. I think they must be for prayers, but I'll ask around and keep you updated!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chuch tower

Saturday 22 May 2010

A lovely church tower in the old town of Plovdiv, with a wedding party gathering for a photo. I don't think you can see her here, but the bride was wearing a tight white miniskirt dress with only one sleeve. Oh yeah.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Plovdiv houses

Friday 21 May 2010

Back in Bulgaria, in an historical city called Plovdiv. There are lots of very nicely restored Ottoman houses here, but unlike the ones in Turkey, these are all different bright colors, and are often decorated with intricate designs above the doors and windows.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Death Notices

Thursday 20 May 2010

Our Serbian friends told us these little fliers are only seen in Serbia, although we have seen them in Bulgaria as well. A Balkan tradition, perhaps.

When someone dies, their family puts up these notices of their death on their door, near the church, and around town. They aren't taken down until maybe when they're faded and dirty. So poles and doors and bulletin boards here are full of little memorials, like an extension of the graveyard.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Red Cross Camp

Wednesday 19 May 2010

We popped over to the town of Nis (pron. "niche") in Serbia, for a few days.

Visited a WWII Nazi concentration camp while here. These were the solitary confinement cells, where prisoners were forced to sleep on floors covered with barbed wire.

I don't really know what else to say - it was upsetting as you would imagine a trip to a concentration camp would be.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kiosks in Sofia

Tuesday 18 May 2010

I guess that here in Sofia it's cheaper to renovate a basement apartment than it is to buy a kiosk or storefront, so lots of people just open up little stores like this. All over the city you can see locals bending over to buy cigarettes, beer, phone cards, pastries, who knows what else.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yellow brick road

Monday 17 May 2010

That's right, Sofia really does have a yellow brick road. (Several, actually!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

St. Geoge's Mary

Sunday 16 May 2010

Well, we're taking a little break from Turkey, and spending some time in eastern Europe.

This was taken in St. George's, the oldest church in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Saturday 15 May 2010

Look what we found in the bathroom!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lokum factory

Friday 14 May 2010

Coolest thing ever. Ryan and I visited a lokum (Turkish delight) factory today! The guys were really friendly, and showed us all around. They demonstrated all of the steps of making Turkish delight, and gave us a ton of samples (too many, if truth be told. I like Turkish delight, but one bite a day will do me.)

Here he's cutting some saffron flavored delight with pistachios.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Thursday 13 May 2010

Ryan and I are spending a couple of days in Safranbolu, which is an absolutely gorgeous little town a few hours from Istanbul (making us very glad it's not summer just yet . . .). The whole town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is so well preserved. There are hundreds of original Ottoman houses here, as well as some nice mosques, a caravansarai, and a hamam.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

At the concert

Wednesday 12 May 2010

We've been doing a lot of couchsurfing, which means staying with local people who have an extra room or space on their couch. We set it up through a website called

Our host here in Ankara took us to a concert tonight, of one of the biggest rock bands in Turkey. It was a surprisingly fun night (I normally hate loud concerts) - here's me having fun not being able to take a picture of the band.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Tuesday 11 May 2010

Visited a huge mosque with amazing tiling today. I've shown a few big photos of soaring domes, so I thought I'd get a little closer today.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


Monday 10 May 2010

At Ataturk's mausoleum. He is not inside there, he is in a secret chamber beneath which we could not enter.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Stuff in my backpack

Sunday 9 May 2010

This is what I have on my trip. Some clothes, books, a medicine kit, electronics bag, some gifts and souvenirs, a few miscellaneous items. It all goes on my back - the big bag weighs about 15 kilos. (I wish I could pack a bit lighter, but ah well!)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Little Dervish

Saturday 8 May 2010

Ryan and I went to Konya today, which was the birthplace of the whirling dervishes. This is the third show we've seen, and it was different yet again.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Friday 7 May 2010

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Divrigi door

Thursday 6 May 2010

Cool carving, huh? Check off another World Heritage Sight for Ryan and I!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sivas mosque

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Monday, May 03, 2010

Wheel of Time

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Relaxing day in a peaceful little canyon in the tiny town of Darende. A picnic and some reading.

Here's Ryan enjoying book number 10 of the Wheel of Time series, which we are both reading and LOVING while on this trip. It's full of twists and turns, as you can see.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Neighborhood mosque

Sunday 2 May 2010

Ryan and I were both terribly sick with food poisoning today, and did not leave our beds. So, here is a photo of a normal (if rather nice) neighborhood mosque.

You can see all the individual spaces on the carpet, one for each man to kneel on. (The women are always in a separate room, or, like in this mosque, in a balcony area.) The niche tells in which direction Mecca can be found. That big staircase there is the minbar, where the imam stands to give his sermon on Friday.