Monday, October 25, 2010

My Days

It seems like all I ever find worthy of talk is my travel, and not my day-to-day. I think that's because I've been doing this living abroad stuff long enough that where I live seems just as mundane as anywhere else in the world. I may live in cool places, but I still work a (more than) full-time job, I still wash dishes after Tim's nightly culinary creations, and every night, Bali still snuggles with me and my current novel.

We sort of slipped into the beginning of a new school year. Because we immediately had vacation, it just seemed like the beginning was less of a bang and more of a month-long, hanging on the edge of the abyss sort of thing. However, we seem to be getting into the groove of things. I have two classes of 10th grades English and all my students I also had in 9th grade. I love having two years with the students--the training has been done. We all know what to expect. We can get right down to business. I also adore my current students and so wanted to be with them longer. I have also inherited another round of IB Psychology seniors--7 girls and they are lovely. So, my teaching load became much more manageable this year and I actually have a chance to breath and do a halfway decent job ;-)

Our new middle school finally opened last week and Tim moved to the new building. I have projector envy. But I'm happy for Tim.

We have also had quite a few extra-curricular excursions since I last posted.
--Megan came to visit and we all went to Olympos for the vacation.
--U2 came to Istanbul on a school night and we managed to get there and back in time to enjoy the show and be back at work.
--My only little brother got married in Florida, so we made like lightening to the States for a few days to be there.
--We celebrated Oktoberfest at the German embassy, complete with cheesy band wearing lederhosen, German beer, stein crashing, picnic table dancing, Bavarian-sausage-eating, and just general revelry.

I suppose we also have some extra-curriculars coming up that we're pretty excited for:
--A week at the best rock climbing in Turkey
--Christmas skiing with Tim's cousin in the French Alps
--And for spring break we'll meet Tim's parents for a tour of Northern Italy

Friday, September 3, 2010

Turkish Summer: Part Two

But first a little disclaimer. While we were using our lousy point-and-shoot camera, we would both take pictures and the quality was nothing to get all excited about. But when we were in Finland, Tim got a REALLY nice birthday present: A new DSLR. And since then, all of our collective photos are actually his of quite a good artistic quality. Sooooo, you should just understand that from now on, unless Tim is in the picture or I say I took it, that all photos posted on my blog are the artistic property of Timothy C. Henkels and may not be reused or reposted or filched in any way shape or form without explicit permission from the artist himself. Okay?


Now, where was I? Oh yes, we returned to Ankara from Finland and began the preparations to move to our summer house in the mountains. Now, we've been to the Aladaglar before: click here to go back to our pics from last September. So we knew where we were heading and had the guy who owns the campsite to broker a deal for us with the homeowner next door. We decided to rent the house so we could take Bali with us and so we could stay longer. 3 weeks on the ground in a hot tent is just no longer kosher, now that I'm in my 30s and seem a lot more sensitive to that stuff these days.

We spent the weeks climbing, just the two of us or with our friends from Ankara who came to visit on the weekends. Mostly, we were sport climbing, but Tim managed an ascent of Turkey's most prominent and famous rock formation. Click here to read about that adventure. We had a great time climbing. We both pushed the limits of our ability and Tim was even moving into grades he hasn't climbed since college. We were both a bit proud. But pride goeth before a fall: Tim popped a finger pulley our last day of climbing. So he's out of comission for the fall, but will be back at it hardcore come spring. I have never spent that much time climbing before and now that we're back home, I'm really missing it. Tim got to work on his future Climbing magazine artwork as well:
In addition to the great climbing, we had some beautiful hikes and mountain scrambles. It was a bit too hot for peak-bagging, okay, way too hot---but we still got in some nice strolls.

Our weeks in the mountains were SWEET! We got in great shape, were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by beautiful mountains, and we got a lot closer to the local climbing community. We also managed to narrowly avoid the hottest summer in the city in recent memory.

What's even better, is that when we returned home, the summer was hardly over! We instantly joined the pool down the road and spent our last week of vacation there (and continue to go there for the afternoons).
And while we've been at work now for a couple of weeks, summer seems to continue. This past weekend we went camping on the Black Sea with friends. It has been the most tranquilo summer to work transition I've ever experienced:

"Get back to work!" you yell at me. Well, not quite yet. After a week of school with the students, we head to Istanbul to see U2 in concert, and Tim's sister is here. We have a week of vacation already so we'll be taking her down to the Mediterranean. We'll have a bit more summer yet! Then I swear, I'll try to get back to work.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Turkish Summer: Part One

We've had a nice summer.
We began with our trip through the ruins and finished that one off with a road trip along the Turquoise Coast, from Marmaris to Kas, stopping and camping and floating in the Mediterranean. We found awesome camping areas, gorgeous beaches, and cute towns. That whole week looked a lot like this:

Then it was time for our trip to Finland for the Ruisrock festival. We had a day on either end in Helsinki and we loved it. The farmhouses, the bikes, the beers, the farmers' markets, the trees, trees, trees!

Look! It's Tayfun Bey on some random island off Helsinki! Tayfun was the Turkish principal at our high school this past year. Small world, right?

The festival was great fun too--and certainly the most "civilized" music festival we've ever been to. It was very European with their sit-down dinners, tap water, and champagne spots. The light was crazy too. The sun finally "set" at about 11:30 at night, and it was twilight until about 2:00 am when the sun started to "come up" again.

The venue was on a beautiful island that we all had to walk 2km to access. The best stage, where we saw Rise Against, Anti-Flag and Flogging Molly was right on the beach. The weather gorgeous, but really hot. Hotter than we expected. For Anti-Flag, I got a hose-down from the nice guy with the ear-muffs. We were able to get right in front for all our favorite bands.

The people-watching was almost as much fun at the festival as the bands. It was too funny--on Saturday, everyone was falling down drunk. I mean, these people are practically Russian, right? and they are slamming vodka like it's water. What's funny is that the falling-down-public-drunkenness is kind of embraced. I mean you can be blitzed and the bar will keep serving you. There were no fights, no scuffles, just a lot of happy drunks, and this was a punk/metal festival. But of course, by Sunday, the heat and booze had gotten to everyone and we saw a lot of this:

I was just happy to see that they're human after all. Seriously I've never seen so many people drinking the way the Fins were on Saturday at the show. I wondered if they had the stamina to continue. They didn't. Sunday was way more low-key.

We were a little reluctant to leave Finland. We had such a great time there and really loved the city. I don't think it will ever make it on the "list" because there's no mountains. But we would now possibly consider Oslo, Norway. Thoughts?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hide Out

I've been hiding out. Tim and Bali and I are spending the rest of our summer vacation in a mountain house in Turkey. We're climbing, hiking, running, and chilling out. Tim is playing with his new camera, so you should go over to his blog to see photos of what we're doing. Sometimes we're able to get on the internet by hooking Tim's phone to the computer.

I'll update with all our summer adventures following our anniversary trip when we return home to Ankara. Until then, hope you have a great summer too!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Ruins of an Anniversary..

For our 5 year anniversary, Tim and I took a road trip to the Turquoise Coast of Turkey. On the way, we saw some pretty cool stuff.

Pamukkale and Hierapolis:


After our lessons in ancient ancient history, we continued on to the beautiful turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.....