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Europe

17th September
2011
written by Hazel

I can’t believe I forgot to post this with all of the Turkey posts!  But better late than never, so here is the lowdown on Turkey’s contribution to our wedding quilt.  We knew that we wanted to look for fabric in Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar.  You can read about the rest of our shopping trip here.

Even though Istanbul is known to have amazing textiles we had an epic quest trying to search for something that would be appropriate for use in a quilt.  In general the fabric we would like to find would be made of cotton or something similar, be a strong, thin fabric that isn’t stretchy, see through, or too coarse.  In the USA you can buy fabric specifically designed for quilting, but this is not the case in most other countries.

The first thing we found that would maybe have worked was a table runner.  We would have needed to cut it up and only wanted a small bit of it.  It was expensive though and we ultimately decided that we could probably do better.  It wasn’t easy though and even our final choice will be quite a challenge for my mom to put it into the quilt with so many other different types of fabric.

And here is our choice!

Turkey Fabric

Turkey Fabric

It is a pashmina made of cashmere.  We loved the pattern and the colors and it is incredibly soft.  Perhaps it can even be used in one big piece on the back of the quilt or it will just mean that there are little soft patches on the front!

8th September
2011
written by Justin

Churros con Chocolate

Churros con Chocolate

The last time we were in Madrid we missed a few fun things to do, so this time we made sure to do them! The first is known as “Churros con Chocolate”, which as you can see is a delicious savory donut (which is not covered in sugar like in the US) and a pot of very thick hot chocolate, almost like a pudding. It is served for breakfast and is oh-so-delicious. (more…)

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8th September
2011
written by Hazel

We had a very pretty flight from Istanbul to Barcelona, flying over Greece and Italy. The public transportation is really good in Barcelona, so we got the bus and then the metro to our hostel and pretty much crashed.

This was a good thing because I had to be up early the next morning for something I had been dreading…a trip to the dentist!  Before I left the US I had some trouble with a tooth.  There wasn’t time to get it taken care of and it only hurt very rarely, so I didn’t worry about it too much.  But as we traveled around Europe I was having pain pretty frequently.  I thought long and hard about where to go to the dentist and decided that Spain was the best choice – after all, I know some Spanish, the costs there are reasonable, and they even seem to have something of a medical tourism thing going on, which gave me confidence that they would do a good job.

It ended up being a pretty interesting experience.  The dental office I went to looked brand new and was lit a little like a nightclub.  At least, a nightclub with a bunch of dental stations.  The office staff spoke quite a lot of English and the dentist spoke a little.  They got right down to business and ended up giving me three fillings!  I was so happy to have this taken care of!

 

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7th September
2011
written by Hazel

Another unusual thing about Istanbul is that it is actually on two continents! The Bosphorous River runs through the middle of the city and on one bank is Europe and on the other is Asia. We spent all of our touristy time on the European side since that is where most of the famous landmarks are, but when we went to the airport for our flight to Barcelona we crossed the Bosphorous and made it into Asia! It was really not that much different, and we weren’t there for long, but it brings our trip continent count up to 5!

Crossing the Bosphorous

Crossing the Bosphorous

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7th September
2011
written by Justin

In Istanbul, the remnants of the Ottoman Empire are everywhere. This is very readily apparent if you go to visit the Sultan’s Palace Museum in downtown Istanbul. There, they’ve opened most of the palace grounds and some of the interior buildings to give you a sense of what it was like to be king in Istanbul. There are also quite a few surprising relics stored inside.

Storming the Gates

Storming the Gates

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7th September
2011
written by Hazel

Istanbul has a fascinating history and we were interested in finding out about it, so we headed to the Archaeological Museum. This turned out to be a great idea because it is a really, really amazing place. We decided to pay the extra money and get an audioguide (although we only got one and each had one headphone) and were glad we did because it gave a nice explanation of some of the more important items. We also liked that the map at this museum lists out the things you should make sure not to miss. In the end we spent about 4 hours going through the exhibits and we didn’t even see everything. Definitely don’t miss this place if you’re in Istanbul and like history or even just really old stuff!  Check it out!

Archaeological Museum!

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5th September
2011
written by Hazel

We were incredibly lucky because some good friends of ours happened to be in Istanbul at the same time as us.  We only heard about this shortly before we arrived, but were able to meet up.  They took us out for a really nice dinner and then we enjoyed walking around the area of Ramadan festivities and having some delicious baklava for dessert.  It is always so nice to see a familiar face when we’re traveling and this was a really beautiful evening.

Wendy and David and Me near the Blue Mosque after sundown

Wendy and David and Me near the Blue Mosque after sundown

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5th September
2011
written by Justin

The culture in Istanbul is a very interesting mix resulting from a blend of two cultures: Ottoman and Roman. It was the capital of each empire for a time, and absorbed a lot from both cultures. While we were visiting, we got to experience a side of Istanbul that is unusual for us as we came from predominantly Christian areas of the US: Ramadan.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

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5th September
2011
written by Justin
Spice Bazaar

Spice Bazaar

One of the greatest things to do in Istanbul is to go shopping. The city that bridges Asia and Europe has a reputation for bazaars all around the city where you can purchase anything you can imagine for incredibly little money – provided that you can bargain successfully with professionals.
The first place we went shopping in Istanbul was the famous Spice Bazaar. Here since at least 1597 people have bought and sold their spices from around the world. There are your normal spices: saffron, curry, chili…

Spices For Sale

Spices For Sale

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5th September
2011
written by Hazel
Outside the Blue Mosque

Outside the Blue Mosque

Our first stop in Istanbul after a nice breakfast was the famous Blue Mosque. It is called the Blue Mosque because of the incredible mosaics which cover the interior. This building is enormous and absolutely stunning. I had not been inside a mosque before, and was not to sure what to expect. However, they are very used to tourists and it even provided nice cloths to cover up with in order to be appropriately dressed. This was lucky for me since my outfit that day didn’t cover my shoulders! Sorry I look so tired in this picture!

In front of one of the giant pillars in the mosque

In front of one of the giant pillars in the mosque

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