Friday, December 30, 2011

Taksim Trolley

There is an amazing photo in the lobby of my hotel in Istanbul of the Taksim Trolley - I've even attempted to talk them into giving it to me (only half jokingly.) The photo appears to have been taken on a quiet morning with just a hint of fog, every time I walk past it, I feel myself stopping and wondering about the photographer and the mood he/she was in that day. My first glimpse of the trolley happened on a Saturday evening outing to Taksim. By the time we crossed paths with the trolley it was already dark - which made capturing a photo of something moving that much more difficult.

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Every time it passed by I started snapping - at one point I think I stood on the middle of the tracks in a modified version of chicken trying to get a clear shot. I'm nowhere near capturing the mood and beauty of the photo in my hotel - which just gives me an excuse to keep trying.

Do you have a subject or photo you keep going back to in an attempt to make the result match your vision?

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's this weekend. I'm looking forward to greeting the new year a few hours earlier this year - and discovering how it is celebrated in Istanbul.

I have to share a new discovery to my every growing list of bearded singer/songwriters, Robin Pecknold, here's his: "I'm Losing Myself."
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Street Food

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I was raised in a small town - so street food wasn't really something I was familiar with - but now after living a few more places, I find I'm fascinated by the variety that pops up around the world. The simitci carts seem to be the most common in Istanbul so far. They remind me a bit of bagels, a round shaped bread, but these come with toasted sesame seeds, I'm guessing they are a food that is eaten at any time of day, because the carts can be seen throughout the day. I haven't tried them yet, have any of you?

Chestnut Cart
The second most common cart I see around town is the one for roasted chestnuts - which given that I spent the month of December in Istanbul meant that every time I saw one the old Christmas song, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire...." popped into my head.

Chestnuts Roasting
All of these photos were taken on a Saturday evening in the Beyoglu area - one of the most vibrant and fun parts of town.  We spent a couple of hours exploring the main street before going out to dinner.  Some were taken just after the sunset, and some quite late. If nothing else it gave me some much needed practice with night photography - and made me wish for a tripod, or at least steadier hands.

Roasted Chestnuts
I haven't tried the chestnuts yet, either. I think I'm hesitant to give street food a try after a bad experience in India. I'm sure I'll work up the nerve soon. Do you love street food? Or are you a bit hesitant to give it a go for some reason?

Speaking of streets, it's been a while since I shared anything by Joshua Radin, here's his "Streetlight."

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Monday, December 26, 2011

A Glimpse of Istanbul

I had an amazing holiday weekend with my family - my only complaint is over already. I hope you had an equally wonderful weekend.  I'm rushing around today trying to fit in a day of work, packing and running a few errands as today is my last day home before I head back to Istanbul.

Work in Turkey has been manic, full of stress, long hours and no weekends. But I've tried to keep a camera with me at all times to capture a few shots here and then - mostly taken as I criss-cross the city for meetings with various groups or on a rare Saturday evening off.  Here are a couple of glimpses of the city I've captured on my way to meetings. I hope to start sharing more of Istanbul in the coming weeks, it is an incredible city - with something new each day to capture my interest.

Birds on the Square
The pigeons at Taksim Square.

New Mosque
The New Mosque, which just happens to have been built from 1597 to 1663.

Love Bug
A VW bug, found on a Sunday walk through my neighborhood.

In music news, I'm seriously loving the new Florence and the Machine album, have you had a chance to check it out yet? Here's their "Breaking Down."
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Skate Away On

Christmas Bokeh
Thanks for sticking with me while I relived my Caribbean vacation. These posts and photos have helped me survive a crazy work month in Istanbul, full of 12 hour days and no weekends. Today, after more than 30 hours of travel I arrived home to spend Christmas with my family and, let me just say, it feels good to be home.

I hope you have an amazing holiday surrounded by those you love.

My favorite holiday song of all time? Joni Mitchell's "River." I spent the week singing and dreaming of skating away home. Pin It

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last of the Details

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Thanks for sticking around for my show and tell of the Caribbean, I hope it has inspired you to plan a trip of your own, the Caribbean is a place everyone should experience. If nothing else I've proved you can stretch a week long vacation into hundreds of photos and a slew of blog posts. But I just can't put my vacation away without sharing one last post with some of the random details I found along the way; and thanking my friend K, whose birthday on 11/11/11 inspired the trip, AND who did all the planning. K - I can't wait to do it again, maybe the Mediterranean next year?

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Windows near Fort

Also, a very Happy Hanukkah today!

In honor of the colors of the Caribbean here is Amos Lee's: Colors.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

St Thomas

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Our last stop on the cruise was St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and I couldn't think of a better way to end the vacation. I'll admit I've even done a bit of research since I got home to confirm that I could legally work there someday without doing a bunch of paperwork and getting a work permit - it was that GOOD.

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We found a perfect snorkeling beach - so perfect that I could walk out in water to the tops of my legs and be swarmed by fish. The water was crystal clear perfection.

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As a bonus for me there was patches of shade on the beach, which since I'd run out of sunscreen that morning was just what the doctor ordered.

All this sand and water has me thinking of Beth Nielsen Chapman's song Sand and Water. Pin It

Friday, December 16, 2011

St Maarten: Beach Time

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The competition for our beach chair/umbrella dollars was fierce in St Maarten, which means we got a great deal on deluxe umbrellas and chairs with posh cushions - the only down side - it was the most crowded of the beaches we visited.

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St Maarten was also the place that found me sobbing on the beach thanks to a great (but sad) book I picked up in the ship's library, Kristin Hannah's "Firefly Lane." Nothing like being surrounded by people on vacation, soaking up the sun on the beach and sobbing your eyes out.

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When I first noticed how the water was sparkling, I'll admit I thought it was remnants of my tears, turns out it was just the perfect sunny day. The kind of day that makes you want to sing along with The Wheepies: I Was Made for Sunny Days. Pin It

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

St Maarten: Around Town

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St Maarten was the most tourist friendly placed we'd visited, you could see the central area of the Dutch side from the ship and it was a short ferry ride away. We hadn't done a lot of shopping yet, but in St Maarten we changed that quickly. I came away with a great dress/swimsuit cover up but managed to resist buying a $200 ring (and only a little part of me wishes I'd caved in.)

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Everything was colorful and fun, just what you expect to see in the Caribbean Islands. I'd love to go back to St Maarten some day, if for no other reason to make it to the French side so I can compare the two.

I've been on the search for something new to listen to and discovered The Changing Colors, I think I've found a new love, here's their: True Love Knows
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Antigua: Sunset

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The sunset as we left Antigua was beyond gorgeous, the reflection on the water and the mountains to add interest - perfection.

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Things are going well in Istanbul, but wow - this project may just kill me - it is interesting but oh, so demanding. Surviving til we get a few days off for Christmas is going to take a miracle. Coming back to these photos and the sense of relaxation I felt while in the islands helps me remember this won't last forever. When the photos don't work I pull out a little Florence and the Machine: No Light, No Light
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Antigua: Golden Hour

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I managed to dress for dinner (I love that part of a cruise) with a bit of time to spare the evening we left Antigua, which allowed me to check out golden hour from the deck. In a word it was AMAZING.

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At this point in the cruise I started to realize that it was getting better with each stop, I just kept falling more and more in love with the Caribbean. I also realized I'd listened to Sky Ferriera's Obsession about 10 times that day.
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Antigua: Halcyon Beach

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I was on my own for most of the day in Antigua since my friends had signed up for an excursion to go snorkeling (and I'm not much of a swimmer.) While I was the cathedral, I stopped into their visitors center to learn more about the renovations and came away with a recommendation for a perfect beach to spend the afternoon on, proof that talking to the locals and not the tour guides as you get off the ship is the way to go.

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Halcyon Beach was pretty much paradise - the water was amazing. I couldn't get over the natural ombre as the water got darker and darker the further out you got.

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The only downside was an overly attentive beach butler - I'm pretty sure he proposed marriage at one point, which for some reason had me singing Bruno Mars' Marry You for the rest of the day. Pin It

Monday, December 5, 2011

Antigua: St John's Cathedral

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When we arrived in Antigua I wanted to see St John's cathedral before I hit the beach. There has been a church in this spot for hundreds of years. The first was destroyed in 1683 by an earthquake, the second was destroyed in 1843 by another earthquake. The current version is in the middle of a major renovation project that has left it without a roof.

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I love that the church just keeps fighting back.

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I found this sheet of music tucked just inside one of the gates on the corner of the stairs. I couldn't help wondering how long it had been there.

As I walked around the church wishing I could see the inside Elton John's Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, kept popping up in my head.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

St Lucia

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I've said before that I wasn't much of a beach person. I just didn't "get" the appeal of spending hours sitting on the beach, but when I got to St Lucia my perspective changed. We spent the entire day on the beach and I discovered the bliss that comes from doing nothing but sitting under an umbrella with a good book, some great music and amazing friends.

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I wasn't bored for a single moment and the truth was I hated to pack up and leave at the end of the afternoon. Good thing I had several more days of beach time ahead of me.

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The day ended with a spectacular sunset, the perfect end to a blissful day. This is the type of sunset that doesn't fit in with Iron & Wine's Sunset Soon Forgotten.
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