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Istanbul and I

Nov 20 '10

So as I may have mentioned I was on holiday this week.
My friend Aysegul and I both had time off so we wanted to go somewhere. We tried a few ideas but all the buses were booked up, last minute planning vs. everyone who probably had their plans a month ago. So we finally decided on Yalova. We took the train from Kadikoy to Pendik then grabbed a ferry to Yalova. The ferry was also very full, we got a later one than we thought we would. Yalova is not very far, the ferry was about 40-50 minutes and apparently it used to be a part of Istanbul, you can see Istanbul from Yalova.

The photos show a short recap of the trip. The view of Yalova from the ferry. We then took the bus up to the hills where we stayed outside of the city (see the video as well) at a nice quiet resort complete with pool and Hamam (Turkish Bath). Not too much to say, a relaxing time away from the city and it helped to refresh the batteries. Back to school on Monday.



Nov 19 '10

My Yesterday in Yalova.
More to stories to come.

Nov 8 '10

Rocks in Greece.
In HD!

Nov 8 '10

Turk Balloon. People can board the Turk Balloon and it goes up quite high. I did not once see this balloon when I was here on my first adventure it was just the arms raised up.
Mosque in Ortakoy. (knowledge)
Ataturk Bridge lit up at night. It changes colours and sometimes the colours bounce up and down in an animated fashion.

Nov 8 '10

Abandoned ship.
Sunset colours.
Dead Jellyfish (?)

Oct 30 '10

The last week or so

I am currently on the bus back to Istanbul. I made the trip to Greece for my Visa run. The internet on the bus is slow as molasses so I will type this now and post it later tonight. The bus left Istanbul yesterday morning at 10am and after a long wait at the Greek border made it to Alexandropoulos around 5pm. Besides the rain on the way out of Istanbul it was pretty uneventful I mostly rested. I met a couple of Americans on the bus with me from Colorado, they had been in Istanbul for a few days but mainly were touring Greece. I stayed at the same hotel and the sweet old lady remembered me after I told her a few things. She gave me the same room, that part she remembered on her own. She asked if I wanted any heat in the night and seeing how I was already cold I said yes. I went out shortly after to find the ticket office to buy my ticket for the next day. After finding it closed, reopening at 6:30 I went for a stroll and grabbed a gyro. Did more walking, went down the beach, a pleasant sunset stroll. When I got back to the ticket office they were open again, you see, they close from 4-630 as it seems the whole city does. Not a bad way to do it I guess, you get to go home and have a break and or dinner and come back and work later. I experience the same attitude I did the last time I dealt with that ticket office, like any question I had I was stupid for asking. She wrote down the phone number to call the driver an hour before so that he knew to stop in the town. Same as last time as well, if someone doesn’t call they bypass the city altogether. So I went back to the hotel to see the gas furnace in my room roaring and laid down in the heat, watched a few things before going to sleep. I woke up around 8am and was quite frozen. The furnace was off, I went out of my room to ask the nice lady for heat and she gave me a little space heater to use. Bless her kindness. The day was uneventful, more strolling (pictures to come), I went back to the hotel around 1 so that she would help me call the bus like she did the last time. I walked down to the bus stop and on the way saw a flea market so I stopped to check it out, food and clothes mainly. So I went tot eh bus stop and waited, they said to be there at 2 and it would arrive at 2:30, I was there slightly after 1 sat and studied my Turkish and got quite cold I must say. The bus finally arrived around 3 after I started to worry only a little, they were late the last time I recalled just not sure how late. So here I am, back in Turkey good to go on a new visa.

Last Saurday I went for lunch with a former student from the vocational schol and a large number of his family members for his birthday meal. It was inside a large mall in a more expensive part of town I had never really been before. I went with a friend of mine and another former student came as well. After the 3 of us went to Taksim for drinks and chats. It was good to see my former students as I had not seen them since June.

Finally, real news. I will no longer be babysitting where I am living. I will continue to live there and pay rent + water/gas but no more babysitting. It seems Maya was looking for more of a nanny than a babysitter. She described it differently when we first met than she did when she told me I wouldn’t be doing the job for free rent anymore…well really she didn’t tell me she wrote me a note on facebook…communication has been lacking to say the least. No hard feelings, we all like each other but she is looking for someone to play a more active role. When she first told me she said she wanted someone to be there when she gets home from school. Now she seems to want someone to clean up the house and motivate Aera to do her work and teach her and….help raise her really. I like Aera but she lacks motivation when it comes to her studies and reading…all I can say is good luck to whoever takes over, I am not quite up to that task on top of working full time. I don’t mind very much, rent will be cheaper then I was paying before and I like them. More free time for me to do what I want, which isn’t a bad thing either. I also won’t mind having someone around to clean the house/kitchen. I barely use the kitchen but dishes are usually piled, maybe Maya expected me to be doing that…as I said we haven’t communicated much so any duties I was supposed to be doing she never really told me. She wants the best for her daughter and it’s understandable but I feel it is her job to raise her, not what I signed up for. So life changes again. I have nothing but warm feelings for them I just wish Maya had talked to me before writing a note to tell me my job was done and that I could continue living there if I pay rent…none of us are perfect but no relationship can survive without communication.

P.S. Forgot to mention, Friday was Republic Day in Turkey the countries birthday. Wish I could have been here for it but oh well…this weekend was the only time I could really go to renew my visa.

Oct 10 '10


In one year, one month, and one day it will be 11/11/11, my birthday. I can’t wait for that day. I will be 24 and it will once again be the year of the Rabbit.

We’ll call that the prescript.

Letters from camp:

Dear Mom,

School is lots of fun. I have been teaching 16 different classes in the first to fifth grades. Sometimes the kids listen, sometimes not. I get frustrated once in awhile because they are not listening but am finding better ways to get their attention than simply shouting. Although that does work sometimes. It is a private school so the kids are a little spoiled and sometimes rude, but as my friend said, at least they aren’t to old to learn manners. I get lots of hugs from kids but I know there are some that don’t care for me as much as others, the perks of being an authority figure I guess. A lot of work is set out for us in the curriculum but I still find time to add a few things to make it more fun. Wednesday after classes I will be teaching a Speaking class for grade 3-5. I am again the only male English teacher and I work with 5 women, they are all very nice to me and I hope I am pulling my weight. One of the teachers was crying last weekend and I wasn’t sure why, her face was flushed red. Another teacher told me she found out she was pregnant and all I could say was “awwwwwwh” She is very happy. I have been sick for the last week and a half and am slowly getting better. The weather is turning cooler and it was very rainy last week. I have been making a few new friends and spending time with them when I can, mainly I have been working and watching/spending time at home with Aera, the girl I am babysitting for rent. The other roommate said I am her “manny” made me laugh. Not sure what else to say. Life is interesting yet sometimes boring. Getting into the routine of work. I need to add more activities to my routine. We’ll see what life brings when this cold goes away. Sorry about no photos, time for me to get my lens back, we’ll talk.

Thanks all.

Sep 14 '10

3 weeks later…

New school, new flat, new cat. I am back. Been busy as you can see.

I started school today. No kids yet, just prep, colouring and cutting and pasting. The real reasons I teach primary grades. I got this job on the 31st and hadn’t heard much from them until yesterday. Originally it was between 2 campuses I would be at (Doga Koleji “Nature College”, where I am working, has about 8 campuses.) I wanted to go to Beykoz, their first and most nature school. Built in the middle of a valley, pool, horse back riding, and a zoo….Anyways I ended up at a third option, Atakent, close to the campus I worked for at the last school on the Asian side.

So I woke up early on not enough sleep, time to adjust my schedule a little, put on my suit and tie and took the 20U to Atakent. They said the school was on the route. Went down a lot of familiar roads that I took last year. Sure enough it was on the route. After wandering around a little and grabbing a cay, I was early, I went in. After standing around a mostly empty school I was noticed by my new boss, English department head, a younger woman, Burca, the c is a j sound in Turkish. We had breakfast from the canteen which was pretty basic but the good kind, bread, jam, cheese and olives, also yoghurt…always yoghurt…the Turks invented Yoghurt, it is a Turkish word, and they love it.  Also tomatoes in oil which is a local delicacy as well. I was introduced to the Elementary English teachers, given some text books and a overview of my curriculum and studied that while they had a meeting in Turkish.

While sitting in this little room, someone came in and something along the lines of “Oh my good to see you.” I looked up and it was Melike, a teacher I worked with last year and was actually the first one to meet me at the old school and make sure I made it to the service bus. Most of the day was spent doing prep and it went by rather quickly. It will be good getting back into a routine. The stress of finding a job and especially finding an apartment was adding up. I am settling now into the new place and it has been good so far. It’s a nice space and good spot. I’ll do a proper apartment update at a later date.

Aug 21 '10

First 3 photos: First island

4 & 5: Next Island

6-10: Big Island, Beach.

Aug 21 '10

Wednesday and Thursday

On Wednesday I took the ferry over to the European side to meet up with my friend/former student Gokhan. It was my first time seeing him since I got back to Istanbul. The first thing we wanted to do was something we had talked about before I left, go and check out the “Canadian Culture Museum” which we had seen a sign for before in Taksim. We ascended a staircase to the floor that it was on, outside was a photo from the Montreal Jazz festival. When we knocked on the door Gokhan spoke to the man and it was pretty clear to me this wasn’t a museum…it was more of an office, with a few photos from Canada on the walls. The man said it was for students looking to go to Canada…or vice versa…either way…not a museum.
The rest of the day was spent walking around and talking, I taught him some English and he taught me some Turkish. He was quite tired because he had been taking care of his grandma so we went back to my home. He lives quite far away so he usually stays over when we get together.

The next day we went to the Prince Island’s, specifically Buyukada, which means Big Island. There are 4 islands that you can visit by ferry, Buyukada is the last one. It takes about an hour to get to the last island. There are no cars on the islands, except for police and city workers, so everyone bikes or takes a horse carriage. On the last leg of the trip a boy sat down beside us and we started to talk to him. The boy as it turns out is from Iraq and spoke very good English. He talked about how lovely Turkey is and that Iraq doesn’t have any islands.

So we arrived to Buyukada and started to walk to look for a beach to swim. We found one spot where people were swimming. It was coast rocks and people jumping in. No sand. We walked farther and found private beaches. After more walking in the 34C heat we decided to take a horse carriage, the man said he would take us to a public beach. When we arrived it was 5 Lira each for the beach, not a big deal and certainly worth it as soon as I got into the water. We spent a good 2 hours there before we made the trek back to the port, we were a bit early so we ate some food, rather expensive there and it is definitely the most touristy of all the islands.

On the way back we both assumed Kadikoy (where I live) was the last port…so…we missed our stop. We stayed on the ferry until it’s next stop…on the other side of the Bosporus, unexpected trip to Europe. I was a bit frustrated and felt silly for having missed the stop but, live and learn. We ran over to another port and had time to spare before another ferry took us back home.