Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The pre-adventure adventure

When my trip to Korea started to take shape last November, I immediately started to look at flights to get me there.  As a neurotic planner and travel nut, it is in my nature to start researching flights and trips as early as possible, always trying to find the best deal and the most exciting route!  When I came across a fantastic deal with Turkish Airways, which would not only cost me less than my flight allowance budget, but would also permit me a stopover in Istanbul (a whole new city and country to visit), I was chomping at the bit!  I spoke to Fabian about my find, and we decided why not make a holiday out of it so that we can make a quick stop in Switzerland to visit his family (a mere 2.5 hour flight away) and spend a few days exploring the city together?  One of his great passions in life is history, so to experience the richness of this ancient city is definitely in his "Top 10" list of places to visit.

And so, here we are!  9 days into our 12 day trip through Europe (and part of Asia)!  Sadly, that means we only have another 3 days together before we see each other again in January - a very long and lonely 8 months from now (SAD FACE!) :'-(  But, we've tried to make the most of our time together.  As mentioned, we were able to spend almost a week visiting his family and friends in Switzerland which was wonderful.  This was my second time meeting his family, and they are just as nice as the first time I met them last year - maybe even nicer! :-)  We had many laughs playing games with his mother, sister and nieces (I can't recommend Mow enough as a great game for all ages), a wonderful night with many of his oldest and dearest friends, and of course, ate more delicious food than I probably should have!

We also made a special effort to do some wedding planning.  We have decided that given our mutual love of the mountains, we would get married in Switzerland!  Details are still not firmed up, but we're aiming for summer of 2015, which would give us time to save money and plan together after I get back from Korea.  We met with a wedding planner, and looked a few venue sites, so things are promising and moving along well for now.  Given that we're so far from the date and we have a lot of other things on our mind now (like travelling and my move to another country), we'll be able to sort things out in the weeks to come.  Having spent the day driving through the beautiful, mountainous area of Valais though is always a pleasure.  How can it not be when you have a great view like this while drinking your chocolate milk?

The "black triangle-shaped" mountain in the middle is the Matterhorn!

We arrived yesterday in Istanbul and immediately hit up the shops for many free samples of Baklava and Turkish delight.  The weather has been pretty cold, grey and windy, but this is easily remedied by eating more free samples of Baklava and Turkish delight.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the food here in Turkey.  Having been to the sole Turkish restaurant in Ottawa only once, I didn't think there would be so much great food.  But so far, I've really enjoyed our meals.  Another not so pleasant surprise I've found being here is that the cost of things are higher than I'd thought they'd be.  That's not to say that things are necessarily expensive (after coming from Switzerland, nothing is "really expensive"), but they're much more comparable to prices in Canada, which, for whatever reason, I didn't expect.

Regardless, we've had a good day and a half so far, and have seen the whirling dervishes, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Baslisica Cisterne, and the Hippodrome.  

The view from our room at the wonderful Sultan Hill Hotel

Inside the amazing Hagia Sophia - unfortunately half the room was blocked off for renos, so it was only half as amazing as it could have been, which is still pretty amazing!

The eerily beautiful Basilica Cistine

Outside the Blue Mosque

We also went for the required Turkish bath, one must experience at least once in a lifetime.  It was really quite something.

Tomorrow is "Bazaar day", where we will visit both the Grand and the Spice bazaars.  I really look forward to seeing all the colours and smelling all the strange and wonderful scents...and eating all the free samples of baklava and turkish delights!

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