2018 was my ride or die. It was full of moments that left me in awe, put my capabilities in a trial, overwhelmed me with joy and with its last bit, challenged me with deep sadness as well.
I love the photoblogs because it has always been hard for me to see the small successes. As I looked through these moments, I said to myself, “I did all this?“. Believe me, there were a lot of question marks, not just one.
As always, thanks to the many friends I made along the way.
I dreaded writing again today even though the creative Hazal was knocking on the walls of my brain. That is the girl with long wavy hair who wears a nice shade of pastel mint t-shirt and a violet pleated skirt. She is very bubbly and wants to play. She didn’t have any space at all to exist in this fairly large room in me, it’s been occupied with a load of black and white documents. It hasn’t been fun. But it feels great to have a little more space to be me, again. Let’s welcome the creative girl, and let her tell you why she has been so happy and excited the past few days…
I found myself sitting in a car, being driven to Seattle, WA, for no reason that involves me directly. I will not get into any detail on that. However, because of this trip, I was looking for Christmassy things to do while we were there and came across the annual Seattle Winterfest. Set the GPS, and here we went. The Winterfest as a whole was nothing fancy, all I saw was—a very talented orchestra of high school students playing festive songs and a small indoor skating facility. I was not impressed by what they called a festival as a whole, but the building right across this festival was the MoPOP, meaning the Museum of Popular Culture.
Let me tell you how excited I felt purchasing my ticket (with an additional charge of $5 to see the Marvel Exhibition), and what a treasure this place was for a Media and Communications student to spend not only 3 hours (as I did), but a whole day (as I wished I did).
Looking from the outside, the maroon-purple building is compelling and makes you wonder what could actually be inside. Is it a circus? A venue? That is practically how I ended up walking in without reading any signs at all. Later, I found out that the riveting building was designed by the one and only Frank O. Gehry. Entering in, I quickly realize I was meant to be here. The 80s pop music, the minimalistic black/brown décor (if I recall it right still), and the kind staff who seem to like their job, pull you in fairly quickly.
Giving my ticket to the attendant, I enter the main lobby: A gigantic screen that covers the whole width of the main wall, and I watch Michael Jackson trying to convince this chick next to him that the movie they are watching is actually not that scary. Ahh… Thriller is about to play. A classic. I place myself on a comfy red-round seat and relax, watching the whole music video since I spent the whole day walking. Feeling content, I walk towards my right, see a set of stairs, and walk down the stairs instead of seeing the first floor first. By the time I finish the first half of the stairs, I read the words “to those who have looked to the stars, and wondered” … I keep walking, then read, “your journey begins here”.
Ah… Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction, the other side of the door looks very dark. Here we go!…? I walk around in an atmosphere that is similar to the inside of a spaceship that is in power saving mode, of course (meaning, there were very minimal lighting across all platforms). The exhibit is home to illustrations and texts written by the authors of Sci-Fi legends as well as iconic pieces from their on-screen adaptations. The pieces are from many stories we are familiar with, such as the Star Wars series, Star Trek series, the Fifth Element (1997), Dune (1965), H.G. Wells’ the War of the Worlds (2005) and the Blade Runner (1982-2017). One that stays with me the most is looking at the life-sized T-800 endoskeleton from the Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), it is definitely challenging to stare at the figure more than 20 seconds in the dark room even though I know there are a bunch of people walking around me. I am certain if I stared at it long enough, I would be able to see its red eyes moving, not to mention that the Terminator was a childhood nightmare as it was one of my parents’ favorite movie. I am surprisingly relieved as I take a couple more steps to my right to see Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leather jacket, right next to the T-800.
The exhibit revolves around the idea that the initial purpose of the Sci-Fi worlds is to let the author express himself bluntly through an outside world and its outsider-creatures. Through creating these worlds that seem so different than the earth, the author(s) is able to illustrate the negative aspects of humanity without offending the readers. So, all the disgusting aliens that we read about… actually, mirror us.
Although seeing the familiar pieces and being able to read the progression of the stories through the personal notes of the author’s had been more than enough for me, the interactive component of the exhibit is also valuable to the experience. I was able to choose any imaginary planet from the Sci-Fi world and examine a holographic vision of it 360 degrees all around, I also explored what it felt like to be sitting inside a spaceship, staring at the zillion buttons I would not know what to do with.
Wishing the Infinite Worlds exhibit had more pieces to observe, I walk away feeling content. I try to find my way around the building until I come across a gigantic wooden door. I read the text that has the very same font as a childhood book of Snow White I can easily recall: “What awaits you on the other side of the door? An enchanting forest. A sleeping dragon. A silver-scaled tree. A giant dragonfly. Unlikely heroes and dark forces.” Oh, that feels home! I realize that I make it to the exhibit, Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic.
Before seeing all the pieces from the movies, I adore, I read through the Archetypes of Fantasy. Later along the exhibit, I realize how useful knowing the archetypes is to deeply understand the components of a story of magic. The archetypes form the pieces of the puzzle that create the riveting story. The Unlikely Hero? Ronald Weasley? Yes, sounds about right! The atmosphere in the exhibit feels right in all the ways possible. A sound effect that reminds me of magic, almost like stars shining and birds chirping at the same time, and subtle lighting that reminds me of a thousand candles being lit, creating space for me to stare at a witches’ ball on a corner of the room.
Moreover, the exhibit contains props, costumes and figures from our silver screen favourites such as the Princess Bride (1987), Conan the Destroyer (1985), Harry Potter (1997-2017), the Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), Narnia, the Legend of Zelda (1986-2018) and a favourite of my best friends—an ancient copy (1974, to be exact) of the iconic game, Dungeons and Dragons!
A favorite moment is seeing Judy Garland’s iconic costume from the Wizard of Oz. Ah, and the black pointy hat that melted right after Garland poured a big bucket of water on the green lady… that was there too! The lady? She was the wicked witch. What a moment of joy seeing Garland beat her up (theoretically, with a bucket of water), and she was able to go back home, to Kansas. I remember watching the very same movie at the age of 5-6 at my grandmother’s house. It was the only movie that would play constantly in one of the channels. Wouldn’t matter the time you turn the TV on, the Wizard of Oz would always be airing. You see it was like Netflix without the choice click cancel, and I would watch it over and over and over again.
Another highlight of the exhibit, again, is seeing the creative process of the authors. A book series that I enjoyed as a 13-year-old middle schooler was the great story of Eragon. I’ve read about the author still being a teenager when he wrote the books, but I never imagined him being 15 years-old. The exhibit shows hand-written notes of Paolini as well as a selection of edits from his publisher. It was a privilege to be able to observe the text so clearly and closely and become a part of the artistic process.
I walk out of the same wooden door. I am sure there is a proper way to exit, but I really want to go through the door again, taking me back to the world without magic. I leave, with my heart feeling full.
I would recommend visiting the MoPOP to all ages (with a parent’s assistance for certain exhibitions) and support the museum financially if you are able to do so. My creative-self was so happy to be present in the moment surrounded by all the things that could possibly inspire me the most. I hope to go back for a longer visit and experience this all again. I was also able to see the Marvel Exhibit, that was extraordinary, and it would require me to write another blog post for such a well-presented exhibit. Let me know if you would like to read about it, and comment below if you have any questions about your upcoming MoPOP visit!
I’ll try one more time. Hello. I miss writing here.
I have a lot that I have been holding close to my heart that I would like to share with you. I’ll try justify why I haven’t been able to pour myself out to Hazal’s Camera. My time in Washington, DC, came to an end. Just couple of weeks before I left the penthouse apartment, my one-year-old laptop let me down. Don’t even ask me about it, in the words of one of my favourite co-workers at the little organization I spent most of my days in DC: it was “tragic”. I left writing all together for a little longer than I would’ve liked, and embraced being upset about leaving yet another place– And, returning home.
So it is. I am torn into pieces, but I am also home to collect one that I left over here. With the courtesy of Hazal’s Camera, where I see things more clearly: Here is home.
Over the holidays, I felt blasé as hell. Literally. I overcame that phase through learning how to knit, and driving to every corner of the city. What’s better to do than capturing the colors of a beautiful parrot that also freaks you out because there’s a possibility that it might attack you? Or, getting into New Years with not-so-wild crowd of kids and parents in the heart of the city? Well, it was a time. As I enter into my last week in Vancouver, I finally finished crossing out my bucket list of places to visit (minus Capilano. I still need to make it on the thrilling suspension bridge). It’s time to say goodbye to Vancouver for a bit of a time, and runaway from another possibly large snowfall. I shall return soon.
Here are my “Top 3 Places to See in the Heart of Vancouver”
(Comment if you want to read about it more- I am happy to continue with a part two of this post!)
Excuse yourself if you haven’t started whining about how you can’t book your tickets for next year, like, right now. The event called “Bright Nights in Stanley Park” included three million lights according to the City of Vancouver information website. As I recall from the event, it was facilitated through the contributions of BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund and 800 firefighters worked like Santa’s elves to light up the whole area. The event has been ongoing every holiday season for 20 years, and was it ever spectacular! I have been to the big event of 2017 “Enchant”, smaller events like the “Lights Festival at the Bear Creek Park”, in Surrey and many more. I am fed up with seeing lights everywhere I look by now, but Bright Nights in Stanley Park was the best out of all that I have seen. There are live performers around, decent hot chocolate (cheap for once!), Santa’s workshop, lights, cardboards, lights, cardboards, lights and more lights. All of this is free. If you would like to take the train ride with exclusive lights, it is 15$ for adults. For 10 minutes, I suggest let your kids take it because it will be magical to them. Like I said, I am fed up with lights, so that part was ‘meh’ for me. You can still catch a ride in the event until January 6th, or wait for the next seasonal one (which will probably be a different train ride for Easter. See more info at: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx)
In nicer weather, Stanley Park is amazing to take a walk by the sea side, admire the amazing view, and ease your mind. If you don’t mind the rain, in all weathers, it is the best location to a rent a bike (please carry a map with you, you’ll thank me later), or go for a run. Hint: Justin Trudeau was spotted running in Stanley Park earlier last year!
Queen Elizabeth Park
A little bit of sun helps makes this place look full of life, and fall is probably the best time to see the shades that every tree brings in the picture. However, we have been getting sunny weather now and then too, I assure you that it is a good idea to make your way to the Queen Elizabeth Park. The park is the home to a quarry garden, a rose garden and Canada’s first arboretum with plantings done in 1949. According to the city of Vancouver, there are approximately 1500 species of Canadian trees.
On the highest point of Queen Elizabeth Park, visitors see the iconic domed roof of Bloedel Conservatory. It is a 5$ entrance for adults to observe more than 200 free-flying birds as well as seeing different plants from the desert zone, tropical and subtropical habitats. There are many words to describe the colors of this place, but I’ll let the pictures help you with the rest…
Vancouver Art Gallery
In the heart of downtown Vancouver, this majestic building is located. As I made my way out the Pacific Centre, I walked along historic hotels and delicate buildings, but when I saw this one, I stopped and stared, like every other person would. In front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, you are much likely to see ballerina’s twirling, filmmakers with their gigantic cameras and a lot of people like me, admiring.
I had the privilege to see one of the largest collections under the roof of Vancouver Art Gallery, “Portrait of The Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection” which captures the painters painting themselves (as Michelangelo would say), and one of my favourite artists Gordon Smith’s “The Black Paintings”. I adore Smith for his way of expressing his emotions of the wartime memories so touchingly. Both exhibitions are still open to viewers until February 4, 2018, accompanied by many newer exhibitions in the Vancouver Art Gallery.
In my last post, which is the part 1 of the Antalya within the Ultimate Wonderer Series, I introduced you to the city of Antalya, and its both central historical places(Kaleici) as well as the suburbs (Aspendos). I talked a fair bit about some day and nighttime activities and gave you a bit of a foodie guide… nom! Let’s get deep into this city, and go a little further back in time too within its districts.
Oh my, the central Kemer is a money-making machine itself. As I heard from many, it is one of the most expensive places in Antalya. No doubt because it is by far the most populated area by the tourists. Believe it or not, every 9 out of 10 people there were foreigners. I thought Turkish tourism was dying after the so-talked coup and state of emergency it brought, well… not in Kemer. I wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are mostly Russians too. The first time we went to central Kemer on our way back from Olympos, it was nighttime so we just threw our stuff by the shore and jumped into the water. After Konyaalti, this place is going to feel amazing. The water is so clear and it felt like cotton to me that night. How I miss that place… After walking all day under the sun, it is all you need. A bed of water that feels like cotton. It felt exactly the same after visiting Lara beach and returning to Kemer with disappointment. The cotton beach was there to hug us and let us float.
What to do in Kemer? Shopping is a no. Even on the highway going into the county there was a leather factory/showroom. There are all kinds of offices for touristy tours. I will assure you these are for tourists. If you are foreign to the county, read up and rent a cute little Vespa to drive around the popular spots (unless you are going to Olympos because the roads get messy deep in after the highway). They had two people motorcycles (can I still call them vespas?) for rental. They were extremely cute! Oh, I almost forgot. If you are staying in Kemer or just going there for the day, stay a little longer and experience the night clubs. I haven’t been inside –YET— but If I were you, I would be going to Inferno or Aura. There are DJs that display incredible performances and if this is your kind of fun then you’ll have the ultimate night club experience there.
OLYMPOS and KIMERA
Alright, okay, listen up and bring all your attention here. Before I tell you anything, DO BRING non-slippery, comfy shoes that you can hike with. Flip flops won’t save you when you go there. End rant. Thank you, ma’am.
Olympos was our first stop. Lucky enough, as I think back to it now, if I went up the mountain of Kimera first, I’d have no energy to go on whatsoever. Olympos is another city from the Helenistic era that Antalya is protecting as a historical site. It is the biggest city in the Likya areas. There is an entrance fee that is about 10-20$ depending on your age group. If you are an Is Bank credit card holder or own a muzecard (‘museum’), I believe you are able to get in for free.
Here’s a list of what you should bring:
Water! (no place to buy inside)
After you go in, it is pretty simple to find your way. You will walk along a straight road made from stones that shine under the sun. One of the first things you will see will be the pond with ducks floating happily on your right. That pond connects to the beach that you will see at the end of your walk. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to see the ruins but I think the ancient part of the whole walk actually starts when you take the road on your left, right before you enter the beach. Walk through the tiny water pool and you’ll find the hidden side of the ancient city. There are so many spots to get pictures. My favorite part was sitting on the tree that fell over across the water. It makes such a cute spot to just sit and think. It helps that you are in the shadows too, a break from the hot Antalya sun. At the end of your walk that takes you back in time, right there, you find the perfect Akdeniz waters waiting for you. It will feel amazing to throw yourself in the water of the 3.5 km long beach, just to get away from the heat for a few minutes. Turn your back to the shore and enjoy the view of the Tahtali mountains as the salty water carries you.
Next up, have you every heard of a stone that burns permanently? As we were driving, I saw the sign that says Yanartas (‘burning stone’), and randomly asked my boyfriend to take me there. We had no idea about what this place was all about. After googling up some research, Yanartas or Kimera, its ancient name, was the literal definition of a burning stone. The rocks that are up on the mountain generate a gas that creates fire and keeps the fire alive at ALL times. I’d call it mother nature’s scientific experiment. Before going up, you’ll need to purchase a ticket of 2$ and you are good to go. Oh, I almost forgot—remember what I said about the shoes? The climb up is very steep and slippery. Me and my boyfriend climbed all the way up with Birkenstocks… I tend to be clumsy and he is the sporty guy that did not complete a workout that day. It took us probably about 20 mins to climb up the mountain that an average person would take almost 40 mins to an hour. Thank you, fitness.
As you get close to the top of the mountain, you’ll find a tree that people tie the sticky plastic paper that was once on their water bottle OR, like normal people, they tie a tiny string or a ribbon. This is obviously a Turkish tradition that you tie the ribbon and make a wish. The explanation: They had no ribbons and just tied the water bottle paper. I don’t know why I talked about this for so long, it just tackled my humour. Walk up the slippery stairs from the tree, there you are, you now feel HOT. The heat that comes from the stones fairly effect the environment around them and as you get close, you’ll feel your bare legs burning(!). There were people that brought their pots to make Turkish coffee on the fire of the nature. Many told be they came across people that barbeque’d up there! Whatever you bring, don’t forget your water. You’ll need to drink up before you get ready to go down the mountain.
Adrasan was a spontaneous trip for us. As we were heading out of Olympos, my boyfriend spotted two hitchhikers, and we agreed to take them up to the main road. They were a student couple doing an Akdeniz tour and were looking to camp out at their next stop, Adrasan bay was on our way, why not take a quick look around?
3-minute observation: I must say the beach looked lovely, parking was expensive, and we should’ve just parked and sunbathed.
BUT—Of course I saw another signboard that said, ‘This way to Kiz Kalesi (The girl castle)’. So, the way we go! There was a dusty very harsh looking entrance to the road that goes up the mountain. The sign had a stick figure man carrying a backpack and a hiking stick. We asked the ladies by the side road before entering with a car whether it was okay, and they advised us simply not to. WE HAD TO GO UP THERE WITH OUR DEAR CAR ANYWAYS. We drove up the mountain through the narrow road along the cliff. The car was shaking pretty harshly. I told my boyfriend that maybe he should stop and call the cops to take us down… I was about to cry. He stopped the car and we somehow managed to turn the car backwards in that narrow space. Those 15 minutes I was writing death scenarios in my mind. I took a breath of relief and got off the car, looked at the amazing view in front of me. This was one of the moments in my life I felt so grateful. That is all I have to say about this place.
Moral of the story: Do not drive up to Kiz Kalesi, take your tree branch and hike up like the stick man on the signboard.
Welcome to the rich neighbourhood of Antalya. I cannot compare this place to Kemer because I spent far more time in Kemer than I did in Lara. I am sorry but I will be biased here. Lara Beach has a pretentious name: Altinkum, meaning ‘golden sand’. Our friends love the beach here because it is soft sand, unlike the rocks that aim to murder your feet as you walk to enter the sea. We stopped at a public beach but sadly, I wasn’t impressed. The entrance to the beach was a walk through a picnic area that had garbage all around. I did not find myself being comfortable with the population that decided to come to the beach so we didn’t stay long. However, do take your time to find a beach club that might work for you! I prefer Kemer!
What can you do in Lara for fun? If you are by the public beach, just a few minutes walk will take you to the Sandland. I did not enter in however, there is great feedback about this exhibition. I imagine it to be like walking in Egypt (Antalya weather is no less heat, I’ll tell you that!). Sandland is an international sand sculpting festival that takes place in 10000 m2 area. Sand artists create their work with 10000 tonne river sand within 3 weeks, and the exhibition is opened for viewers after this process. Additionally, TerraCity is another mall you can visit during your trip to Lara. It is enormous and you will find all high fashion brands there, if it tackles your fancy. Do go—when you need some air-conditioned environment for your soul!
Duden falls are about 10 km away from the centre of Antalya. It is an easy getaway from the crowd of the city, to the crowd of the nature😊. Right by the parking lot, you are able to ride a camel along 100-200 m sidewalk, if you fancy that. I believe it is not expensive but I just think camels should be in Arabia or Egypt. Although they seem to be fine just laying there. Entrance fee to the park is 1$ per person. The walkway facilitates an enjoyable walk along the falls. You get to have a panoramic and closer view of the falls. The walk way then leads you into a cave where you have a chance of getting wet by the dripping water of the falls. There we meet again slippery ground! My Birkenstocks do not do well with you! Anyways, the whole experience is wonderful and another clever opportunity to escape from the heat.
Tip: Have a gozleme (a traditional pastry… yum!) and home made ayran (yogurt drink) if you feel hungry. We tried the restaurant in the upper area across the chicken cages. It was 10/10.
I hope you enjoy Antalya as much as I did. There is so much more to do than what I have seen so far. I miss my tour guide a fair bit when I leave so, I will return for more next summer. Until then, see you soon Antalya.
Ahh! I have been waiting to write this post for so long. I cannot tell you what a great time I had this past few weeks. It has been so busy, busy that I had no time to breathe, but in a good way. Wasn’t there a saying? It goes about something like this ‘life is not about how much you breathe, it is about the moments that take your breath away’. I must thank my amazing boyfriend for facilitating that part for me. Effortlessly. Thank you for being my tour guide in this crazy life, everything looks different when I see it with you 😊. This one is for you…
This city feels like home too, after all.
I adore this part of the city. Whether you want to walk along the stone roads with a book in hand or holding someone’s hand that knows you like a book. Kaleici now consists of narrow streets however, the stone walls were once part of a castle that was built in the Helenistic era. It is believed that the Pergamon King Attalos II united two cities of north and south, and their ports. There were numerous ramparts over the castle for protection, which clarifies many narrow walls of Kaleici today.
You will enter Kaleici through the Hadrianus Gates (‘Uc Kapilar’), walk through the streets and you will find nostalgic coffee shops, bars and oh, fish restaurants! You are very close to the yacht marina. This place is amazing in the morning, but magical at nights… You can take a yacht tour for two for about 15-20$ in season, (for 5$ if its on May and sailors are desperate!). I am not the person for water-related tours as I get bored, these tours are approx. about 30-50 mins long. Let me tell you, they are worth it. Take a mind break, and just watch the waves crashing to edges of the small ships.
As we are in the month of Ramadan and I am being asked many curious questions from my social circle, this post has been long overdue… You may call it a coincidence but I am currently attending a religious studies summer course, and being in an environment of diverse ethnicity within a Christian school, I have been reflecting on religion.
Today is the second day of fasting for me. People have been asking me “How do you do it? Why do you do it?”. Just to quickly fill you in, fasting for us starts from sundown to sunset, about 18 hours a day for this year to be exact. My answer to the many questions took me (too!) by surprise. If you asked me why I fasted before, I would say “Well, my religion requires fasting so I do it”. Coming to terms of learning about other religions and attending their ceremonies, I look at things differently now. I started doing what I do for me. I fast because I feel at peace. My mind is clear and I have no worries about what is going to happen next. I stop worrying about doing things. I sit down. I focus. I feel like I have all the time in the world. I feel, that I am close to God. Continue reading “On Religion…”→
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to explore the alive city of Las Vegas. It is just as you would imagine— exceptionally vibrant, bright (literally! Please do not leave this please without seeing the lightshows on the Freemont street) and you will find yourself carelessly watching a dancer who is probably more careless than you are. Mind you, you need to visit this place with an open mind. What you will see may shock you. In contrast, I was more calm than I have ever been in this city and that’s been given to me by the attitudes of the people. Sin city, free city, crazy town… Whatever you want to call it.
Here are some tips to survive if you are on a budget and planning to travel (applicable to most of the urban attractions):
This will specifically focus on the Vancouver people. Remember that you live so close to the US border! US flight tickets are almost always cheaper. If you evaluate how much you’d spend on gas and come up with a good price, you are on the right track to save yourself some $$ Continue reading “Travelling on a budget: Sin City Edition”→