Istanbul – Day 2

Monday March 5, 2012

Since Kat was in lectures most of the afternoon, I decided to do some wandering around the city. Luckily I ran into another spouse (Lauren Hochfeld) on the trip so we started by walking up to Taksim Square. Evidently after reading the travel guide books and seeing it firsthand, this is the place to be if you want to protest something in Istanbul. There was a group of about 50 people protesting there on Sunday and there was a march for International Women’s Day on another while we were there. Once we got up to the square, I had mentioned we could go toward Dolmabahçe Palace. Lauren had been to Istanbul before for her international requirement for her MBA two years earlier, but she hadn’t been to the palace so she was good with us going that way. At the square we asked around and were pointed toward the Taksim funicular. This took us over to the Kabataş stop. This was a 2 minute ride down the hill basically. We walked by the Dolmabahçe Mosque and Dolmabahçe Palace. We noticed there wasn’t anyone in the palace so I remembered that some tourist sites in Istanbul are closed on Monday. Since we couldn’t go in we walked down the street and around it. At the gate was an odd site, there were two soldier looking figures inside glass boxes. I swore they were dummies. Lauren, said “No take a look they are moving!”. Sure enough if you looked closely, they were real people guarding the gate in a glass box looking phone booth?!?!? Once we realized we couldn’t tour the palace, we began walking back up the street. I was excited to notice next to the mosque across the street was Beşiktaş football stadium, the Fiyapı İnönü Stadium. I got Lauren to take a few photos of me with the stadium in the background and we also visited the team shop. We decided to walk up the hill to get a better view of the Bosphorus Strait, the stadium, etc…

While walking up the hill, we met our first “swindler” in Istanbul. A guy probably in his 20’s dropped a brush, Lauren picked it up and he thanked here. Then the scam began, he offered to shine our shoes. He claimed he was a student trying to get some money and we relented and let him shine our shoes. I offered a 20 TL (Turkish Lira) but he wanted more. All I had left were 50 TL so without thinking too clearly that it was roughly $35 USD I gave it to him and got my 20 TL back. Lauren also gave the guy a 5 TL and didn’t realize I was giving him so much money. He thanked us and was on his merry way, no doubt glad he just made his whole week in shoe shine sales probably! I like to think of it as my donation to charity while in Turkey! Kat wasn’t as amused but once the story got out it was quite an infamous story to the rest of the traveling group, so I had that going for me. My shoes were shining the rest of the trip!!!

We decided to walk the 15 minutes back up to Taksim Square. I had heard earlier from the professors wife that we should go back to the Galata Tower and go to the top to get 360 panoramic views of the city so off to Galata Tower we went. We walked down Istiklal Avenue where all the shops/food/bars/etc… are located. The street was packed at almost all times of the day and night. It took about 25 minutes to walk down the avenue to Galata Tower. It cost 12 TL to go to the top. Once there we took a good bit of photos. It was a great view. We finally walked back up the avenue to our hotel and waited for our respective spouses to return to the hotel. A good afternoon of sightseeing was in the books.

For dinner we were encouraged to go to the Ortaköy section of Istanbul down by the Bosphorus. One of Kat’s classmates is from Turkey and recommended we go to this area. He rounded up a bunch of cabs and off we went. I would say there was about 20-30 of us that went down to the restaurant area. Once there, groups split up and hit a few different spots. At the restaurant we chose, I selected chicken schnitzel and fries and Kat selected a meatball type dish kafte. The restaurant was super cheap and food was just ok that night. After dinner we went to the place next door because some people in the group wanted to try the hookah. We were able to watch the Galatasaray/Sivasspor Turkish league soccer game and enjoy spending time with some of Kat’s classmates and spouses. Since everyone was pretty jet-lagged from the day before and staying out late on Sunday night, everyone decided to head back to the hotel relatively early (ie before midnight!) and Day 2 was over.

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Taksim Square

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Dolmabahçe Palace (gate and guards)

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Fiyapı İnönü Stadium, home of Beşiktaş soccer team

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Istiklal Avenue

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view from Galata tower

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view from Galata tower looking toward the Galata bridge

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Istanbul – Day 1

We arrived in Turkey at 9:35 in the morning. We got our luggage and took a taxi to our hotel. We were pretty tired but couldn’t get into our room until 2. We decided to walk around and take in some sights. While out we ate some lunch and stopped in a candy shop. We then came back to our hotel, checked in and took a nap. We got up at 5:30 and got ready for dinner. We walked with about 20 people to the restaurant. We had our own room upstairs for dinner. The menu was set so we ate and drank and enjoyed ourselves. After dinner we took over a small bar. It was pretty humorous, there was no one in the bar and then suddenly there were around 35 Americans in it. We had a great time. We walked back to the hotel and slept. A good day so far.

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Traveling Time Again

B and I will be heading out on another adventure tomorrow.  We hope to blog like we have done in the past.  We are excited but not quite sure what to expect.  We are going to Istanbul for a week or so.  We still need to pack up and we our leaving our little Jackson with B’s parents.  We hope you will enjoy reading about our daily activities.  We should be back on Sunday posting about our day.

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Anniversary (Dec 16)

So it’s been a busy holiday season so far. We had our 4th Wedding Anniversary on Dec 16. We decided to try out a new restaurant near my work called Local Three. The restaurant is in the old Joel space off Northside Parkway. Local Three Kitchen & Bar is the product of a shared set of values between Todd Mussman and Ryan Turner of Muss & Turner’s and noted Atlanta chef Chris Hall. I believe I had heard about this from my Atlanta Magazine email so I figured it would be a good place to try out. After eating there, I highly recommend it. The food was outstanding. We started out with a cheese tasting and Notorious P.I.G. plate which consisted of 2 cheeses and 2 meats. They have a lot of special cocktails and a huge drink menu. A drink they make in house is called Muddy Waters and is Makers Mark and Ginger Ale. It was a very smooth drink and quite refreshing. Kat decided to try the Grilled Hangar Steak while I tried the Pan Seared Georgia Mountain Trout with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Apples. The entrees were excellent and I think my new favorite vegetable is Crispy Brussels Sprouts!! For dessert we got the Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Capn Crunch Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Yeah, it was no joke! We had a great anniversary dinner and look forward to many more together. I can’t wait to go back to try the Butter Poached Maine Lobster appetizer which we unfortunately didn’t that night. To check out their menu go to http://localthree.com

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters

Pan Seared Georgia Mountain Trout

Pan Seared Georgia Mountain Trout

Kat at Local Three

The lovely wife at Local Three

Brandon at Local Three

Brandon at Local Three

Local Three Wine List

Local Three Wine List

 

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10/22/90

20 years ago today….

A band in it’s infancy played it’s first show.

Listen here or watch clips here.

The crew at Two Feet Thick created this great mini-book that illustrates the first few weeks and first year of the band that became PEARL JAM!

You can check it out here.

Just my way of celebrating 20 years of my favorite band! Enjoy!

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It’s Been Too Long

I thought I would update the blog today. It’s been about 3 months so…

Today’s post will be about MUSIC!

First off, I’ve been digging the new Kings Of Leon album “Come Around Sundown”, especially the track #13 “Pickup Truck”.

You can listen to it and the whole album on http://www.kingsofleon.com

To enhance your listening pleasure, here are the lyrics to “Pickup Truck”:

Walk you home to see, where you’re livin around and I know this place
Pour yourself on me and you know I’m the one, that you won’t forget.
And in your denim eyes, I see something’s awry, and I see you’re weak.
When he come’s around, I see your fixin’ to shy and my face won’t speak.

Hate to be so emotional
I didn’t mean to get physical
But when he pulled in & revved it up, I said, “you call that a pickup truck?”
And in the moonlight I throw him down, all kickin’ screamin’ and rollin’ around
A little piece of a bloody tooth, just so you know I was thinkin’ of you.
Just so you know oohhh.

Tremblin’ misery, and it’s cold as a hole
Hug your bones and skin.
cracklin’ woods gone white, and my eyes swolled up now
I can see the light.

Hate to be so emotional
I didn’t mean to get physical
But when he pulled in & revved it up, I said, “you call that a pickup truck?”
And in the moonlight I throw him down, all kickin’ screamin’ and rollin’ around
A little piece of a bloody tooth, just so you know I was thinkin’ of you.
Just so you know oohhh.
Just so you know oohhh.
Just so you know oohhh.

I hate to be so emotional
I didn’t mean to get physical
But when he pulled in & revved it up, I said, “you call that a pickup truck?”
And in the moonlight I throw him down, all kickin’ screamin’ and rollin’ around
A little piece of a bloody tooth, just so you know I was thinkin’ of you.
Just so you know I was thinkin’ of you.
Just so you know ooohhh.
Just so you know ooohhh.

Second, tomorrow is an important day in musical history. I will try to post again tomorrow to let you know why!

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US vs Algeria Photos

Loftus Versfeld Stadium (Tshwane/Pretoria)

Kat & Zakumi

Brandon & Zakumi

US vs Algeria - The view from our seats

Kickoff

US vs Algeria game shot

The players celebrating after the final whistle.

The Hero! & Man Of The Match "Landon Donovan"

Brandon & Kat (US vs Algeria)

US "seat mates" during all 3 group games

US Fan dressed as a soccer cleat?!?

US fans celebrating after the big win!

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Safari Pictures #2

Djuma Vuyatela Lodge Deck/Bar/Firepit

Cottage deck and view of watering hole

Safari Cottage Room #1 (Djuma Vuyatela)

Beautiful view from our outdoor shower!

Yes, it was cold early in the morning on the game drives.

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Safari Pictures

Female Leopard

Lion

Giraffes

Water Buffalo

Leopard (In Tree)

Zebra

Hippopotamus

Elephants

White Rhinocerose

Male Lion

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US vs Algeria (Pretoria)

Wednesday, June 23

Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Tshwane/Pretoria
US vs Algeria

Our last FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 game, our 5th match was in Pretoria. After getting up and going to breakfast at Moemas, we drove the 40 min to Pretoria to the Park N Ride. The drive was pretty easy and we got to the stadium about 2-3 hours before the game. We checked out the FIFA Fan Store where we finally found USA 2010 World Cup scarfs so we purchased two for souvenirs! We walked around the outside of the stadium and checked out a guy doing dribbling tricks and took a photo with the life size display of the 2010 World Cup mascot “Zakumi”. There was a Playstation 3 display set up for fans to pass the time so I took on an Algerian fan. We finally decided to go into the stadium and check out our seats. We were in the upper level about half the way up and directly in the center of the pitch (50 yard line in Football terms). There were probably more Algerian fans than US fans with Algeria being much closer to South Africa than the US is. We may have been outnumbered but the US fan’s were just as loud during the game. As the game kicked off, you got the sense it might be a tense affair. The US needed a win to advance more than likely and it was going to be a long nerve-racking game. The fans next to us were getting the England/Slovenia score on their phone so after 20 min. we knew England was up 1-0. That meant, the US had to win the game to advance to the Knockout stages of the tournament. Every time the US looked like they were going to score, we  either hit the post, or the goalkeeper for Algeria would make an incredible save. As time kept ticking in the game, it just seemed like it wasn’t going to be our day. The US continued to attack while the  Algerian’s seemed  to be playing for a tie which didn’t make much sense. They had to win as well to advance. What happened next will be forever etched into US Soccer fan’s lore when in the 1st min of injury time, Tim Howard saved a shot, threw the ball to midfield right into the path of Landon Donovan, who passed it forward to Jozy Altidore…Altidore then crossed it right into the path of Clint Dempsey who quickly shot at the Algerian keeper who had come out and deflected/saved the shot. As the ball started rolling back into the middle of the penalty box, it was like in slow motion as you could see the ball perfectly rolling  toward Landon Donovan, who made no mistake slotting it into  the back of the net for the dramatic 1-0 victory and the US fans went into a state of delirium in the stands. It’s a memory I don’t think we will ever forget. It was such a relief when we scored because for the most part we thought we had blown our chance at advancing. In my mind, the score should have been about 3-0 for the US at that point, but up until then we just had no luck on our side. As the final 2 minutes ticked away and the final whistle blew, the players ran onto the field, celebrating with the US fan’s for a good 10 minutes. We stayed in the stadium for 30 min. at least and took pictures with some fans we had sat next to for all 3 US group games. As we left the stadium, there was a huge gathering of US fans in the concourse chanting, singing, running down the corridor with US flags waving.One fan caught our eye in particular, he was a US fan dressed as a soccer cleat?!?  It was a great moment for all the fans who had traveled half way around the world to support the team. It’s something I won’t forget for a long time! We drove back to Johannesburg after the game and grabbed a quick dinner from Nando’s and strolled back to the cottage to watch the Germany/Ghana and Australia/Serbia games before we called it a night.

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