Month 3 in Review

My (belated) final monthly round-up! I spent almost the entirety of the last month of my trip in Turkey. The first two weeks were jam-packed with sightseeing and hanging out with my friend Isabel who came to visit! The last two weeks, in contrast, were lazy, rainy, introspective days spent wandering my neighborhood in Istanbul or drinking tea in my apartment. I was sad to leave this adventure behind, but also happy to go home, reconnect with family and friends, and sit still for a little while.

Okay, I didn't sit still for that long - I'm currently in NYC - but 3 weeks in NC was still the longest I've stayed in one place since I left Portland at the beginning of July!

Turkish tea and simit 

Where I've Been 

Tehran, Iran - 1 night

Istanbul, Turkey - 16 nights

Goreme, Turkey - 2 nights

overnight bus, Goreme to Antalya - 1 night

Boat Trip, Turkey - 3 nights

Kas, Turkey - 1 night

Antalya, Turkey - 1 night

Washington, DC, USA - 1 night

Durham, NC, USA - 5 nights


Sightseeing in Istanbul: arriving in Istanbul to meet Isabel, the first familiar face in 2.5 months, was amazing! My pal from the Iran tour, Judith, was also in Istanbul and the three of us had a blast visiting the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Cisterns and Topkapi Palace while also eating some delicious food, shopping in the bazaars, and enjoying perfect weather. It couldn't have been a better introduction to the city.

Hot air ballooning over Cappadocia: a bucket-list item that is worthy of all the hype. I was worried my fear of heights would keep me from enjoying it, but it was such a peaceful and beautiful ride that it really never occurred to me to be scared! I didn't want it to end.

Cruising the Turquoise Coast: warm days spent hiking pieces of the Lycian Way and swimming in clear blue waters, cool nights eating delicious food and sleeping under the stars on the desk of the boat - it was like a dream.

Food Touring in Istanbul: 6 hours, 2 continents, 1 awesome guide = a very full and happy Mary and Isabel. Our Culinary Backstreets guide, Gonca, made sure we tried everything from the perfect Turkish tea and simit to a lamb intestine sandwich. Favorites were stuffed mussels, ayran (a salty yogurt drink), and fried anchovies. And what better way to top-off a full day of eating than a 6-course meal at one of the best restaurants in Istanbul? I didn't really need another meal until dinner the next day.

Cats!: Istanbul has a crazy huge population of stray cats. But unlike other places where so many of them are starving and not cared for, the city takes awesome collective care of their feline friends. In the mornings people leave food on the sidewalks for all the neighborhood cats to eat; on hot days, shopkeepers put out bowls of water so the kitties don't get dehydrated. It's a whole city full of cat people! Isabel was in heaven.

Cat napping at a used book stand.


Taxi drivers are the worst: We took exactly 3 taxi rides in Turkey, 2 of which were frustrating experiences. Between inflated prices, drivers who didn't know where they were going, and being forced twice to get out and walk so that our driver didn't have to make a U-turn, I was not impressed. Luckily it was easy to avoid them after our bad encounters: cheap public transportation, Uber, and my own two feet were MUCH more pleasant options.

Money money money: lots of money challenges of various sorts this month, including a forgotten debit card! Turkey was MUCH more expensive than the other countries I'd been in which was a little stressful, and we spent a lot of time trying to find working ATMs.

The post-friend let-down: I had a feeling that the last two weeks of my trip were going to be the hardest, and I was right (self-fulfilling prophecy?). The time with Isabel had felt like a vacation from my trip - nicer hotels, fancy outings, great meals, and of course the company of one of my closest friends. It was tough to eat dinner alone after that, and made tougher by the fact that I decided to stay in an apartment instead of a hostel - while I needed some quiet time, I really had no way to meet people.

Turkish breakfast for one. Five types of cheese.

What's Next? 

I'm back in the States! Even though this part of the journey is over, I still have lots more pictures and stories to share from Iran and Turkey. I'll be trying to post as much as I can in the coming weeks, in between job searching, cooking (I missed the kitchen!) and visiting friends stateside! Thanks for following along on my adventure! 


  1. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Since you've made friends from the Pacific to the Caspian maybe you'll continue keeping us all updated on how things go getting resettled, finding work and finding a new home.


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