Mexico City – A Foodie Paradise (+ Hotels to Stay At)

On the final day with Victor and his girlfriend Alejandra, we slowed down our pace a bit from the previous couple days.  We enjoyed a great breakfast at our amazing hotel (see below), and we took out time relaxing. 

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Pyramid of the Sun

On the second full day, we were both in recovery mode after the earthquake, but more from being touched by Montezuma's Revenge, which drained some of our energy that day. Nevertheless, we were still motivated to see the sites and seize the day...

Ciudad de Mexico

For awhile, Monica and I had been talking about getting away for a winter trip. We had originally thought Hawaii, because neither of us had been there since high school and it was a tropical destination—perfect for escaping Seattle’s wintertime rain and gloom. At the same time, we had also begun to talk about going someplace in Latin America.  We thought maybe someplace more cosmopolitan—Mexico City being a place I had wanted to go to for a long time...

Traveling Turkey during Ramadan: Back in Istanbul and the Prince Islands

Aside from hearing the call to break the fast coming from minarets at sundown (sometimes accompanied by a firework), being in Turkey during Ramadan has not been as overtly noticeable as I thought it would be. In the smaller towns, such as Safranbolu, you might hear the drums of people marching through the streets waking people up at 3 or 4 am to start making breakfast before the sunrises. In Istanbul at night there is a festive feel to the Sultanahmet area near the Haiga Sophia and the Blue Mosque. A craft fair has been set up and Turkish families come out with food and have large picnics together. In some heavily touristed areas, like Göreme or Kusadasi, it’s even hard for the foreign traveler to notice a difference in what might be a “Ramadan” thing and what isn’t.

Changing Travel Plans: Safranbolu and Turkish Hospitals

Weaving in and out of traffic–-20 mph to 60 in two seconds, and then braking and weaving again to avoid hitting a motorcycle or slamming into the back of a truck-–this was our welcome back to Istanbul. As the good American I am, I instinctively reached for my seat belt. There were none in this taxi. My friend and I both looked at each other laughing-–partly out of the excitement of the experience and how crazy this taxi driver was driving, but also from the fear and nerves that Istanbul traffic induced...

Ataturk: Ankara and Cappadocia

Last night I was in Ankara on my way from Cappodocia in central Turkey to Safranbolu near the Black Sea. Even with its 4.5 million people, there isn’t too much to see as far as tourism and sightseeing in Ankara, since most of it is a fairly new city built up since Ataturk moved the capital here in the 1920s. Nonetheless, it is nice to wander the streets a bit and take in a more “authentic” Turkey, away from the hordes of tourists. I like to do this from time to time while I travel, to just take in a city or neighborhood away from the tour groups and the sales people hawking kitschy junk at you. Wandering the Kizilay (university area where we are staying) was nice and pleasant. American pop music and traditional Turkish tunes coming from apartments blend together with the honks and beeps and revs of car engines and busses. Young men eat a large dinner together on curbside tables, perhaps breaking the Ramadan fast with the Iftar dinner. Old men play backgammon and drink tea in cafes. Grocers close up shop. A young boy in Levis takes a stroll with a girl wearing a headscarf and ripoff Converse. Groups of women with shopping bags head home from a day out and about. Seeing these things is what I like about traveling. I like to just see how people live and interact, and outside the US, while there are differences, it makes me think that more often than not we are more the same than different. This something we usually don’t like to admit...