One Sweet World

Not so important posts about a married couple living in Baltimore.

Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Istanbul - Day 2

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our first full day in Istanbul so we started early with a quick breakfast at the hotel and a walk down to the waterfront to view the Sea of Marmara up close! We got down there and boy was it windy! There was a small fish market here too along the water and we watched as the vendors set up for the day. Then it was up the hill to the Old City to tour the tourists sights of the city. We started at the Blue Mosque. It got named the Blue Mosque after all the blue tile on the inside.
It makes for a beautiful interior! What I didn't expect was all the hanging lights on the inside to illuminate such a large space. This mosque is huge inside!
But even larger is the Hagia Sofia just across the way. First built as a church and later converted to a mosque this building has been around for a long time. You could see the warn stones where
thousands of people have walked. We followed the guided tour out of the Rick Steves' book and thoroughly enjoyed our visit here.

Next on our whirlwind tour was the Topkopi Palace where the Sultans used to live. It has great views of the Bosporus. This was not our favorite attraction here. It was really crowded and their security entrance was chaos. So, we had a negative feel for this place.

But, it was pretty! We didn't spend a lot of time here so it was off to the next spot!
We walked over the Galata Bridge and stopped for a quick chai and a place to rest our feet. It's a pretty cool bridge with the top level the bridge for cars and a lower level full of restaurants with seating outside so you could be on the water and watch the boats go by.
Once over the bridge we stopped for a quick lunch then we walked up the hill to the Galata Tower. We took the elevator to the top so we could get the 360 degree view of the city. It was quite windy up there and the ledge was small and crowded. A bit scary! But the views were worth it!

Once we left the tower we wandered through the neighborhood to Istikal Street, a main shopping and arts district on the "new" side of town. This place was packed! It was full of locals, tourists, everyone. The weather was nice and a perfect day for a stroll. We loved watching the crowds and walking along the street.
We even saw a few churches here, where more westerners live and work. We stopped for a few drinks in the neighborhood and enjoyed the afternoon. Then it was back to hotel to have dinner down near the water and our first taste of Raki! This was a great day in Istanbul!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Trip to Istanbul, Turkey!

Thursday, November 25th through Friday, November 26th

With no plans for the Thanksgiving holiday, we decided to go on a somewhat last minute trip to Istanbul, Turkey! Ha ha, going to Turkey on Turkey day! We started our journey Thanksgiving morning with our flight through Chicago and Frankfurt on our way to Istanbul. We arrived Friday afternoon and took the train from the airport to our hotel. It took us a while to find the hotel since there are no street signs there! We were on the right street all along, but after making a big circle we realized we needed to walk further down the hill to our hotel. After a quick shower and change of clothes we wasted no time and headed out to the Grand Bazaar for our first meal and first cup of tea. We walked through the indoor bazaar and saw lots of cool lamps, clothes and trinket souvenirs. Connected to the bazaar is the Spice Market. Here you can find all sorts of spices, food and drinks. It was here I bought some apple tea and chai. They even vacuumed packed it so it would stay fresh!

After leaving the Spice Market we walked down to the river and got another quick snack of a fish sandwich from a boat floating on the river.
After our snack, we made our way through the winding streets, listening to the call to prayer from the minarets and found our way to the Valens Aquaduct. We got there after the sun set to find it all lit up! It's amazing how the modern ways of travel fit through the existing structure. And yes, we were standing on the side of this road for about 20 minutes taking pictures! Crazy tourists! We then made our way through some neighborhoods back to the area of our hotel. It was time for another snack! We found a cozy neighborhood restaurant and had another small meal. By this time we're pretty tired and headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before our busy day tomorrow!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mumford & Sons

Time to check another item off of my list of things to do this year. Last week we saw a new band, Mumford & Sons at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Jennie & Conor and Annie & Jamie met us at the venue. We had our mini-tailgate of sandwiches and beers. But then the sky opened and it POURED for almost an hour. We huddled down in our cars to wait for the storm to pass. When it finally did, it only left us time to see Mumford & Sons. We missed both opening bands. But staying dry and out of that crazy storm was the better option :) Finally got in just in time for the show. Pretty clean performance and the sound was pretty good. Overall, a fun concert!

Set List:

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011


We FINALLY got around to painting. And yes, we only painted one room and yes it was the smallest in the house. This also takes care of meeting one of my goals for the year, which was to pick a room and paint it! In addition to the paint, we got a new shower curtain, new bath rug, and new towel bars. Some details: Ceiling was paint in Behr Restful (400F-4), walls in Behr Japanese Fern (400B-6) and the trim in Behr Star Shine (W-B-410). While not 100% finished, it's looking good! Still need to find some artwork or photos for the walls, possibly a shelf or two. Ultimately, we want to replace the vanity, medicine cabinet and light fixture as well and fix the tile floor.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Vancouver, BC - Wednesday, October 20th or how to get to the nearest In-N-Out Burger

Today was just a travel day back home, but not without it's own adventure. We had a pretty long lay over at SFO in San Francisco so for lunch we ventured to the nearest In-N-Out Burger. First, get to the BART station and buy a round trip ticket.

Then cross a big street and a gas station parking lot. You can see it in the distance!

Place your order and wait.

Be really excited about your burger and pose for the camera! Oh yeah, and then EAT!

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Vancouver, BC - Tuesday, October 19th

Tuesday was a gorgeous day! We took full advantage of the nice weather and walked and biked around the city and parks. We started the morning off again at Coo Coo Coffee for a light breakfast. It was then off to find a bike rental place so we could ride around Stanley Park. On our way to the bike shop we walked along English Bay Beach and enjoyed the views of the water and the mountains. It was such a clear and sunny day! We picked up our bikes and headed straight into Stanley Park for a ride around the perimeter of the park. Along the route there are lots of places to stop and take pictures. It was a great way to spend our morning! Stanley Park is quite large so halfway around we decided to try and have lunch at the restaurant in the park.
What we didn't realize was that this restaurant was at the top of a very large hill. I struggled up that hill! But, with all the struggle, you get the awesome view at the top.
After a rather unhealthy lunch involving poutine, it was time for the awesome ride downhill and back into the city. The ride down probably took 5 minutes while the ride up close to a half hour!
After such an exhilarating ride downhill, we returned the bikes, hoped on a bus back to the hotel and plotted our next adventure.
I really wanted to go to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Vancouver so we figured out how to get there on the bus and started the trek across town. It would be the only museum we went to on our whole trip! I had to get at least one in :) While I took my time walking through the musuem and admiring all the native art, Kevin took a walk outside and took some awesome pictures at sunset.
With our final day coming to a close, we wanted one last tasty dinner before heading back to the real world. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at ReFuel in the Kitsilano neighborhood. We had a nice, relaxed dinner and reflected on all the fun things we got to do on this trip. We'd love to come back and visit Vancouver!

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Vancouver, BC - Monday, October 18th

Woke up on Monday morning with cloudy skies, no rain, but a damp chill in the air. So we decided to start our morning warming up at Coo Coo Coffee with tea, coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Here we planned out our day and decided to start out by checking out Granville Island. The best way to get there sans car is to go by AquaBus! It was a short walk to the pier and then a quick ride across the water over to Granville Island. Being a Monday morning the place wasn't all that busy, but we did walk around the indoor market and around the shops there. Had lunch at SandBar on their outdoor patio. A bit brisk but we got to enjoy the views of the water. After lunch instead of taking the AquaBus back, we took the more scenic route and walked over the bridge back to the mainland. This was a great way to get views of the city and a bit of exercise all in one! We continued walking through downtown and up Robson street. For a nice break, we stopped for tea at Urban Tea Merchants. It was a great way to relax and people watch and try some tasty tea.
As the late afternoon approached, we headed back to the hotel to rest before catching a bus to dinner. It was recommended that for good Japanese food you eat at Tojo's in Vancouver. So we made reservations and headed there for dinner. We both ordered the omakase (chef's choice) and proceeded to each way too much food. The dishes were mostly seafood based and all very tasty. This meal was definitely a new experience for us both and we really enjoyed it.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Vancouver, BC - Sunday, October 17th

Busy day in Vancouver today! Even with our late start (needed to get some sleep!) we still managed to do quite a bit today. We started off with a delicious brunch at Medina. After brunch we walked around Chinatown and the Gastown neighborhoods. Since we had a late breakfast (brunch) we decided to grab a quick snack before our dinner reservations that evening. A great place for such a snack was at Salt. The entrance to this place is literally located in an alley, which is awesome. What makes it even better is the alley has a name, Blood Alley in Gastown! They specialize in local cheese, meats and wines. Like I said, the perfect snack! We got a sample plate of cheeses and meats and a flight of wine. We also got a tour of the meat locker where they store all the meats, cheese and wines and had a great conversation with one of the workers there. We got some great suggestions for dinner, including a recommendation for the place we already had dinner reservations for. Since the weather was cooperating so nicely, we decided to splurge and spend the money to go to the top of The Lookout. Akin to the Space Needle in Seattle, a ride to the top gets you a 360 degree view of the city. And on such a clear day we got a great view of the mountains and of the city.
After our walk around the city it was time to get ready for dinner. Kevin chose Blue Water Cafe for our fancy dinner out. It's a seafood restaurant that specializes in local fish and wine. We enjoyed a nice, long meal and decided that we really like Vancouver a lot. Food is great and we really lucked out on the weather! No rain yet!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Japan/Vancouver - October 16th

Today was Saturday and our last day in Tokyo. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 4:00 that afternoon, but flying out of Narita takes a good hour to get there so we had to leave Tokyo Station around 1:00 PM. That left us with just the morning to tour around. We decided to walk over to the Imperial Palace grounds. We figured we have an hour or two to walk around. But, we didn't realize how hard it is to actually walk through/around Tokyo Station. It looks so small and close on the map but it took us a good hour to walk over there leaving us only 30 or so minutes to walk around and see the sites outside of the palace. So we spent most of our final morning doing lots of walking. We started our journey to Vancouver at Tokyo Station with catching the train to the airport and then our flight to Vancouver via San Francisco.

Arriving in Vancouver, we took the train into the city. To the left is the view from the train! Once we got to the hotel we needed to drop off some laundry. But we had more important things to do, like eat! Now commences the 3 dinners we had our first night in Vancouver. First up, we shared a lamb wrap at Donair King. Then it was off to Rodney's Oyster House after a walk through the Yaletown neighborhood. We got there early enough to catch the oyster happy hour so that made us happy campers!

View of the Oyster bar from our table. Had fresh oysters as our happy hour appetizer. After we had a bit to eat we continued to walk through the Yaletown neighborhood and decided we wanted to try some of the beers at the Yaletown Brewery. Once inside though, the menu looked pretty good so we decided to share a pizza....meal #3!

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Japan - October 15th

Woke up today at the ungodly hour of 3:30 AM. Why you ask? So we can see the tuna auction at the Tsukiji Fish Market. They only let in a limited number of people each day and we didn't want to miss out! The tour starts at 5:30 AM but you have to start getting in line an hour before hand and get a ticket. Then you wait for your tour to start and the auction to begin. I've never seen a whole tuna before but they're pretty big fish! We were brought into the auction room and got to watch as the buyers inspected the fish and took notes. Once the auction started each fish was auctioned off in a matter of seconds! Everything went by so fast. Once the auction was done another person came through and marked each fish with the buyer's name. Overall, a pretty cool hour spent at the auction but then we had to navigate a way out of the market past all the moving carts, bicycles, trucks and people. It's quite a site! since we were up so early we were hungry so we got in line at 6AM for a sushi place in the market. We were finally seated at 7:15! Crazy wait for breakfast but we got some delicious fish! And yes, eating raw fish that early in the morning is delicious. By 8:00 AM if felt like we put in a full day of touring already so we headed back to the hotel and took a short nap. Woke up in time to get on the subway and head out to the Asakusa neighborhood to walk around the outdoor shops and the temple that was there. Too bad a lot of other folks thought the same thing! The whole neighborhood felt crowded and we ran into the most tourists in this area. We were ready to leave the area but got some noodles for lunch before finding our way back to the hotel on the subway.
Back at the hotel we freshened up for our nice dinner out with Dave & Eurie at Kyubei. This sushi restaurant is one of the best in the city and is frequented by celebrities (apparently).
Everyone sits at a sushi bar and is served personally by the sushi chef. Each chef only prepares food for 6 people so the setting is very intimate. It's amazing to watch the sushi chef prepare each piece of fish and rice while you watch. About halfway through our meal, we were greeted by the owner of the restaurant himself, Mr. Kyubei! The sushi chef was gracious enough to take our photo. Overall, a fantastic meal that will forever change how we eat and think of sushi. I'm sure this meal won't be repeated any time soon!
After dinner, we decided to get a drink and walk around the Ginza neighborhood. What we didn't realize was that it was so expensive to drink in Tokyo! Beers and cocktails were no cheaper than $20 on this Friday night. We ended the night with a lot less money, but with great memories of a whirlwind day in Tokyo!

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