Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Market in Germany

This weekend Paul and I took my first trip since I moved here - I must say, I love being able to take a quick 3 hr flight for a weekend trip in Europe.  We had heard alot from other expats here about the Christmas markets in Germany and decided to give it a try.

The markets were so amazing - the market stands were all over the city.  We spent two whole days exploring them.  Apple wine, nutcrackers, ornaments, lots and lots of food, toys, scarves, carved wood, art, steins, so much more. 

It was great during the day because you weren't fighting the crowds.  We got to enjoy looking around.  At night, the crowds kicked in - and I know why.  It was magical at night to see everything lit up.

While we had expectations of doing some much needed Christmas shopping, we ended up spending most of our time eating, with some walking in between! We had brautwurst, fries, schnitzels, potato pancakes, some uber delicious apple pancake (apfel pfannkuchenspezialitaten according to the sign - see delicious picture below!), apple wine, mulled red wine, hot chocolate, beer, crepes, delicious choclate creme pastry, candied pecans, and probably lots more I am forgetting.  It was delicious.

We also had a chance to attend a vesper service at the St Nicolas church that is right in the middle of the Christmas markets.  It was such a great way to get into the holiday spirit and nice to be around people speaking English :)

We head back to the US next week for the holidays - Merry Christmas everyone!

My favorite food of the market - apfel pfannkuchenspezialitaten with cinnamon and sugar on top!

More German food

View of the Market and Christmas tree

Market with St. Nicolas church in the background

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


When we came to Turkey for Paul's interview, I had noticed some baked potato stands and thought - hmm, that's an interesting concept.

After coming to Istanbul, I decided I just had to try one of these delicious looking baked potatos. I did some online research, and it comes to find out that these spuds are a bit famous in Turkey - they are known here as Kumpir.

There are Kumpir stands in various parts of town, but probably the most number of these are in Ortakoy, a little shopping area right on the Bosphorous on the European side.  Saturday we decided to get in some Christmas shopping and we went hungry so that we could have one of these delicious treats!

When you first walk into Ortakoy on the north side, you see a whole row of these stands - they all sell the same thing, so everyone is calling out to you trying to get you into THEIR stand.

Once you carefully choose a stand, you go up and pick your toppings just like a salad bar.  They have the usual butter and cheese, and other toppings such as peas, corn, black olives, green olives, pickles, rice, cabbage, mushrooms, yogurt and other unidentifiable (at least by me) things.  Then they mash it up and wrap it up in foil for your eating pleasure.

Odd combination, yes.  But, the kumpirs were a hit. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cooking Experiment?

As many of you know, I have a sweet tooth.  So while at the grocery store the other day, of course a box of chocolate souffles catches my attention.  Nevermind the fact that I have never actually made souffles before -it's chocolate so it can't turn out that bad, right?

I decided today would be the day to make these delicious souffles. 

Obstacle - the instructions are all in Turkish.  I recognize egg (yumurta), margarine (helpfully, it's margarin in Turkish), and milk (sut).  Good start.

I decide to turn to some websites to assist with the rest of the translation.  I especially think that the instructions are important - souffles seem to be one of those things that you have to follow the directions on.

Here's what I got:
The sweet mixture gets ready. Roasted will pick modified noun (onceden) develops after regulates so that she gets warm. 8-At the 9 cm diameters the 4 durable to the heat bean bowls margarin you lubricate. Margarin and her milk take offence the saucepan. Betwixt you cook a middle while mixing at the fire. Boil you close the January when starts and on gets better the addition obtains your mixture. Until edinceye even building spoon handmade you mix.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Turkey Tourists

Istanbul is a giant city, and Paul and I live no-where near the tourist sites.  Great for everyday living to avoid throngs of tourists; not so convenient when you are trying to be one of thousands in those very throngs.  This weekend, Paul and I set out on a trek to get in some sight-seeing, full of taxi's, trams, and a whole lot of walking!

Sultanahmet is great because all the tourist areas are so close together - from one stop on the tram, you are in walking distance to Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazzar.  Two stops down is the Spice Bazaar.   There are other tourist sites in this area that we missed this time (the cisterns, Topkapi palace, historic turkish baths aka hamams)

This was the first time I really felt like a tourist.  Maybe it was the fact that there were sooo many other tourists, even in the off season, or maybe it was that no one even assumed that I was a local and just spoke English right off the bat.  You are also getting hustled like a tourist - from the domar stand on the corner, to the bus tour guides, to the carpet salesman at the Grand Bazaar.  There is always something to see.

We are looking forward to having some visitors now so that we can show you the sites!

Paul in front of Aya Sofia enjoying his tavuk wrap

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Grand Bazaar

Monday, November 14, 2011

Welcome to Turkey

I am happy to have finally made it to Istanbul! While the tourist in me was nagging at me as soon as I got here to get out and explore, I was a bit jet lagged, and it was rainy, so rather we spent our first weekend like any other lazy weekend.

We went to lunch - I was so excited to see avocado on the menu that I promptly ordered it.  While I will say that I was disappointed (more like that "guacamole" spread you get in the Northeast), I have a feeling it may taste a whole letter better if I hadn't just gone on a Mexican food craze prior to leaving.

We went to the grocery store - we have a small local grocery nearby (Gourmet Garage) and I promptly used the excuse of having no clue where it was to make Paul go with me - nothing too unusual here except that you don't get to pick your own produce.  You tell them what you want (right now there is a whole lot of pointing til I learn more food names) and they put it together for you.

We went to the mall - where you have to go through a security detector to get into.  I feel like I'm back at Paschal High School again.

We went to the movies - they do have American films, although it seems like many of them come out much later here (except Twilight: Breaking Dawn does open next week here too!).  Best part - you get to pick your seat, so if you get there in time, you don't have to be stuck with that front row, crane your neck seat.  Also, they have an intermission with commercials.  Kind of nice if you need a potty break, or in Paul's case to get some refreshments.

So that's all (so far) folks.  More stories to come of our adventures as I work to get the dog over here (perhaps another blog this week on that fiasco), get a cell phone, get the apartment set-up, learn how to cook things without a microwave, and make my way around Istanbul without knowing much Turkish.

Güle güle

Monday, October 24, 2011

Earthquake Update

Thank you to everyone who has checked in on Paul’s safety following the earthquake in Southern Turkey over the weekend.

It was a sizeable earthquake (7.2 on the richter scale), but was not close enough to Istanbul to even be felt.

Hopefully, we never have to experience an earthquake while in Istanbul, especially one of the magnitude that hit Ercis.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

update from Paul

I've been here 4 weeks now.  I really like my new job.  We are very busy - I'm working on a conventional oil play, conventional gas, helping out with tight gas potential, and looking over a shale opportunity in Bulgaria. There are only four reservoir engineers in Istanbul, so there is plenty to do. There's a good group of people here, so making friends is easy.  Some fellow Longhorns work here and we get together to watch college football.  We can watch a TV back in the states over the internet using a device called a Slingbox.

I've picked up a little Turkish already.  Can get around in a cab, count to 10, know some basic phrases, not too much though.  I have some books and Alyson is bringing over Rosetta Stone CD.  When I get some more spare time I'll try to learn some more.  I don't really need to know how to speak it - everyone in the office speaks English.  Most Turks with a college education speak English.  One reason, especially for petroleum or geology majors, is that all the books are in English so they must learn it. There are about 20 expats in Istanbul.

The first weekend I was here a group of people from the office rented a boat/yacht and spent all day on Saturday on the Bosporus.  We docked for a few minutes on the Asian side, so I got out and stood in Asia for the first time.  The water was a little cold, very near the end of the swimming season here.

I went to our field office near Tekirdag for a few days. While there I went to a meeting with TPAO, the Turkish petroleum state company.  They are our partner in some of our fields.  The field was fun to visit, but the meeting was all in Turkish, so that was pretty boring.

That Friday I left to take a trip to Bucharest with 4 other guys from the office.  It is only about a 1 hour flight away.  We had a lot of fun there. It is a place I would like to go back to again.

On Tuesday I went to Ankara, the capital of Turkey, for a day trip to meet with one of our partners for my oil field. I went up there with one of our geologists.  I didn't get to see much of the city while there.

This weekend I am in Sofia for work.  We met with our partners on the shale well we are drilling.  I went to our Sofia office on Friday and met with the people out there.  Saturday morning we drove out to the rig and also to another well that is nearby.  Today it is cold and snowing, so I'm just sitting inside waiting to go to the airport. I only packed a light jacket, so I don't feel like seeing the city. I will do that with Alyson some other time.

I moved into an apartment.  It has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and has a small office and storage room. It is about a 15-20 minute walk to the office.  It is furnished.  The guest bedroom has 2 twin beds. The view is awesome from the apartment.  There is a large window in the living room, about 15-20' long, with a great view of the Bosporus.  I know Alyson will love it when she comes.  There is a small garden and park nearby will be nice for Belle.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ocean View

One of the things I am getting most nervous about Turkey is finding a place to live.  It will be different because we will be changing from a house with a backyard, to, more than likely, an apartment.  Especially with the dog, it will be an adjustment, but I will say I am looking forward to downsizing and having less space to clean up!

One of the top things on my wish lists for an apartment is an ocean view.  We've been doing a bit of looking via Craigslist and found a couple with great views of the Bosphorous.  Who wouldn't love waking up to this view every day?

More pictures to come once we find a place of our own and I have had the chance to do a bit of my own decorating!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Turkish Explorations

As we get things together to move to our new home in Turkey, the tourist inside of me bought a Lonely Planet guide to Turkey.

While I am smart enough to know that these are probably some of the most touristy things to do while we are over there, I can say with almost certainly that this will probably be where I get most of my travel ideas for Turkey to start off with!

It has been fun so far to look through the book and pick out some of the things we want to do as we plan explorations around Turkey.  Here are a few of the most interesting things that picqued my interest:

1. Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival - this seems a little backward from the usual expectation of oily people wrestling - this 'sport' dates back to around the 15th century.  Wrestlers rub themselves from head to toe with olive oil and wrestle. (

2. Cappadocian Festivals - perhaps the reason this caught my eye is because it reminds me of Concerts in the Gardens from Ft. Worth.  This festival takes place in Cappadocia, an area with lots of interesting rock formations, with live outdoor music (

3. International Istanbul Tulip Festival - the truth is out! Tulips actually originated in Turkey before being exported to the Netherlands (

Looking forward to exploring - any other ideas on things to try out in Istanbul or Turkey?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Istanbul Bound

The news is out! Paul and I are moving to Istanbul this year!

It has been a whirlwind last few weeks of interviewing, doing a weekend visit (yes, I literally was gone 3 days only, including flying time), coming up with a decision, letting family, friends and co-workers now.

So now, it's time to get down to the business of moving overseas.  Paul will go before me to scope out apartments, get the lay of the land, and start work, while I wrap up things with work here.

We wanted to create this blog to share our experiences, pictures and thoughts on life in Turkey with everyone.  More to come as we make the move!