Monday, March 31, 2008

Ephesus and Selcuk

We took a bus from Istanbul to Izmir. The plan was to take a second 30 minute bus ride from Izmir to Ephesus. However, the local girl who was helping us was afraid that we were too incompetent to figure out the bus station and instead took us to the Dolmus station. A Dolmus is basically a 15-passenger van that drives for two hundred miles and randomly picks up/drops off people along the way. The first one we got on had a man carrying a pitchfork. In retrospect that should have been our first clue that we were on the wrong bus.
I suppose wrong isn't the best word; we did eventually get to Ephesus. But instead of taking a direct route, we took a winding route along the coast line, stopping once to change to a second 15-passenger van next to a fruit stand somewhere. At random places along the highway, people would get on or off. The second Dolmus we were on drove the first 5 miles at around 15 mph. We were understandably nervous, but it turned out that there was a military checkpoint (?!) on the road, after which we settled into a comfortably rattling 40 mph. We got to Selcuk just before noon, and checked into our hotel across from St. John's Basilica

we cleaned ourselves off after accumulating a day's worth of road grime, and were driven to Ephesus. On the way we stopped at the Seven Sleepers, where we ate a lunch of Gozleme- which are like paper-thin tortillas filled with meat, cheese, onions, or potatoes. I can heartily recommend them to anyone who's in the area. Gozleme are made by women wearing something that looks like a hippie skirt with the bottom sewn up except for foot holes, over an open woodfire. This includes if you ever go to a fancier restaurant that serves them. You can see the wine cellar, and next to it a woman sitting on the floor over a woodfire in a flowered skirt.

We ate our fill and continued on to Ephesus, where we joined up with some women from our hotel for a semi-private tour of this great piece of history. And I mean REALLY private; My new travel revelation is to always go somewhere just before or after the high season because the weather will be almost as nice and you won't have to wait in lines.

These Terracotta pipes were used as underground plumbing in Ephesus. The cement-like mixture they used to seal the pipes is still partially attached.
Columns:The Odeum
Outside Ephesus Medical School, a Caduceus!
Curetes way

The Temple of Hadrian; Medusa's head was supposed to keep out evil spirits.
The Library of Celsus; Niches on the facade hold statues representing the virtues; goodness, knowledge, thought, and wisdom. the Great Theater

Me, relaxing and taking it all in
A final look back at Ephesus
only 50 cent is enough to feel the magic atmosphere of the WC. Especially if you're Anglo, wearing a kerchief and no pants. The temple of Artemis; one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. now it's just the column of Artemis.

as you can plainly see

The other night I noticed a weird series of red marks on my neck. It looks a little like a matchbox car with spikes on its wheels raced across my skin:
I was very puzzled as to what could have done this. The first thing that popped into my mind was a vampire bat (they do exist... but probably not in Dallas). It took me a full day to figure out the real culprit:

I think I fell asleep with my wrist under my neck and made the track marks on myself. brilliant.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Today instead of doing my work like a good girl I decided to take the afternoon off and go ride my bike around White Rock Lake. What I should have known was that the pleasant breeze I felt in Uptown was a major wind at the lake, producing considerable swells and whitecaps on the water. I look at the water because of my past life as a fairly good rower--this was the kind of water that could break a single in half.
Since I was on a bike and not a boat, I fearlessly began my journey around the lake (with my new clips which are awesome and make me feel like I've been working out, even though I haven't!). I somehow had a headwind for more than half of the lake. going around once usually takes less than 30 mins, and today it took me 40 because I could barely get anywhere at all. It was like biking and carrying a big weighted railroad trolley behind me. Plus my face was flapping in the breeze like a basset hound out a car window.
On top of the wind, I also fell over at a stop sign. I loosened my shoes because my feet were getting a bit numb, but I didn't realize that I could no longer effectively control my shoe in the clip-- the shoes didn't come out, and I fell slowly over into someone's yard. I will say that it made me very conscious of the fact that there ARE friendly and helpful people in Dallas--two people pulled over and asked if I was okay!
Good news today: I think I may have found a place to live next year! Someone sent out an email re: a garage apartment in University Park, and I am going to go look at it on Thursday and meet the owner. Other good news: I went to Central Market and browsed groceries for over an hour. I could literally spend an entire day there and never get bored... especially when they have samples out. Today I tried an orange, some grapes, ratatouille, some kind of fish, and some potato chips. The Central Market in Dallas is somewhat lax about having cheese samples out, so I unfortunately didn't get to gorge on those. To make up for it I got myself eight chocolate-covered gummi bears, which are probably my favorite candy, and definitely in my top 5.
More Istanbul posts will come as I feel energized to do them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

First full day in Istanbul

We woke up in the morning to prayer call. Prayer call happens 5 times a day, and at each time devout Muslims are supposed to face Mecca and pray. What you may not know about prayer call is that it's broadcasted over loudspeakers from the mosque. You also may not know that morning prayer call is about ten minutes long (maybe it acts as an alarm clock?). Our hotel room had an enormous window that took up two walls, one of which had a direct shot from the Blue Mosque. So we woke up to someone singing in a dissonant minor "Heeeeeeeeey eeeeverryyybodyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, come and praaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" I actually have no idea what they were saying but that's my best guess.
Turkish breakfast consists of fresh bread (well done on the bread, Turks!) cheese, butter, honey, cucumber, tomato, a hard-boiled egg, olives, and tea. We popped up to the rooftop patio afterwards from which we could see both the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya.
Because the weather was delicious, we decided that today would be the best day to take a cruise up the Bosphorous river from the Golden Horn to the Black Sea. We followed the tram line down to Emminonu an and from there caught a public ferry that took us up to an old abandoned fort-castle at the mouth of the Black Sea. Here's a view of the Beyoglu and the Galata Tower from the ferry:
Here is Dolmabahce palace, which we didn't get around to visiting but which boasts a staircase made of crystal. Every clock in the palace is stopped at 9:05 am, the hour at which Ataturk died here on 10 November 1938. Turkish people LOVE Ataturk. Ortokoy Camii, under the Bosphorous bridge: Rumeli Hisari, built over 4 months in 1452 in preparation for the planned seige of Byzantine Constantinople by Mehmet the Conqueror: Three medical students in search of a life-expanding vacation in Istanbul: The suburb of Emirgan, European side of Bosphorous (maybe). Random picturesque ruined arch on the walk up to the Anadolu Kavagi Kalesi. We walked up the hill twice because I'm incapable of correctly reading ferry timetables. A view of the Black Sea from a window in the Kavagi Kalesi. After I took this picture, I was harassed by a group of 13-year old Turkish boys for about 45 mins. After showing off the limited English they knew (F*ck you bitch?!) at the top of the hill, they followed us all the way down the hill --a good 20 -25 minute walk, asking if Aaron was any of ours brother or boyfriend, stepping on the heels of our shoes, and trying to get an arm around an American girl. After getting back (we all slept on the ferry ride back to Eminonu--Turkey really is very safe!) we walked into the Yeni Camii (New Mosque, still over 500 years old) and sat for a while. Evening prayers were going on so we didn't go inside. We headed to Suleyman mosque and looked around. Unfortunately the main part of the indoors is closed for 2 years for renovations, but we looked at the tombs and graveyard from the outside. Outside of Suleyman mosque: The Gate around Suleyman mosque: Later that night we went to Taksim square to catch a bus, and in our downtime walked down Itstiklal Cadessi, where due to a communication error I accidentally bought 1.5 kilos (roughly 4 lbs) of Turkish Delight and some other candy which is not Turkish Delight, but which was equally if not more delightful:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm back from Turkey! I've been in airports for like 30 hours and am thus too tired to write much, but here are some photos for your viewing pleasure. A view of the Bosphorous from the Anadolu Kavegi Kalesi

The library of Celsus at Ephesus

Basilica of St John in Selcuk

Sunset over the calcium cliffs of Pamukkale

Fairy Chimneys in Goreme, Cappadocia

Inside the Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church), Goreme open air museum, Cappadocia

Inside the Aya Sofya, Istanbul

Outside the Aya Sofya, Istanbul

The Blue Mosque at Sunset, Istanbul

More posts to follow chronicling the adventures of Lauren Losefast!

Friday, March 7, 2008


that's where I'm headed.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spotted: Wonkavator!

An elevator can only go up and down, but a Wonkavator goes sideways and slantways and longways and backways and frontways and squareways and any other ways...As you may know, Austin is headquarters for several different high-tech companies. I'm not sure which to thank for finally discovering how to make the Wonkavator from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to become a reality, but I'm ecstatic that someone finally got on the ball and got this to work. I'm not sure why the Wonkavator is on top of the building right now, but my guess is that they were trying it out for a spin above the city before they actually put it into the building to do its magic inside. I know I would, if I had one.

As you can see, they chose to update the Wonkavator. I think having a built-in exit hatch for the top of the roof whenever you decide to take the machine OUT of the building would be a wise plan; even as a child I was always concerned about what they did after the movie with the hole in the factory ceiling. Did the Oompa-Loompas have to go back and patch it up? and if you had the technology to make a Wonkavator in the first place, don't you think you would have the sense to make a hole for it to go through if it was truly capable of flight? Another thing that troubled me about that movie was trying to figure out where on earth it was set. I assumed it was supposed to be America, because of the accents. But the science teacher was English, and the city itself looked like Vienna. The time was also messed up...the candy store was from the Victorian era, but Charlie's hair and turtleneck were straight 1970s. It's still an awesome movie, but I get bugged out by the time/space inconsistencies.
Something that they ALWAYS do in American movies which I DO NOT understand is give the actors English accents if they are anywhere in Europe, even if the movie is set in France or Germany. People from the past also tend to get Anglified accents in movies. I wonder why that is.

*Thanks to Shannon for pulling over so I could get a good picture of the great glass elevator.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets –Jesus, Matthew 7:12

Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself—The Prophet Muhammed, Hadith

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah; all the rest is commentary—Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31A

This is the sum of duty: Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you—Mahabharata 5:1517

Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful—Buddha, Udana-Varga 5.18

Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself—Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings