Saturday, January 31, 2009

Movie Reviews

If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE movies. I’ve seen 2 really good ones lately that I thought I would recommend.

First is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (and NOT because Brad Pitt is in it).
Over the Christmas Holidays I saw 3 movies. Bedtime Stories (with Adam Sandler which was cute and I saw with my niece and nephew), Marley and Me (I had read the book so I was aware to bring many Kleenex along) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Of the 3, I am recommending this one because it’s something different. The idea of someone aging backwards is new to me in the form of a movie and ties a great storyline and some good acting in along with it. It is 3 hours long and there’s a part in the middle that kind of bored me a bit and I didn’t think really needed to be there, but all in all it was quite good.

The 2nd movie I would recommend and would even say is one you SHOULDN’T miss in the theatre is Slumdog Millionaire.There’s something to be said about really great unknown actors to help a movie be great, because it’s easier to believe the story rather than thinking, “Oh, that’s just Brad Pitt playing a character.” Since I didn’t know these actors, I could really get into believing that they were really these characters and this story was really about them. I didn’t know much about this movie before I saw it other than a kid from the Slums goes on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. This story is heartbreaking and inspiring and yes, there is a love story attached to it that is very sweet. I definitely hope it wins Best Picture at the Oscar’s this year.

One movie I wouldn’t recommend (especially to married people) is Revolutionary Road. While Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet both pulled out amazing performances, if I was married, this movie would’ve played with my head. It’s a story about a couple who everyone thinks has the perfect marriage, but when you take a closer look, it’s falling apart. They think by changing their location that it will solve all of their problems, but in the end, it showed me that you can’t deal with issues that deep with just a simple bandaid. You’d really have to delve into how the issues got there in the first place. I’m not one that’s blinded to the fact that marriage takes a lot of hard work … it would just scare me if both parties aren’t ready for the work and communication it would take.

So there you have it. Of the other Oscar nominated movies, I’m planning on seeing The Wrestler in the next week or so, I haven’t seen The Reader or Tropic Thunder but would like to, but I don’t have a huge desire to see Milk or The Changeling. Oh, I did see Doubt as well and really liked that one, too. I’m a huge Philip Seymour Hoffman fan and he was great in this one as was Meryl Streep (MUCH improved from Mamma Mia – I’m sorry, I know there are a lot of you out there that like that one – it was too cheesy for me, but I did love that it was set in Greece seeing as I was there this summer). Australia is up for Best Costume design and I think it’s the new Gone With the Wind. I really liked that one as well … leaning more towards Chick Flick, though.

Hope you enjoyed my reviews. I guess that turned out to be more than 2 recommendations. The Oscar’s are on Feb. 22 in case you were wondering. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Well, my first prayer was that this "someone close to me" would go to the doctor and they'd find that it was just a random incident but there'd be no long term damage ... and that's exactly what happened. While I'm happy that they are happy with this result, I, myself would have asked for more tests. I'm resting in the fact that he's feeling much better now and he knows how much I love him. The rest is out of my hands.

It was a tough week for me. I'm sorry for not updating sooner.

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and especially your prayers.

I also still haven't heard anything about the job. Patience is a virtue, right? :/

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wake up call

In the wee hours of this morning I received an email about an incident involving someone very close to me and it reminded me of our mortality ... and it's been very sobering. I haven't been able to reach this person yet so I have to be vague in processing my thoughts.

First of all, thank you to Karen for running in silence with me this morning for most of our run. Usually I am a very verbal processor, however, almost every time I tried to speak the tears started flowing, therefore, writing out my thoughts will be better for me today.

I don't want people close to me to die. Simple as that. Ever. Now, the practical side of me knows that's not very realistic but the irrational side of me wants to throw a tantrum and say, "It's not fair! It's not fair!" I have been having quite the conversation in my head the last few hours. After I finished reading the email I had a good cry, then started praying. I started off praying that this person would be all right, of course. They'd go to the doctor and find that it was just a random incident but there's no long term damage. But then I would pray that of course God's will would be done and that I know He would help us get through anything that is within His plan. I went from bargaining with God - "if you let this person live many, many more years, I don't care if I ever get married. I'll give that up if you do this for me" to being angry at God - "why do I have to be alone when I'm going through something like this? I want someone here to comfort me right now." Then I went from wanting to crawl up in a ball and read all the books I got for Christmas so I can escape and not think about this, to wanting to call everyone I love and tell them how much they mean to me.

In the end, I know that God is in control. Plain and simple. I can't live in a hole and never love anyone so that I won't get hurt. The gift of love that God has given us is amazing. It would be very hard to make it through life without love. My prayer would be that all involved in this incident (and all of you reading as well) wouldn't take people for granted, but that we would love each other to the fullest every day. Make wrongs, right. Let things go. Don't hold grudges. Even if someone has wronged you and has never asked for forgiveness ... move on and be happy. Holding a grudge only hurts yourself. The other person rarely even knows you're holding it. Plus, if you really do love this person, what if they died tomorrow and you never got to tell them how much you love them. Ok, I'm going off on a bit of a tangent now, but I'm processing my thoughts and they are running the gamut right now and this is my way of dealing with them. :)

On my drive home from my run with Karen, Geoff Moore's version of This is My Father's World came on. This verse rings very true today.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

If you are in my family or are my friend, please know that I care a lot about you and am happy God has brought you into my life. I'm off to make some phone calls now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This is what cameras are made for ...

It was so beautiful I couldn't stop taking pictures ... and neither could all the other people who parked on the side of the street and stood staring in silence.

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of fog ... and for the great reminder that above the "clouds of life" You always have something even more beautiful waiting for us.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Update on Interview

Well, I had my interview today and I think it went well. I was confident in my presentation and most of my answers. The ones I'm not confident in are because my answers were very short and sweet and they may have been looking for more in depth, so only time will tell. I was supposed to also do an exercise on the computer but the program wasn't working, so unfortunately, it's not over yet. They hope to have us complete this by the end of this week. It should only take 1/2 an hour. I'm pretty sure we'll know the results by early next week.

Thank you SO much for all your prayers. I really felt them. I only got nervous about 5 minutes before I went in and as soon as I saw the first question my nerves went away. :) I really do know that God's plan for me is the perfect one so if I don't get it I will be ok.

Monday, January 12, 2009

4 Hour Silent Retreat

I can't remember if I've talked about my Care Group (aka Life Group) on my blog before (and I'm too lazy to go back and check), so I'll update you a bit. About a year ago a few of us were in a Survivor Pool with a bunch of friends and also people we'd never met before. We had Survivor kick off parties and Finale parties and had a GREAT time. We dubbed it our Survivor Life Group and joked that "who needs a real Life Group when you've got the Survivor Life group." After awhile a few of us started talking about making it the real thing (of course still keeping the Survivor pool going on the side) and asking the couple who host the parties if they would lead our Care Group. We got together and wrote out an email to them pitching the idea. Most of us had all been in Care Group's before and had come out of them with tainted views, so we were a little leery about ever getting into another one again. Well, I'm happy to say we've been going for a year strong and I, for one, am loving it. I am challenged and encouraged every time I go. I've never been so comfortable in a Care Group before. We all go to different churches and have different outlooks on life which makes it even more interesting.

In late November we were challenged to do a 4 hour silent retreat. This excited me and scared me at the same time. FOUR HOURS!? That's a LOOOOOOONG time. On December 13 I embarked on this 4 hour journey and I'd like to share some with you now. Since I had never done anything like this before, I wasn't quite sure where to begin, so I went up to the Abbey in Mission and brought my camera along. I'll intersperse my writings from my journal in with some of the pics I took that day.

This is my first time doing a Silent Retreat. I'm nervous and excited all at the same time. I'm trying to go into it with no expectations, but it's hard. I know that this is MY time with You, God, and I'm not competing with anyone else for "the best" report.

I want my faith to be something I'm excited for and want to share with others, not something I'm nervous and scared to talk about. At our Christmas program at church the other night, Jeff talked about being someone with peaceful joy even in the tough times. I want to be that person. I want You to ooze out of me so that everyone can see You and be drawn to You.

When I told my sister that I was going to be doing this silent retreat, she gave me the verse Ephesians 1:17 - 19: "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe."

What an amazing verse! Usually I have to read a verse two or three times to grasp it, but I got this one right away! I want to know You more. I have never thought of myself as a wise person, but the more I learn about You, the freer and wiser I feel. Not in a cocky way, but in an excited, light-bulb-going-off-over-my-head kind of way. I want "the eyes of my heart to be enlightened" so bright so that I'm blinded. Bring it on! "The hope to which You have called me" has shown me more freedom over the past year than I could have imagined. I know I still have a long way to go and I'm excited about getting there, but You have released me of prejudices and judgements that bound me and made me a closed person. Help me see You in everyone. If You love them, so should I.

1 Chronicles 29:17 "I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity."

My New Year's resolutions are to be less negative, try to find a positive side and to gossip less. Show me the difference, Lord, between complaining and venting (or if there even is a difference). Help me be a woman of integrity, to stand up for what I believe is right, not get walked over, but also not to complain if I did and was able to have done something about it, but didn't. Help me to set up healthy boundaries and to be open to new things, whatever they may be ... even if they challenge my comfort zones.

I feel You guiding me in my decisions at work. Thank You for that. Help me to always look for Your guiding hand and know You are standing beside me. I want to react with integrity no matter what happens with the jobs I've applied on. You are in charge. A job does not make me who I am and my happiness does not depend on where I work.

I love that You are showing me what it means to be loved by You. You love me, You love me, You love me and the more I understand and rest in that knowledge, the less I sweat the small things.

You are what matters. Remind me of this daily, please, because life is much easier when I acknowledge that and I feel myself wanting to be a better person when I remember it.

I cannot wait for the "riches of Your glorious inheritance." Thank You for this challenging time. Help me to yearn for more of it.

I'm going to frame this last picture as a reminder that as I wear a path through my journey of life, God is always wearing His own path right beside me.

So, was FOUR HOURS as hard as I thought? No, but I'm not going to lie to you ... it did feel long. I made it through, though. Did I feel like I had a miraculous vision and "heard" God speak to me? Maybe not in the way I was thinking He would when I was nervous about reporting back to the group, but I did feel Him cheering me on and encouraging me in the walk He's guiding me on. Tonight at Care Group more people are going to share about their silent retreats and I look forward to listening and being encouraged.

Friday, January 09, 2009

2008 Year in Review

No, you haven't clicked on the wrong blog. I decided that with the new year I needed a new look for my blog, so I've changed it up. Now that I know how to change it, we'll see how long this look lasts, but it's fun for now. Sort of a "window" into my heart, if you will. :)

So, for the past few years (last year excluded), I've written a poem about the past year and some have seemed to enjoy it. I thought I would share this year's with you here.

The year in review
Is always a good time
It helps me reflect
And put it to rhyme

Started off with a blast
Fireworks on the beach
If only it could last

Thailand ended up being
One of my favorite places on earth
I can honestly say
Every penny it was worth

I also loved spending time
With my sister and her fam
Into only 4 weeks
Many memories we did cram

In April I took a trip
Up to Sun Peaks with some friends
Then later completed my 2nd 10 k race
In Vancouver's west end

In May I heard Brennan Manning speak
It was an incredible treat
Also flew back to Camden
Old friends I did greet

It was 8 years since I'd been there
Most things were the same
Took 2 side trips to New York
Many pictures to frame

In July one friend had a baby
Another got married
Then I hopped on a plane
Much luggage I did carry

So many sites I did see
It was an incredible trip
First relaxing in Santorini
Then back to Athens to catch our ship

On a cruise for a week
Off to Egypt we went
Rode a camel, saw the pyramids
Lots of money was spent

Next we went to Israel
And saw where Jesus had tread
So many incredible images
Are forever implanted in my head

A few more stops, back to Athens
Then off to Turkey we flew
And here yet again
Much money I blew

It was totally worth it
Wouldn't change anything
Many wonderful memories were made
New souvenirs to home I did bring

In September I recovered
Pet sat the best dog in the world
Ideas of settling down
In my head started to swirl

"Then I could get my own dog
and have fun picking the name."
But it wasn't to be
On my truck I'll put the blame

Since my truck kept breaking down
It was time for something new
I purchased a Mini Cooper
In the white, not the blue

This means I'll keep house sitting
To save some more money
It's been over 4 years now
Isn't that funny?

For Thanksgiving I was with family
To Alberta I did go
I hadn't seen them in a year
It's crazy, I know

In Fall I needed a change
And got rid of the blonde
A brunette I became
With the flick of a wand

In early December I had the privilege
As Maid of Honour I stood
Then the whirlwind of Christmas
And everything good

It's a great time to reflect
On the real reason why
We celebrate Christmas
Don't let it pass you by

In this new year ahead
May you see Jesus in new ways
And draw nearer to Him
For this, I will pray

Happy new year to you all
New adventures you will find
Waiting around the corner
Of 2009

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Moving through and a valuable lesson learned

Thank you to all who prayed for me. Somehow, I made it through to the next stage in the process. :) My interview is scheduled for Tuesday, January 13 at noon, so here I go again asking for your prayers. I think it will be a roll play scenario where they throw things at me and see how I prioritize and handle the situation. I'm not as scared as I was for the test, but it's still not fun being put on the spot. I also don't know how many other people have made it through to this stage, so I just need to be the best ME I can be that day. Very exciting!

Now, about this lesson I learned. Monday hadn't been the greatest day for me. Sunday night I went to bed early like any good girl would who had to start getting up early again for work the next day, only to be rudely woken up at 2:25 am by the sound of an avalanche and my house shaking to high heaven. I sat straight up in bed with a panic in my heart and listened. What the heck was that? My first thought was that someone was breaking in. I had my phone in my hand and listened some more. Nothing. After some inspection and thought, I figured out that it was the snow loosening and sliding off the roof of the house. Sheesh! Scared the crap out of me. If it was that loud just from the little snow on my roof, I don't even want to imagine what an actual avalanche would sound like. Terrifying. My thoughts went to those snow mobilers that were caught and what they must have gone through. Slowly, I fell back to sleep ... only to be woken up again about 40 minutes later. Heart pounding I started to worry if the roof was going to cave in on me. Ok, your mind goes a little crazy at around 3:30 in the morning. I was woken up 2 or 3 more times that night from the same sound, therefore, was not very well rested the morning of my test. I looked out my window and didn't think it had snowed enough to need shovelling ... I was wrong. There I am ready for work and I'm out there shovelling at 6:45 am. Ugh!

Anyways, I wrote my test and although it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, it also wasn't easy, so I really had no idea how I had done. That was a little frustrating and left me unnerved ... plus my arms were still aching from shovelling that morning. :P By the end of the day I was ready to leave my workplace behind and not think about it all evening. That's when the good lesson was learned.

I had received an email from the lady who I had just house sat for asking me if I had left a little package behind (when have I EVER moved out of a place without forgetting something?) hidden in her piano bench? "What?" I thought. "No, I don't think so." She said, "Maybe a cache of 20 dollar bills?" NO WAY!!! I had given up on that money. I thought it had been lost or stolen and would NEVER see it again. I had hidden it so well I couldn't even find it myself. There was $290 in that envelope!!! Whoo Hoo! Thank you, Lord. That was a nice New Year's present. Anyways, when I went to pick it up from her we chatted about their drive back through the mountains and I asked her if she was happy to be back. She gave me an answer I think I can honestly say I've never heard before. She said, "I'm happy wherever I am." Wow. You know, there are people who I wouldn't have believed that from, that like you to believe nothing ever goes wrong in their lives and always put on that happy face, but I believe she was genuine. We chatted a little more and then I said my goodbyes.

Next I went to see my friends who had been on a 3 month furlough from Singapore. They were packing to head back and I chatted with my old roommate for awhile and watched her pack and figure out the puzzles that were their suitcases. She had layed out all their treasures from Superstore of things they can't find in Singapore (looked exactly like my suitcase when I went to see my sister in Malaysia last time). Awhile later her hubby came up from watching the hockey game and I absent mindedly asked him, "So, are you happy to go back and get back into a routine?" to which he answered, "Sure, but I'm happy to be either place." WHAT? 2 people in a span of an hour giving me the same answer!? I again knew that his answer was genuine. I just thought that was an amazing lesson to learn and remember to be happy no matter where you are and what the circumstances. I should stop grumbling that I need to shovel. I should stop thinking about the exam I wrote and be happy I had the opportunity to write it and leave the rest in God's hands. I need to realize that when my VISA payment is a little higher than I thought that maybe I need to cut back on some spending and if I'm a good steward of my money, God will provide.

What started off on a bad note ended to be a really good day.

P.S. Today's my friend, Pam's, birthday, so I just want to give a shout out to her. Happy birthday, Pam! Hope you have a great day. Love ya!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Studying sucks ... except if you get the job!

Today I'm studying ... yes, I'm taking a break right now. There's a job at work I think I want (no, I'm not 100% sure but only time will tell) so I applied and the government has a cruel and unusual way of picking someone for the job. They put us through testing H-E-double hockey sticks. I know I have the knowledge for the basics of the job and with training and time, I'd be great at it (yes, I'm very humble - hee hee). But nooooo, they have to test us on policies, procedures and manuals and things that no person in their right mind would know walking into the job. If it was an open book test, I'd have a fighting chance, but that would be reasonable.

Anyways, the real reason I'm writing about this is because today's sermon at church was on prayer. Our pastor talked about 3 reasons why people don't pray and he got me on 2 of them, but I'll just talk about one of them right now (gotta get back to studying, ya know). The one that pertains to this post is that we've been disappointed before so we're ultimately scared to pray for something and be let down again. I've been complaining about my job for quite some time now and I'm a firm believer that you can't complain about anything if you're not willing to do something to change it. Over the course of this past year, I've probably applied on 15 different job postings I've seen. All doors have been slammed in my face. I've prayed about them and left them with God and for some reason, He has seen fit to leave me where I am. No, that's not entirely true. When I came back from my trip this summer I stayed in the same department I was in before, but changed desks and job description somewhat. This change was good and welcomed. Over the past few months I have realized that God has me where I am for a reason and when He thinks it's time to move on, something else will open up. So, I'm back to praying for His will to be done and for me to get this new job if it fits into His plan. If His answer is no, I will try not to be disappointed and remember that He only wants what's best for me. Essentially, God owes me nothing. He has paid the ultimate price for me already. Who am I to ask for more? I want to be a happier person this year. That's one of my "resolutions," but that's for another post.

I would love for you to take a few seconds out of your time tomorrow morning (or tonight if 8 am is too early) and to pray for me and the test I'll be writing. Pray that it won't be full of silly, impossible policy questions but real questions about the issues of the day to day job and that I will remember the information I've been studying ... oh, and also that I'll be content with whatever the outcome is.

Thanks for listening. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Last days of the trip of a lifetime

Back in Kuşadası, we had seen a statue at the top of a hill (see middle picture below) that we wanted to walk to and have a good view of the city. We got a little lost getting up there and as we're standing there trying to figure out where to go next, Bren says, "there's someone watching us up in those trees." We waited awhile and finally a little boy poked his head out and we asked him how to get to the top of the hill. He didn't say much, just kind of gestured for us to follow him, so we did. He was about 10 years old (see bottom middle picture below) and these streets were VERY steep. We had to tell him to slow down a few times for these old ladies. hee hee We went through a residential area and all of a sudden he says, "My mama." "Oh, hello," we say to the lady and through her house we go and continue to climb. Finally we reach the top and give him a few Euros each (I think that's the currency in Turkey - I can't quite remember now). He left and we took in the view.
As we were taking our pictures, we looked down and there was our little tour guide bringing MORE people up the hill. We wondered if he stood in those trees where he found us and helped many lost tourists. If so, he could bring in a pretty good salary for a day. :) If you look at the picture below, you'll see him with his next group just in the bottom of the picture.
After our walk up the hill we continued to walk to the other side of town to see what all the fuss was about this Ladies Beach we'd heard so much about. When we saw it (bottom right picture below), we turned around and went back to our wonderful, quiet beach across from our hotel.

Our last meal in Turkey. :(
The next morning we had to take a ferry over to a small island in Greece and then catch our overnight ferry back to Athens. We went to the docks and turned the corner and saw this boat (first picture below) and thought, "Sweet! This will be a nice ride," then realized, oh, not THAT boat. Look in front of that boat (click the picture to enlarge it if you need to). Yeah, a tiny little boat for the next hour and a half. It was actually quite nice, though. Below is my Turkish tribute.

This boat dropped us off on the island of Samos. We landed at a different dock than we needed to catch our other ferry, so we hopped in a taxi. Our taxi driver asked us why we weren't staying longer and we said we didn't realize it would be so beautiful here. He asked us if he could show us a little village to see what we were missing out on. Yup. Missing out. I think we all put Samos on our list of places to come back to and spend more time.

Our last meal together in Greece. Sniff, sniff.

Here comes our ferry. All aboard!

We didn't book in enough advance time to book a cabin, so we had to sleep where everyone else hunkered down for the night. Thank goodness for an iPod to drown out background noise.

Last stop at the airport in Athens waiting for our flight back home (Karen catching a few winks below). Since Bren had met us later, she was flying with a different airline. Karen and I asked to go on an earlier flight to get into London earlier than we were supposed to so we could actually go grab a hotel and sleep there instead of sleeping at the airport and it worked. Have you ever been on call for a flight? It's very exciting. She told us at the last second that they could get us on the flight but it's about to take off. RUN!

We got on just in time and said goodbye to Greece in the air.

This really was an amazing trip and I'm SO glad I went. I would recommend it to anyone. The question I get now is, "Where are you going next?" My answer ... Hong Kong. My sister and her family just moved there this summer and I'm planning on spending next Christmas with them there. Yes, there might be little trips between now and then, but I need to give my bank account a bit of a rest for now.
Thanks for going on this journey with me. Sorry it took me so long to finish it. I will try to be better from now on out. 5 posts for me in 2 days is pretty good!


When people ask me to pick a highlight of our trip, it's hard to do, but Ephesus usually is the first thing to pop into my mind. Although Jerusalem and Bethlehem were cool because I've read so much about them in the Bible, Ephesus was more intact as it had been back in the day, so you didn't have to use your imagination as much to try to figure out what it might have looked like. Our guide told us that the town is only 20% uncovered, which is crazy to me because there's so much to see.

Paul and the Apostle John spent much time in Ephesus (Acts 18:19–21, 1 Cor 16:8-9). It is thought that Paul wrote the book of Ephesians in the Bible to the people of Ephesus during his imprisonment in Rome.

Can't you just picture Paul walking down this road in his sandals and toga type garment?

It was so surreal to be here. I loved every minute of it, even though it was CRAZY hot that day. Whenever our guide stopped to tell us something, he tried to stop in the shade but it didn't always happen. I had a bottle of frozen water in one pocket of my shorts and was sparingly drinking from the other bottle.
When we came around the corner and saw the street in picture #2 below, I literally stood there and was like, "Wow. This is amazing." I don't know if you can click on it and make it bigger, but it really was quite impressive.

The carvings they did back then were beautiful.

Picture #2 below is a toilet. There was a whole row of these holes in this slab and apparently when an important person had to "go" they had one of their servants come and sit on the spot for awhile to warm it up. There were no partitions, so out the window with any privacy issues.

Picture #3 above is of the library. This was at the end of the street in the pictures above which is why that street really took my breath away. Picture #4 shows that we could take up a second career if we wanted to. All 3 of us were constantly asking or being asked by other people to take their picture. It's no fun if you only have pics of the other person you're travelling with and never any of you together, so we were happy to take them.

The library ...

After the library, you come around the corner to another amazing site. The Great Theatre seats approximately 44,000 people.

You can read about this theatre in Acts 19:29 during the riot in Ephesus. Picture #4 below is Harbour Road. Ephesus used to be a port town but now the ocean is 7 km away!

I just love this picture of Bren sitting alone in the theatre.

Our tour guide told us that U2 have performed here, but I'm not too sure about that. :)
After our tour of Ephesus, they took us up this hill where Mary supposedly spent her last days. There's a wishing wall there where you can write your wishes on a piece of paper and fold them up and stick them in the wall. Not sure how that's supposed to work ... didn't try it ... but there are also 3 wells there. 1 well for health, 1 well for wealth and 1 well for love. The waters in these wells are supposed to be miraculous if you drink them. We were a little leery of drinking the water so we splashed a little of the "love water" on our arms and hoped for the best. :)

After this we went to a little village called Sirince where they make wine and olive oil.
This was a very good day.

Kuşadası and Pamukkale

After a 13 hour overnight bus ride from hell, we landed in this beautiful paradise called Kuşadası . At first our bus driver took us to this hotel waaaaay up on the hill and we said, "No, no. We specifically asked for a beach side hotel." Eventually we got things sorted out and stayed at the Sozer Hotel (pic #1 below). We may be girls, but we're not going to let ourselves get walked all over. Our first night was spent watching the beautiful sunset.

Picture #1 above was taken while standing on the beach in the pictures below. It was so nice and close. The dude in the picture below ran the beach and rented our chairs and umbrellas to us every day. He was Turkish and was married to a very nice woman from Holland. Karen and I kind of thought he looked like George Clooney ... I said kind of ... with his glasses on. Not when he took them off. Bren didn't see it at all. The little dude in the picture below was his helper and would run across the street and get pretty much anything you wanted because you felt too lazy to get up yourself. We had a great, relaxing time on this beach. Thanks Tafik and your little buddy!

After a day of relaxing on the beach we were off site seeing again. We took a 3 hour bus ride inland to Pamukkale. It may look like a glacier of ice, but really it's limestone. It would take me too long to explain how this happened, but if you're interested click here to find out more.

It was quite pretty, but I'm not totally sure if it's worth the 3 hour bus ride. The pool in the middle of the picture below is supposed to have healing powers. One of our trio (who shall remain unnamed) was having a few stomach issues and did not feel any different after swimming in the healing pools. So much for that! :)

This will be a short entry because the next tourist attraction we went to deserves it's own entry. One of my favorite stops on the trip, coming up!

Thursday, January 01, 2009


After our cruise we weren't sure if we'd travel through Turkey or Croatia. We'd heard wonderful things about both places, but you can't do everything, so we had to pick one. We decided on Turkey and then found out that the weekend we wanted to go was a Greek holiday and therefore, almost everything was booked up. We found plane tickets at the last minute and hopped on over to Istanbul.

Our first tour was Topkapi Palace. This is an old Sultan's palace. Looks a little like Cinderella's castle at Disneyland, no (see first picture below)?

One of the buildings on these grounds holds the Spoonmaker's Diamond which is an 86 carat pear shaped diamond. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us take pictures of it, but it was HUGE!
This is a picture from Topkapi Palace looking down on the fortress wall and Bosporus or the Istanbul Strait. Did you know that part of Istanbul is in Europe and part of it is in Asia? Weird, hey? One city sits in two continents and is separated by this Strait.

I had to take a pic of the hydrangeas because they are one of my favorite flowers.

The Blue Mosque with it's 6 minarets. I just realized you can only see 4 of them in these pictures. I have one later on that shows all 6.

We took a bus to Taksim Square which reminded me a lot of Robson Street in Vancouver.

Instead of taking the bus back, we decided to walk the million miles back to the hotel. Just kidding, but we did walk for about 5 km before jumping on the tram back to our hotel. Why I'm not a size 2 after this trip, I don't know. Walking did allow us to take a lot of nice night shots, though.

The next day we headed to the Grand Bazaar (pictures 1 and 2 below). It was very cool and had some beautiful things for sale, however, after being in Thailand and Malaysia where you can get things for dirt cheap, I only ended up buying 2 rings as souvenirs.

Picture 3 above - out to eat
Picture 4 above - time for some apple tea (pretty much the same as our apple cider)

The next day we took a tour of Hagia Sophia which used to be a church, then a mosque and is now a museum. There are so many beautiful mosaics in this place that my neck was sore from looking up the whole time we were in there.

Unfortunately, from the last picture above you can see that there is a huge scaffolding in the center of it which stopped us from getting a picture to show you how large it is. Trust me, this place was huge and very beautiful. It's so hard to imagine them being to build something this big back in those days with the limitation of tools they had back then. Well done!

Another picture with the Blue Mosque in the background (still only showing 4 minarets).

Here you can see (picture 2 below) all 6 minarets from the roof of our hotel.

From Istanbul we wanted to go down the coast of Turkey. We went to a travel agent and they booked us on an overnight bus. Our travel agent, Fatih (pronounced Fat-TY) took us out for the evening and showed us what a Hookah (aka ShiSha or Water pipe) is.

I didn't know what the heck I was doing but it was fun to try and no, I didn't develop a nicotine addiction from it. :) Thanks, Fatih for a fun night out in Istanbul.