Yalikavak, I love you.

Last year, I spent the summer in Turkey. I just want to share some pictures I took of one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen: Bodrum (Yalikavak), Turkey.

It is all white-washed houses, bright pink and purple begonvil flowers growing. The Aegean Sea contrasts against the rocky terrain surrounding it. It feels small. It feels unreal. Here’s my proof that it is.

DSC_1103 DSC_1087 DSC_1109   DSC_1125DSC_1095  DSC_1091 DSC_1066  DSC_1142  DSC_1193

Red Eye to Istanbul

I flew into Istanbul on a Sunday morning. The flight was nice in the way that I find all red-eyes nice. The opposite is also true.

I couldn’t see the ground below from my window seat, only wing. I watched the peach-colored horizon, a yellow haze above and purple below, deepen to a rosy glow in a matter of minutes. I love red-eyes for this. I love chasing the sunset across the sky. Not letting it happen to me–fall on me in Eastern Standard Time. I find some kind of liberation in it, though I recognize its futility.

When everything was black outside of my window, I ate the surprisingly good in-flight meal and  chased an ambien with a mini-bottle of dry white Turkish wine. Sleep eventually came (after a very uneasy trip to the water closet) but only in fractured bits. I am not a great sleeper in general which makes me exceptionally bad at sleeping upright in an airplane seat. Hence, my red eye ambivalence.

After however long, four hours maybe, the woman next to me tapped me awake. I immediately wished she hadn’t, but accepted the meal being handed to me from the flight attendant. I picked at the tray of fruit, cheeses, eggs, and vegetables and drank a cup of tea that warmed me up to the idea of being awake.

I opened my window blind to the same view of sky and wing, only now it was bright and blue and there were clouds below us in the distance. I put on a favorite album of mine, In the Aeroplane over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel, because I was in airplane, and we probably weren’t over the sea anymore, but we had been, so it felt appropriate. It’s an album that always feels good, and it felt exceptionally good then. I looked out the small, dirt-speckled window at the sky unfolding. There was about an hour before we touched down in Istanbul.

I remember the excitement–feeling refreshed in the way that red-eyes always make me feel refreshed, even despite the lack of rest. At this point, I have two months ahead of me in an unfamiliar, foreign, fascinating place. I thought about this without trepidation. I thought about how it felt right to be on this plane, right to be going, and about how long it’s been since I felt thatin the right place. It feels strange in the best way. The words, “how strange it is to be anything at all” flowed through my headphones and into my ears. Indeed. How strange. And how lucky.

Uptown in the Queen City

tumblr_nf2d38wlWk1qcdn3uo3_1280
From South Tryon green space

I’ve lived in a Charlotte suburb since I was four years old. Despite this, I didn’t really get to know the city until I was much older. Sometimes being so close to a place causes it to lose its novelty, even when there’s still so much you’ve yet to experience there. However, I’ve found plenty of things to love about Charlotte recently. In this post, I want to focus on my favorite street located right in the heart of Uptown: South Tryon.  Whether you’re rediscovering the city you’ve written off or exploring it for the first time, you’ll want to check out this street.

tumblr_nf2byrJzt81qcdn3uo10_1280
Charlotte skyline from park behind Latta Arcade

If you’re an art lover, like I am, then South Tryon Street is where you want to be. Spend part of your day wandering through the expansive Mint Museum Uptown. Their website boasts, “the oldest art museum in North Carolina, and the art museum with one of the largest collections in the Southeast, The Mint Museum offers its visitors inspiring and transformative experiences through art from around the world via innovative collections, ground-breaking exhibitions, riveting educational programs, and profound scholarship.” Just next door is the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. While it’s by no means the NYC MoMA, it is absolutely worth a visit, especially if you’re a lover of contemporary art like me.

tumblr_nf2d38wlWk1qcdn3uo6_1280
Bechtler MoMA: South Tryon St
tumblr_nf2d38wlWk1qcdn3uo5_1280
Inside Mint Museum Uptown

Across the street, there’s a parking garage and a lovely little green space perfect for spending an afternoon. Grab a late lunch at the upscale, farm fresh restaurant Ratcliffe on the Green. Walking north on South Tryon, past the green and museums, you’ll come across the small french bakery Amelie’s. Try some of their loose leaf tea and a pastry. Not far from there is the indoor atrium Latta Arcade, which is full of cool little shops and has a pretty outdoor section lined with multinational restaurants and outdoor seating.

tumblr_nf2d38wlWk1qcdn3uo4_1280
tumblr_ngkzfpANEz1qcdn3uo1_1280 South Tryon green space
tumblr_ngkzfpANEz1qcdn3uo2_1280
Bonus tip: have lunch with a view at the Terrace on South Tryon Square! Pictured here is the business park from ground level.

South Tryon Street is one of my favorite streets in Uptown Charlotte. With tons to do, see, and eat, you can wander the streets for hours and keep discovering new things. If you’re visiting Charlotte for the first time, or rediscovering it again, don’t miss exploring South Tryon Street.

Wandering Washington

 The Pacific Northwest is my favorite part of the country. Just flying into Seattle-Tacoma airport reminded me why.

image

I went to Washington State to visit my best friend, Lindsay. Lindsay and I met in first grade, and over the years she’s come to feel more like a sister than a friend. She moved across the country two years ago to go to college, and I only see her every several months. After taking the bus from SeaTac to Bellingham, I saw her waiting at the bus stop, got off with a big, stupid smile on my face, and ran to hug her. On the walk to her house, it was warm in the best way (not like sticky Carolina heat) and it felt like no time had passed at all.

image

After getting settled, we headed to Lindsay’s favorite place, Larrabee State Park. We flew up long, winding roads with Lindsay’s boyfriend, Nick, driving and Lindsay’s roommate, her boyfriend and I squished in the back seat. We laid our heads back over the top of the head rests so all we could see were the tops of the trees and sky. Once we got there, we walked down a trail and over some rocks to get to the edge of the water, the Bay of Bellingham. It’s beautiful, clean, and wild. It was warm and the sky was clear.

image

Lindsay being hella casualimage

A couple of days later, Nick, Lindsay, and I cross the border into Canada to visit Vancouver. My friend Kate from Ireland, who I met in Biarritz back in 2011, was there working for the summer and it’s a pretty short drive. Or rather, it should be a short drive. We didn’t bring a gps… go figure. But! We got there eventually. We went downtown and it was a great time. The next morning we headed back to Bellingham with massive hangovers and a couple belongings lost in battle. The only pictures I have seem to be fitting for the shit show that was our trip:

image

image

image

image

Love Kate! Such a sweet, fun girl.
image

Next stop on the Bellingham tour was a state park called Whatcom Falls. Again, it felt wild and unadulterated and gorgeous in the same way that so much of the Pacific Northwest does.

image

image

image

My trip ended with my summer not far behind it. I couldn’t have asked a better way to end a great season of travel than with my favorite person in my favorite place. And now it’s back to just daydreaming of far away places for me.

image

A Perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon

It was a sunny, 70 degree day in the middle of May on my perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon. Well, almost perfect – the thought of it being my last day in the city occasionally crept in and made me feel nostalgic for every passing second. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Portland.

image

My day began at 10 am with cups of English breakfast tea and brunch at the Veritable Quandry. I had the blackened catfish with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, and ate every single bite in minutes flat. The meal was well worth the slightly heavy price tag on it. The VQ is known for their signature bloody mary with beet infused vodka. It is a perfect morning pick-me-up and complement to brunch.

image

After brunch, I strolled along the Tom C. McCall waterfront park, right on the Willamette river, toward the famous Portland Saturday Market. The vast market is filled with local artisan vendors, delicious smelling food carts, and street performers.

image

When I was done wandering through every corner of the market, I headed to the Portland Art Museum, the 7th oldest museum in the United States. The expansive gallery showcases art from ancient times to modern day, from Asia to the Northwest U.S. Their impressive contemporary and modern art collection is what I spent most of my time exploring.

image

After I’d had my fill of art, I decided to visit Washington Park. The park holds two gardens: Rose and Japanese. The roses had yet to bloom, but the Japanese Garden was spectacular. It is considered to be the most authentic of its kind outside of Japan.

image

By this point, it was 6 pm and I was more than ready for dinner. I had heard good things about the restaurant The Observatory and made my way to the Montavilla neighborhood to try it out. Dinner started off with the unbelievably delicious cheese platter, which comes with a variety of cheeses, bread, roasted garlic, house cured bacon, fresh fruit, and red wine caramel. For my entree, I chose the grilled salmon with sundried tomato pesto. I was also able to try the cioppino with clams, mussels, oysters, and halibut, and it was fantastic. This restaurant is casual but cool, with a tattooed staff and chic interior design, and serves truly exceptional food.

image

I’d say I had a perfect Saturday in Portland, Oregon. This city quickly became my favorite one in the states, and I know I will be spending many more Saturdays here in the future.

Have you ever had a perfect Saturday in Portland? What are you’re favorite things to do in the city? Leave a comment and let me know!