Like all travel writers out there, seeing your article and photos in print give me such pride! Some of my photos were published in a passed issue of Lale Magazine, but this month features my first full article with photos for this magazine titled Reminiscing Romantic Romania.
Lale Magazine is an expat magazine produced by the IWI, International Women of Istanbul. The bi-monthly magazine is shipped to over 600 private home, as well as all advertisers and sponsors. The readers are comprised mostly of Turkish nationals married to foreigners, but also foreigners living in Istanbul. It is full of helpful information about local schools, exhibits for art and workshops, and experiences with IWI groups. There aren’t a lot of English print magazines in Turkey, so this is a fun magazine to have available!
Here is the start of the article:
Bucharest, once known as the little Paris of Romania, set an example for its outlying villages, like Braşov. Following suit, they look like small Parisian villages with their crepe stands and cafes making a boulevard down main street. Often overlooked on the regular European tourist trail, Romania remains an eminently worthy travel destination in its own right. Romania is a great country for those who’ve seen all the major European cities and want to get away from the overcrowded tourists hot spots. I found that Romania offers plenty of tourist attractions without the craziness of tourist groups, lines, and prices.
In June, my husband and I met up with some of our expat friends, Ben and Marie, in Romania for a 5-day reunion. Our traveling group consisted of 4 adults and 2 babies. Our friends, coming from Dubai, wanted to escape the boiling, brown desert for cooler green, lush forests. We just wanted to enjoy some European foods not readily available in Izmir and more reasonably priced than Paris or London, for example. And we both hoped to escape our towering apartments for a few hours via a roadtrip through the mountainous central area of the Romania.
Romania’s 20 million people are spread over 240,000 square kilometers, perfect for a road trip meets city type adventure.
Exercise has always been a part of my life and tends to always make it into my year goals . It started with my mom and dad always committing to exercising when we were young. Throughout primary school and into high school, physical education class continued reinforcing the importance. Then I continued on with it throughout college. I will admit, there were season of inactivity and it was never helpful! I feel like I have been in one of those seasons recently actually. So this is a post is a good reminder how I can exercise on the road!
I wrote an article featured on SaganMorrow titled Get Fit with These 3 Fitness Apps. In the post, I highlighted 3 apps I have used and loved.
Unfortunately, the website I wrote for recently rebranded and the article is no longer available via her website.
But you can still read the article below:
What type of exercise do you like? Or if you don’t like to exercise, which of these seem to be the most appealing: running, pilates, strengthening, or something else entirely? I generally feel the best after I go for a run, but I don’t always want to run; cue the excuses of bad weather, being tired, and.. to be completely honest.. my personal lack of motivation (but let’s not talk about that one!).
So if you are anything like me, your love for exercise ebbs and flows. When I was living and traveling overseas, I was forced me to be creative in how to do my exercising. My biggest question was “What else can I do to adapt and spice up my routine?”
I found that choosing a workout video, an online cardio class, or pilates routine helped keep things interesting but the internet is not always dependable when you are traveling. But since living in the states for the last few years, there have been 3 helpful tools that I have found to kept me going:
There are many exercise tracking apps, but I have enjoyed mapmyrun the most. It is great for running, walking, biking, or pretty much anything else you can do outside. This app uses your phone’s GPS to track your routes and record the details about your run. You can even adjust the settings to have it notify you when you complete miles and tell you your pace. This keeps me informed on my progress so I know if I need run faster or slow down to meet my goal… and we all know it’s telling me to slow down, right? The app will also send you weekly and monthly reports of the workouts you have logged. This log of my runs really keeps me motivated and makes me want to achieve more goals. Speaking of which, I should probably get going on using it more… this winter wasn’t great for my outdoor running habit.
This online community has exploded in popularity; maybe due to their cheesy commercials. For $14/month or so you can have access to online workout videos that you can complete at random, pick a program, or – my favorite – join up with their 365 workout. The 365 workout is live every morning at 9 am; but don’t worry, you have 24 hours to catch it later if you miss it. There are new routines every day like cardio, kickboxing, yoga, and pilates! The downside is that some of the intense workouts require extra equipment like a medicine ball… who owns one of those anyways? I easily get board of doing the same video routine over and over, so for me this is a huge bonus.
If you like the yoga/pilates side of exercise more, than this one is for you. Yoga has never really been my friend, but maybe one day I will learn to love it. But pilates is a different story. I can at least accomplish it with a little more ease. The Balanced Life, led by Robin, just did a 30 day challenge and it was amazing to see how sore a 10 minute session of pilates made me! Robin has pilates videos for beginners and quite a few public workout series. If you really love it, like my sister does, you can join The Sisterhood for a monthly fee which gets you into a private support group with accountability. It also can send you a new workout link which are waiting in your email inbox every morning when you wake up.
So if you are looking for something new, I’d try one of these out. They have really helped me keep my exercise routine for getting boring.
Have tried any of the 3 options I mentioned? If so, what do you think?
What other apps or websites do you use to help with your exercise routine spicy?
I would love to hear what apps you use for exercising!
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I LOVE talking about expat living. Not a traveling digital nomad, but a ‘we found a county and stayed put’ type of digital expat. Before I moved, I had this jumble mix of what I loved writing about and I had a hard time narrowing it down to one specific area. But over the last 8 months of living in Turkey, my 2nd time to move abroad, and writing this article about culture shock, I think I have found my niche!
Even more than chatting about expat living, I love sharing the ways I have documented our expat adventures. *Spoiler* The most interesting way is through our FunkTravels Podcast! I recently wrote an article for Expat Magazine at Expat.com titled “5 Ways to Document Your Expat Adventures.” In the midst of moving, traveling, and adjusting to another culture, documenting our memories can be the one thing that is thrown to the way side. It also becomes one of the biggest regrets by those when they journey onward to the next phase of life.
Here is the start of the article:
You know how a deep, sound sleep can disorient you? I woke up one morning and asked myself: Where am I? Something in the room made me think I was living in Turkey on a chilly fall morning — maybe it was the sunlight streaming in through the windows just so, or the smell of the crisp morning air coming in through the open window. Reality quickly set in — I was no longer living in Turkey, but instead I was in my bed in the States. It’s funny to remember that now because my husband and I now live in Turkey once again. The smells and sounds of the neighbourhoods are ingrained into my memory, and I know this is our lovely Turkey.
I’ve spent five of the past ten years as an expat — both single and married — and I love to keep hold of the memories of the journey and adventures that come with every expat experience. I know that when my husband and I are back to the States, I will enjoy retrieving the different ways I used to document our time abroad and reminiscing and sharing the stories.
While we do live in Turkey, this Louisiana+Iowa couple still calls Iowa their home. (So sorry to all my Louisiana family and readers out there!) This is where Jason and I fell in love, got engaged, got married, and learned how to do married life together in our first little 90 meter duplex together in a small town of 3,000 people.
Fast forward 2.5 years, last summer in that same little duplex we were in the process of packing up our first home and determined to make the international move to Turkey together. It was stressful, sad, exciting, and all the rest of the feelings that come with transition! In the process (because we didn’t have enough to do!), I was also determined to see a few more sites in this beautiful state that I had come to love. Over at the The Coastie Couple I wrote a short post titled Summer Activities in Iowa.
Here is the start of the article:
Being a Southern gal, I didn’t think there could be anything better than a windy road through a tall pine tree forest. But… after marrying my sweet Iowan man, I have found beauty in the square grid of roads lined with golden corn fields and blue skies that span for miles. I had a lot to learn about giving directions using N,S, E, and W, driving in the snowy winters, familiarizing myself with names of all the small towns, and discovering what to explore.
Over the last 3 years we have definitely had our share of adventures including the World Food and Music Festival, Corks & Caps, Boone Scenic Railroad, the famous Iowa State Fair, and most recently the Pella Tulip Festival. But there is still a lot to see! Here are the 3 places I want to go this summer: Continue reading…
I actually only made it to 1 of the 3 activities mentioned. But I hope other America readers will take advantage of some of the fun summer activities Iowa has to offer. Click over here to read all the activities I wrote about on the blog post.
I would love to hear what activities you like to do in the summer month- no matter where you are located!
2017 started off with my desire to travel more frequently but for shorter lengths of time. While Jason can work from anywhere, I have a schedule for language learning and tend to be the one that keeps us closer to home. And honestly, Jason works better with a home base, and it tends to be less stressful for us both. That being said, 3- 4 day weekend trips have started to play a larger role in my travel planning.
It’s not my ideal way to travel. Short and quick trips don’t allow for you to really learn and embrace the culture. And you just don’t have time to see everything! That being said, for our Thursday to Monday trip to Cyprus, we decided to dedicate our time just to the western area of the country knowing that we can easier travel there from Turkey again in the future.
Cyprus is not only beautiful but also has an interesting history. Learn more about our 4-day itinerary including our tips and tricks for exploring the South side of Cyprus near Paphos and Nicosia.
I hope to provide you with mini itineraries and resources as I work through writing about our travels. If you would like to listen to our time in Cyprus, check out Episode030! You will also find all links to places we traveled below via the Episode030 show notes.
Spoiler* If you want to know the truth behind traveling, make sure to read the very LAST paragraph!
Day 1: Travel Day – Istanbul to Cyprus
We are fortunate to live in one of the larger cities in Turkey, Izmir. And while it doesn’t have as many options as Istanbul, there are quite a few options for cheaper international flights. Pegasus is an easy 1 hour and 15-minute flight to North Cyprus from Izmir. Since Cyprus was once part of the Commonwealth, it is still a large tourist destination for Brits and other Europeans as well. There are tons of flights from Europe straight into the Greek side of Cyprus if you are coming from there.
Since we were already in Istanbul visiting some friends, we took a direct flight on Turkish Airlines from the Ataturk Airport. Our flight was at 8 in the morning and while I thought it could take us a while to get through security, it was pretty quick. I would always suggest coming earlier than later for the Ataturk airport though! Since my first time living in Turkey 8 years ago, the airport has really added some snazzy shopping, restaurants, and coffee shops. You should have no problem being entertained.
Cyprus has an interesting history between Turkey and Greece. There is a lot to say about it, but I will write the short story. Basically, in 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus twice and after the 2nd invasion, both parties established the ceasefire which is known as the Green Line. Both Turkish and Greek people were moved hastily to their matching nationality’s side and until 2008, the border remained closed due to the Turkish occupation(as acknowledged by everyone but Turkey-think Russia and Ukraine) of the north side of the island. Interestingly enough, Turkey recognizes this territory as it’s own independent nation called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. You can see what Google maps you use as to who believes what. Above is the English Google maps and below is the Turkish Google maps.
Originally we had planned to stay in the northern part of Cyprus, but the south has cheaper wine and pork… the draw was just too much to pass up. After arriving to North Cyprus we grabbed a special taxi that is allowed on both sides and headed over the border. One hour later, we had grabbed our rental car and started the 2.5-hour journey from Nicosia to Paphos.
Along the mini road trip route, we stopped at Petra tou Romiou, also known as Aphrodite’s Rock. We almost missed it because the road doesn’t actually have an exit for the site. The cafe nearby had a parking lot with an underpass walkway to the water. The day was a bit rainy and cloudy and created this mystical mood over the beautiful area that is known in mythology as the birthplace of Aphrodite. The ground is just layers of water polished stones and the sound the ocean made as it ebbed and flowed was enchanting.
After our brief 40 minute stop, we headed on to Paphos, checked into our hotel, and relaxed a bit. The evening was chill and we enjoyed dinner and a movie at the local mall.
Tip – GPS vs. Sim Card: Rental car companies usually have a GPS option for the car. We have found the in last few countries, if possible, that getting a sim card with data is much easier, more convenient, and about the same price. The GPS was 6 Euros a day (30 Euros for 5 days) and we were able to get an MTN sim card with 1.5 GB of data for 22 Euros.
Day 2: Local Tour – Paphos
Sleeping in is always on Jason’s ‘requirements’ for our vacations. Off-season makes this possible. So we relaxed. Jason slept in. I went for a quick run. Then we grabbed a late breakfast around 10:15. While at breakfast we made a plan for the day. Tombs of the Kings, Archeological Park, and a walk around the city center. I would definitely wear good walking shoes because you will walk (and climb) a lot!
We took a break at the local Starbucks. If you know me, then I had to get my country mug! Walked back to our car and chilled at our hotel for a while before heading out to dinner in the evening. Being Saint Patty’s Day, we hit up a local Irish Pub, enjoyed a beer, grabbed some nachos and Shepherd’s Pie. We waited forever for the live music to start but it didn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. So we peaced-out and headed on back for an early evening.
Day 3: Day Trip – Outside Paphos Tour
The next morning followed suit. After our brunch, we headed to a local winery, Fikardos. There is actually a wine route that tourists can spend the day doing. Cyprus has a long-standing history of wine (think…. Greek gods and goddesses) and it is the perfect location for it! We made it to 3 of the 5 in between our stop at the Saint Neophytos Monastery. Ironic huh? Well, in Prague, the monastery there made wine and beer. So maybe it isn’t so ironic. Fikardos winery was the closest to Paphos and the most interactive when it came to showing us their production area and wine sampling. The other 2, Sterna Winery & Museum and Vasilikon Winery Cyprus, were further north towards the monastery and while the views were nice to enjoy, the interaction was somewhat lacking. If you are looking to sit and enjoy a wine though, Sterna Winery is what I would suggest. It’s a small cozy little winery store with a little menu option and a nice view.
The Saint Neophytos Monastery which was founded in 1159 is situated in up into the mountains and is only a 30 minutes drive from Paphos. It is one of the best-known monasteries in all of Cyprus. There is painted rooms built into the walls of the mountain that you can, with a ticket go in. The ticket also gives you access to the monastery’s small museum which is filled with books, scepters, and a lot of other Greek orthodox antiquities. At one point the monastery had peice of wood from Jesus’s cross as a relic, though it is no longer there. The monastery also has a small church that is open to the public.
In the afternoon, we explored the Avankas Gorge. Definitely, wear sporty clothes… and sneakers for this little hike. It is not the easiest to get to, but we found it to exceeded our expectations. The walk from the parking area to the Gorge takes about 10 minutes, and then another 10-15 minutes to actually get to the depths of the Gorge. It is a great option for hikers and nature lovers, and it is family friendly (but not stroller friendly).
Tip – Roads:
Roads are British style. The driver is on the right side of the car and you drive on the left side of the road. Be careful! There are lots of tourists out there and you will know them because all the rentals have a red license plate.
NOT all roads are equal. And taking a shortcut road from one of the wineries to the Gorge is NOT a good idea (personal experience). Google maps may tell you it’s a road, but we had a run for our money. The landscape is mountainous and the roads are gravel and dirt. We will suggest to always use the longer route and main roads when traveling between locations! Our little rental car got a little beating from the ‘roads’ we used, and it was not so fun.
Day 4: Nicosia
Our last morning at the hotel was lazy. After a breakfast, we took a long walk along the coast going north of our resort. The coast is lined with resorts, boutique hotels, and apartments. But there is a nice walking path that everyone takes advantage of in the mornings and evenings. We enjoyed the sunny warm morning and the breeze coming from the sea. There is also an old shipwreck still captured in the rocks just off the coast.
After checking out of our hotel, we headed back the way we came to the capital city, Nicosia, for our last evening in Cyprus. After popping by our Airbnb, we walked to the city center and toured around both the Greek and Turkish sides. Nicosia is the last divided capital cities in the world (think Berlin, but nicer). If your passport allows it, you can cross between the 2 checkpoints in the middle of the city. There is a Greek passport control that you walk past, then for about 100 meters, you literally are in a neutral zone of unoccupied buildings before having your passport checked at the Turkish checkpoint.
Unfortunately, we did not allow enough time for any free walking tours this time around, and because we visited on Sunday, most museums and markets were closed on both side. But we did sufficiently walk almost every block available to us on both sides of the city. Our evening finished by splitting a delicious meat meal for two at Piasta Gourounaki and stopped by the market to stock up on some pork and cheese products.
Day 5: Flight Home
The last morning was spent at our Airbnb. Since it was a private room in a bed and breakfast place, we enjoyed breakfast with other guests and learned more about the history of Cyprus first hand via the Airbnb hosts. The Airbnb host even offered to meet us at the car rental and drop us off at one of the Ledra Palace walking checkpoint to cross over to the Turkish side where we would meet our taxi.
And ironically enough, walking the Ledra Palace checkpoint was one of the more interesting sites in Nicosia due to the history it holds(no pics allowed). The Ledra Palace was formerly one of the most glamorous hotels in the capital. Now it acts as a UN neutral meeting point for not only governmental meetings for conflict resolution but also a place Turks and Greeks can come to meet for business. It was eerie to walk through this ‘no-mans’ land and stop for a quick coffee at the meeting place while remembering the harsh history that brought them to this point.
After hopping in the taxi, it was a quick airplane ride back to Izmir and home sweet home!
Don’t be fooled:
While it sounds like everything was dazzling perfection and it can seem like life is perfect, I want to write a short note to remind readers that it, of course, is not! Our first night, Jason slept so poorly worrying about crossing the border illegally (which we didn’t). There was also the time we clipped someone side mirror because we were just two close to them on the road… which in turn, Jason felt compelled to call the car rental company and tell them about (and I didn’t). We fought over what to do, eat, and how to drive to our destinations. In fast the last night in Nicosia, I was so grumpy at him for not actively trying to help me figure out what to see in Nicosia since out time was so short. Then later I got mad over a bathroom. Because he wouldn’t use the bathroom at a place that required a purchase in order to get the bathroom pin code… Can you tell that it’s most me, Catie, getting mad about his integrity to do what is RIGHT and GOOD???
We argued, got short with one another, asked for forgiveness, gave forgiveness, shared sweet moments, and fell in love all over again. But you know, isn’t that marriage? It is, and it is worth every bit of it!
Now it’s your turn:
Have you been you Cyprus?
How do you celebrate your wedding anniversary?
Would you want to travel here one day?
What suggestions do you have for our next trip one day?