Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

LIFE: Jason’s first ever race

Jason has to be the best husband ever (proud wife bragging rights). We for sure have our multiple disagreements about how to most everything – yep, we are complete opposites for the most part. BUT he is definitely the one who adapts and shifts his desires to suit us way more than I seem too.   Maybe because I like everything? 😉 jk.

Last fall Jason started running – for me. The last 4 years of our marriage, he has seriously and politely denied all my attempts to start running with me consistently. But he saw how happy it makes me to run with someone and decided that, with my other running buddy eventually moving away, he would fill the void.

Plus, running/exercising is good for him – the hard working, computer engineer that he is.

It was tough at first, but he pushed through. By December, he was able to do a 5k without stopping. Every other day we went out and did his exactly 5k route while listening to a podcast(mostly to distract him from the fact that he was actually running).

And Christmas 2017, he gifted me with a 10k race that we would run together in February 2018 Dubai Desert Road Run in the UAE! IT WAS THE BEST SURPRISE.

We started to train together and did a few longer runs to prepare for the 6.4 ish miles to come.


Y’all, I was GIDDY with PRIDE! You see, I grew up running with my family. Heck in 2016, before we moved to Turkey, my family based our get-together around the Chicago Half-Marathon with my mom and sister. Jason by that point had learned how to find us multiple times on the route to take pictures of us and cheer us on, all happily from the sidelines.

But this time, we ran with me!

And the race was HOT and SWEATY and the course was NOT SO FUN. But we both finished it!

You can LISTEN to our experience via Episode047 of our podcast.

The following are pictures from a proud wife loving every minute of this first race with her hubby:

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

Catie FunkTravels Dubai UAE

So proud of you babe! (Jason, if he reads this! That would be creepy if I was talking to you the reader!)

Questions for you:

What is your favorite way to exercise?

Have you done something you didn’t like just because you knew it would bless you significant other?

IZMIR: 5 Things to do in Izmir, Turkey

Note: This article was originally guest-posted for Yabangee.

Having lived in Izmir for over a year, I can say that I truly love the expat life here. Many people ask what the city is like and if it is worth visiting. And my answer? YES!

Istanbul or Cappadocia fare better in terms of tourism, but Izmir has things to do that are true to Turkish culture without having to fight the crowds. Also, the people of this lovely city are known for their friendliness and open-mindedness towards foreigners. If visitors are looking for the culture and experience of meeting with locals to truly understand what makes Turkey so wonderful, Izmir is your go-to location.

Here are just a few of the things you can do in Izmir.

Izmir Chronicles: Izmir is Worth Visiting (Part I)

Visit Izmir Clock Tower
Konak is home to one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city, the Clock Tower. Built in 1901, the white marble tower and North African style patterns on the columns marks the 25th year of Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II’s reign. Additionally, Konak’s established touristic center of Izmir offers historical mosques and many small streets with cafes, restaurants, and bars.

Shop ’til You Drop at Kemeraltı Market
Kemeraltı is the little ‘Grand’ Bazaar of Izmir. Anyone who has been to the noisy, maze of stalls in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul will prefer this one after a quiet, calm visit! Still a massive maze of stalls, find traditional Turkish gifts and more for a cost much less than Istanbul. Kemeraltı is also full of great, inexpensive restaurants. On a hot day, enjoy a fresh squeezed juice for around $1 in the nearby juice stalls.

Ride the Asansör
Asansör, which literally means elevator, was the first elevator built in 1907 to help people travel between the top of the cliff to the seaside. Just a 20 minutes stroll from Konak square, reserve a table for a sunset dinner at the top of the Asansör. The delightfully classy Italian cafe not only provides one of the best views in Izmir, but the prices are very reasonable as well.

Stroll the streets of Kadifekale
Kadifekale, or Velvet Castle, built by Alexander the Great into the Izmir hillside provides panoramic views across the city both towards the seaside and the land. Travel by taxi up the monstrous hill to the historic site to have more energy to explore the old walks and towers. Requiring less of the imagination than the ruins of Smyrna, visitors can see the layout of the castle while enjoying a bit of shopping in the shade of the tall trees. Walk back down the long hill or take a taxi again if you prefer.

Photo by Catie Funk

Be a Local and Drink a Beer by the Shore
Whether you are in Alsancak or Karşıyaka, this is Izmir! Gençler, or young people, can be found sitting along the seaside enjoying the breeze at the end of a hard work day. Friends and families picnic or drink a beer while others enjoy a walk or bike ride. Free concerts provide entertainment throughout the year.

Izmir’s gems are easily overlooked. However, once visitors engage in the history of this coastal city, visitors discover places and activities not offered anywhere else in Turkey. Its secrets lie with the locals and give visitors the best experience of Izmir. While exploring the areas of Izmir, don’t forget a mid-morning snack on a gevrek or two, a traditionally brewed coffee in a small cafe, and a peaceful stroll along the Kordon.

I would love to hear from you! Comment below or on the video answering one of the following questions:

1. Have you been to Izmir?
2. What sites did you see?
3. What did you find interesting?

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Episode044: When Your Christmas Is Like A Hallmark Movie

New Year, same show!

First of all, thank you so much for following along on our journey of expat living and travel adventures. We are so thankful for you! Second, Happy New Year!  If you missed it here is our Christmas/New Year Card for you!

Our first episode of the year recaps our Christmas holidays spent in Germany! If you are wondering why we like to jet out for a Christmasy trip around the holidays, definitely listen to our last Episode043. Also, there are a few references to our last Christmas in Germany. If you want to catch up before listening to this one, check out Episode023 and Episode024.

Just like last year, our cousin graciously opened up her home for us to housesit and catsit while she was away. There were a few kinks in our plans, but overall it was a lovely stay. During that time, we also made it to a few nearby cities/countries: Stuttgart, Esslingen, Baden-Baden, Neustadt, Trier, and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.


Did you know we have Pinterest? We would love for you to follow us there! Oh, and we have Pinterest Boards from our travels too! Check them out.

FunkTravels Podcast

Our website articles

European Christmas Markets



Mentioned links:


Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

5 Ws for Exploring the European Christmas Markets – Your Questions Answered

Other related articles:

Markets in Basel, Switzerland


Questions for the listeners:

  • Where did you celebrate the Christmas season?
  • Did you travel to visit family? Where did you go?
  • Have you been to the Christmas markets in Europe? If so, where?

As always, email us your questions and we will answer them in a future episode!


Like this podcast episode? Share it!



Recent Posts:

5 Ws for Exploring the European Christmas Markets – Your Questions Answered

LIFE: Year One Visit to the USA 2017

WRITING: European Christmas Market Tour Article featured in Lale Magazine

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

WRITING: Guide to Braşov, Romania featured on Destinations Magazine


If you are just now joining in:

We encourage you to go back into the archives and listen back to our first episode.  And we encourage you to go back and listen to Episode009 to help get you up to speed on our big move!

You can also join in on the adventure via Facebook means you will get the first scoop and discussion on new podcasts!


We are on iTunes!

POP OVER TO LEAVE US A REVIEW ON ITUNES. This helps others find our podcast!


WRITING: Guide to Braşov, Romania featured on Destinations Magazine

Destinations Magazine featured my article titled Guide to Braşov, Romania. The article covers the highlights of Braşov, the nearby city of Bran and Dracula’s Castle, and, of course, all the where to stay, eat, when to go! I still can’t believe we made it to Dracula’s Castle! Just FYI, Romania is totally overlooked!

Destinations Magazine is a “digital travel resource that debuts the best in the written word, photography and video, catering to the adventurous at heart.” They aim “to inspire people to seek out new adventures and meaningful travel experiences.”
 Here is the start of the article:

Sitting in the centre of Romania’s Transylvania region, the medieval town of Braşov is encircled by the Carpathian Mountains, an area synonymous with Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

This walled city has a colourful history, having been the prize of many wars fought over the centuries. Even with its small-town feel in the middle of the mountains, restaurants and activities are plentiful. The town’s 250,000 residents celebrate their diversity and welcome visitors warmly. Braşov offers much to explore within, and around, the city.

Continue reading here


Transylvania: A Guide to Braşov, Romania


Thank you, Destinations Magazine for the feature!

See my other published works in my portfolio.

CatieFunkTravels Brasov Romania Europe

WRITING: Article featured in SUITCASE Magazine

Romania was supposed to be a ‘side trip’ to our month-long SouthEast Asia itinerary, but it has definitely gotten more attention. This month, SUITCASE Magazine features my article titled CASTLES, CRÊPES AND THE CARPATHIANS: EXPLORING BRASOV, ROMANIA on their online publication.

SUITCASE Magazine is a quarterly print magazine as well as an online website that giving adventurous creatives and entrepreneurs eclectic and affordable travel options. They also dabble in apps and a series of pop-up shops and eventers around the UK. Suitcase ‘aims to immerse you in the fabric of a destination, helping you explore with insider knowledge and acting as a point of entry for cultures around the world.’


Continue reading here









Here is the start of the article:

Often overlooked on the regular European tourist trail, Romania is a worthy travel destination in its own right, offering a varied getaway thanks to architectural towns and medieval villages set against a backdrop of dense forests and rugged mountains.

With 20 million people spread over 240,000 square kilometres, the country is perfect for a road-trip-meets-city adventure. Serviced by most major airlines, Bucharest makes an easy starting point. Once known as the “little Paris” of Romania, the capital sets an example for the smaller outlying villages like Brasov, with a diverse cityscape made up of gothic, baroque and renaissance styles.

Sitting in the centre of Romania’s Transylvania region in the Carpathian Mountains (made famous by Dracula) Brasov was established by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. During the medieval period it was occupied by the Saxons, who turned the city into a walled citadel to protect against invaders. Today, Brasov is surrounded by those same medieval stone walls, but crêpe stands and cafés line the town’s wide, pedestrian-only main boulevard.


Continue reading here.



Thank you SUITCASE Magazine for the feature. I am honored to be working with you as a writer.


To my readers:

Did you enjoy the article?

What was something new you learned?