White “Christmas”

Istanbul gets it's annual snowfall.
Istanbul gets it’s annual snowfall.

This is the last day of 2015, but according to my students it is “Christmas.” I’ve tried to explain to them that many other countries celebrate Christmas on December 25, but I don’t think they are convince. It snowed a bit yesterday, but overnight the snow began to stick. It’s beautiful out there and what makes it more so is that I don’t have to work!

First I walked my neighborhood of Sirinevler–slick and slippery! No salt or snow shovels. When the temperature drops tonight this will really be a mess. My students tell me that we get about one snowfall a year here. It snowed the week before I came to Istanbul, so I missed last year’s. I bought a hat and gloves in Saigon before I came. I’ve been saving them just for this purpose.

My neighborhood got hit by snow!
My neighborhood got hit by snow!
Sirinevler square
Sirinevler square
From the top of an office building overlooking the E-5. Traffic was still running pretty well. Not sure that will be true in a few hours.
From the top of an office building overlooking the E-5. Traffic was still running pretty well. Not sure that will be true in a few hours.

Then I took public transportation to Beyazit Square, Istanbul University and a hike to the Suleyman Mosque.

The front of the Suleyman Mosque.
The front of the Suleyman Mosque.

Suleyman Mosque, Dec 31, 2015, 7 Suleyman Mosque, Dec 31, 2015, 6 Suleyman Mosque, Dec 31, 2015, 9

The Suleyman Mosque overlooks the Bosphorous, but the waters were so much warmer than the air temperature that fog clouded the view. This is the back side, that faces the water. You walk through the graveyard to get here.
The Suleyman Mosque overlooks the Bosphorous, but the waters were so much warmer than the air temperature that fog clouded the view. This is the back side, that faces the water. You walk through the graveyard to get here.

Finally, I went to the center of the old city, which is also the tourist district: Sultanahmet Square.

Haiga Sophia (Ayasofa) in the snow.
Hagia Sophia (Ayasofa) in the snow.
There were several snowmen, but none were very fancy. In the background is The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Cami)
There were several snowmen, but none were very fancy. In the background is The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Cami)
Sultanahmet Square, with the Blue Mosque in the background. I was surprised to find this fountain still running.
Sultanahmet Square, with the Blue Mosque in the background. I was surprised to find this fountain still running.
From the spina of the former Hippodrome, now a park. The German Fountain. BTW, the Turkish word of horse racing park is still hippodrome.
From the spina of the former Hippodrome, now a park. The German Fountain. BTW, the Turkish word for horse racing park is still hippodrome.
Those palm trees probably give a hint at how often it snows here. Sultanahmet Meydani.
Those palm trees probably give a hint at how often it snows here. Sultanahmet Meydani.
Reminds me of my favorite dog growing up, Lobo. Still miss him.
Reminds me of my favorite dog growing up, Lobo. Still miss him.

And finally, Happy, Happy New Year to all. The weather looks like it might get bad, so I’ll probably stay home. Hope this is your best year yet!

Ring in the New Year, even with a cracked bell.
Ring in the New Year, even with a cracked bell.

Happy New Year!

New year12/30/2015

I’m behind on posting, but it comes down to two things: I’m working far more hours than I want & I’m ready to move on. I have a couple very difficult, overcrowded classes at the moment and there’s no support from the school staff. They haven’t bothered to put out a schedule for two weeks, they don’t communicate and only last night confirmed that we have New Year’s Day off of work. I have lost patience with the situation.

But I do have some good news to report:

The last teacher to finish a contract did, eventually, get her end-of-contract bonus, just hours before she left the country. It was days late and paid in Turkish Lira, rather than US dollars as promised by the contract. The bonus is substantial, so it’s very important to be that mine is paid when I leave.  I have a reliable but unconfirmed report that a teacher at another branch did not get his.

The other news is that I have some wonderful adventures planned for 2016:

  • a week in Athens, Greece.
  • a week visiting two dear friends in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • a month on a work-for-stay farm somewhere in Europe.
  • Hiking the Camino in Spain with three dear friends.

…and I’m working on my next full-time job. Keep your fingers crossed.

I can only hope that 2016 will be a year of good surprises, adventure and much love for us all. Wishing you the very best in the New Year.