November 30, 2007


Finally, Internet on the ship.

Well I’m coming home. We’re crossing the Atlantic right now, which feels really cool to say. The trip ended with five days in Dubrovnik and five days in Cadiz.

Dubrovnik was beautiful, really clean, and quiet. During the summer months it’s shoulder to shoulder with tourists, but it felt like we had the place to ourselves. Found an excellent wine bar, and then this amazing fishermen’s cafĂ© that one of the professors found. It was perfect – tiny, maybe 10 tables in the whole place. The owner served us homemade limoncello to start and came around with a bowl of freshly diced garlic to add to our oil and bread. At the table next to us was an animated group of self-proclaimed “theater people” who – in the most polite gesture ever made by Europeans towards Americans – waited to smoke inside the restaurant until we had finished our dinner and were leaving.

It was in Dubrovnik that I kind of gave up on the idea of playing it safe and venturing out mostly on my own – if they fire me for having dinner with passengers, the worst they’d do is send me home in Cadiz and save me this hellish 10 day sail. So I went out with the student life team and finally talked about all things American and about everyone’s future after the voyage ends. It surprised me how up in the air everyone else’s life is, too - even the older, totally settled in the group. It made me feel better about my inner east coast versus west coast turmoil, etc.

After Dubrovnik I started the overnight shift. I give so much credit to everyone in the world who works these hours. Trying to adjust your body clock (even without running around Spain instead of ever sleeping) takes such a toll on everything in your life. I can’t imagine being home and trying to keep up friendships when you should be sleeping while everyone else is awake. I was talking to the dean’s wife, who is a nurse, and she says it’s the hardest shift you’ll ever take, it removes you from your life outside work and really puts a strain on relationships. At the same time, she said – and I feel this – that the bonds that people form when they work together on the graveyard shift is totally different, stronger maybe, than the bonds people form at work during regular hours. It’s like there’s this whole world that nobody else knows about on the ship except the 15 of us who are up at 4am. Besides getting the chance to meet – and actually TALK with, since there are never any passengers to interrupt us – some of the crew that I’ve never even seen before, I also get freshly baked chocolate croissants and danishes from the pastry chef. FRESH out of the oven. I’m getting so fat I love it.

Spain was great – Zack came to Cadiz, which was an amazing, much needed little bit of home. Also, showing him around the ship made me own up to how foreign and strange, and oftentimes lonely, this experience has been. I am so lucky to have traveled as much as I have this semester. But it has been so hard to be alone for 100 days. I can’t wait to see you all when I get home, and to tell stories and share photos and catch up.

The fourth day I went to Seville with Sasha and met up with Jess – had some paella and did some relatively harmless shopping. Seville was gorgeous – the cathedral was breathtaking. Ok. The Vatican was remarkable for its sheer size, the gorgeous artwork inside and most of all the central power it represents. Hagia Sophia felt very, very old and important.

But the cathedral was jaw-dropping, every different corner and room and detail was elegant and intricate. Granted, after a few glasses of sangria the most ordinary things tend to be very impressive. But I was literally beside myself walking through the place. We walked up to the tower, which offered a 360-degree view of the city. I love cities that were built way before cars – houses are nestled together and rooftops pile on top of one another. I think in life I want a really modest house, with lots of character and a great terrace. I wonder what city I’ll have to settle down in to find it.

Anyway, the view was gorgeous – kind of the last hoorah of great views and interesting cities and terrible attempts to speak foreign languages.

Now I’m 6 days away from Miami – 6 overnight shifts filled with auditing and Six Feet Under and reruns of The Office. It’s so insane to think that in 7 days I’ll be back in the states, 9 days back in NY and onto my next crazy venture beneath the skies.

<3 MR

November 12, 2007


I am such a fat kid! So I had an amazing lunch (grape leaves and kebaps and hummus and the most perfect grilled vegetables, accompanied by a nice red and the sweetest waiter in the world), at this unpretentiously hip cafe near the Blue Mosque. Then I went to a pastry shop to get some last minute Baklava. I ALSO indulged myself with a cup of, basically, cannoli-filling eclairs covered in chocolate pistacio pudding. HEAVEN and a sugar coma, love it.

Sad to see the Eastern hemisphere go, and especially sad to leave Istanbul. I didn't have nearly enough time to explore, my job is starting to suffocate me, but what I did see, do, eat, meet- I loved. It's a perfect mix of center of the world history and chic cosmopolitanism.


Last night I got off of work at 8:30 or so. After pushing myself all week, I decided to treat myself to one of the world famous Turkish Baths. So I take a taxi across the Bosphorous to Cerimbitas. The bath I've chosen is the most well known in the city, but of course my driver is clueless. Our Turkish and English not exactly getting any point across, he decides to pull over outside the Blue Mosque and ask a waiter in a restaurant that's closing. When the waiter explains to the driver where he needs to take me, the lovely little old man gets fed up and politely suggests we end the journey here. Luckily the waiter tells me that the bath is just a five minute walk, then insists I come in for a cup of Turkish tea. After a little while, he invites me to go up to the restaurant's terrace to see the view - of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Bosphorous and everything in between. I don't know why, but I politely declined. In retrospect, it could have potentially been the most breathtaking cityscape I'll ever see in my life. Next time.

Turkish baths.. the Sultans really had something going here. Now, I'm not one for heavy old Turkish women in their calvin kleins (picture the most outrageous caricature- EXACTLY), but if one wants to scrub me down, wash my hair and give me an hour long massage I won't say no. I couldn't help but think back to being four years old and bubble baths and my mom rinsing my hair with a sand pail. And I have to give these women credit for mothering hundreds of women a day and still with a smile on their faces.

I loved walking down the streets here and passing century old churches nestled into the Rodeo Drive of Istanbul. I loved drinking tea looking out at a column that's been standing since B.C. (in school I always felt like anything that happened B.C. was not history but mythology, too close to the sun). How most storefronts are older than the country I was born in. I was talking with the waiter last night about that - how at home we're proud that my house has been around since Sunset and Lexington was a horsetrack. He's proud that he works across from the oldest place of worship in the world. In the nicest attempt to make me feel better about it all, he told me I could be proud that my country had come so far in so little time - from infancy to (in so many words) central power.. Without getting into it - I know too little to talk politics, especially in Turkey right now - I kind of laughed and shrugged it off. I think it's more charming to be proud of the Hagia Sophia.

What else has been great about Turkey?

The second night here the ship's agents organized a pickup game of soccer (football, futbol, whatever). 10 of us from the crew played with 5 of their guys - and they could really play. Proud to say I held my own, both in and out of the goal - after a few goals I willingly bequeathed (VOGEL) the position to our 6'4" 250lb German (like REALLY German) Hotel Director. And even on the field I'd have to say I did alright - Ally you would have murdered me over a goal I missed though, it was a PERFECT shot. Anyway, that was very fun and I am still sore four days later.

The first night here Sasha and I walked from the ship, across the Bosphorous and had great mezze and kebap at this restaurant, Hamid, that looks out at the Golden Horn. Then we walked about 2 miles to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – gorgeous lit up at night. The area is covered in stray dogs – crazy ones – who couldn’t decide if it was more interesting to follow Sasha and me or to fight each other.

The only thing I’m really bummed about is not getting the chance to explore the hidden nooks of the city. In a city like this where I could roam for days, having three hours to do something interesting and then be back for work is insanely frustrating. Luckily I was off at 8pm here, so my nights were relaxing. I ate great food (fish, like REAL skin and bones fish – what a big step), and really enjoyed everything, but I just felt so constrained by the time limit. I’ll definitely come back.

Oh exciting incident – I brushed past a pile of cardboard boxes with hidden glass inside and got stitches! Then fixed my makeup (Brett tore my brand new jeans open, of course I’m going to cry) and rallied and went back out for the night.

Ok my mind is clearly all over the place, so I’ll get back to work.. Right now we’re sailing through some Turkish islands (are there Turkish islands? Maybe it’s Greece?) on our way to Croatia. I’ve been gifted some free internet so I’m hoping to put up photos from Thailand, India, Egypt & Turkey. I’ll also try to get some thoughts/stories down about those trips.

<3 MR

November 03, 2007


Two nights ago I left the Halloween party, took a quick shower, and proceeded to the gagnway with 9 of my favorite coworkers to take a sunrise tour at the pyramids in Giza. ETD – 3am.

We got to the pyramids just as the sun rose- you drive through them first, there’s a long road that snakes through two of the big three and brings you up to this hill. That’s where all of the souvenirs are sold. There were already 3 buses full of SAS students watching the sunrise. Gorgeous. It just us and them – about 60 total – it was amazing to be there without a million tourists and to kind of have the place to ourselves.

I got on a camel with this kid named Ahmed. I totally overpaid for a 45 minute ride, but whatever, you’re only at the pyramids once in your life, right? (Actually, I have to go back because like an idiot I never actually touched them or sat on them or anything). It was unreal. To circle the pyramids and the Sphinx on this huge, gorgeous camel (not quite the sad story camels from Israel) – was awesome. Really just seeing something I know has been there for thousands of years, built by people whose lives were so different, so storied, so legendary... Made me feel very small in a very good way.

I’ll post photos before Istanbul.

<3 MR