ariestrash

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

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After traveling for about 12+ hours straight with a stopover in Munich, I finally made it to Istanbul, Turkey. It didn’t hit me how completely and utterly terrified I am to be here all by myself until I left the sanctuary of the airport. They drive from the airport to my hotel was fine. The travel rep that picked me up was nice and the drive was smooth. It wasn’t until I got out of the van in the middle of the street that I realized I was a bit out of my element. I suppose that’s only natural when you arrive to a new place vastly different from your norm, but I think the feeling of utter panic was amplified by the mere fact that I didn’t have a familiar with me; that I was truly on my own. It almost made me want to turn back and go home. Almost.

When I got to my room and began to settle down, I was sure that I wasn’t going to leave it until the following morning to eat breakfast and meet my tour group. I was so scared of leaving. For the first time in a very long time I didn’t know what to do with myself. The streets of Istanbul remind me of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, except from what I had gathered from the drive, there was no definitive grid like I am used to. I swore that if I left my hotel I wouldn’t know how to get back. And after doing a quick Google Map search to get to the Grand Bazaar, I was almost sure I’d get lost.

But I did my search and wrote down directions (since I’m sans technology unless there’s WiFi), and left the hotel. I walked a few paces in one direction, but according to the little arrow in Maps I was going the opposite direction of the bazaar. So I turned around and went what I presumed to be East, until the WiFi signal from the hotel faded and I was on my own.

So I did what I apparently do best. I continued walking aimlessly through the streets of Istanbul with an attitude like I knew where I was going, until I miraculously made it to the Grand Bazaar (don’t ask me how I made it there so quickly, I just sort of followed the people).

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The Grand Bazaar is quite grand. The word huge is an understatement. This place is endless! My mother cautioned me like all mothers do, to stick to the main paths so as not to get lost, but I found that I caught onto the geography of this place rather quickly and was weaving in and out of small shops with no problem and with not a lot of potential to getting myself lost from the main path. There’s tons of stuff to look at, but once you’ve seen a bit of the place, you know that most of the shops are similar and there are plenty of them selling the exact same things.

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I got bored of the place quickly (the fact that a lot of the shops selling pretty lamps didn’t want pictures being taken bummed me out as well), so I went out and found an ATM to take out some more cash, bought a water bottle, and found a stand by the tram to buy some postcards and these really pretty woven bookmarks. I found my way back to the hotel well before night and did what I do when there’s finally Internet access, update social media. I soon found myself dozing off, so I took a shower, changed into some PJs and went to sleep at around 6pm Turkish Time, only to find myself awake at 12am the next day writing this post because my internal clock is so messed up.

I’ll most likely head back to sleep after this, but I just wanted to share my first day. It was quite an emotional experience getting used to being alone in a foreign city for the first time, not knowing the language or the place. While there are a few things I noticed about Istanbul that I don’t particularly like, I’m trying not to be quick to judge the place only after one day. Let’s see what tomorrow has in store for me.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

packing

I leave for my Greece + Turkey trip in four days! I still can’t believe it’s finally the time. I’m not really prepared. This summer has been my busiest summer ever and I really didn’t have the luxury to constantly think about my trip like I normally am used to. I finally don’t have to work after today, so now I can really start preparing myself for my trip.

The one thing I constantly obsess about is packing. I tend to overpack all of the time. Lately, I’ve been getting better at not over packing, like on my trip to Disney World in July, I went with just a packed duffle bag. But I’ll be away for 3 weeks this time and while I don’t want to pack a lot, I still need to pack enough clothing to get me through 3 weeks. So here’s how I went about it.

I wrote up a check list. Yeah, I always write one of these up, and even though I do follow it, I never make a specific distinction of the quantity of the items I want to bring. I usually just label things like, shirts, shorts, socks, etc. This time around, I specified quantity. My trip lasts roughly 22 days. I did some math and figured, if I wear a bottom for about 5 days before washing, I’ll need about 5 bottoms. That with a dress that I can wear at least twice, I have just enough bottoms to get me through to 22 days. Jeans are always the best because you can wear them multiple times before they are deemed dirty. I used the same math with tops. I’m packing 11 tops that I can wear twice if I hand wash them along the way. That gives me 22 tops, not counting the dress I can wear twice. I figure that’s just enough to get me buy. If anything, I can always buy things as needed and still have enough room in my bag.

While clothing is one thing, I constantly obsess about entertainment and electronics. From my previous Eurotrip I realized that I don’t really need much entertainment. I brought my Kindle along and barely touched it, so it simply added to my worry that some one will steal it if I left it in the hostel. So this time around, I’m limiting my electronics to just my simple point and shoot camera and my iPod Touch. I made the sacrifice with my camera only because I’m traveling alone and the idea of carrying a bigger camera with me sort of freaks me out. I don’t want to have to worry about my electronics being stolen from me, so limiting them is the best move I can make. I’m taking a USB flash drive as well as an extra memory card (you can never have too much extra space!). I’m substituting the Kindle for one paperback book (which I have yet to pick out) and like always, I’m bringing a journal to write in. I’m taking the Remains of the Day journal I made to semi-scrapbook while on my trip. I’m bringing along a pack of Glue Dots as well, so that I can stick tickets, receipts and brochures into my journal without any of the hassle and mess of glue and such. Glue Dots are the best invention ever.

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I’m taking some playing cards and lots of pens. I’m also taking a very small makeup bag and two wallets. I tend to separate my coins from my bills, as carrying all those coins together with my cards and bills can get heavy. I figure have two separate places for my money is smart idea as well, though I’m not too concerned with wallets being stolen. Passport and important documents, toiletries and a few extra I’ll take as well. I tried to stick with my 10 things to take on a trip list as much as possible, so most of those things listed will definitely come with me.

I haven’t decided yet what sort of luggage I’m going to pack everything in. I was thinking of my hiking backpack, but if when packed all of my things might fit in a smaller piece of luggage, I might just opt for that. Maybe taking a small luggage carry-on and a slightly bigger than my norm personal item bag, and just splitting my items accordingly. I don’t know yet, I have to try packing things first and seeing.

If you’re curious, I’m going to attached the packing list that I made up for you to check out if you need any help packing yourself. The download is a Word document, so if need be, you can easily edit it and use it for yourself! Download it here.

Well, I just wanted to update you all on my current status, seeing as I’ve been a bit MIA as of late! Hopefully you can find this packing mess I’m in helpful. I’ll try to update here and there while I’m away. Hopefully I can get good Wifi somewhere just to write up a few posts about Turkey and Greece! I’m definitely going to share this trip with you in full detail as much as I possibly can. I will definitely be active on Instagram though, so you know you can always follow me there!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

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I live in a tiny space. I still live at home and my room is just plain small. It’s a very squared room and I often find it difficult to arrange my furniture in a way that would make my small space seem spacious. I don’t have that many pieces of furniture, three big pieces at most, and even though everything I own is stored in my room (with the exception of my books, which are in a bookshelf outside of my bedroom), I still find my space feeling a bit too cluttered. My desk/craft area in particular, is alway extra cluttered.

I’m a messy crafter. When I’m at work on something, a mini book, my Project Life album, anything, my space is usually a mess. I like seeing all of the products I’m using spread out in front of me, so everything comes out of its packaging and is littered about everywhere. Most times when I’m done for the day, I put everything back in their packaging but don’t immediately put them back in my Ikea Raskog cart, where I pretty much store all of my craft supplies. And when I go out to Michaels or order more scrapbook supplies online, they tend to pile up on my desk because I have no time to organize them into my cart. This past week was one of those weeks that my desk was just piled high with stuff and it looked a hot mess.

So, today I spent the day organizing my space, cleaning my room and just rearranging furniture to make everything seem a bit more spacious. I took extra care of my desk area and just wanted to share a few photos of it after some cleaning and a major organizational overhaul!

A lot of the organizer trays that I use are those pretty cardboard ones you find at Michaels. The purple/blue/green paisley one on my desk that stores most of my Project Life cards is actually a jewelry organizer I found in the bead section. I wasn’t going to purchase it at first, but I’m so glad I did because it works so perfectly for Project Life cards! It was a complete life saver because I hate not having my cards right there in front of me where they are so easily accessible. The metal milk basket of sorts is a piece I found in a cabinet under the sink in our main bathroom that I share with my brother. I was cleaning it out one day and there was this slightly rusty metal basket. We were going to toss it, but I saved it and it houses all of my washi tapes perfectly.

I have a lot of pen/pencil cup holders and they come from all over the place. The two main ones that are on my desk are really pretty drinking cups that I found at Marshalls. The one pictured is a teal green and the other, which you can sort of see in the first and last photos below, is a dark pinkish burgundy color. I keep all of my cute pens in the green cup and all of my Sharpie pens, American Crafts markers, and small scissors in the pink cup. Then I have a lot of mason jars. All of my pretty pencils are located on the top tier of my cart in a clear mason jar. You can’t really see it very clearly, but in the second tier I have about five mason jars that hold my brushes, Sharpie markers, watercolor tubes, watercolor pencils and colored pencils. All of my mason jars are recycled pizza sauce jars. We like to make homemade pizza all the time in my house and the jars that the pizza sauce comes in is so utterly cute that I can never find it in me to get rid of them. So I wash them and clear out the wrappings and the sticky glue, and use them to help me organize my space! I tell my mother all the time that when I do get my own place, there will be mason jars everywhere, because I would have collected so many of them by that time that I wouldn’t ever have to buy cups for anything.

Looking at my space now, I really don’t have as much scrapbook supplies as I thought I did. It seemed like I had mountains of it before, when everything was stacked on my desk (I suppose getting rid of all that excess packaging is a real space saver). Everything besides a new Project Life Core kit is pictured below, most of it is located in my cart (I’m an absolute sucker for Project Life cards, so I hoard them like mad!) Hopefully my space will stay like this for a while. It looks less cluttered like this and I really like that.