Monday, September 15, 2008

Greetings from Turkey

Hi everyone! Greetings from Istanbul, Turkey. See if you can find it on the map. Kristin says it is the third largest city in Turkey.

It took a REALLY long time to get here. Two long airplane flights and a layover in London. I am SO tired and Kristin is tired too! Here is a look at her hotel room. It's is small and very "girly" (there are flowers painted on the woodwork). Kristin calls it "quaint." I'm not sure I really know what that means but at this point I am so tired, I'm not sure I care.

We arrived at the airport around 4:05pm on Monday afternoon. Everyone's luggage arrived with the plane. Whew! As soon as everyone in Kristin's group had gathered, we took a bus to our hotel. Here are some photos Kristin took from the bus window. The first one shows the flag of Turkey combined with the flag for a Turkish airline.

Here the flag of Turkey is flying along with several other important flags. Can you guess which ones? (Hint....the European Union, the United States, South Korea, China and Japan.)I learned from reading Kristin's guide book that Istanbul is a very old city that has lots of interesting buildings. Our guide called this building a "castle." I told Kristin it reminds me of the fort I saw in Prizren, Kosovo this summer. Kristin said it should. That's because rulers from Turkey used to control Prizren many, many, many years ago during something called the "Ottoman Empire." Maybe Kristin told me that in Kosovo...but if she did, I forgot.

Here's a street sign that proves I really am in Istanbul. :)

Kristin says most of the people who live in Turkey are Muslim. That's why there are so many mosques here. I had no idea. The mosque minarets (or towers as I call them) are really neat.

Halfway to our hotel I started to notice what looked like an ocean FULL of boats and HUGE ships! Kristin says Istanbul is located along something called the "Bosporus Straight."

Kristin says this is a very important body of water. That's because half of Istanbul is on the European Continent and the other half is on the Asian Continent. The Bosporus divides the two continents. Kristin says that's why Turkey is known as the country that bridges Europe and Asia. WOW! I had no idea?

I even saw a fish market from the bus....although I am not sure I would want to eat those fish.

We are staying at the Armada Hotel. After Kristin checked into her room, she took a walk around the hotel's neighborhood. Here are some photos she took during her walk.

I should tell you that Kristin found Pop-Kek's (the yummy ding-dong like cakes I had in Kosovo) and Coke Light at a little store near the hotel. She was VERY happy when she found both in the same small store!
That's all for now. I am very tired and need to head to bed. Don't forget to click on the links Kristin includes in the posts. They will give you even more information than we can about the things we are seeing. And check out the twitter feeds. Kristin's phone is working here so I should be able to keep you updated via twitter even if I don't have computer time for uploading photos.
Until next time....bye!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

BIG NEWS! I'm Headed to Turkey!

Hi everyone! I have big news. I have been so busy with school and Kristin has been so busy with work since we got back from South Africa that we haven't had time to work on the rest of the photos from that trip.

Today I just found out I am headed to Turkey! Can you believe it? First, I can't believe there is a country named after my favorite Thanksgiving food. But beyond that, I can't believe I am headed overseas on another trip. How cool is that?!

Kristin and my friend Sean, who works with Kristin at the Stanley Foundation, are going to Turkey with a group of journalists. Kristin says it is similar to the trip we took to Korea last fall. I know this place called Turkey is in Europe, but see if you can find it on the map.

Kristin says we leave today and will spend the night in Washington, DC before catching another flight to Turkey. I have already seen Kristin's schedule and I know she is going to be BUSY! So watch the twitter section for updates and we'll get photos posted when we can.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Elvis, Football, and More

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well. I am fine here in Johannesburg! But, I was WAY TOO tired from that jet-lag stuff to write a big story last night. So here are some photos of my first day in South Africa. I will fill in the blanks later.

Here are photos from the future site of the 2010 World Cup. It's the biggest soccer tournament in the world! Kristin says it is like the Super Bowl and the World Series...but MUCH bigger. And here, they call soccer "football." Very interesting.

Here I am with my new friend, Eben.

There were several of these mountains near the World Cup stadium. But Eben told us they are not mountains. They are called "mine dumps." Who knew?

I don't need to explain what this is!

Here you can choose a cup of corn or french fries with your Happy Meal. VERY strange!

There are many, many poor people here in South Africa. Some live in metal shacks.

Others live in new housing. These houses are being built for poorer people. The people with more money live in houses surrounded by tall you can't even see the house.

We visited a placed called Soweto. It used to be the poorest and most violent part of Johannesburg. Today it is much nicer. Keith was shocked when we visited Soweto. He was here in 1994 and said it was more like the shantytowns I saw in Brazil.

This is the house Bishop Desmond Tutu used to stay at in Soweto.

And this is the place where Nelson Mandela used to live. He is a very famous person that was once president of South Africa. I'll have to tell you more about him when I have time. The house in Soweto is being renovated for a museum so we couldn't see the house. But I can at least say I was there!

We ate lunch in Soweto....something Eben says would have been impossible 5 years ago. The restaurant lets people sign their menus. So Kristin helped me sign mine. I had grilled cheese. YUM!

Here is the Maponya Mall....a brand new mall in Soweto. It has a huge elephant outside of the main entrance.

Here are some more photos of Johannesburg.

And this is Elvis. He hangs just below the rear view mirror in Eben's car. :)

Bye for now.....

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Greetings from South Africa!

Hi everyone! I have safely made it to South Africa.

I am currently in Johannesburg...or "Joburg" as the locals call it. See if you can find it on the map. If you read my twitter updates, you will know that King Tut was mad at Kristin again. Our plane was delayed 90 minutes in London. But once we were on our way, I slept most of the flight.

King Tut was still mad when we landed, however, because the equipment bag didn't show up with the rest of Kristin and Keith's luggage. After many phone calls, Kristin has finally been able to confirm the bag is on its way to Johannesburg now. Whew!

Our local "fixer" is a journalist named Eben. He is very nice. He picked us up at the airport and took us to our hotel, the Hyatt in Rosebank. It is very nice. Here is the view from Kristin's window.

I was really tired when we got to the hotel just before noon....but Keith and Kristin were trying to stay awake in order to keep that jet-lag stuff away! It was Sunday here (we are 7 hours ahead of Iowa time). So we went to a nearby mall that has a Sunday market. It was a lot like other markets I have seen on my many travels with Kristin. Kristin bought some wooden masks and a painting and Keith bought this really cool hat.

They didn't have a hat in my size or I would have gotten one too. :(

Keith and Kristin have lots of people to interview tomorrow and I know we have to spend a lot of time in the car to get to the interviews. So I am not sure when I will check in again. But keep you eye on the twitter messages.

Bye for now!

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Next Adventure: South Africa!

Hi everyone! If you have been reading my twitter messages, you know that I have some BIG news.

My friends Keith and Kristin from the Stanley Foundation are going to South Africa and they are taking my with them! How awesome is that? Better yet...we are leaving TODAY!

Kristin says we will drive to Chicago and then fly to London, England. We will switch planes and fly to a place called Johannesburg, South Africa. See if you can find it on the map.

I have already seen Kristin's schedule. She and Keith are going to be VERY busy. So I will check in when I can. If Kristin's phone is working the right way (unlike in Kosovo), you can follow my twitter messages to stay updated on the trip.

Bye for now!

Kosovo Photos!

Hi everyone!

I am sure you think I forgot to post my photos from Kosovo...but I didn't forget. I gave Kristin a vacation from her vacation. See, Kristin was supposed to be on vacation in Kosovo. But I've decided she doesn't know what the word vacation means. She was working ALL THE TIME taking photos, writing articles for the Muscatine Journal, and uploading TONS of information to the Kosovo trip blog.

Kosovo was amazing. I saw so many new things and met lots of interesting people. But I think Kristin did such a great job on the trip blog that I am going to link to her articles. Make sure to look for the highlighted words below so you can read her stories.

Here I am with my new friend Paul at O'Hare airport. He was taking video during the entire trip.

Here I am at the airport in Vienna, Austria. See if you can find it on the map. I had never been to more country checked off my list!

Here I am on the bus right after we landed in Pristina, Kosovo. We were headed to the town of Gjakove. That's where my friend Liz has her music program.

Here I am with my good friend Jon at Slovene Village. Slovene was a very sad place...but the kids living there were always SO excited to see Kristin's group. Jon was helping to lead art classes during the trip. You can see more photos from Slovene Village here and here and here and here.

Here my friend Erza is helping me color at Novosell School. Erza went to Muscatine High School as a Rotary student and then graduated from Muscatine Community College.

Here I am in Aimee Wedeking's English class at Novosell School. Nearly every day, the youth and adults in Kristin's group would hold English, art, crafts, and music classes in places all around Gjakove. By the way, Mrs. Wedeking teaches at my school (Louisa-Muscatine). How awesome is that?

You can see more photos from Novosell School here and here and here.

Here I am in Prizren, Kosovo. I'm standing on top of a HUGE hill that used to be home to a big fort. It looks like a bunch of rocks to me. I thought Kristin was going to die walking up the BIG hill....I am so glad I have a ride in Kristin's bag. :)

You can see more from Prizren here.

Here I am with Kristin at the Newborn sculpture in Pristina, Kosovo's capital. This big sculpture that spells the word "newborn" was unveiled the day Kosovo declared independence (February 17, 2008).

Here I am with Kristin's special little boy, Hadji. He is really, really nice.

You can see more photos of Hadji (and Kristin) here and here.

Here I am in Rugova Canyon with my friend Keith!

Here I am with Kristin at a monument on the grounds of Camp Bondsteel, the US military base in Kosovo. It was SO cool to be on the military base!

You can see more photos from Bondsteel here.

Thanks Kristin for taking me along with you on your vacation!

That's all for now...hope you had a great summer! I know I did. Bye for now....