Useful Program Found Abroad

Every day we set out on an adventure not always knowing where we are going. We have somewhat of a routine now of getting up, having breakfast, dressed and walking to the Blue Mosque / Hagias Sophia since there is a beautiful fountain there and a central location for whatever we may want to do. Some of our best adventures have started from there – like the day we discovered Emigran Park and the Tulip Festival I talked about in my Getting Lost in Istanbul blog. Regardless it is a great way for us to start the day and this day was no different. We decided we wanted to venture to Ortakoy Mosque since this is our favorite place to get Kumpirs (loaded baked potato).

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Ferry to Asia

One thing I have to say about Istanbul is their public transportation system is great! We can go just about anywhere via a bus, tram, or ferry for about 2.30 Lira or $0.64 USD. Today we chose the ferry since both of us have a love for water and it as a nice sunny day and nothing really we wanted to do. The ferry first takes you to the Asia side and then you catch another ferry to get to the Mosque and park area surrounding it. While doing our transfer, we came across what looked to us like a spring festival. There were booths set up and they were all selling items such as Turkish towels and robes, shirts, shoes, jewelry, hand carved wood items – just about anything you can think of they had. As we walked around we noticed what would be contraband items in prison in a glass case and we slowly learned from talking with someone that the festival was actually supporting the prisons. Everything for sale was made by inmates! To say some of the work was incredible is an understatement.

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Guard carving out the next piece of art. The pieces hanging behind him are all done by inmates.

Now, let me tell you about this program. The festival travels all over Turkey and stays for a short period of time in each area. Inmates are taught how to make the items that they are selling. The guards are involved in rehabilitating the inmates by showing them how to make the items. Everything is made by hand – whether it was sown, carved, woven. Jewelry was put together piece by piece. The plates and stoneware you see everywhere over here were all hand painted. The guards and inmates work together as a team. You could see the relationships between the them almost as if they were friends as opposed to authority / inmate. The inmates are released with new skills back into society where they have a fighting chance at life again. I couldn’t find it for sure but, I would assume the money generated from this event was put back into the prison system in order to help pay for the expenses incurred by the inmates. The vibe of the whole place was great. We walked around it again with a totally different prospective. I can’t tell you enough how much I think the US would gain by implementing programs like this.

Had we gone on our normal tram and bus ride to this area we would have totally missed out on this experience. So, yet again, just by stepping out of our normal routine we found something that will stick with us forever. Don’t forget to check back often and follow us on our journey along the way. You never know where we will end up next. Don’t forget to show your support by following us on the blog Trapped In Neverland and Instagram Shutterflypro for more beautiful pictures and adventures we are having around Istanbul.

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Seeing Everything for the First Time

I have been out of the states for a month now. I can’t explain enough how amazing it is to see and experience other things for the first time. My boyfriend loves introducing me to new things simply because it’s that pure joy and happiness you feel when doing so. He says the smile on my face when I see or try something new is priceless. I have learned to trust him when it comes to trying new food and to go with the flow when he wants to do something I haven’t done before. Why? Because it usually tastes really good and I have a blast doing whatever it is.

I never really understood what he meant about how it made him feel so happy to see me experience things for the first time until a couple days ago. Americans are few and far between over here so when you hear someone speaking English you tend to notice it and a couple of days ago we did. We were doing our normal morning walk to the Blue Mosque to see the progress on the carpet of tulips they were putting in when we heard them. We quickly stopped them and introduced ourselves gave them a few pointers on how to navigate the city and some must see places. We talked for a little while, pointed them in the direction of where they were originally going and before leaving them exchanged numbers in case they needed anything while they were here. We have spent the last 3 days showing them around Istanbul and even though they have been traveling for 7 months already to different places to take them and show them some of the amazing places we have found on our journeys has been beyond amazing. Seeing their faces light up, or pure amazement of some of the things around us I understood what my boyfriend was talking about for the first time.

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View from the street on Price Island

One of the places we took them to was the Prince Islands – well it was supposed to be the Bosporus Strait tour but, we made a mistake in getting the tickets so off on a new adventure for all of us. it’s nothing new for my boyfriend and I to go get lost somewhere and make the best of it but, now we have others with us to join in the fun. So, after about an hour boat ride we arrive to Prince Island, get off the ferry and just pick a direction to go. We walked through the town and saw some gorgeous views of homes along the water and some beautiful flowers. Even though the island was on our list of things to visit it was funny to watch them experience for the first time as well. After spending a couple hours on the island, we head back and took them to one of our favorite restaurants in the plaza – Burgerilla’s. it’s a must try if in Istanbul by the Grand Bazaar. We all agreed the company was nice and to meet up again in the morning.

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Inside the Fethiye Museum

The next day we did the Chora Museum and Fethiye Museum.Now I will say this – if you plan to be in Istanbul and go to any of the museums while here the pass is well worth it. You have the opportunity to see 12 museums within 5 days for the price it would cost you to see 2 of them. All of the museums we made it to on our passes were great for the history of the culture here along with some great art pieces. With that said having already been to these places I knew what to expect so I just sat back and watched as their faces dropped in awe when they would walk into the different places. It’s things like that here that you have to see for yourself to be able to truly appreciate them. It’s not just seeing though it’s the feeling you get when you walk in and you realize you are standing in the same place as Emperors, Kings, Queens, Prince and Princesses once stood.  To read about each individual place and how it was built and by who. These are things you can only experience in person and in my opinion much better than reading about them in any history book.

Every day we took them on a new adventure and every day I got to see them light up with pure excitement and joy in everything we showed them. It was nice to share part of this experience with a couple we got to know and will now be lifelong travel friends. As we all continue on our journeys throughout the world the brief moment in time we got to spend together will forever be part of all of us – Just like the thong they call the travel bug.  Don’t forget to check back often and follow us on our journey along with showing your support by following us on the blog Trapped In Neverland and Instagram Shutterflypro for more beautiful pictures and adventures we are having around Istanbul.

Getting Lost in Istanbul

Imagine all you hear about growing up is how traveling is dangerous and hard to do. That there are bombs going off constantly overseas. It’s a constant war zone. If you go overseas they will hunt you down and kidnap you or even worse kill you just because you are American. There is no place safer than the United States why do you think everyone wants to come here? How sheltered I was. How ignorant can us as Americans be? To say I feel safer in Istanbul Turkey than the United States is almost unreal but, very true. Let me explain.

We have no car here so we generally walk or use public transportation every day. We often go to places outside the tourist areas just because we are here, we want to see everything possible. We love getting lost on a daily basis and in doing so we come across the best places.One of the things that amazes me is we come across many parks in our travels and every single one of them kids are playing freely. The parents are sitting and having picnic’s and talking to each other not playing on cell phones or sitting in silence. There is laughter all around. Food vendors everywhere you go.

Right now, the Tulip Festival is going on. Tulips are planted everywhere you look. They are being respected. People aren’t trampling through them or throwing trash in the flowerbeds. They are appreciating their beauty. Walking by them taking pictures. Kids are playing around them to not destroy them. One day when we got lost we came across a park – Emirgan Park. To say this was one of the best places

One of the 31 areas in Emigran Park

we have stumbled upon yet would be an understatement. It was like the yellow brick road in the movie Wizard of Oz except it was full of tulips. There were several different areas set up to incase different designs they created with the tulips. Thirty-One areas to be exact. It w
s something you had to truly experience to understand how amazing it was. Again, it was full of families doing nothing but, spending time together.

 

One of the many stray dogs you come across sleeping on a bench in the marina

Another great thing I see here is they take care of their stray animals. Me being a huge animal lover loves seeing this. There are cats and dogs everywhere you turn along with food put out for them. They don’t bother you in fact, they are some of the most well behaved animals I have seen. The dogs don’t bark at you as you walk by. They don’t beg for food as you sit outside eating at restaurants. They simply mind their own business. The stray dogs are tagged on their ears to show they have been vaccinated. There is even a great program in place in certain areas where you put a plastic bottle into a recycle bin and cat and dog food is provided below. Cats here are considered clean animals and you will often find them inside of Mosques as you are walking through them. Again, like the dogs they mind their own business, aren’t begging for food just simply living.

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Walking the streets of Istanbul

An interesting thing we see here is people begging for money. The interesting thing is that the next day you will walk by the same place and the same person and they are now selling tissues or whatever it is they could buy with the money they made the day before. Here they have a sense to want to earn money as opposed to sitting on street corners simply begging. Today I saw a mother and child sitting outside on the street – mind you it is a chilly 52 degrees here and rainy but, a food vendor walked up to them and gave them a plate full of food and the look on the mother’s face was priceless and the little girl was so appreciative you knew they really needed it.

It the little things you see around here that make you appreciate what you really have in life. The fact that the US is a free country and we can come and go as we please. However, the sense of community and loyalties you see here are not something you can experience in the US. I am enjoying my time here in Istanbul and learning the culture. It’s an amazing world out here. Get out and explore. Take a chance on life and see where it leads you. In the meantime show your support by following us on the blog Trapped In Neverland and Instagram Shutterflypro for more beautiful pictures and adventures we are having around Istanbul.

Living the News Vs Hearing the News

Our main reason for going to Bursa for the weekend was concern over the referendum that was being voted on. It’s also nice to get away every once in a while.  There are many positives and negatives to the vote and with everyone we spoke to saying it was going to be a close call we figured it would be a good idea to get out of a heavily populated area. Us as Americans are so worried about traveling overseas many of us let that fear get the better of us. I can honestly say I feel safer over here than I do in most places in the US – even with the current referendum going on. Aside from the fact I am liking living the news as opposed to seeing the side the media wants us to.

So, what is the referendum you ask? It’s a simple yes or no vote. Or is it that simple? A yes vote allows for 18 amendments to the Turkish Constitution. A couple of the bigger changes consist of the Prime Minister position to be abolished and replaced with a Presidential system. The number of seats in Parliament would increase from 550 to 600. Giving the President more control over Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors. The people who agree with these changes say this change is necessary to strengthen and stabilize Turkey.

There are two sides to everything so those who are opposed to this referendum known as the No campaign argue that it allows the President to have too much power and dismantling the separation of powers by taking legislative authority away from Parliament. They believe that it leads the country to an elected dictatorship with no accountability which will eventually lead the country to democratic suicide.

Now, being here in the weeks building up to the election was very interesting and defiantly an experience to be had. Just about everywhere you went you would hear the propaganda music playing. If you were sitting in the plaza on any given day you would hear both sides playing their side of the story they wanted to be told – except Sunday. I never found out why but, on Sunday the No campaign was not allowed in certain areas only the Yes. None the less it made walking through these areas interesting. Some days one side would have a stronger support than the other. You would see them waving flags around in the air, singing the songs of the story that was being told. An interesting sight was seeing the campaigns plant themselves within a couple hundred feet of each other. One thing we never saw was fights erupt between the two parties. You never saw people having heated arguments over their beliefs. It was all done in peace.

The vote happened on April 16th and it was a very peaceful process. Very similar to our Presidential elections in the United States. We walked the streets that night peering into restaurants throughout to see how the vote was going. The streets were calm and peaceful. People were out walking around with the sense that they made their vote and what ever happened is how it was meant to be. The results came in shortly after 10 with a 51.23% victory for the Yes campaign. Now, with the voting being that close of course there is question of voter fraud. There is a little talk about recounting but, no rioting, no looting nothing even close to what we experienced in the last election in the United States. Imagine that the people have spoken and respect they won or lost and are dealing with the issue properly. That is why I feel safer here than in the United States. They have reasonable laws. They follow those laws and not everyone is out to sue or get rich quick.

Now, me I am loving living the news as opposed to seeing what the media wants me to see on TV. I am learning that traveling overseas isn’t as scary as I once thought. That there are people in the world who can obey laws whether their side wins or loses. Its an amazing world out here and I encourage others to start doing the same – Get out and live life and not be afraid of everything. I can promise you it’s an experience you wouldn’t understand until you do it and once you do it you will be surprised at how differently you view the world. In the meantime show your support by following us on the blog Trapped In Neverland and Instagram Shutterflypro for more beautiful pictures and adventures we are having around Istanbul.

Bursa Checked Off the List

Another beautiful place in Turkey – Bursa. We spent just a couple days there and while it was not big like Istanbul it still had some of the magical touch. We started off our day like most walking to see what we can find. We did have a couple places of interest we wanted to see like the Green Mosque, cable cars through the mountains and the Grand Bazaar other than that it was a let’s get lost and see what we find. I have come to realize getting lost is so much more fun than planning everything and it isn’t as scary as I once thought.

We did the touristy thing too and went on up to Teleferik. I had never been on any sort of cable car so this was a first for me and I didn’t know what to expect. The view was AMAZING! As we started going up the mountain you look down on the town and you realize how big Bursa really is. As you look up towards the top you see snow on the caps of the mountains. It is a fill 360-degree view of everything around you. When we got to the halfway point of the mountain we got off the cable car and walked around the little town for s little bit. We had a potato on a stick and saw some great views when we went off the beaten track and explored. Sitting in the cable car on the way back down the mountain I was thinking to myself how great this all really is. How I wished I done this earlier on in life. How I wished my kids could see and experience this too and how much they would learn from it. Once we reach the bottom of the mountain we are off to our next destination – The Green Mosque.

For those that have an IPhone I am sure you will be able to relate to this – we frequently use Siri for directions when we want to know where we are going. This time was no different however, do you ever question where she is really taking you? As we are walking towards the Green Mosque we follow the route she has laid out for us. Down the hills and stairs through places I think even Turkey has declared inhabitable. As we always say – it’s part of the adventure so let’s see where we end up. Thankfully she did lead us to our destination but, not before a quick stop for the TO DIE FOR ICE CREAM of Turkey. It’s a must have on a daily basis.

Walking up to the Mosque you see nothing but, families spending time together and kids playing in the grassy areas. You see Tulips in full bloom. Makes you wish you saw more of this. We enter the Green Mosque and like all others you immediately feel a sense of calm come over you. You look around at the artwork that was done centuries ago by hand in complete and utter awe. There are a few praying and I sit back and ask myself do they realize how magical this area they live in really is? As we walk out we notice how the door entering the Mosque is carved out into this cool little star shape which we later read was of course done by hand but, the door was built without a single nail. To think if we had craftsmanship like that today how beautiful things could be.

Now, off to the Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaars are usually mazes of stores where you can literally buy anything you can think of. You need shoes – they got them. You need a prom dress – they got them. Bed linens, housewares, toys, fresh fruits and vegetables – you guessed it, it’s there. There are shops in every knock and cranny possible. Now with that said the bazaars are jammed packed. Trying to walk side by side is virtually impossible and don’t worry the little old lady walking towards you is quick to throw an elbow in order to make her way through the crowd. It is an everyone for themselves situation. My theory for the aggressiveness is items in the bazaar are pretty cheap. We picked up 5 plums for 5 Lira ($1.25). Spices are created to look like pyramids and are paid for by the kilo. My favorite is gummy bears where we can usually get a kilo for 26 Lira ($7.00). Thank goodness we walk so much.

 

We end the day walking around clueless sightseeing and getting a little lost. We didn’t come across anything like we usually do so after a little while we give up and re treat back to the hotel for the night. However, on the way back we came up with a new saying…. You can’t see that in the US. A couple examples we saw are the tram going by you as you reach out and touch it, stop signs we like to jokingly say are suggestions and cat food and water left out for the stray animals that wander the streets. So, stay tuned for the You Can’t See that in the US entry in the next day or two. In the meantime show your support by following us on the blog Trapped In Neverland and Instagram Shutterflypro for more beautiful pictures and adventures we are having around Istanbul.

Why come 5,000 miles to stay in Istanbul all the time? I mean we came this far why not move around a bit? There are many places close by to see and experience that are relatively cheap. We have thought about going to Izmir and Ethesus. Budapest is also on our list however, this time around we chose Bursa. Mainly because it was on our list and we wanted to get out of Istanbul due to the referendum election coming up on the 16th. So off we go!

I had been sick the last couple days so we hadn’t decided for sure where to go. We rushed around Friday morning buying our ferry tickets and booking a hotel room. Part of the fun in all of this just saying ahh ok and going with the flow. We packed our bags and headed to the ferry ticket office hoping we could make the 2:30 ferry. Not so much – we were lucky to make the 7:30 ferry due to no available seats. We now have 6 hours to waste carrying our bags around as well. We find a cafe nearby and have a cola (soda, coke, soft drink) and a snack all while playing back gammon. Keep in mind up until about a week ago I had never played the game so my boyfriend is teaching me. To say I am addicted is an understatement. After a couple hours we decide to walk around a bit bags in tow we walk. 

Now, one of the biggest misconception people have about coming to places like Istanbul is we only hear about the bad. Yes, they did have an incident in July 2016 at the airport and another in a January 2017 st s night club. Haven’t we had incidents in the US? What if people stopped viditing the US because of those incidents? However, the things in Istanbul you don’t see and hear about are the beautiful parks they have through out and the tulip festival that has been going on for years. So, as we walk up and down the streets you see kids outside having fun. You see tulips planted everywhere. You see food vendors selling simits (almost like a bagel).  It makes the walk fun and inspiring as you never know what you will see.

We return to the ferry a couple hours later and board the ferry. It’s a 2 1/2 hour ride so we play a some more back gammon and edit pictures from earlier in the day.

Once we arrive in Bursa unsure of exactly where to go so when all else fails follow the crowd. Luckily it lead us to a taxi area and we were able to catch one rather easy. It’s now nearing 11pm and we arrive at the hotel. Hungry of course however, Bursa is not like Istanbul where restaurants and stores are open all hours of the night. There is one restraunt open nearby and across the street. Now, I need to mention that we refer to crossing the street as Frogger (that deserves its own blog… stay tuned). Also, remember I am very picky when it comes to food. We found the restaurant andit of  course serves Turkish dishes only. I’m screwed! Thankfully they had some plain chicken wings. 

We had quite a busy day running around and for the first time in weeks we have a comfortable bed to sleep in along with some other comforts from home in our hotel room. We have a full shower as opposed to a shath ( big sink you can stand in). The tv that actually talks English and most important AIR CONDITION. Needless to say our heads hit the soft comfy pillows and we were out. 

Don’t forget to follow Shutterflypro to see all of our amazing pictures of what we are seeing and doing. 

Up Next… 

Today we decided to play the tourist and do a planned activity. We are on the boat awaiting to leave for our tour of the Bospherus Strait. The same Strait that a Russian destroyer passed through just a few days ago on its way to attack the two US Navy destroyers that launched the attack on Syria. Think about how many people witnessed history that day all while just wanting to take a boat ride. This thought is going through my head all while a prayer call is going on throughout the city ringing loud and clear. 

Just yesterday I stood on top of the Galata  bridge which is the harbor we are in now watching all the boats go in and out as they have many near miss accidents. While watching them I was thinking to myself how do they do this? All in some sort of syncornization only they could understand? While sitting on the tour boat I  am watching them again but, I notice something I hadn’t the day before. They have boats just to clean up the trash that is in the water – where else do you see this? If there is one thing I can say about Istanbul it is they try to be very clean.


The boat is now leaving the dock and for the next hour and 1/2 we tour the Bosphorus Strait. Along the way we see many nice homes and boats along with a few historical sites. There is so much old mixed in with new it is truly amazing to see and experience it all. In all the years I never thought I would be able to appriciate things as I do now. Back home something or old or broken we through it out and get a new one, here you fix it and make it better. 

One of the great sites is the Ortakoy Mosque. This one is beautiful inside and out. This site is noted as one of the most popular sites on the Bosphorus and is known to be a “pint sized” in comparison to others. There is a pier that runs along side it and has some of the best kumpirs (loaded baked potato) I have ever had. 

Another of the historical sites we saw was the Fortress of Rumeli Hisarı. Few people realize that the building played a role in the Siege and Fall of Constantinople in 1453. The shape and details exemplify the historical developments that led to this world-changing event, the end of the Byzantine Empire after over a thousand years and the establishment of the Ottoman Empire as a major player for five centuries. This is one of those sites that is off the beaten path and very few actually visit however, it does host a museum and cultural center with and open air theatre. It is definelty on our list to check out now. 

At this point the boat turns to return to the dock at a much faster speed. The other side is dotted with more newer than older but gives way to the beautiful mountains in the background. It was a nice, calm way to spend a couple hours exploring more of the history Istanbul has to offer. 

We spent the rest of the day just wondering the streets as we often do in order to see what we might find next. So, don’t forget to show your support by following us on the blog Trapped In Neverland and Instagram Shutterflypro for more beautiful pictures and adventures we are having around Istanbul.

Bosphorus Strait Tour

Hearing Prayer Call For The First Time

While walking through the streets of Istanbul several times a day you will hear prayer call. It is mesmerizing to say the least. It’s a sweet music that is bellowed form a Muezzin man who calls the Muslims to prayer from a minaret and played over loud speakers at the various Mosques. Prayer call or what is also referred to as ezan is done five times a day and depends on things such as revolution around the sun, rotation of the earth, sunrise and sunset, along with latitudes so, it is never at the same time every day. Me being an American I had no idea what to expect when hearing it for the first time. I thought I would see everyone stop to pray. It was quite the opposite. Everyone continues on about their day as this is exactly what it is a call to prayer for the faithful followers. On Friday, late morning to early afternoon is when the group sermons and prayers take place. For non-Muslim believers, it is expected if the Mosques are “in session” you return later.

It isn’t essential people gather in a Mosque but, it I said to feel more appropriate. Since being here I have ventured into the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Chora church and a few others. They are absolutely gorgeous inside. Many of them are going through restoration right now but, the parts of them you can visit brings me back in time to things I only read about in history books. You are walking in the same places as Emperors once where. You are not only seeing history but, it is telling you its story through all the mosaics and artwork within them. Words could not describe the feelings you have when you see them for the first time. They are beautiful pieces of art and history mixed into one.

The amount of history here is beyond belief however, most of us only read about it or see it in movies. Most buildings here have been around for 100’s if not 1,000’s of years and each has a story to tell. We often find ourselves walking down a street and coming to a cross road and looking in all directions and just choose where to go. We have come across some great places doing this like the Prayer Bead museum, shops hidden in every nook and cranny possible along with some of the best food. Every single one of these places has a story – The shops and restaurants have been handed down from generation to generation. The kids are taught at a young age what it is like to help the family and appreciate their heritage.

All I can say is this place is amazing and should be put on your bucket list of places to visit.

Enough for today as there is plenty more to share in the days to come so show your support by following us on the blog Trapped In Neverland and Instagram Shutterflypro for more beautiful pictures and adventures we are having around Istanbul.

I have been in Istanbul for about 10 days now and am amazed by all the history, beauty and various shopping there is to do here. On every corner you see someone selling something, beautiful flowers and a building that has been around for thousands of years. It was a journey just getting here though so let’s back up a little bit and explain how it all went down.
March 14th is the day it all started. My boyfriend received a call about a job opportunity which would allow us to travel all over Europe and the world for the matter which he accepted. Two days later he was on a plane to Marseille, France where he was quickly offered the position and processed for all the proper security clearance needed. It wasn’t long after that, that I received the dreaded not so dreaded phone call of they want him to start right away so he’s not coming back. However, the good news is they are working on processing me for my ticket as well. Needless to say I was excited, scared, nervous, emotional and terrified all at the same time. I was approved as well so the fun begins.
We had just settled down in Houston, Texas when all of this happen. We had an apartment full of furniture and belongings that needed to be packed and put into storage – In less than a week. I only knew a few people in Houston so this was not small task to be had. I also, had to pack for two to come to Istanbul as he left with a weeks worth of clothes, his laptop and camera. Now those of you that know me, know I procrastinate this would be no different. Every night after work I would come home and pack for an hour or so and say that’s enough for tonight – it wasn’t. Sunday (aka moving day) came I had a truck scheduled to be picked up and a friend was coming to help me. I woke up Sunday morning to find out the friend bailed on me and I still had a ton of packing to do. Luckily I was able to find a moving company on craigslist that could come move it all for me for a reasonable rate. This gave me 4 hours to get all the packing I could done. I was able to get a lot done in that 4 hours but, I wasn’t done when the movers arrived so they started loading up the truck as I finished with everything I could. After they unloaded everything in storage I went back and started packing everything that was going to Istanbul with me. Once, that was done there was another loaded that needed to go to storage the next day before my flight. I finally went to sleep – on the floor around 3 am.
Monday (aka leaving day) I woke up about 6:30 am in order to meet the same movers at another location we had items stored at to move it all to the same place. As my luck would have it they didn’t show up at 8 am like agreed and by the time I could get a hold of someone it didn’t leave me with enough time to get it done. Thankfully some good friends of ours handled that for us. My car is packed and ready to go to the airport as I pick up my friend taking me running late of course I make it there about an 1 1/2 before my flight. The ticket line was long so as I notice it getting close to my boarding time I pull an airline employee aside and showed her my confirmation. I get pulled from the line and taken to the ticketing counter where come to find out by no surprise my bags are overweight and I need to pay additional fees at another counter of course. Fees paid I am now running through the airport to get to security and rushed through there once they see my ticket and boarding for my flight has already began. I continue running to the gate and barely make it but, I made it.
Now, I am settled in my seat thinking I have so much to do still that requires wifi once we take off. Those thoughts put me right to sleep before we even leave the gate. Upon preflight check they found a mechanical issue so we sat on the tarmac for about 2 hours – Not that I really noticed as I slept. However, I was a little upset to find out we hadn’t even left yet, it had been 2 hours in a seat, on a plane that already had a 10 hour flight time. We took off not long after that. Once we reached 10,000 feet I started looking for wifi and come to find out there wasn’t any on the plane. Back to sleep I went on and off for the next 10 hours before I arrived in Amsterdam for a 2 hour layover. Thankfully that went by quick and I was off to my final destination – Istanbul.
Now, this is my first time leaving the country on my own. I arrived not knowing a single word of Turkish. There are signs in English but, very few understand it here. I managed to find the Visa line and obtain my Visa I needed in order to enter Turkey. I then proceed to customs to get processed through. The line I chose probably wasn’t the best as the 4 people ahead of me were denied. So, I am thinking to myself as I am seeing this what am I going to do if I get denied? I had no service on my phone to contact my boyfriend – I was terrified. However, I was processed and approved. I am now in Turkey with a new stamp in my passport and my first Visa! I come out of customs hoping to see my boyfriend but, he is nowhere to be found. I find my bags load them onto a cart AFTER finding someone to exchange my USD to Lyra’s to get the cart.
I come out of customs for real this time to a crowd of people looking for my boyfriend and finally see him. I had never been so happy to see him in my life. Rose and Diet Coke in hand – I was no longer in a foreign country alone and said to myself everything that happened the last couple days wasn’t so bad – It was part of the journey. What’s next?
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The Journey Begins

Are you sitting at your desk right now dreaming of being somewhere else or wishing you had your dream job? Or thinking to yourself how much you hated getting out of bed this morning going to work? Well, I was you about a year ago. Let me tell you how it all changed for me.

After leaving my husband in early 2016 I met someone online who didn’t hold me back from chasing my dreams. Who taught me to take chances and risks for things I want out of life. So, after knowing him for two weeks (yes, your read that right) I agreed to take a chance and go to a little island off the coast of Honduras called Utila with him. Now here in lies a problem – I did not have a passport and only had a short time to obtain one. I went online and checked out different express passport services all the while thinking they were a little sketch but, eventually settled on one. I completed the paperwork and got the pictured needed, overnighted it all in on Monday morning praying I would receive a passport back by Friday. The next day I checked numerous times to ensure the required documents made it to their destination and you guessed it once I knew they arrived I began calling. It was a long 3 days and I feel sorry for the person I had direct contact with but, Thursday afternoon I received the email I had been waiting for all week – The UPS tracking number for my passport that was to be delivered the next day by 10 am. I had already arranged a leave from work for 30 days. I was set to go and headed of to Utila with my online guy.

Friday we flew from Charlotte to Houston in his private plane and to say that wasn’t an experience in of its self would be wrong. How many people can say they have flown this way before? After this trip its going to be hard to step foot on a commercial plane. This trip we followed the Mississippi River most of the way. When we were above the clouds to look down and see nothing but, soft fluffy clouds with the sun shinning in on them was beautiful. We arrived to Houston just before the sun was setting which was nothing short of one of the best scenes I could ever imagine. Once we landed I had decided that plane will never go up without me in it again. Saturday we caught a commercial flight to Roatan the flight was nothing special like I already said. However I received my FIRST STAMP in my new passport!

We had only made arrangements to get this far and decided we would make it an adventure when we got to Roatan because there were only a couple ways to make it to Utila from there – chartered boat, Ferry (aka vomit comet) or private plane. Thankfully he knew Spanish and was able to charter us a plane however, I sat there on our bags watching him work the details out thinking to myself what have I just got myself into? He comes back to me and says they are going to take our bags and they have arranged a car for us to go get lunch. I had to straight up ask him at this point – Did you just make some sort of drug deal? He laughed, and said “No, I got us lunch and a private plane”.

Now, let me mention I am not someone who usually tries new things when it comes to food and I had tried researching what type of food was on Utila aside from the obvious  seafood as I don’t like seafood. Come to find out a search was not very useful as I found very little information and just figured I would starve to death. Well, come to find out seafood is actually pretty good and they had some of the freshest fruits and vegetables.

During the 30 days I was there I followed my passion I had always had of being in the water and learned to dive. I obtained my open water, advanced open water and nitrox PADI Certifications. Taking my first breath underwater was a little scary but, the calmness of everything around you makes it magical. It was moments I experienced like this that made me remember what it was like to be me again. Not a Mother, not a Wife, not an Accountant, but, ME! I met some of the most mazing people – someone was always coming or going and they all had different stories to tell. The month flew by and it was time for me to say good bye to everyone I had met on the island and head back home to reality. I cried the entire 12 hours home.

So, you’re wondering what happen to my dream job aren’t you? Well, I lasted a week at home before I booked a return ticket to Utila. Walking out of the office at 5:30 that Friday afternoon I had never in my life felt more free. I thought I would be a huge wreck. How am I going to pay all my bills and what about insurance and this and that – I wasn’t. I was finally free of the corporate world and what I had always been taught I had to do.

Once I arrived back in Utila my online guy  welcomed me back with open arms along with everyone I had said goodbye to a week prior. I completed my rescue course and went on and then completed Dive Master. Neither of which is a small feat in life. I completed the rescue course in 3 days. To think I learned how to save someone who is drowning. A person who is unresponsive underwater not to mention being able to find someone who was lost underwater. I knocked out Dive Master in 14 days which is normally a 30 day course. This required me to be on boats and in the water from sun up to sun down everyday. However, watching others take their first breath underwater is nothing short of a great experience. Knowing I can help others obtain the dream I had just 2 months prior. Now, I have the option to teach other how amazing that underwater world really is. What I didn’t realize was happening was I had learned so much about myself in those three months that I wanted to continue my journey onto other places and see and experience things I had only read about in books or heard stories of from others.

Over the past year I have only added a couple more stamps to my passport but, I promise the things I am seeing and experiencing are stories you want to hear about. Living the news as it happens as opposed to listening to it. Today for example, the Russian warship that is setting out to destroy the US Navy Destroyers that launched the airstrike on Syria passed by us in the Bosphorus strait as we were sitting in the plaza having lunch. So, I invite you to go on this journey with me as I am currently in Istanbul with so much I want to share and hopefully encourage others to do the same as me. Travel the world and see it for what it really is – AMAZING!

Now, this journey isn’t free so I have created a site on Patreon.com/TrappedInNeverland   in order to help contribute to this journey while I will post a lot on here there will be more posted on Patreon.com/TrappedInNeverland You also, receive rewards for following me on my journey so its a win for all of us.

Risk Vs. Reward