Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been almost 2 months since I've update this. I won't apologize for not updating it more regularly. Things have been busy and I've procrastinated. Instead I'll tell you about the last few weeks and all of the things that we have been up to. Mostly we have been busy with games, playing up to 3 a week. We usually alternate home and away so there has been quite a few trips back and forth to Istanbul as well as Ankara and Cannakle. The team is 6-3 on the season with a couple of 5 set thrillers. The league is so tough and every game has been a battle for us. Even if we won a game in 4 sets it has gone into extra points or only separated by 2 points each set.

League started off with 3-2 win vs Illerbankasi in Ankara. Then we played Yesilyurt and won 3-1. After we went to Istanbul to play Fenerbache and lost a close match in straight sets. We got our first 3 set win against Besiktas at home, which made the fans and president happy. At Cannakle we won in 5 and then won in 4 vs Saryier at home. We were then handed two losses in a row from Galatasary and Bursa Nilfer but got back on track this past Saturday with a 3-1 win vs Bursa Bld. Next we head to Istanbul to take on Eczacibasi on Sunday and then our final home game of the first half of season vs Vakifbank.

Normally we fly to games, there are 7 teams in Istanbul alone and it's only an hour and a half flight to get there. Our longest road trip of the season was to Cannakle. We took a plane from Trabzon to Istanbul then drove on a bus for 5 hours to catch a ferry and another bus ride to make it to our hotel. Although it was the longest trip of season it was nothing like the 24+ hour train rides that I took in Russia to travel for a league game last year. We all were thrilled to pull out a 5 set victory in Cannakle and then head home the next day.

We are currently tied for 5th place in the league with 16 points. Like I said we have 2 games left against the number 2 and 3 teams in the league and we are hoping to take some points off of them before we get a break for Christmas and the New Year. Kyle and I are so excited to be able to go to Colorado for Christmas time this year. It's been 4 years since we have been home for the holidays. I am looking forward to recharging and spending time with both mine and Kyle's family.

We haven't had a chance to do much exploring since we have had lots of games but we are lucky and the team has allowed for Kyle to travel to many of the away games. He made the trek with us to Cannakle and several trips to Istanbul. I loving having him in the stands both at home and when we are away.

Several of my teammates (shout out to Damla, Asli and Cansu!!!) have been great about taking us to local restaurants including a restaurant that has been in operation since 1860's. They serve rice pilaf, stewed meat and beans in tomato sauce. Of course for dessert they serve baklava and ├žay. We have gone there at least once a week because the flavor and taste is just that good. We also have found a restaurant that serves semi traditional American food but they also have a great Turkish style breakfast which we enjoy on occasion. We have taken several walks around town including the 5 minutes it takes to walk to the seaside from our apartment. I have so enjoyed the warm weather that we have had for the past weeks and I am not missing my parka from last year at all. We have been in the 60's all of October and November and have just recently dipped into the 50's in December.

One night that was particularly memorable was when we were invited to my coaches house for dinner made by his wife and traditional music played by coach. My teammate Judith plays the guitar and she brought it along to try and play with our coach which he throughly enjoyed. Her brother was visiting at the time and he also played the guitar so he could play as well. The food was all hand made and delicious. Several salads and potatoes cooked different ways. Puff pasteries stuffed with veggies or cheese and fresh fruit for dessert.

Another fun night we had away from volleyball was cooking for some teammates for Thanksgiving. Kyle and I cooked stuffing, mashed potatoes, crispy chicken, fresh veggies and basil carrots. Judith made homemade pumpkin soup and a delicious death by chocolate double layer cake. We had 7 of us all together in my apartment and had a great time watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade vis Slingbox. Even though it wasn't the most traditional of dinners the girls really enjoyed it and liked celebrating a very traditional American holiday with us.

For the week coming up we have lots of practice, lifting and video. We will travel to Istanbul on Saturday and then play Eczacibasi on Sunday. I'm looking forward to seeing Jordan Larson Burbach this weekend as she plays for Eczacibasi. It's always great to see another American on the other side of the net. After that we will travel home and our last game will be on December 20th. After that game we will start our travel home and hopefully be in Colorado by the afternoon of the 21st.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family friends and good food. Kyle and I missed being with our families but we are loving all of the time that we have together and all of the adventures that we have had this season so far.

Top Left: Enjoying Starbucks in Istanbul with my teammates. Left: The team gave Kyle a polo. He is officially part of the team. Right: On the Black Sea beach in Istanbul at a preseason tournament

 Left: Yoga on the lawn at a hotel in Istanbul before a match. Enjoying the sunshine. Right: Yimei and I, pregame selfie ritual.

 Gettting my serve on.

 Top and bottom are a pictures around our apartment in Trabzon. Only a 5 min walk to the seaside!

 Top: TV match vs Fenerbache. Left: Asli birthday dinner with Cansu, me and Damla. Right: Leaving a note at our favorite pilaf restaurant in town.

 Top: Coach showing Judith his traditional turkish guitar. Left: Judith and her brother at our music filled dinner. Right: Cay (tea) and pasta (cake) for dessert.
 Left: Judith, Yimei and me. Right: Tugce, me and Asli.

 Me, Asli and Damla.
  Above Traditional and below Awkward team photos
 Me and my main squeeze.