Sunday, September 11, 2016

Orlando Trip

Another trip I took a couple of years ago was one to Orlando. It was a ton of fun. I went with three of my friends, and we went to go to Disney World and Universal in Florida!

Here are some of the photos from that trip.

Here's part of Animal Kingdom. I loved the ride Expedition Everest. There was also a safari ride that was pretty cool, and the water ride really soaked me to the bone! It was kind of fun. It was sprinkling rain this day, but it didn't affect us too much because the rain happened when we were on the safari ride.

We also went to Epcot. They were having their International Garden and Flower Festival when we were there, and it was AMAZING.

I was so impressed with all that they could do with flowers, leaves, and bushes.

I enjoyed the rides, as well, but I'd say Epcot is less of a ride place and more of a walking around and looking at stuff place. The ride Maelstrom was cool, but I can definitely understand why they refitted it for Frozen. It was begging to be redone.

I guess I didn't take any photos of Hollywood Studios that I felt like including. They were having a Star Wars month or something, so we saw Darth Vader, Storm Troopers, and even some of the characters from The Clone Wars. I thought that was pretty cool. Two thumbs up for the Star Wars cupcakes. I also really enjoyed the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. And they had like an Indiana Jones show with special effects that I really enjoyed, as well. We saw the stage production of Beauty and the Beast. I'm not sure why, but I didn't really like it. It might have been the costumes, or maybe it was because it was full of gigantic stuffed non-people. It just creeped me out a little.

We also went to Magic Kingdom. We went there every day. I loved it, of course. We went the week before they opened the Seven Dwarfs ride, so we didn't get to go on it. I think we would have been able to go on it, had we actually stayed on Disney properties. Ah well.

My feet were absolutely killing me, even by the close of day two. The third day we went on the People Mover so much, just because our feet hurt us so badly. We needed to sit a little bit more than we did. I would go back to the hotel and put my feet up every night, but they were still killing me.

After Disneyland we took a day off and went to church and then dropped by the temple.

Then we went to the beach and sat on it. My friend who lived in Jacksonville met us there, and we had a nice relaxing day.

Monday and Tuesday we went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. It was super fun. I am such a geek about Harry Potter. I loved it! Once again we were there just before they opened Diagon Alley, but we were able to visit Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. They did an amazing job with the architecture!

I am also a geek about The Simpsons, so I was totally looking forward to going to the Simpsons portion of the park. I loved going to the Kwik-E-Mart and Krusty Burger and to all of the rides. I loved the park and my experience. I said all of The Simpsons geeky things to the employees, and I feel like they really should employ people who are geeks about The Simpsons. I was surprised there weren't very many geeks working there. I felt like they completely missed my Bort joke, my request for an all-syrup squishee, and I'm pretty sure if I had requested a partially-gelatinated non-dairy gum-based beverage, they would have had no idea what I was talking about.

 But at least they had The Ribwich.

Anyway, the trip was amazing and awesome. I totally recommend it to anyone who is interested in that kind of trip. My feet completely killed me, but I still loved it! I could definitely go again to both Disney World and Universal Studios.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

This was the final stop on our trip. I had eaten some sketchy chicken in the airport, and I started to feel sick. I'm not sure if it was the chicken or something else, but I really started to feel under the weather the day we got there. And I felt sick for months afterward, actually. It was enough that I went to the doctor and had all kinds of tests that came back telling me nothing. After about six months or so I finally felt normalish again. 2013 was the year of unhealthiness for me. I'm glad that's over.


This is the bed where I ended up sleeping a lot. I seriously slept a lot because I was feeling so sick. We stayed at Roxanne's parents' apartment. They were so nice to let me sleep there.

Other than sleeping, we walked a lot. We walked a lot around the city.


On any normal day I would have been all about riding this, but I just didn't feel up to it. Looks cool, though!


We also saw a bunch of statues.

And went to parks. We even ran into missionaries in this one.

There was even a church in the middle of this park. I thought that was pretty cool.

And there were a lot of tanks and missiles around. Here are some of the photos.

Here's the inside of a school building. I thought it looked pretty cool. We don't have very many old structures where I live, so it's cool to see these styles.

 And of course there were the potato chip flavors. It seems like a lot of countries have crab-flavored chips. I guess it's not that popular in the U.S. because I've never seen it here, but I've seen it in plenty of other countries. I also enjoyed that they have bacon-flavored chips!


And McDonald's had some different stuff, too. They had some pita-wrap-type stuff. I didn't look too closely. Food was unappetizing to me at this point, so I can't tell you much about the food.

One of my favorite experiences was going to a baptism and then going to church the next day. When we walked into church I thought that there was a girl that was staring at me and looked kind of familiar. After sacrament meeting she came up to talk to me, and it turned out that we did know each other! We went to the same university, and she was friends with my sister and other friends. She was there in Ukraine with her husband to adopt a child. It's crazy what a small world the church is. It's amazing how many times I have run into people I know at church in other countries.

I could go back to Ukraine. I was glad to go, and it seemed pretty cool, but unfortunately, I really wasn't feeling well at all while we were there, and that's too bad. I wondered if it could have been the yogurt I ate after arriving? I'm just glad I finally started feeling better. It had me worried for a while. I learned that I should take a little more time to plan my vacations and make sure I'm preparing myself sufficiently for any medical needs that could arise. I didn't even look to see if I should take any medications prior to going. When we went to Tanzania, we went to the health department and consulted with them and made sure we took vaccinations and suggested medications. I should have done this on this trip, as well.

The entire trip was fun, and I was glad to continue my adventures in the world!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Istanbul or Constantinople?

I'm going to try and catch up with photos from some of my vacations that I never uploaded. The last one I did was when I went to Tbilisi, Georgia in 2013. These are from that trip, as well, only this is the part when we went to Turkey!

We went during Ramadan, so the place was pretty festive. I thought Istanbul was really cool. I decided that visiting Istanbul was like going to a Muslim Disneyland! Why would I say this? It's because there were a lot of lines to go to the attractions (mosques), families were milling around, they had little carts that were selling food all around (corn on the cob was the most interesting to me), shops, tickets into the attractions that were like unto fast passes, and even light shows!

Here are some of the photos.

This is the Hagia Sophia. It was originally a Greek Orthodox Christian Basilica, but then it was converted into an Ottoman mosque.

It is so interesting because you can tell and see the Christian roots inside, as well as the conversion to the mosque.

Inside it, as well, they have the spot where the Byzantine Emperors were coronated.

Here is the Blue Mosque.

 It was beautiful inside.

Here's another mosque that was pretty cool. I can't remember what this one was called, though.

 The Blue Mosque is by Sultanahmet Square, where there was a suicide bombing earlier this year that killed 13 tourists. It's really sad, and I think it's terrible that people are willing to commit such terrible acts to try to manipulate people into a political position. Here is the Obelisk of Theodosius. It's in that square. The square used to be a Hippodrome (sporting arena) when Istanbul was Constantinople. It was originally built by the Temple of Karnak, which I saw on my previous trip to Egypt.

There's also a walled obelisk there. I think this is it. 

This is the Serpent Column. It was a bronze pillar that was also at the Hippodrome. Back then it had a serpent head.

 Also around that same area was a park and a fountain. Like mentioned before, we were there during Ramadan, and one night they had some festivities going on there. It was packed with people. The night life around Sultanahmet Square was pretty and festive.

This one reminded me of the grass areas at Disneyland.

Maybe the Blue Mosque is like the castles at Disneyland?

And these are like the light and water shows?

And here are some shops.

I love the Christmas lights!

We also happened upon the Basilica Cistern. It was pretty cool. There were fish in it.

And Medusa's head holding up some pillars.

This cistern was in the Bond movie "From Russia with Love." I'm sure you wanted to know that.

Not too far from the cistern was Topkapi Palace. We saw part of it, and the part we saw was pretty awesome. I loved all of the mosaics. They were so cool

And then we hung out in a park for a bit. We walked so much, and I got tired sometimes. Here were some bridges. I love bridges!

 One of the most famous places in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar. Some guy... I can't remember if it was like the guy at the front desk of the hotel or one of our waiters asked Roxanne and me if we wanted to go to his house for one of the Ramadan meals. We said no because we wanted to go to bed so we could go to the bazaar in the morning. Well, duh... since it was Ramadan, pretty much almost every place was closed the day that we tried, including the bazaar. This is the closed bazaar. Sadness.

It's okay, though! We went a couple of other days and times! This is what it looks like normally.


We walked up and down the streets so much. This is what I saw pretty much every day.

 One time I was walking by with Roxanne and her dad, and one of the merchants basically wanted to buy me off of them because I guess he thought they were my parents. It was likely some kind of foolish flattery to get our attention so we would buy stuff from the guy, but it really backfired because it offended Roxanne because seriously, she is not married to her dad, and she is definitely not old enough to be my mom!

Oh! The food! I thought the food was super good! This was my favorite. They were some kind of dumplings/pasta with a yogurty sauce or something. Delicious!

And here are the chips that I always try to check out for the flavors! I know I tried some, but I can't remember what the flavors were. There was probably some kind of yogurt herb one. Maybe kind of like tzatziki but not. Or maybe a kebab. The actual kebab we had was super delicious.

And McDonalds had a McTurco, which is a flatbread sandwich. They also had a walk-through window outside on the street, instead of a drive-through window. I got ice cream from there regularly. Or the Burger King one. They both had delicious ice cream, and I got hot walking so much. Whenever I'd buy one it seemed to start a cascade of people getting the cones. They should have paid me for doing such a great job of advertising their ice cream everyday.

 But my favorite thing about Burger King is that they delivered. We totally ate at the one by the airport on our layover through Istanbul on the way home, and there were dudes on bikes that would take and deliver the burger orders. I was like, AWESOME!

One thing that was interesting about when we were eating is that sometimes old artifacts were all around us, even while we were eating!


They have so many artifacts, they have no idea what to do with them. We even saw a bunch just chilling down an alleyway at the side of a building, like people didn't know what on earth to do with this garbage. I wanted to volunteer to bring some of it back to the states. I'm sure I could find a museum in the U.S. that wouldn't mind an exhibit like that. Basically, we saw oodles of this type of stuff on the trip.


I should say that one of my most favorite places I went to was the Great Palace Mosaic Museum. It was pretty awesome. It just had a bunch of stuff like this, but I really liked it.


 Oh, I forget. We went on a few tours. We went on a water tour where we were able to see things like this and a lot of the houses on the shore. I'm sure notable people lived in them, but let's be honest. I didn't care who lived in those houses.

We were also able to go to on a bus tour that went from the Europe part of the city into the Asia part of the city. That was cool. It made it so I've been to five continents with Roxanne, which I think is pretty cool. We also went by Taksim Square where there were a bunch of protests at the time. It seems like there's always some kind of political turmoil whenever I travel. It makes the travel difficult. I felt happy that I was just on a bus, but we saw people being put into police vans or something. I'm starting to feel like my travel plans are cursed. I think this was Taksim Square, anyway. The protestors are not pictured.

And finally we went up a hill and got to take a fantastic photo of part of Istanbul at sunset.

It was beautiful. The trip was fantastic. I hope that Turkey can become a bit safer and more politically secure so tourists can feel more comfortable there. It was a great stop on the trip!