Monthly Archives: July 2015

Chile redux, Part 1

I didn’t intend to return so soon South America. Only 8 months prior Donna and I had kicked off the Radical Sabbatical by spending a month in Argentina and then I spent 2 weeks in Chile visiting my cousin and chasing surf and snow while Donna went to Shanghai to brush up on her Mandarin.  My short time in Chile was awesome and I knew I’d return someday, but I never would’ve guessed how quickly this vague resolve would actually happen. The impetus was that one morning, while I was at Donna’s house in Fontainebleau after coming back from The Alps, I received a call from my college friend Brant Chlebowski. He told me he was heading to Chile for a weeklong surf trip followed by another week in Rapa Nui (aka Easter Island), where his Chilean friend Patricio del Sol, whom I also vaguely knew from UCSD computer science days, would be getting married. Brant wanted me to come along on the surf trip and be his +1 at the Rapa Nui wedding. After an initial hesitation that was extinguished by Brant sending me a YouTube link of a live performance of Bob Marley’s Wake Up and Live, I pulled the trigger. It was a gooooood decision!

 

Traveling with Brant meant this would be a proper surf trip. Yes, there was a wedding to attend in Rapa Nui that would certainly be good times, but we were really excited to surf long Chilean left-hand pointbreaks and sample the raw power of Rapa Nui. My previous trip to Chile left me with good foundation of surf knowledge that I hoped to translate on this trip into exploring more locations while connecting with better swell and conditions during the Chilean autumn. I had learned on my previous trip to Chile that March, April & May is often the best time for surf in the country, so although it felt weird heading back to Chile after only having been there 6 months prior, it also felt like the smart move for scoring good surf. And then there was the utter unknown beckoning me to go to Rapa Nui. I feel like Rapa Nui, with its mythical monoliths and intriguing history, is one of those locations that most people would like to visit, but never end up actually making the trip to. It’s “on the list” but then other places take precedence. In-the-know surfers are further intrigued by photos of Hawaiian style juice meeting amazing – and obviously dangerous – lava rock reefs and points, epitomized by videos you can find on the Internet of the likes of Laird Hamilton, Kohl Christenson and Ramon Navarro scoring amazing waves.  Surfline has a “Best Bet” from May 2013 with some good info and photos. The funny thing is that for me was a friend-of-a-friend’s wedding that nudged me into this epic surf trip!

 

Brant and I quickly found our rhythm. We met each other at the airport in Dallas over beers and then got on the plane to Santiago. Once in Santiago we headed to the Wicked Campervan rental lot and were dialed into “Elvis”, which would be our wheels and home for the next week. For ~$90 per day we’d procured a Mitsubishi L300 converted into a campervan, provisioned for adventure and topped-off with obnoxious paintings of Elvis all over both sides. This would ensure that every Chilean local would know we were foreigners, not exactly what you want when trying to discreetly surf amazing waves! Elvis is what the van Donna and I rented in New Zealand should’ve been: so much bigger on the inside that all of our surfboards, 7 in total, would fit inside while on the road and so that two grown men could both sleep inside without being too close for comfort.

Elvis, the Wicked Campervan

Elvis, the Wicked Campervan

Chile part 1-14

Elvis’ other side. A very conspicuous surf exploration vehicle.  Note the turf matts, which were an awesome addition brought by Brant.

 

As soon as we had our wheels we hit the road for Pichilemu and arrived in time for an evening session at Punta Lobos. There wasn’t much swell, but the waves were fun and I could already see that the sand was much better than when I was there the previous September. Back then the only part of Punta Lobos that was working was the Diamonte section on the inside of the points, but on this day the waves were breaking much closer to Los Morros, the two iconic hump-shaped rocks at the top of the point, in the Mirador section. We stayed in a hostel that evening (not yet ready to commit to van life, I guess) and got a little bit of a late start on the road the next day.

Surfers, it’s worth it to check out this Surfline Spot Check on Punta Lobos, narrated by none other than Ramon Navarro.

Pichilemu, with the Mirador section small but working

Punta Lobos

Brant and two of the hostel peeps

Brant and two of the hostel peeps

 

The plan all along was to head south of Pichilemu to the Promised Land of Chilean surfing. This is what I love most about surf trips: the adventure of exploration and reward that constitutes searching for, finding and surfing awesome new locations. In order to respect the Chilean locals of the Promised Land – and to not ruin the sense of adventure for those who want to live it as much as possible themselves – I’m not going to use any actual place or wave names in my writing here. This blog post is, after-all, bound for the Internet at large. Maybe I’ll drop a clue here an there for fun, but I definitely don’t want to be “that guy” who puts up photos of waves and then spells out exactly what they are called and where they are. In some respects I imagine Chile being a little like California was 50 years ago and we should try to preserve it that way for as long as possible.   If you really want some info, you can give me a call, but don’t plan on met telling you any good info unless you already have a plane ticket booked!

 

The first spot we found I’ll call Penis. When Brant and I surfed it late during the afternoon of our second day after a few hours on the road we were the only ones out. The waves were fun (nothing epic by the standards to come) but we were frothing so hard on the session we surfed into the dark. On my last wave it was basically dark and I somehow managed to get axed by the lip and blown-up by the impact. I kneed myself in the nose pretty hard, and double-buckled my brand new 5’6” Hypto Crypto! What a bummer, this board was made for fast, powerful pointbreaks and it was gone on the second day of my trip to Chile!   I’m now skeptical that Hayden’s “Future Flex” technology really results in any kind of “stronger” board.

Brant checking the wave we called "Penis"

Brant checking the wave we called “Penis”

Getting suited up for a session at Penis

Getting suited up for a session at Penis.  This would be the 3rd and final session my Hypto Crypto would experience.

Eventually I gave away the buckled Hypto to the guy running the campsite, who I imagined would make sure it wound up in the right hands of a local grom

Eventually I gave away the buckled Hypto to the guy running the campsite, who I imagined would make sure it wound up in the right hands of a local grom

 

After the session we had some bomb empanadas right by the where we surfed and then continued south in the night. We ended up campeing off on the side of the road after another hour or so of driving. Our first night of man-cramming into Elvis also resulted in the consumption of half a bottle of pisco and two good friends catching up on life. Good times.

 

For the next 4 days we hung out in the Promised Land and surfed 4 different pointbreaks. Sometimes we were the only ones out! The swell was not big, ranging from 2-3m of 14 to 16s energy, but this was more than enough for plenty of pointbreak fun. We roadside camped at first but eventually found a paid campground with bathrooms right by a point that seemed to have better sand and pick up more swell than the other spots.

Left Pointbreak

Left Pointbreak

Left pointbreak

Left pointbreak

Left pointbreak

Left pointbreak

Late evening session

Late evening session

La Joya del Mar is a nice hotel run by a Californian and his wife.  If you head down south, its worth checking this spot out for a good meal, or if you wanna drag your lady down to southern Chile, I highly recommend staying here

La Joya del Mar is a nice hotel run by a Californian and his wife. If you head down south, its worth checking this spot out for a good meal, or if you wanna drag your lady down to southern Chile, I highly recommend staying here

This is why I highly recommend staying at La Joya del Mar if you're coming to surf Chile with your lady

This is why I highly recommend staying at La Joya del Mar if you’re coming to surf Chile with your lady.  The rooms are just as nice. And yes, that’s a left pointbreak off in the distance.

Brant knows how to check a surf spot like a sniper

Brant knows how to check a surf spot like a sniper

Left pointbreak

Left pointbreak

My memory of the days down south kinda blend together and consisted of the usual camp/surf routine. We’d wake up and always make coffee first thing. Then check the surf. Then we’d make some breakfast, usually eggs with bread, to get fueled up for the surf session. Then we’d surf for 2 or 3 hours. Then we’d recharge the batteries with some lunch and then drive around checking more surf spots in order to nail down where we’d surf the afternoon session. Perhaps at some point we’d need to run an errand or two, which pretty much was either picking up more beer & food at the grocery store or fueling up the van. Then we’d surf the afternoon/evening session. We’d make some kind of dinner, usually pasta and drinks some Chilean red wine or beer. Exhaustion would lead to an early crash out in the van. Rinse and repeat the next day. This is the stuff real surf trips are made of!

Morning surf check, Brant with coffee in hand

Morning surf check, Brant with coffee in hand

Van camping!

Van camping!

Early morning sunrise going off

Early morning sunrise going off

Brant

Brant

Selfie

Selfie; taking photos in between laps

Chilean getting barreled

Chilean getting barreled

Brant

Brant

Brandon

Brandon

Brandon, hoping for the barrel

Brandon, hitting the gas

 

Eventually we had to start making our way north in order to get back to Santiago for the flight to Rapa Nui. On the way through we did have a good session at Punta Lobos, it was breaking at the Morros and both Brant and I got some long rides and did a few laps. This was our first experience with the complicated and sketchy process of paddling out at Lobos when its bigger: you have to jump off the tip of the rocks, which means perfectly timing your dash and leap so as not to get smashed into reef by the incoming waves.

On the drive back north, we chanced upon an amazing sunrise while atop driving on a dirt road atop a mountain ridge

On the drive back north, we chanced upon an amazing sunrise while atop driving on a dirt road atop a mountain ridge.

While the sun was rising, the clouds hung low in the valleys.

While the sun was rising, the clouds hung low in the valleys.

Boys will be boys

Boys will be boys

no comment

no comment

Posing in front of the mural at the Wicked Vans site in Santiago

Posing in front of the mural at the Wicked Vans site in Santiago

We ended up staying at a hostel for one evening in Santiago because our Rapa Nui flight left early the next morning. We checked out the bar scene in the Avenida Italia district on a random Tuesday night and it was pretty dead. Our alarms went off at like 5am and we made our way to the airport. Rapa Nui awaited…

 

[fast forward to after Brant and I returned from Rapa Nui, 3-weeks later… Brant had 2 more days and we went to go surf some more. I’m including these couple of days in this blog post because they take place back in Chile with Brant.]

 

We got back from Rapa Nui and wasted no time renting a car so we could go on a mini road trip to score a few more waves before Brant had to leave Chile for good two days later. The leftovers of the same swell we’d surfed in Rapa Nui were lingering around and we hoped to get the last of ‘em. We managed to rent a burley Dodge Durango right from the airport and stayed in the Bellavista Hostel in Santiago that night, which is a spot I’d recommend because the Bellavista neighborhood is probably the spot to stay in Santiago.

 

Early the next morning we hit the road and went to check on a wave somewhere north of Pichilemu that I’d surfed on my previous trip to Chile (again, see Surf and Snow in Chile). The wind was up in a bad way and the swell was probably too small for the wave anyway, so we drove a bit south to a well known but somewhat hard to find pointbreak also north of Pichilemu. The locals in this area smartly deface the signs and even swap them out to send gringos like us on wild goose chases on dirt roads through the forest, and we definitely took some wrong turns before we found what we were looking for!

Checking blown out surf somewhere north of Pichilemu

Brant, looking more grizzled and checking blown out surf somewhere north of Pichilemu

The locals ensure that you won't get too much help from the signage

The locals ensure that you won’t get too much help from the signage

We took a wrong turn and wound up in this spot, which was definitely not the pointbreak we were looking for but was beautiful nonetheless, so we enjoyed a beer before heading onward in our search

We took a wrong turn and wound up in this spot, which was definitely not the pointbreak we were looking for but was beautiful nonetheless, so we enjoyed a beer before heading onward in our search

 

It was late on a Sunday afternoon and most of the Santiago weekend warriors had packed it up to head back to Santiago for the work week, so the wave was relatively un-crowded and still showing good 6-8’ sets every 15 minutes or so; these were the leftovers of the big swell we’d seen in Rapa Nui. I surfed Brant’s 7’2” as a single-fin and it was a great call.   My second wave was a proper set and I took it all the way to the beach. I measured the length of the ride on Google Earth and I estimate it was about 700 meters!

 

Even though the sun had already set, I ran back to the top of the point and paddled out again. It was pretty much dark by the time I got into position to wait for a set. It got dark and I turned to paddle in and only to behold a most beautiful sight: on this clear night the full moon was just beginning to rise over the mountains directly behind the wave. The moon was bright and as it rose to higher to become fully visible the whole night seemed to glow. I knew that catching a wave would be no problem now, especially since the moon was directly down the line of the wave and would illuminate the wave face perfectly as I surfed. I waited and waited and eventually another set came. The drop would be the hardest part in the dark, but the bigger board served me well and I stroked in and rode one of the most unique and mystical waves of my life, again taking it all the way to the beach. The combination of a single fin, the full moon illuminating the wave, and the fact that the wave itself was an overhead, reeling and very long Chilean left in glassy conditions was surreal!

 

I came back to the beach to find Brant jumping up and down to stay warm by the car; I’d had the key to the Durango and he’d gotten out before the moon rose. I was frothing from my moonlit night wave and told him we had to get back out there for a night session. So we paddled back out, the full moon subtly illuminating our session for another 45 minutes!

 

We stayed in the nearby town and the next morning went back to the point. The swell had dropped considerably, but the waves looked super fun for a longboard session. Fortunately there’s a surf shack that rents boards and they had some logs for Brant and I. There was a friendly local hanging out named Filipe who used my camera to take photos and videos of Brant and I while we surfed, then I came in, traded the board for the camera and took some photos myself. It was a super fun mid-morning session and the day was gorgeous, a great way for Brant to end his trip.

Morning coffee at the hostel in the nearby town

Morning coffee at the hostel in the nearby town

 

One of the beachside locals

One of the beachside locals

Log-tacular left pointbreak

Log-tacular left pointbreak

Another local

Another local

Brandon

Brandon

Brant

Brant

Felipe running with his dog to go get some fun ones on the point

Felipe running with his dog to go get some fun ones

One one hand, you have a left point. On the other hand, another left point.

One one hand, you have a left point. On the other hand, another left point.

Brant left Chile on Monday, May 4. We cruised from the coast back to the Bellavista Hostel in Santiago and got cleaned up, then went for dinner at Uncle Fletch’s, which was conveniently right next door to the hostel.   The burgers we had were top notch, the recommendation from to go there Sam was spot-on: Uncle Fletch’s probably has the best burgers in Santiago. Also Brant was stoked that Felipe, Pato’s brother, cruised by and had a beer with us before he had to go. It was a good send off. I drove Brant to the airport and we killed some time having a pisco sours before he had to head through security to his gate. It was a great trip, a 2-weeker that turned into a month and we were both very stoked. As we said goodbye I remembered the e-mail from Brant that included a link to Marley’s Wake up and Live, an e-mail that had ultimately led me to pull the trigger on buying my plane tickets. My last words to Brant were: “We lived”; indeed we had.

Brant outside the best hamburger spot in Santiago: Uncle Fletch's

Brant outside the best hamburger spot in Santiago: Uncle Fletch’s

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Categories: Chile, Pichilemu, Promised Land | 1 Comment

Istanbul Engagement

Donna had wanted to visit Istanbul for some time so she made plans for a long weekend getaway as soon as I returned from the Alps. At this point I had something very important planned, so it was rather convenient that Donna wanted a romantic getaway trip to an amazing city…

 

The travel to Istanbul was uneventful, save for the fact that I was harboring a rather expense item in my backpack and I was a little bit worried I might get asked questions about it, which could ruin the surprise, or worse that I might have to deal with customs over ‘importing’ an expense item. In the end it was nothing was noticed though!

 

We arrived late on Friday night. Our AirBnB host, Mert, was super cool and was waiting at his apartment a little after midnight when we finally got dropped at his place. Mert was very accommodating and he had a simple apartment right in the heart of a part of Istanbul called Beyoglu, the center of which is Taksim Square. Donna’s Turkish friends at INSEAD recommended this neighborhood and it really was an awesome area to stay. There were copious little shops of all kinds, like quaint bookstores and antique dealers, as well as many cafes, bars, and in general a very bohemian and youthful vibe. Taksim is definitely the spot to plant oneself for a stay in Istanbul.

 

Our first day in Turkey was kind of gloomy and drizzly but we made the most of it. We started off by heading over to Ortakoy where we had a Turkish breakfast at the House Café. Just outside was the beautiful Ortakoy Mosque, the first of many amazing mosques that I’d see in Istanbul. After breakfast we walked along the main boulevard south towards the Karakoy part of town with the plan to check out the Museum of Modern Art.   Along the way we happened to pass the Dolmabahçe Palace, which was built in the mid 1800s as the primary residence and place of business for the Ottoman Sultans and their families. The Sultans occupied it until the Turkish independence in the 1920s and then Atatürk, the first president of Turkey, lived there. Part of the tour had us walk through the room where Atatürk passed away. The Palace was amazingly ornate, with gold plating everywhere, elaborate Turkish rugs, and a generally Baroque style. We were not permitted to take photos inside, but I managed to sneak a few anyway.

 

Donna experiencing her first Turkish breakfast

Donna experiencing her first Turkish breakfast

Brandon and Turkish tea

Brandon and Turkish tea

Ortakoy Mosque

Ortakoy Mosque

Brandon in front of the Ortakoy Mosque

Brandon in front of the Ortakoy Mosque

Walla, Dolmabahçe Palace

Walla, Dolmabahçe Palace

Sneaking a photo of the grand staircase

Sneaking a photo of the grand staircase

One of the rooms where the Sultans would meet with foreign dignitaries

One of the rooms where the Sultans would meet with foreign dignitaries

Front and center view of the Dolmabahçe Palace

Front and center view of the Dolmabahçe Palace.  It’s way, way longer than it looks from this vantage point.

 

We eventually made it to the Museum of Modern Art, but it was closing soon so we just hung out and had a small meal at the restaurant. The museum has a fantastic vista over the water, where we could see the Asia side of Istanbul across the river to the east and then look south to Old Historic Istanbul, where the Grand Bazaar, the Old Palace, and the Blue Mosque are located.

Bosphorus Straight selfie, taken from the balcony behind the restaurant of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Bosphorus Straight selfie, taken from the balcony behind the restaurant of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.  Behind us is Old Istanbul.

 

That evening we chilled out and explored Taksim. Donna was very interested in buying various kinds of baklava and I dragged her to a hookah bar. It was a Saturday night and the place was buzzing with people shopping, drinking at cafes and bars, and enjoying the nightlife.

 

Not exactly stoked on hookah, but you gotta try it when in Istanbul

Not exactly stoked on hookah, but you gotta try it when in Istanbul

A tower of caramel sugar dripping baklava

A tower of caramel sugar dripping baklava

 

I highly recommend touring much of Istanbul on foot. We ended up walking almost everywhere for our two full days in town and it was a great call. There is also a subway for longer transits and taxis aren’t that expensive either, but we covered most the ground on foot and were rewarded by happen-chancing upon so many random and interesting places!

 

Along Beyoglu's famous Istiklal Street I snapped this  photo

Along Beyoglu’s famous Istiklal Street I snapped this photo

I'm not sure what that instrument is, but this guy along Istiklal Street was playing it rather well

I’m not sure what that instrument is, but this guy along Istiklal Street was playing it rather well

Istanbul is a city of many cats.  This guy is obviously a feline lover

Istanbul is a city of many cats. This guy is obviously a feline lover

 

Sunday was the day. The sky was clear and blue and our plan was to head to the old part of Istanbul and see the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque. I knew what I had to do, so I discreetly threw the expensive box inside my backpack and kind of made sure it was down toward the bottom where it would be hardly noticed. We figured out the subway system and emerged about a 45-minute walk from the Grand Bazaar. What we didn’t realize was that the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, so we got skunked from seeing it! No worries, though, plenty more to see.

 

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Lots of street vendors in the Old Istanbul area. I like this unique shot of Donna watching a guy blowing hundreds of little bubbles.

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Tracking down the Grand Bazaar. Unfortunately, we learned it is closed on Sundays!

 

We continued on foot and had a small bite to eat and a beer in the sun near the Blue Mosque. Originally we tried a different café a little closer to the mosque but they didn’t serve alcohol at that spot; I had almost forgot that alcohol is against proper Muslim rules! We thought about going into the Hagia Sofia, which is right across from the Blue Mosque, but there was a long line and learned that is was actually a museum now (and before that was a Christian church and before that a mosque… only Istanbul!) Hmm, onward to the Blue Mosque where we did the walking tour through it. There was a live prayer going on and this was my first mosque experience.

Our first sighting of the Blue Mosque, which was the only mosque I saw in Istanbul which had 6 minarets (the towers you see).  One of them on the Blue Mosque was under construction while we were there, though

Our first sighting of the Blue Mosque, which was the only mosque I saw in Istanbul which had 6 minarets (these are the thin towers you see). One of them on the Blue Mosque was under construction while we were there, though hence you only see 5 in this photo

Having a beer close, but not too close, to the Blue Mosque

Enjoyinh a beer close, but not too close, to the Blue Mosque

Donna had to wear a headscarf when entering the Blue Mosque.  Also, we both had to take off our shoes.

Donna had to wear a headscarf when entering the Blue Mosque. Also, we both had to take off our shoes.

Live prayer was happening while we walked through the mosque. I was surprised photography was allowed inside the mosque (or maybe it wasn't but everyone was taking photos anyway?)

Live prayer was happening while we walked through the mosque. I was surprised photography was allowed inside the mosque (or maybe it wasn’t but everyone was taking photos anyway?)

 

By this point it was mid-afternoon and absolutely gorgeous. I knew I needed to execute my plan sooner than later, but where? I hadn’t really planned anything out, but I obviously wanted to find a picturesque and romantic setting to pop the question.   We ended up meandering away from the Blue Mosque towards the Mediterranean Sea. I noticed that there were a lot of rooftop restaurants in the area and this seemed promising. I scanned the skyline and eventually found the one that I deemed to be the tallest, a place called The Seven Hills Restaurant. We went up to the 10th floor and the terrace had a splendid panoramic view of the water, the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. This would be it.

The Blue Mosque during sunset from atop the Seven Hills Restaurant in Istanbul

The Blue Mosque during sunset from atop the Seven Hills Restaurant in Istanbul

The Hagia Sofia directly opposite the Blue Mosque, beautifully lit up by the setting sun

The Hagia Sofia directly opposite the Blue Mosque, beautifully lit up by the setting sun

 

Next up I thought about how to pull it off. I knew that I wanted to find a way to get a photo of the moment, but how could I do that without making Donna suspicious? At some point I discreetly moved the ring box from my backpack into my pocket. We ordered a bottle of rosé and an appetizer plate. Eventually I concocted my plan…

I told Donna that we should get a photo together using my Canon 6D SLR camera and obviously she thought that was a great idea.  I set the camera to the correct settings and then I walked over to the restaurant manager, who was standing sufficiently far away from our table, and I asked him if I could propose to my girlfriend in his restaurant. He replied “yes” and then I told him I’d like him to take photos with my camera and he agreed. I told him that the plan would work like this: first Donna and I would pose for a normal photo, then I would walk over him, check that the photo exposure was good, and that then I would walk back for another photo and that’s when I’d propose. He nodded his head and we executed the plan.

The setup photo

The setup photo

I wasn’t really that nervous as it happened, I’d been planning this for a while and was excited to get engaged to Donna. She’s so amazing! (But you already knew that, right?) All of the sudden I’m down on one knee and holding a box with her ring in it. It was classic: I totally surprised her as I asked, “Donna, will you marry me?” The restaurant manager captured her surprise awesomely in one photo! Donna was ecstatic and in went in for an embrace and a kiss, but at some point I had to remind her that she needed to give me an answer! She said “yes” and then I put the ring on her finger. By this point we had become the center of attention as most of the other guests at the restaurant realized what was going on.   I stood up and gave her another kiss and then everyone let out applause. I claimed it at one point, raising our hands in the air, haha! And that was how the most important moment of my life happened!

1) Clearly she is surprised!

1) Clearly she is surprised!

2) Very happy!

2) Very stoked!

3) Going in for a hug and kiss

3) Going in for a hug and kiss

4) I remind her that she has to give me an answer!

4) I remind her that she has to give me an answer!

Donna’s version of the events:

Little did I know that sunny March day in Istanbul would bring one of the best surprises of my life. I had wanted to visit Istanbul for a long time and thought it would be a nice way to say goodbye to Brandon since he would be leaving France for the next 2.5 months to surf in Chile and San Francisco. What I expected to be a chilled, fun, exploratory long weekend getaway to a city I had heard so many great things about, turned into a moment that I will so vividly remember forever.

I was completely surprised that during one of our photos on a gorgeous rooftop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, I found Brandon getting down on one knee with an opened ring box in his hand… I was so stunned that I couldn’t process what was happening and didn’t have an immediate response for him. I sort of just froze. He had just come back from over a month of living in the French Alps snowboarding, so how in the world did he manage to score a ring and actually bring it to Istanbul?! Turns out it took a lot of effort, coordination and planning. For so many reasons, I am so in love with this man and so excited for our life together!

5) Donna laughs and says "yes"

5) Donna laughs and says “yes”

6) Ring time

6) She said “yes”!  So I pull the ring out of its box

7) Lining up the ring for its new home

7) Lining up the ring for its new home

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8) And onto the finger it will go

Gratuitous ring photo

Gratuitous ring-on-hand photo

 

Back to Brandon’s narration…

The rest of the day was a little blurry and a lot of fun. We ordered a bottle of champagne and finished it, and then walked all the way back to Taksim. It was a long and beautiful walk and we were jittery with excitement fantasizing about our future life together. By the time we got back we were exhausted and we ended up not going out that evening, instead Donna wanted to call some of her friends and family and let them know the good news. I also called my mom, dad and sister. Whew, what an amazing day!

Enjoying a bottle of champagne after the engagement

Enjoying a bottle of champagne after the engagement

 

The next day it was time to go, but we did get a chance to cruise and have a nice breakfast alongIstiklal Street in Beyoglu. We caught a taxi back to the airport and flew back to Paris. Mission accomplished!!

We ran out of time and had to catch a plane, but just before that we walked by the impressive Galata Tower

We ran out of time and had to catch a plane, but just before that we walked by the impressive Galata Tower

On the flight back to Paris we flew right over Chamonix; it was cool to see where I'd been for the previous month from 38,000 feet

On the flight back to Paris we flew right over Chamonix; it was cool to see where I’d been for the previous month from 38,000 feet

Categories: Istanbul | 1 Comment

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