”Dance your stress away” – Youth exchange in Turkey

Located in the Marmara region of Turkey, where people are mainly engaged in fishing and olives, a very peaceful town where you can just take your stress and dance it away! And that’s what we did! Youngsters from Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, we participated in an youth exchange which took place in this small town called Armutlu.

The main subject of our youth exchange was the stress and it’s impact on our life. Our main aim was to de-stress ourselves through DANCE. We had two teachers, who were very patient with us and helped us learn a choreography with hip hop, bachata and merengue moves! Beside dancing we had other activities too – yoga, energizers, workshops, ceramic activities.. We also had international evenings where every country represented their cultures through traditional food, drinks and dances.

Beside every great activity we had, I think that the best thing in this youth exchange were the people. I met great persons which will never be forgotten! They were all full of energy, very kind, friendly and really made me forget to all the problems at least for awhile. Meeting people with different backgrounds is great, because you can learn many new things, explore new cultures and make good friendships! Also our organization was amazing! They tried their best and really made this experience unforgettable.

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A day in Yalova

Spanish dance on the Spanish international evening

Bachata performance

Treats and drinks you shouldn’t miss in Turkey

One of the places I really admire is this beautiful city called Istanbul. Walking around those crowded streets, delighted by the perfect smell of the turkish coffee, simit, kurabiye, baklava, complemented by the beautiful view of the Bosphorus and the mosques around… This is what made me fall in love with this place.  I am happy that after my first visit I had the chance to visit other cities too and explore more. For me Turkey is unique, especially the cuisine and that is why I would like to share some information about the top treats and drinks you should not miss on your trip to Turkey.

Turkish tea: If you are fond of black tea, you should try this black turkish tea. Unfortunately, I cannot find the real one where I live, but still that place where I drink it often, reminds me of my time spent in Turkey. As you can see, it is not served in large cups because it is full-flavored and too strong, so it is always offered in little tulip-shaped glasses which you have to hold by the rim to save your fingertips from burning because it’s served boiling hot. Oh, and be prepared to drink more than 5 glasses of tea per day once you arrive there. It is a tradition, so you will be served with tea every time, but that is how they show their hospitality.

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Gözleme: I tried gözleme some 10 years ago when I first visited Turkey and I never forgot that very special taste. It is a savoury traditional Turkish flatbread dish, made of hand-rolled dough that is lightly brushed with butter and eggs, filled with various toppings, sealed, and cooked over a griddle. It is usually filled with potatoes or spinach and cheese. It is delicious both ways though. Before trying it I never really liked spinach, I hated it, but gözleme changed my life and spinach has become my number one inredient in a meal!

The ice-cream of Kahramanmaraş: Kahramanmaraş is a city famous for its ice-cream which is made of milk, sugar, salep and mastic. It tastes very chewy and is quite different from the typical ice-cream we have. I really loved it! They usually serve it along with baklava and you will need a fork and a knife for it. It is also known as the never-melting ice-cream! When they first served it to me with a fork and knife, I was shocked and did not know what to do, because who uses fork and knife for ice-cream?

Turkish delight(lokum): We have only one kind of Turkish delight in my country, but they… Oh, they have many. I was trying to choose some to take home, but it was impossible. I had to take a piece from each of them. They have them in many shapes and colors, from brown to white, from circles to squares. Also, before buying them you ‘’should’’ make a dégustation on every stall and after it to complain that you are full, but no, it won’t be enough. You cannot escape the last stall where the man will insist and you need to try that last bite! You shouldn’t miss this experience, believe me. But as I mentioned before, it is all because of their hospitality. Weird, I know.

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Ayran (Turkish Yogurt Drink): Are you walking around Turkey and you are in the need of some refreshing drink? Well, you should look for this amazing natural Turkish yogurt drink. You won’t regret trying it!

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Have a good apetite or as they say: Afiyet olsun!

Volunteering in an elderly house in Ankara

421 – This is the number of the bus that takes me every Wednesday to the neighborhood of Keçiören – not very far, but also not very near from the center of Ankara. When I leave the bus on the station which name I cannot remember, in 5 minutes I can reach the elderly house where I volunteer once in a week.

Every time on the bench in front of the elderly house, I see some old men sitting there. The very first time when I went there, I sat on the bench to wait for another volunteer and I met with one man whose name was Ahmet. He was very nice and although we could not understand each other he brought me tea and since then every time he sees me, he gives me hugs and it always makes my day and I believe his too.

I feel very comfortable going to this place, because everyone there is very nice. Starting from the people who live there, then the workers… they are all so helpful. The elderly house has place for praying, place for eating, living room where the elderly are watching television or just talking. There, we usually play tavla(backgammon) while trying to have conversations with them. They are like children and being among different people every time, makes their days there better.

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Also there is a craft room where we are supposed to do activities with the elderly, but usually they are very tired, so it is hard to involve them. There is one old lady who loves doing crafts. She showed us her room and I was surprised of how talented and creative she is. She has made many handmade fridge magnets, a wall clock and many other things. I also met two other ladies with whom I sit every time I go in this place. One of them is new and she has been living there for 3-4 months now. The other one is there for more than 4 years and she has 9 children. Imagine! Those ladies taught me how to knit and said that I also need to learn how to sew, so I can sew my ripped jeans(as one day I was wearing ripped jeans and they laughed a lot about my ”Macedonian fashion” or ”modası” as they were saying continuously).

 

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Why to volunteer in an elderly house? Although you cannot do much for them, but at least you can give them their time, your smile and make their lonely days more cheerful. Because the little things in life can make huge difference. We are just not aware of it yet.

My experience in a center for ”disabled” people

People with disabilities face many challenges in their everyday life and because of that they need to be understood and accepted by people who are patient enough to work in an environment where differences are met with an open heart.

As a volunteer in the organization ‘’System & Generation’’ in Ankara, Turkey, I go and help in a center for disabled people. This center has all the facilities for the people who live there. They also have many activities as sport, dancing class and many workshops such as knitting, preparing soap, painting etc. I took part in a sewing workshop where they were making bags and other stuff and everything looked so pretty indeed. I admire them for the work they do.

I also organized dancing classes with few of them. They are different people every time, but each of them are so nice and friendly and despite the language barrier we still are trying to have some kind of a small conversation. They usually talk about their hobbies and dreams, which makes my heart melt every time I hear it. They taught me how to be happy and satisfied with the smallest things in life.

Related to this center, there is a café which is lead by the people from this center. The so called ‘’café Down’’ is placed in the center of Ankara and it is one of my favorite places here. I go there once or two times in a week for few hours to help them and every time when I leave it, I leave it with a smile on my face. I cannot describe the great atmosphere they make there.

Even though they have disabilities, they are human and they have the same needs as everyone. I am glad I am having this chance to participate in this project and although it is not for a long period of time, seeing their happy faces at least for a while makes me happy as well.

How moving abroad made me love my country more

Every time I go abroad, people are asking me how big Macedonia is. Well, it is smaller than Istanbul and any other famous city, but still it offers great places that would probably take your breath away. It is a country with a long and rich history, placed in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula, which makes it a bridge across the centuries that connects the West and the East.

I always wanted to move abroad and I hated, I really hated my country. There is no future for most of the young people and that is why everyone is moving abroad, but still when they come back they know that no other country can replace it.

All my life I lived in a small village where people are friendly and nice, but everyone knows each other and you cannot go against all the gossiping around. It was pissing me off when old women ask and want to know everything about your life. We all know that they already know it all, but still, they want to make sure, so when they go to drink their morning coffee the next day with their neighbour they will have a new talking subject. Oh, and that morning coffee always ends with two or three shots of rakija or even more – depends if the conversation is strong enough. It is not only the old women who do that, but every Macedonian. I hated it so much, but sometimes when I am abroad I really miss it. . I miss all those small, stupid and not important things, but things that make living there unique. Strange, but that is the truth. I miss my grandmother telling me that I need to finish all my food because I am very thin(even though you look like a cow, but still it is not enough for her). I miss closing all the windows and doors because ‘’promaja kills’’ – a draft caused by open windows and doors that can make you feel sick. I miss going out to kafana with my friends and having a burek after that at 5 am, because that is how we party. I miss the food and the music. Always when I go back, Macedonia is the same – nothing has changed, but I know that I changed and now I appreciate and love it more.

And whether I see the beautiful colors of autumn, plowed fields by the road, mountains of snow, lakes, forests, sunflowers roadside and million other things – everything impresses me.
I cannot compare Macedonia to any other country. I love it because it is mine and I have never felt like this in any other country. I love every milliliter of Macedonia. Each part of the day, every season. There I am at home.

Hungary is not only Budapest

Going on a trip to Hungary was really exciting for me. All I read on the internet about Budapest was really beautiful, but seeing it in real, well, I can say that it is more than beautiful! Starting from the Nyugati railway terminal, Heroes’ Square.. then ending up on the Chain Bridge. Woow, you cannot miss seeing it. It was the first permanent stone-bridge connecting Pest and Buda and it is truly amazing.

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On one side of the Chain bridge you can see one of the Budapest´s most sad memorials: The Danube’s Shoes. It is a memorial to the Jews who were shot by Arrow Cross militiamen when the victims were lined up and shot into the Danube river. There are around 60 shoes(or more) and the ones of children break my heart the most.

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Your breath will be taken by the Buda castle on the same side, Fisherman´s Bastion on the other side of the bridge and many other beautiful things.

It is a must-see city, but why when we go somewhere what we first have in mind is the capital city? Yes, every capital has to offer something amazing for sure, but what about those small places that are hidden somewhere around the country and are waiting for someone to visit them?

One of those places is Nyíregyháza. I know the name is strange and you will not remember it at first, but after leaving the place, you will never forget it.This town is placed in the northeastern Hungary and it is really small. You can reach it by train from Budapest and on the way to there you go through other small towns, nice nature and even if it is not the shortest trip, you will enjoy those beauties around. You can see it in one day, but it is amazing, as the people are nice and it is very quiet and safe. I really love small towns and what took my breath there at first was the Roman Cathedral in the center. It is so beautiful outside as well as inside. In particular times of the day you can hear the famous italian song Con Te Partiro playing from the speakers in front of it and the feeling you get is so nice.

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This town is also famous with its Sóstó Zoo. This Zoo is divided in many sections and you can see everythingfrom Australia, Polar Region, Ocenarium and many more.  It is huge with a lot of species and thematic houses. I really feel so sorry for the animals inside, but still I think that they live in good conditions there as in my opinion this is the best Zoo in Eastern Europe.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend hungarian dishes, as I did not enjoy them a lot, but still you need to try some of them as lángos and kürtőskalács.

Also don’t forget to try the traditional drink called pálinka. I won´t comment it, just try and Egészségedre(Cheers)!

The coolest church in Madrid and probably in the world itself

Have you ever charged your phone in a church or skyped with your friends/family while drinking a cup of hot coffee? That sounds cool, right? Well, beside being cool, it is also possible!

The church of San Antón placed on the street of Hortaleza in Madrid offers free wi-fi, food, drinks and 24h shelter for people and even pets. I have never visited such place before.

It was a rainy day(usual October in Madrid, I guess) and I was walking around with my heavy bags while waiting for the hour when the meeting with my new host was supposed to happen. I like visiting religious buildings, so I decided to search for this church and see what people do there, because before visiting it I read many good things on the internet about it, so I said why not seeing and experiencing by myself.

So, at the entrance you can see people standing in a row and waiting for something. There was a woman offering hot coffee and magdalenas(spanish cupcakes-so sweet,fluffy and yummy). They eat them usually for breakfast with café con leche(coffee with milk), and they are said to have originated in Aragón. I stood in the row, with my broken umbrella and waited for my turn to come. I took what was offered and I entered the church. It was full of people – homeless ones and passers by. I recommend this church for every budget traveler who do not have a place to stay and wants to experience something great. You will be welcomed very nice! The church was very nice outside as well as inside, but unfortunately I did not take any pictures as I was very tired and just wanted to sit down and relax(the pictures below are taken while I was walking to the church).

As I wished to practise my spanish language skills, I started a conversation with one man sitting next to me. He was originally from Bilbao, but he was living in Madrid for 10 years already. He said he goes in the church every second day to help with the cooking and just to talk with people. He invited me that day to go back again in the evening, because for dinner there was going to be bocadillo de calamares(stuffed squids in flour and fried in oil). I could not go that evening, because I already had different plans, but the very next day I tried it. Honestly I did not like it, because it was too oily for me, but maybe you will, who knows. Just write it down on your list.Ah, and you need to try it with beer(not at the church tho haha). At least I was told that or they just drink beer with everything.

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