Quest for World Suds-premacy

Some people’s motivation to travel is to try the different foods from around the world. I too have enjoyed the various dishes from different corners of the globe. However, I have never been a “foodie.” I like beer. I set out to try as many different beers as I could on this trip.

Variety is the spice of life they say so I only count each beer once. I have friends that drink 10 Heinekens on the weekend all year long. For this exercise, that counts as one beer. So before before people start saying I have a drinking problem understand I’m only having one or two beers a day. Actually, I do have a drinking problem, it is when I’m in a country and I can’t find any new beers.

With the help of the Untappd app I have been able to keep a very good record of my quest. To date I have had 752 unique beers in 461 days or an average of 1.63 different beers per day.


I have had at least one beer from 59 countries. I’ve only been to 40 countries so far so obviously I’ve been able to snag a few imports from neighboring nations. Here are the major contributors:

Germany- 121

USA- 65

Belgium- 57

Poland- 51

South Africa- 36

Turkey- 34

Netherlands- 29

England- 28

Brazil- 26

Czech Republic- 25

Romania- 25

Israel- 16

Slovakia- 14

Ukraine- 13



Bosnia- 12

France- 11

Italy- 11

Bulgaria- 10

Croatia- 10


Germany’s 121 seems like a big number but I didn’t even scratch the surface, I could easily get triple that number with minimal effort. Turkey on the other hand, 34 is about the best I could do. I looked high and low over a period of months and that was the best I could come up with. I also left a lot on the table, or bar in this case, in the USA, Czech Republic, and Belgium. I am pretty proud of my totals in Poland, South Africa, Romania, and Brazil. Italy is an interesting one as I had 11 but didn’t even enter the country.


I also like to try different styles, I’ve had 64 different type of beer. Here are some of the big ones:

Lager- 250+ (the app only tracks to 250)

Pilsner- 108

Hefeweizen- 39

Blond Ale- 32

Cider- 29

IPA- 28

Pale Ale- 25

Non-Alcoholic- 24

Radler- 21

Dunkelweizen- 17

Fruit Beer- 17

Dubbel/Tripel/Quad- 16

Amber/Red Ale- 16

Porter/Stout- 13

Bock- 13

Strong Ale- 12

Witbier- 11


Most people I meet on this trip know about my quest and often are very helpful in finding new beers, or least drinking with me. Some people will even come to me with questions as a “beer expert.” However, the most common question is, “What is your favorite?” I just can’t answer that, it is like picking your favorite family member.

The quest is far from over but I’ve already learned so much. Sit me down an a bar and I can most likely tell you where each beer is from and the style. Not sure this knowledge is useful but I’m having a blast doing it and that is the main goal.


Off the Tourist Trail

Places like London, Istanbul, Paris, and Dubai are fantastic places to visit. They are among the most popular tourist destinations in the world for good reason. I have visited each on this trip and enjoyed my time there.

Yet, I desire to be a little dissimilar and have different postcards on my figurative refrigerator. So I try to get a little more off the beaten path and explore underappreciated destinations. My extra effort has always been rewarded with amazing experiences in places I often can’t even pronounce.


Football (soccer) on the beach in Muscat

Muscat, Oman- I will admit that Dubai isn’t among my favorite places on earth. Yes, the buildings are cool to look at and the obvious wealth is quite impressive. However, unless you are a rich shopper there isn’t much substance behind the flash. It reminds me of Las Vegas, just without the gambling and drinking. However, just a few hours away is the capital of Oman. Muscat is also very modern and safe, not what you might think about when talking about Middle East travel. The seaside, the historical part of Muscat and the towering mosques all make a visit worthwhile. The people are also much friendlier than Dubai, there is not such a stuck up attitude.


Hello zebras!

Malkerns and Manzini, Swaziland- South Africa is quite possibly my favorite county I’ve visited of the 31 so far on this trip. Still, I had some preconceived idea of what sub-Saharan Africa should look like and South Africa wasn’t it. The game drives I went on in South Africa were truly breathtaking but after days with a group in a jeep for hours and hours I yearned to explore alone on foot. Swaziland was perfect solutions for these “issues.” Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary only has the hippo of the “Big Five” so I could hike for hours in relative safety. Although the park was home to several species of cobras, mambas, adders and a host of other venous snakes. Not to mention lakes dotted with large crocodiles and hippos. Although there were no big cats or elephants or other well-known safari animals the place was teeming with life. It was quite a rush to hike alone in silence and turn the corner only to be face-to-face with a zebra or wildebeest. The city of Mazini had all the sights and sounds that I pictured Africa to be including great food and kind people.


Mileștii Mici, over 125 miles of wine!

Moldova- Trivia question: Where can you find the biggest wine cellar in world? Moldova! You can probably find better wine in Italy, France or in the USA but for the value Moldova might have the best wine in the world. The quality of wine is quite good, but don’t take it from a beer guy like me. Queen Elizabeth and Jimmy Carter are both known to enjoy wine from Moldova. Toss away the wine in a box and grab bottle with a mid-1980s vintage for under $10! Plus, no one looks at you strange when you have several glasses of wine with breakfast.


Beach in Odessa

Odessa, Ukraine- I recently saw an article that was being passed around Facebook that ranked the “Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries in the World.” I had a hearty chuckle when I saw Ukraine made the list. Yes, there is an armed conflict going on in the northeast part of the country with thousands of dead. You might not have heard much about it, probably because they are not Muslims. Point it, it is very easy to avoid. Ukraine is a huge country. Odessa is an amazing city and 100% safe but many tourists don’t find it on their list. From the cultural gems such as the opera house to the relaxing beaches on the Black Sea to top quality restaurants, Odessa is a place that I won’t soon forget. If you know me, you know I look for value and I’m ready to declare Ukraine the best value in the whole of Europe! European Culture at sub South American prices, simply unbeatable!

As I pen this I sit in Sighisoara, Romania which also belongs on such a list but I’ll let the adventure fully unfurl before I commit it to paper.


Following the Impalas down the trail in Swaziland

Budget Breakdown: Iraq

My trip to Kurdistan was very rewarding, to see a place I had been hearing about my whole life was tremendous. Not to rely on what you see on CNN (or god forbid Fox News) or read in the USA Today, but to see it for yourself, and meet the people, is an incredible experience. Still, people continue to question me on going there. I’d go back 1,000 times out of 1,000 but don’t take it from me, go see for yourself.

As with most rewarding experiences, it will cost you. Iraqi Kurdistan won’t totally break your budget but it is not as cheap as most places I’ve been to on this trip so far. There are few tourists, in fact I met zero other tourists in my week there. This affects the budget in good and bad ways.


My “home”

Accommodation is far and away the biggest expense. In fact, it is a pretty cheap travel destination otherwise. The reason is because there are no hostels in Erbil (hmmm future business idea?). The amount of foreign tourists right now is low (thanks ISIS) and the people who do visit aren’t really the hostel type. Couchsurfing isn’t all that popular there either. So that leaves hotels. I stayed for six nights in a three-star hotel. Although that rating is a bit generous, it cost me $37 per night. That alone puts the daily budget over what I spent in Panama, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Turkey.

I also spent $15 on a hostel in the UAE the seventh night, but since I spent more than 12 hours of the day in Iraq, I’ll include it here. In all, I spent $237 on accommodation or $33.85 per day.


Homemade Dolma

Food was very cheap, and quite good. I would stuff myself full of shawarma for a couple dollars. I spent $24 on dinner ($3.42) an additional $2 ($.28 PD) on lunch and $13 ($1.85 PD) on groceries (snacks). I was also very fortunate to get several free meals from the generous people I met there. I can still taste the homemade dolma, so good! Additionally, I spent $1 on bottled water ($.14) that wasn’t included in meals. The lack of tourists is good for things like food and almost everything else. There is no price gouging for tourists like in many other places.


Having a smoke with some locals

Other was a significant cost in Kurdistan, I spent $35 ($5 per day). Most of it ($15) came from souvenirs, which I usually avoid, but I couldn’t pass up the out-of-print Saddam Hussein currency. As in most places in the Middle East, I smoked a lot of shisha and that falls in this category. As a side note, Erbil has the best shisha that I have ever seen anywhere!

I spent $13 ($1.85 PD) on cabs which was my transportation to and from the airport. The city is quite safe and walkable so I walked almost everywhere, even at night. I also used the local bus which cost me $2 ($.28 PD). Again, the people of Erbil were generous with rides, even complete strangers, so that helped with the transportation costs as well.

As you might expect, beer is limited in Kurdistan. However, that is not to say it can’t be found. I saw one bottle shop where I spent $8 ($1.14 PD) on several regional beers. There were no beers from Iraq available.


Cable car above Shanidar and Minarae Parks

I didn’t do much in the way of paid tourist activities. There are several cool parks that are free to visit. The Citadel, the main attraction in the city, can also be explored for free. For me, Erbil was a cultural experience and not a sightseeing mission. No better way to do that than to just walk around and have a chat over a meal or water pipe. I did however spent $5 on a cable car ride ($.71 PD) at one of the parks.

All told, I spent $340 in my seven days in Kurdistan or $48.57 per day. Still a bargain for the experience I had!


Flag of Kurdistan

Budget Breakdown: Turkey

Outside of Brazil, I spent the most time on this trip in Turkey. It is not happenstance as the two are among my favorite nations in the world to visit (I’d throw in Germany, England, and Australia as my top 5, if I had to pick). On my second trip to Turkey I spent 28 days, it was filled with smiles, laughs, mixed with tremendous fear and a whole lot of beer!

Here is what is cost me:


With my friends at my favorite bar in Van

For the first time on this trip, I spent the most money on beer. I spent more than twice as much as any other country (Peru $3.55 per day (PD)), I dropped $247 or $8.82 per day. To be honest I had no idea that I spent that much until I ran the final numbers. Kind of ironic that I spent the most money on beer in a Muslim country, isn’t it? There are a few reason for this: 1. Beer isn’t cheap in Turkey, the tax is high, coming out to $3-$4 per bottle. 2. All the people I was hanging out with were drinkers so I did what they did. I wasn’t going to be a party pooper. In fact, one guy I stayed with owned a bar! 3. Because my accommodation cost was so low I was a little more free spending that I usually am.


The famous Van breakfast

You can’t drink all that beer without some good eating. I love Turkish food, in particular the Doner. At one point I was keeping track of how many I had but I lost count somewhere in the 30s, I wouldn’t be shocked if I ate 40. Seriously, one of my favorite foods in the world. I spent $94 ($3.35 PD) on dinner and $68 ($2.42 PD) on lunch. I paid for breakfast once, and it was worth it, the famous Van breakfast. It cost $5 ($.17 PD). I also spent $18 on snacks ($.64 PD), mostly on popcorn that I loved getting at the corner markets. I also was hooked up many times with free food from the people I was staying with.


Smoking shisha in Cappadocia (with tea, of course)

The next biggest cost is also a strange one, other. I spent $106 ($3.78 PD) on things that don’t fit into my other categories. First, there was a $21 visa and I bought some medicine. I also lost $34. I don’t know if the bills stuck together or I got shorted on change or I just dropped it or what. It wasn’t outright robbery as I had more cash in my wallet. In any event, it was gone. I smoked shisha several times as well and at about $7 a crack it added to this high total.


One of my “couches” in Ankara

After beer, food, and other finally comes accommodation. It cost me $63 ($2.25 PD). Of course there is no place in the world (that I know) where you can get a bed for $2.25 a night. I was blessed that the Couchsurfing community was so generous to me. I stayed with six different people, none who I had ever met before I showed up at their doorstep. In many cases they also cooked me a meal or two. I can’t say enough about the Turkish hospitality! I also spent a night on an overnight bus. In 28 nights, I paid for seven. Six were in a hostel ($6.33 per night) and one was in a nice hotel, the hotel was deeply discounted ($25) because of so few tourists due to the bombings.

With so many people helping me, I spent $58 ($2.07 PD) on gifts.

Due to many nights at the bars, I used a good amount of cabs. I dropped $57 ($2.03 PD).


The crowded local bus in Istanbul

I covered 1,075 miles across Turkey on the bus (flew into Istanbul and out of Van). This cost me $53 ($1.89 per day). The buses were quite good quality and not many people on them, which I love. I also spent $26 ($.92 PD) on shuttles and $18 ($.64 PD) on metro/local buses.


Getting cultured in Ankara

I spent $40 ($1.42 PD) on tourist activities, most of which came on a classical music concert ($17). An orchestra isn’t my usual idea of a good time but I enjoyed it. The rest came for admission to four separate sites (Uchisar Castle, Akdamar Island, Rumelihisarı Fortress, and Derinkuyu Underground City). Fortunately, many sites and mosques are open to the public for free.

I drank what seemed like gallons of tea, which is usually free but I did spend $3 ($.10) on water.

All told, I spent $856 in 28 days in Turkey or just $30.57 per day. Thanks to the generous people of Turkey I spent less than what I averaged in South America ($32.62 per day).

“You are going to IRAQ!?!?”

“You are going to IRAQ!?!?” I must have heard that response 100 times, basically every time I told someone about my planned trip. “You know it is DANGEROUS there!!!!!!” Yes, it can be, but I did my research so I wasn’t worried.

I went and I had no real problems, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. I wasn’t really in Iraq. Yes, my passport now has an Iraqi stamp. Yes, the hotel had an Iraqi flag flying. When I brought up Google Maps, the little blue dot was smack dab in Iraq. However, I wasn’t in the Iraq that you are thinking of. I was in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan. Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region in the northern part of the country. There, Muslims and Christians, Kurds and Arabs all live side-by-side without much, if any, issue.


The Citadel of Erbil with the Kurdish flag flying

Kurdistan has been essentially separate from Iraq since the end of World War I. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire the Kurds’ territory was split between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Saddam Hussain pulled a Hitler and committed genocide against the Kurds, using chemical weapons on them by the thousands in the late 1980s. The Peshmerga, also known as the Kurdistan Army, was aligned with Iran and Saddam was getting revenge for their role in the Iraq/Iran war.

While not on your map, Kurdistan is a very real country to these people and the Peshmerga has been fighting for its independence for decades. Finally, in 2005 after the US led invasion of Iraq, and removal of Hussain, the new constitution granted a Kurdistan Regional Government. Today, Kurdistan has its own president, legislature, police, army, budget and everything else normal countries have.

The Kurds take security very seriously with armed checkpoints every few miles on the roads outside of Erbil. The borders are constantly patrolled by the Peshmerga. It is working, there have been just three bombings in the last nine years. This level of security doesn’t exist in the rest of the Iraq.


Mounted machine gun on the street

My time in Erbil was fantastic, I was treated almost as a celebrity. In current times, tourism has become limited to nonexistent because of the perceived threat of ISIS. The so called Islamic State holds the city of Mosul, a mere 50 miles to the west. People would walk up to me and ask where I was from, I would say the US and their response would be positive. On two occasions, I was saluted. I don’t know if they figured I was in the service or they thought that is how you greet Americans. I don’t know but it was a bit awkward for me, I wasn’t sure how to respond.

The city is a circle so it was easy not to get lost. Erbil is full of nice parks, great restaurants and the best shisha I’ve ever had. The human history in the region is mind boggling. Not far from Erbil, Neanderthal bodies have been discovered and are up to 65,000 years old. Just being in this cradle of civilization was exciting to me. Much more recently, but still long, long ago there was a citadel built in the middle of the city. It dates back to the fifth century B.C., which makes Erbil the oldest continuously inhabited city on the planet!

While everyone was friendly, Erbil was a bit lonely. There no hostels and very few Couchsurfers. I didn’t meet another traveler (outside of the airport) in the six nights I was there. The women would hardly make eye contact with me, let alone speak. These problems are not unique to Erbil, but the region in general. If it wasn’t for one Couchsurfer who showed me around for two days and some guys I met in a coffee shop, I would have been completely alone. I look forward to the day I can return and see more tourists.


Kurdish Countryside

Of course everyone wants to read about my brushes to danger. Nothing really happened on that front but there were two times that I was unnerved. One day as I walking about the city, two guys on a motorcycle passed me. The guy on the back of the bike was wearing a black ski mask, mind you the temperature was in the high 70s or low 80s. This immediately put me on edge. The black ski mask is a staple of the jihadist’s wardrobe. Much to my chagrin, he motions to the driver to pull over when they see me. About 50 feet away, the guy jumps off the bike and begins to follow me on foot with the ski mask still on. I pick up the pace and decide I need to get around other people so I went into a store. There I hid for what seemed like forever. It was a real life, high stakes game of hide and seek. I don’t know if he followed. When I went back outside he was nowhere to be seen. Maybe it was a kid trying to look cool or maybe it was the real thing. Who knows, but it got my blood going a little.

The other time was while I was riding with my Couchsurfing friend. We went though many security checkpoints, it was never a problem, it was a car with an Erbil license plate and a Kurdish driver. Until on the way back, a soldier took one look at me and asked for my passport. “My passport? Why would I carry my passport?” I thought. I make it a point to keep it in a safe place and not on me. It was back in the hotel, about a 30 minute drive away. After saying that he ordered the driver to pull over and for us to go into their headquarters. We walk into a small room with four guys, AK-47s propped against the wall. They again asked for my passport and I gave them my Hawaii driver’s license. That wasn’t going to cut it as they laughed. This wasn’t good. For a moment I had thoughts of being detained. Luckily, my friend was a respected doctor and gave his business card while assuring them I was okay and he would be responsible for me. They took him at his word and let me go. Thank you Couchsurfing! He later told me that they let me go essentially because I was white and wouldn’t have if I was Arab.

Erbil is a city I would recommend visiting. I hope to return someday and check out more of Kurdistan and maybe, just maybe make a push south to the other Iraq.


City Center

Why You Should Visit Turkey

When brainstorming for a vacation destination Turkey doesn’t immediately jump to the forefront of many people’s minds, but maybe it should. Yes, Turkey has some political issues right now. Things with Russia aren’t good. There is a small scale civil war with the Kurds (PKK and YPG). ISIS has also complicated things in recent times with attacks of its own. However, I was just there and these dangers don’t affect most travelers. In fact, better deals can be found now due to some of this unrest. Bad things can happen anywhere, but you already knew that, or you wouldn’t be reading a travel blog.

Point is, Turkey is a seriously underrated travel destination. I have spent over a month there, obviously it is impossible to see it all but here are a few of my must dos in Turkey.

Izmir- Located in Western Turkey it is probably the most liberal city in Turkey. The people dress in a western fashion in name brand clothes, there are several breweries and the locals don’t mind throwing back a pint or three. Public displays of affections are greeted with indifference. It is a predominantly Muslim community but not as hard line as other parts of the world, or even Turkey.

That aside there are world class attractions here. Ephesus is a collection of well-preserved roman ruins, some of the best in the world. There are Biblical sites like the home that the Virgin Mary lived in until her death. One of the ancient wonders of the world, Temple of Artemis, is near Ephesus as well.

If you are not a history buff or a beer fan then you can enjoy the beach. The Çeşme Peninsula is located not far from the city. There are several beaches to choose from, all good for cooling off in the Aegean Sea.


The fairy chimneys of Cappadocia

Cappadocia- After the chaos of the big cities in Turkey, Cappadocia is the perfect small town getaway with stunning natural beauty. The other-worldly landforms known as “fairy chimneys” are a site to behold. An sunrise hot air balloon ride may be the best way to see them, but be sure to bring a little extra cash as they run anywhere from $90-$220 USD. If it is out of your budget, or you don’t like heights, there are plenty of other options including ATV and horseback tours. Of course my personal favorite is DIY and just go for a hike. Unlike Ephesus, the crowds here are minimal and you can get much closer and even in the centuries old caves. Uchisar Castle is the highest point in the region and will give you almost the same view point as the balloons for about $3 USD.

There is also biblical history here as it was an early Christian settlement as well as sites going back to Roman times. There are 36 underground cities in the area including the main two of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu.


Three Beauties

The city of Goreme is probably the best launching point for a Cappadocia adventure but it is a bit pricey as it caters almost exclusively to tourists. It is a bit more conservative than Izmir but it is a wine region and the local wines are served at almost every restaurant. Give it a sip, particularly the white wines.


Maiden’s Tower

Istanbul- This is where the lion’s share of visitors go and with good reason. In a place like Istanbul you can’t help but run into history. The big name attractions are Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) and they are certainly worth your time, but there is so much more. The Suleymaniye Mosque is impressive in its own right and offers great panoramic views of the city. The Ortakoy Mosque is another picturesque mosque on the Bosphorus strait, which is the boundary between Europe and Asia. Don’t miss the fantastic street food nearby. The Galata Tower and the Fortress of Rumeli are two other spots that are must see on a trip to Istanbul. If on the Asian side, the Maiden’s Tower, which is now a restaurant, is worth a visit.


Sultanahmet Mosque

Istanbul is a huge city, one of the biggest in the world, thus you can find almost anything you want there. If you are looking for shopping or nightlife you need to go to Taksim Square. This might be the most liberal area in all of Turkey. You can see all types of people from same sex couples to cross dressers to all walks of life going out for an all-night party.

I visited a few weeks after the attack on the German tourists and it quite frankly scared off a lot of other visitors. I ended up getting a room that is ordinary $150 per night for $25. Was that foolish of me to be there at such a time? Maybe, but think about this: that attack killed 10 people in a city of over 14 million. I’ll take those odds.



Ankara- The first three places I mentioned are well known tourist haunts. To get off the beaten path a little, but not too far, try Ankara. The biggest attraction in Ankara is its people, in my opinion the most hospitable in Turkey- a county known for its hospitality. If you spend any amount of time in Turkey you’ll notice a picture of a man in most homes and businesses, which is the Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk). He is the founder of the Republic of Turkey and has a fantastic mausoleum (Anitkabir) with a wonderful museum about the revolution. You could literally spent most of a day just there. If you are looking for a view of the city, look no further than the Ankara Castle. If you are in search of shopping, bars and restaurants be sure not to miss the lively Kizilay neighborhood. Ankara is a great place is observe the life of the average Turk.


Lake Van

These are just a few of the places to see in the great country of Turkey. Also worth consideration is Van in the east with the country’s biggest lake, or Canakkale and the ancient city of Troy, or the beauty of Pamukkale, or Konya or Antayla, the options are truly endless. On your next trip save some cash and skip the crowds of Western Europe and come to Turkey. You won’t be disappointed.

Terror in Turkey

Terrorism is one of those things that doesn’t happen to you. It only happens on CNN in faraway places. Except it can. This is my story of the Ankara February 2016 bombing that killed 28 and wounded 61.

My friend Ezgi had been telling me for a week about a famous doner place, knowing my love for the meat wrap. So we agreed to meet in the vibrant downtown district of Kizlay at 6:00 pm, accompanied by her friend. The dinner was normal, we talked about my trip. My confession that I loved Ankara was greeted by two high fives. We talked about boys they liked. We talked about family. Ezgi billed this doner as the best in Ankara, her friend went a step farther claiming it was the best in all of Turkey. It lived up to the hype, the doner was fantastic. It was a large portion and cheap. I was in love. I could eat at this outdoor café for the rest of my life.

With just a couple bites left, there was a great noise. One I had never heard before and one I hope you never have to. It was like all the 4th of July fireworks in my life combined into one. It was so powerful the ground shook. Everyone in the cafe stopped eating and looked at each other. It was as if we were all simultaneously looking for an explanation, other than the obvious. It could have been a… I had nothing. There was no way around the fact that it was a large explosion of some variety.

The friend said she wanted to go look and got up from the table. I thought this was a poor idea and remained seated. Soon Ezgi got up saying she didn’t want her friend to be alone, I joined. Once we turned the corner nothing apparent had happened. Then, like a winter swell on Hawaii’s North Shore, a wave of people starting sprinting towards us. And I do mean sprinting. Everyone was screaming, crying and scared. I ran as fast as I ever have in my life. Flashes of Carl Lewis in his prime. I was now almost leading the pack, running with no real aim. Just running.

Before long, I look up and see another wave of people running towards us. No one is sure where the bomb is, and if there are more. To avoid a stampede I cut down an alley. Then I hear a crackling sound. I assume gun fire in an ISIS style attack. I ran harder and faster still. I wish someone would have got my 40 time. It is amazing what the body can do under extreme duress. It turned out there was no gunman, but I didn’t know that. I was quite literally running for my life.

I eventually stopped running for fear I was going to run into another attack. I slipped into a bookstore and hid towards the back. The owner was telling everyone to be calm and settle down. I asked him what was going on. He said there was a bomb and the government was now on the radio warning of a second wave of attacks.

By now the night air was full of sirens and I could see smoke rising not far off. It turns out the bomb was about 1,500 feet from us when it exploded. I lost my friends in the madness, I was alone with no idea of what to do. I was staying at another friends place, about a 45 minute walk away. I tried to get a cab but they were all full. Not to mention traffic was gridlocked. So I started walking. Soldiers were running around with assault rifles yelling commands on the main street. Almost no one else was walking, but what choice did I have? I just wanted to get back to my friend’s house. I texted my loved ones and told them what was happening. I wanted them to know I loved them if something happened.

Nothing else did happen. I made it home, cracked a beer and watched Netflix with my host. Such a normal end to an unforgettable night. I want to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the 28 people who are never coming home. God bless Ankara.