Archive for ‘Turkey’

January 6, 2016

Day 7: Danang and Hoi An

Long train ride (overnight, no sleeping) to Hanoi, which meant we got to see the city wake up for its day: meats and vegetables being sliced and delivered, dishes and streets being washed, kids delivered to school, cyclists using the relative quiet traffic for a workout. Fantastic.

We had our best coffee of the trip, followed by a walk around the lake. Hanoi wakes up early to exercise, and we saw walkers, joggers, arm wavers, weight lifters, hip rotators and line dancers. Puja and Iffet joined in for (I shit you not) The Chicken Dance.

We stopped at a street corner for the best Pho this far, and it reminded me of Than Brothers back home. Way to bring the good stuff to Seattle, Than Brothers!

The flight to Danang was fine, and we opted to walk to the nearest street to find a cab to Hanoi, thus saving about half on the fare!

First stop was Madam Khans for the best Banh My in Vietnam, followed by: Walking until a cold beer seemed due (Larue is the local), followed my walking until we found a place to stay, followed by walking until we found a “grill too own” BBQ joint.

Next up: Exploring Hoi An!

September 21, 2007

Kas Day Two (Sep 18)

So – swimming in the Mediteranian is delightful so blue that it is hard to believe that it is salt water – that is – until you take a mouthful!

Our first day was nice – our friends Gary and Iffet have been really fun – and Iffet has been able to charm the locals here so that we get local pricing!

We had dinner the first night at a very local place – we sat in the ciurtyard and watched them bake pide, bread and othe things (like aubergines) in a huge outdoor brick oven. (Frank – I’ll help you build one in your back yard!) It was delicious – I’ll make sure I get the name of wat we had before I leave the country.

The boat trip was outstanding – Puja and I bought a mask ans snorkel to prepare. The boat wasn’t that large, but had about 30 people. We could tell the Russians and Germans because despite their bellies and oter girth – they all wore speedo’s – not a pleasant sight! The Mediteranian was great, though.

Our first stope was a Greek Island (hard to believe that they are that close – just a couple of miles inbplaces) where we went for a swim – we just side of the boat!

There wasn’t a lot to see underwater – but having the mask was great anyway.

We swam for about 30 minutes, went to another beautidul cove, swam, went to an ancient city that was underwater due to an earthquake (too dangerous to swim), had one of the best chicken kebap and bulghar lunches ever, and then went to an island where we picked fresh figs (if you’ve only ever had a dried fig, you must try the real thing), waded out to see more of that ancient city (which must have been huge), and then bought ice cream!

We had one last swim and then headed home for a quick shower, to order take out Pide from our favorite Turkish spot and borrowed a guitar from the pensione.

We had dinner (and Effes) at the local amphitheatre, which is 2100 years old and has great acoustics!

We were joined by two of our shipmates, Denise and Volckan, and then retired to the beachfront for a bit of Reki (which I can’t recommend before retiring for the evening!

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September 18, 2007

Kas (Sep 17)

Wow. We are having great luck – although the but from Antalya was rough, we made friends with Gary and Iffet. They are maried living in Suffolk, but Iffet is from Turkey – so we ended up with translation help and some very fun travelling companions. We found a pensione in Kas, had a beer (Efes is the Turkish beer) and went for a swim in the sea. Very warm, very salty, and totally refreshing.

After that, we walked to a restaurant that was recommended to Iffet where we had a great dinner, followed by a walk around the harbor. Other travellers had told us that we should take a day trip on The Bermuda – so we found that boat, negotiated a cheaper price and . . .wow!

We sailed to a local Greek Island (now I can say that I’ve been to Greece already) and went for a swim! More about our boat trip on the next free wifi connection!

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September 18, 2007

Goreme to Kas (Sep 15 and 16)

That’s right – that trip spans two days – left Goreme last night at 10 PM, changed busses in Antalya, and arrived in Kos around 11:30- that makes for a long travel day!

Thhe final drive was a combination of the North Cascades Hwy in Washington, Hwy 101 between Eugene and San Fran, and Hwy 17 from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz. Gorgeous – even if you have 23 people in a van with no air conditioning and the odor of the unwashed (me included).

However, we went right to our pensione, made friend with another couple (she is turkish and he is from England) and are on our way to the sea for a swim!

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September 16, 2007

Goreme Day 1 and 2 (Sep 15)

Wow. I don’t know that I’ll be able to do this justice, but imagine:

3 Volcanoes overlooking several valleys erupt at once. Volcanic rock, basalt, quartz, others. Add in wind, water, erosion, Hittite’s, very early Christians, invasions, wars, the Ottoman empire.

We’ve some of it all, from the underground city of Derinkuyu to the Monastery founded by St. Basi from Pigeon Valley to the church of St. Daniel to (I shit you not) the place where a bit of the very first Star Wars was filmed.

We’re staying at the Kose Pension, which is affordable, serves great breakfast and dinner, and has a dog (Spotty) who will give you a tour os the many cave dwelings here in Goreme.

It has been sunny and hot, the Turks continue to be kind, the food is great, and I just had a cold beer. My search foe good coffee may have to wait until I am back in Seattle, but maybe I’ll get lucky before then!

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September 13, 2007

Landed in Goreme

Whew – that was gruelinh 12 hours on a bus. Ny friends at NPower would have appreciated the HVAC system – either too ot or cold, but always changing.

We arrived at the Kose Pension to friendly gursts having breakfast, a room in about an hour, and some amazing landscape – pictures to follow!

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September 13, 2007

Istanbul to Cappodocia (Sep 13)

Our final day in Istanbul was nice – up, showered and packed, packs left at our hotl for the day – we had until 7:00 to goof off until the bus ride.

We ad breakfast and a coffee (French Press – better than the cappucino from yesterday, but still not great. Maybr in Greece . . .

We also had a gripping game of chess – Puja feigned ignorance and was headed towards thrashing me completely when a slight mistake gave me her queen and I eaded on towards a skow march to victory.

We did a bit of souvenir shopping and then headed to Topkepi Palace. Wow. Those pepole really lived like kings. Wait a minute – they WERE kings! It was amazing – vast expanses of lawn, astonishing views of the Golden Horn, even (get this) a special room for circumcision! I was a little nervous in tat room – I really didn’t want to see the tools of the trade!

We also saw the 5th largedt diamond in the world and the Topkepi dagger.

We launged in the Hippodrome for a bit, reading up on Turkey and Greece, and wathed a car get towed. They park next to it and use a crane to pick the whole thin up!

We had a lunch at a small place with live music, a beer near the Blue Mosque (we ARE on vacation afterall) and then walked back through the Hippodrome. Rammazan started yesterday, so some of the city refrains from alcohol, sexual congress, eating and drinking from dawn until sunset.

Consequently – in the Hippodrome9 they were setting up for a poast sunset feast! It was exciting – we ended up boarding our bus at 7 – but it was shaping up to be a good party!

We’ll arrive in Goreme in the morning via the overnight bus0 I don’t sleep well sitting up – so we shall see how the blog posting goes tomorrow!

September 12, 2007

Day three in Istanbul (Sep 12)

Our third and almost last day ere – tomorrow we leave for Goreme in Cappadocia.

We saw the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sophia today – both have great stories. The Mosque is incredibly simple on the inside – mostly a wide open space with 4 enormous supports – each one about 5 meters around.

The Sophia was the largest enclosed space for more than a thousand years – it was built in the 600’s – and in only 5 years. They has 1,000 craft workers and 10,000 laborers working on it. And the support colums from one floor to the next aren’t on top of each other – quite an engineering feat!

I can’t but compare to, say, the Kingdome – also built at public expense, with as many or more workers, boasting a concrete ceiling of unparalleled size – and blown up just a few decades after it was built. Te Sophia has crack the floor is uneven and so on – but it still serves Istanbul today.

We finished our day with a walk through the Grand Bazaar. Some think it a tourist trap, and there is some of that to be sure. And yet – these vendors are all working for a living, and the alleys and streets on the outside (the bazaar proper is covered) were incredibly vibrant.

We bought grilled.corn before we went in- and as I stood to look for a trash bin, the vendor hurried over to take the cob. The Turkish people ave been friendly, talentd and courteous. I can’t wait to see another part of the country!

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September 11, 2007

Istanbul Afternoon (9-11)

I know I just posted, but the free wifi is too much to resist! Puja and I are just back from a tasty dinner here in the Sultanamet district. The competition for our dining dollar is great – wheb we walk down the street, all of the restaurant vendors do their best to invite us in.

Tonight, we were won over by a very small place where the chief cook was also the chief musician. He was playinf a baglama, a 7 stringed instrument. 3 asked about it when we sat down, and e brought me a pair to try before dinner. I didn’t have the skill to determine the tuning, put picked out a bit of melody anyway – which seemed to earn more goodwill (if that is possible – thus far the turks seek to exude goodwill like sweat), and then was treated to a poast dinner tune by the chef.

I was delighted; on top of a great dinner, I got a bit of music, too.

We ended the night buying a bottle of water from a man who spent time in San Jose and knows about where I grew up. What a small and delightful world.

September 11, 2007

Istanbul Day Two (9-11)

Day two in Istanbul – I’m still settling in a bit – the first time this trip where acquiring ANY of th language is a challenge.

We started with a leisurly breakfast (including Nescafe coffee-quite a change from Italy where even the airport has great coffee) but the breakfast was quite good. We also took in our laundry (washing in the sink with Camp Suds only gets you so far) and took a leisurley boat ride along The Golden Horn and into the Bosphorous and (almost) into the Black Sea.

My geography must have been terrible because I didn’t really get that Istanbul is in both Europe and Asia-literally. I mean we can take a boat ride (in fact we did just that) from one to the other.

And if our guide book has a sucky map (and it does) the brief history is pretty handy. I remember a bit of the Ottoman Empir but the refresher sure helps. For instance – knowing the ever changing names of some of these places elps a lot. For instance – Ankara used to be Angola and (of course) Istanbul was Constantinople. And so on.

We still haven’t decided where we are going next – but tomorrow we’ll likely head over to the Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia.

Oh. And to the coffee shop, where I had my first Turkish coffee! It was tasty – somewhere in between an espresso, a drip, and a french press. No one told me that I shouldn’t slurp down to the very end – so I did get a mouthful of grounds at the very end!

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