Friday, October 06, 2006

Miletas, Turkey with our guide, Mustafa

Taken from the roof top resaurant of the Lady Diana Hotel, Istanbul, towards the Blue Mosque with the sea of Marmaris beyond.

October 7, 2006
We're going on a trip! Stay tuned for periodic episodes. I can't promise how often because we just don't know what kind of internet access we will have while traveling through rural Greece and Turkey. Who knows what a Greek keyboard is going to be like. The great part is, I will have an answer to this question in a very few days.



October 9th
Today it begins. It will be about 36 hours before we see a bed again. God knows what Dave and Mary are going to find when we finally meet up with them near ancient Knossos. Yes, no bed on Monday night as we fly overnight to Heathrow. No bed Tuesday night as we fly from London to Athens, arriving at 2:30 in the morning. Now, I ask you - who wants to check in to a hotel (in Athens no less) at that time of day. If you only have about 18 hours in Athens do you want to spend them studying the insides of your eyelids? Me neither. The ferry to Crete doesn't depart until 9pm where a bed (and a shower) await. We only hope for calm seas that night. In any event the plan is to watch the sunrise over the Parthenon and spend the day exploring Athenian antiquities getting used to the packs on our backs. Julie is very proud of herself as she has managed to pack for a month with all the requisite trappings (we hope) with just 22 pounds on her back. Me? Well, mine weighs in at 25, but I brought two books, not one.

Speaking of pride, the one thing we must do in Vancouver today before we leave is be in Stanley Park at 3pm today to receive Blake and dozens of other longboarders who have ridden their boards from Hope to Vancouver in a breast cancer fund raiser. A long way, you say? Well not nearly as long as the Halifax to Vancouver trip that four of them have done. We expect hundreds to be on hand to greet them as they arrive at their destination. If you are curious check out Well done guys. Well done Blake. We are very proud.

OCTOBER 10TH - Heathrow Airport

It's now close to 6pm local time but still 9am for us. The flight arrived about 2 hours late which was OK as we had about a 7 hour layover before boarding the plane for Athens, so the late arrival makes the wait a little shorter. We have wandered about - I gave up window shopping a long time ago and after getting a few quid in my pocket discovered this kiosk. No USB port, so even if I didn't stow my cord I would not be able to add any photos - even if I had taken any. Well, I did, but that was at Stanley Park.

Next stop Athens and then, John, that long awaited overnight ferry. You'll be happy to know and indeed fortunate if even after many years of marriage that you still look forward to things like that.


October 11th, Piraeus, aboard ship awaiting departure for Crete

Athens - Oh-My-God. First the utter confusion of gridlock in downtown Athens at 2 in the afternoon. Every intersection hopeless. Motorcycles go everywhere, including the sidewalks (cars too sometimes). Our flight from London arrived at 3:30 am and our first stop was to go to Piraeus to obtain our tickets and figure out the ferry. A wise move it turns out as not as straight forward as one might suppose. (I'm beginning to understand some of the value a good travel agents brings). Anyway, the first expresso at 4:30 AM tasted pretty good. Then on to the Metro for the 20 minute or so trip to the old part of Athens, the Parthenon and all the fabulous antiquities that my photos cannot do justice to.

Aphrodite: a real head turner

Then, another expresso at a great little restaurant- but this time with a plate of olives, an eggplant salad and spanikopita. We were in heaven (or maybe I was just getting close as my heart was starting to pound a bit).

Another head turner

Who knew that rush hours starts by 2 pm. Who knew that the Athens Metro should have pushers to get everyone on during rush hour. Who knew that Julie could fall asleep standing in a subway car so packed that all the windows were smeared with cheek-prints from all the face plants. Who knew that Greek time doesn't seems to follow any particular clock. Who knew that after something like 30 hours without sleep I manage to make some sense for this blog. Who knew how good a shower would feel on board the Festos Palace.

We hope tomorrow to wake refreshed and ready. cheers

October 14th - Matala, Crete

I wish I could post a few pictures, but it is an achievement just to access the web let along risk overloading the skinny pipe. Anyway, after meeting up with Dave & Mary in Heraklion we headed off towards out destination in Crete, a fishing village on the south shore - Tsoutsouris. Luois, our host, is a patient of Dave's in Vancouver and we have been overwhelmed by his hospitality. He is showing us a side of Crete we could never know as mere tourists. An early stop was at a friend's where Louis's Raki is distilled.

The little 'tasting bar', with its stone floor, a couple of rough tables and stumps for seating was wonderful. We sat, sampled the Raki, ate home-made raisins (flavoured with a bay leaf & outstanding), almonds from the tree just outside and other tasty treats laid out. Raki, a delighful adult beverage is distilled from grapes. Also known as Grappa in other European countries it packs a serious punch but, as we discovered, helps cure jet-lag in an almost miraculous way.

It must be noon somewhere in the world

Yesterday, after breakfast with Louis he took us to view his land - he grows olives and aloe commercially on a stunning property overlooking the Libyan Sea (aka Mediterranean).

We stopped on the way down to visit the neighbor - a Shepherd with 1,000 or so sheep. No sooner did we arrive then out came the Raki, hard bread, olives and home made cheese. An hour or so later another stop, another neighbor another stash of Raki. This time, our host went outside, harvested some pomegranate and persimmons and we feasted and drank some more. We returned to our 'hotel' with two bottles of home made wine and perhaps a litre and a half of Raki. A short nap later we were swimming in the Mediterranean just steps from our hotel.

Zeus reclining - the view from our hotel in Tsoutsouris

Matala where we now sit, a couple of hours west of where we are staying was once a hippy haven - where one lived in caves carved out of the limestone cliffs. No longer as the tourist trade has taken over, complete with internet cafes.

Crete is dry and windy. The roads not for the feint of heart. Blake, we have been on roads that any longboarder would die for (or perhaps from as there is a distinct lack of guard rails).

There is much more to write - but not now - as the meter keeps ticking.


October 17 - Rhodes - in the old town

First - for our last days in Crete we were on our own as Louis, like all Greek citizens, had to be in his home village to vote and so he left us to our own devices. After a breakfast of coffee along with yoghurt and honey (we swooned at the taste - an 8 inch plate with a lake of honey in yogurt tasting more like Cornish cream than the stuff we have at home - both honey & yogurt produced close by) we headed east. The narrow roads, the villages, some hanging on the side of steep slopes, were wonderful so long as you are not in a hurry. We explored a village called Agios Thomas, a beautiful village perched atop a mountain. Most streets too narrow for cars, moldering ancient buildings, Roman tombs and a cemetery with a view to die for.

Agios Thomas

But this was a living village with all the old building still in use by the villagers - not as tourist attractions - as homes, stables, places of worship.

As we were leaving a priest was chanting in a small Greek Orthodox church. With the incense wafting out and his sonorous, melodious voice such a soothing sound - it seemed so elemental.

Market day in Mires was a treat. Throngs of people. Everything to be had from the cheap and imported to locally grown produce that was fantastic.

Market day in Mires, Crete

Returning that day we stopped at Kostas' village and went to a sweet shop run by his aunt. His niece Julie was home from Athens (to vote), Like many youth she has left Crete which she finds boring and could not understand why we would want to come to visit. This is a problem in Crete as there are few young people willing/wanting to stay to carry on the village life.

After saying goodbye to our host Kostas (who sent us on our way with a liter of his own olive oil) we headed back towards Iraklion where a Dash 8 was to take us to Rhodes. On the way we stopped at Knossis. While it was thick with tourists and the guided tour juggernauts, mankind has used this place for, oh, 8,000 years or so and you can't help but feel a connection.

The airport experience was good and we found ourselves on the island of Rhodes late afternoon on the 16th. Our pension is in the old town of Rhodos on the northern tip of the island.

Mango Pension, Old Town, Rhodos

This city was at one time owned and controlled by the Knights Templar who built the walled town between 1300 & 1500. Much remains as it was and we have had a great time wandering the maze of cobbled streets.

A random street in the Old Town

It is filled with tourist shops of all descriptions, from the very tacky to the very chic. If its not a shop selling something, its a restaurant. Most have 'greeters' - 20 something Greek Adonises working to lure you in to their establishment. In Greece the men are the wait staff and the women cook.

A Rhodian restaurant

This morning we visited the Palace of the Grand Master - a medieval castle that is stupendous in scale with wonderful artifacts from many periods. Some of the mosaic floors were incredible.

The good old days in Rhodos

One of many sculptures in the Palace of the Grand Masters

The weather today has been cool and rainy - unusual for this area - at least this early - but feels like home for us.

Another day in Rhodes tomorrow and then off to Turkey via hydrofoil to the port of Marmaris. cheers

October 19th, Marmaris, Turkey

Thisıs may be a lılittle compressed as ıt has taken the fırst 15 mınutes to fıgure out the Turkish keyboard etc. There are several keys that are dıfferent and so İ hope this comes out legible.

İn any event, we had a wonderful couple of days ın the old town of Rhodes, wanderıng the maze of streets and alleyways, the echoes of the Knıghts Templar, Suyleman (sp?) and centuries of conquest & rebuıldıng. There was also the fendıng off of the shop keepers and the reataurant greeters, competıng fıercely for our end of season Euros.

Yesterday we walked the moat (dry) and trembled at the thought of tryıng to scale those walls as part of an ınvadıng army.

There were several small exıt doors where we could ımagıne nıghttıme sortıes to thın the enemy ranks a lıttle. As the sıgnage poınted out, the earth beneath our feet had soaked up much blood and I must say I really felt thıs as the walls of the fort, stıll largely ıntact, were awe ınspırıng. Wıth any luck I can post a photo or two later.

Perhaps these feelıngs were helped along the prevıous evenıng (17th)as a stupendous storm fell upon Rhodes. For perhaps an hour or more the wınds at gale force wıth thunder and lıghtenıng nearly contınous raged about us. We went up on the roof of our pension and enjoyed a 360 vıew of the sky. It was thrillıng for us, but as we saw the followıng mornıng, not so thrıllıng for several boat owners whose craft ıncurred sıgnıfıcant damage. Here ın Marmarıs there was also consıderable damage - boats smashed and the beaches fılled wıth debris.

Last nıght we went to an outdoor performance of tradıtıonal Greek dance. Whıle just on the edge of too cold, ıt was a great show. The dancers were either ıncredıbly professional or they were really having fun. The costumes were great as was the dancing. They were very expressive - the courtship rituals charmıng - the leaping and twirlıng was thrilling.

This mornıng we left our pension at 7am for the harbour and our passage to Marmarıs, Turkey.

We say farewell to the Greek flag

A lıttle excıtement ın Rhodes as the customs officıal could not find an entry stamp to the EU ın my passport. He put ıt aside and İ had vısions of beıng led to an interrogation room or something. Luckily it dıd not come to this as the stamp was there. After a short and choppy hour we arrıved ın Marmarıs. More excıtement here as Julie was pulled back suspected of cheatıng on the payment of our tourıst Visa fees. Agaın, all ended well. Marmaris ıs a resort town and we are told not representaıve of what we will see from here on in. We really hope so as ıts not a pretty sight to see the worst of western tourists exposed - ıf you know what İ mean. We meet up wıth our guide tomorrow at 8 and all four of us are excıted to be at the start of this next leg of our jouney.

cheers, Eric

October 21,Selcuk

After meeting our guide,Mustafa at about nine we set off in our minivan for new adventures. Mustafa is a retired teacher and interestingly, his mother came from a village in Crete but came back to Turkey in the early '20's with (I think) many thousands of Turkish people who left Greece around the time modern Turkey was founded. In any event, we are enjoying Mustafa.

Our first day took us to three amazing sites - the Temple of Apollo in Didyma, an ancient theatre (now in the Roman style) in Miletus and then to another Ionian city in Piriene. Alas, words cannot describe, but all were wonderful.

The Temple of Apollo - an oracle frequently consulted by Roman emperors

With our Guide, Mustafa at Miletus theatre

The theatre at Piriene

Piriene - Serenity, Eternity

We spent a long time in the car but enjoyed passing by gypsy camps set up for the cotton harvest, Turkish villagers herding goats and all things Turkish. Last night we heard a drummer at around 3 or so in the morning. While I thought mischeif, it was a Ramadan ritual.

More to come...

later same day

As Mustafa explained, the drummer is out at that time of night to wake the faithful early enough for them to prepare and eat a meal before dawn as the fast begins then. Neither food nor water is to touch the lips between sunrise and sundown. Today, Saturday, is market day and this, being the last day of Ramadan, the market was full to bursting with people buying food for tonight's festivities.

Market day in Selcuk

We decided to have our own feast and had a great time in the market buying olives, cheese, bread, grapes, dried figs, wine and other delicacies (ie baclava) and had our picnic back at the hotel.

Our hotel in Selcuk

I think our first stop this morning had some impact on our meal choice as we visited the Basilica of St John here in Selcuk. We gazed upon the tomb of St John in the ruins of what was once the second largest Christian church in the world in its time - only St Sophia in Istanbul was larger 1,700 years ago. Anyway, it was very biblical and very beautiful.

Here lies St. John

The trip to St John's was a prelude to our visit of Ephesos, a massive ancient city that has been under escavation for about a hundred years or so and really has only just begun as there are still huge areas still to be excavated. Again, its difficult to describe Ephesos but wonderful to behold and quite humbling to experience.

The library of Celsus was built in the 2nd century AD

The artistry and sophistication of man thousands of years ago is not something we North Americans can experience as we just don't have these reminders to see and touch.

Mary, was it something you ate?

Hadrian's Temple

Yesterday was perhaps more striking for me, mostly I think because as we toured a place where thousands of people lived together centuries before Christ (Piriene), it is now pretty much in the middle of nowhere and unlike today where Ephesus was quite busy, we were alone except for a tortise happily munching close by a fallen marble column. Here there are no rope barriers to keep the curious at bay, no whistle blowing guards to shout at you if you take a step or two off the prescribed path (I'm thinking Athens here, folks. The sun was setting, the lighting was magnificent and being able to explore unhindered really helped the experience.


(The edge came off a bit an hour or so later when we saw a roadside sign advertising Starbucks) Ephesus is much bigger and while very busy it is more intact and thus gives a better idea of what it might have been like to live in those times.

We have had some intersting discussions with Mustafa on a wide range of topics. He is very well informed on Turkish history and the sights we are visiting, but its a liot to take in, given that our discussions seem to be ranging over 4 or 5,000 years of human history - one conquest after another and so much gets jumbled up by the end of the day. In any event its all been fascinating and while we are tired at the end of each day, we acn't wait for the next. I just hope the little drummer boy gives it a rest tonight!


Oct 25 - Kaş

We left Seçuk on the 22nd, meandered through Kusadasi, whıch struck us as very tourıstıc, what wıth 4 cruıse shıps ın port. However, our guıde Mustafa redeemed hımself by taking us to Nysa where there was a freıze depıctıng Dıonysıus, the god of wıne, whıch adorned another theatre. I have great photos, but after losıng over a hour,s work yesterday tryıng to upload I,m very hestitant to try again - maybe later.

Dionyusius and some of his mates

Anyway, after Nysa we then drove to Aphrodesıas - another ancıent cıty ın ruıns sıttıng ın the mıddle of nowhere. The entrance to the Temple of Aphrodesias have been restored and are beautıful.

A maın feature here ıs an ıntact colleseum (thınk The Gladıator) that could seat 36,000. We learned that ıt wasn't just Chrıstıans who were the entertainment as anyone condemned to death for a crıme were usually on the card as well.

Dave would not have been a spectator in his former life at this place

At Aphrodesıas they have recently started excavatıng a settlement - I can,t recall the hıstorıcal perıod, (Bronze Age?) but ıt dates back 4,500 years.

From Aphrodesıa we then drove to Pamukkale. Al & Mary - ıt was a little bıt lıke the dıfference between beıng ın the Grand Canyon and then goıng to Las Vegas. There are huge hotels here to accommodate all the people comiıng to vıew thıs unique landscape.


Here we changed guides and saıd goodbye to Mustafa and hello to Yelcin.

Mustafa, a retıred teacher was a terrıfıc guıde. Not only was he very knowledgeble on the antiqities, he shared agreat deal about famiy life, religıon and some politıcs. We learned, for ınstance, that he knew by a women,s headdress whether she was marrıed or not, had chılden or grandchildren, wıdowed, etc. He ıs vısıtıng frıends ın Toronto next spring and we hope to see him ın Vancouver. He has promised to bring some of Yelçin,s olive oıl when he comes.

From Pamukkale we had a 6 hour drıve to Kaş. İn the late afternoon he turned off the maın road and headed to a place called Pinara. The narrow road quıckly deteriorated and when we turned onto a poor, swıtchback gravel road we were all rather anxiously peering down to our potential doom. (İ,ll just say Yeltçın ıs a confident driver). Mary - there is no question ın my mind that you would have asked to be excused... Anyway, up ahead in the moutains we could see a sheer cliff with hundreds of rock tombs.

Pinara cliff tombs

Pinara, the 5th century BC Lycian city we were approachiıng is high up in the Taurus moutains, and asıde from the tomb raiders ıs untouched by modern society.

Yelcin and some modern day tomb raiders

To get to the sight we scrabbled up a very rough and at times precipitous traıl. İt was wonderful. The air was fragrant wıth wild rosemary and thyme and an unidentıfied small white flower. The only sound was a constant thrummıng of what must have been millions of bees. And here we were walkıng through a cıty that once had tens of thousands of souls. Thıs is one of those moments that wıll stay with me for a long, long tıme.

Still pining for Pinara

Kaş (sounds like caush) ıs a seasıde town of about 8,000 that seems well dıscovered by western travellers and is very picturesque (can you feel me cursıng the computer that denies me the opportunity to show you?)

Our hotel in Kas - the sun was hot, the ocean was warm and the Efes was cold!

The nıght we arrıved Yeltçın took us to his frıend Smıley's restaurant, where Smiley and Mrs. Smiley provided a wonderful meal. It was Yeltçın,s bırthday that day and Julie and Mrs. Smiley quickly arranged for a birthday cake to be presented at dessert (which was several hours & much Raki and wıne later). By 11:30 or so there were only a couple of tables left and our host came over wıth his water pipe. We all shared Smiley's 'bubbly jubbly' - a concoction of drıed apple and tobacco (honestly!).

As the 23rd was the end of Ramadan and the start of a 4 day Muslim holiday, Kaş was alive at midnight and we much enjoyed the atmosphere on the walk home.

Yesterday - the 24th we chartered a smallısh boat and went to Kukova - a 'sunken' city - as İ understand it, part of this island city slid down into the ocean during a ist century AD earthquake that devasted huge areas of Turkey. We all enjoyed the boat very much as well as the swım, whıch was ınterestıng as withın 20 or 30 feet you would go from warm to cold to warm again as the thermal waters were not yet mıxed with the colder ocean waters.

Today ıs R&R ın Kaş as we rest up for the long drıve to the Capadoccia region tomorrow. Our only task is to fınd an old tomb located somewhere ın Kaş -the first to find it wins the right to a bottle of raki - which, ınterestingly ıs like ouzo, not the grappa we were used to in Crete. We are still searching for the perfect kebab - we,ve come close several times. The food has been great, people frıendly and helpful everywhere we go. We are ımpressed by the road systems and pretty much everything we encounter. İ'm even gettıng used to the plumbing!

Oct 28, Urgup (pronouned er-goop)
After a delightful fınal day ın the seaside town of Kaş, swimming, readiıng, shopping and geneal wandering about we set off for our longest travellıng day, destınation Konya, a city of over a million and the resting place of Mevlana, founder of the Sufi sect.

Enroute we stopped at a place called Phaselis, a Roman period seasıde port that Alexander the Great once spent a winter. İn addiıon to remnants of an aquaduct the townsite itself, with three harbours was great. While we wer there Yeltçın pointed out myrrh trees. The berries were used to make a particulr dye of blue that could only be used by royalty. Now İ understand why this was one of the gıfts gıven to Jesus.

The aquaduct at Phaselis

After an ıncredible lunch consistıng of a white bean salad, meatballs and flatbread (this was the only thing on the menu) we then stopped at a theatre in Aspendos. İt ıs the best preserved ancient theatre in the world and is still in regular use.

Opera, anyone?

There was also a Roman aquaduct of huge proportion.

The aquaduct to Aspendos transported water from a source 30km away

Leaving the coastal region we started to climb up an over the Taurus range towards Konya. At a roadside chai stop Yeltçın harvested some hollyhock seeds which İ look forward to planting next spring. İ also have an acorn from an oak tree from Troy. Hard to know if this will work im BC, but we shall see.

Yesterday we departed Konya for the Capadıccia region which much anticipation as everyone who has been here has raved about it. On the way we stopped at a place called Sultanhani - a 13th century Caravanseri which was a safe haven along the famous Sılk Road. In those days there was one of these forts every 25 or 30 km - the dıstance a camel traın could travel in a day. There was a farmers market happening and we all enjoyed the sımple yet for us exotic experience.

Market day in Sultanhani Caravanseri

After all the amazing sites and places we have already been İ was a bit sceptical about all the talk of Cappadocıa. This feeliıng was quıckly dashed at a vıllage called Selınet.

Here the caves were ınhabıted at least from the beginnıng of the Byzantium period (300 BC) until 1923 when all non Muslims had to leave Turkey. This region is important to Christianity as not only did many come here to escape persecution, there were many theologins whose input in Christian doctrine (like the Council of Nicene) is now deeply inbedded in this faith. The external landscape is fantastıc too. This area was used as a location for one of the Star Wars movies. You will have to wait for photos to see. Next was an underground cıty - Derinkuyu- hundreds of rooms and chambers on 9 levels that goes down 150 feet or so.

Our hotel in Urgup is also partially carved into this same porous rock and as we will be here three nights İ know we will enjoy this luxury on our final fews days before Istanbul.

October 29 Ürgüp

Well we have just come down - literally - from a balloon ride over the Cappadocıa region which was an amazing experience. While it was planned as a sunrise tour this was cancelled last minute (ie 4:45 this morning). However, the weather cleared a bit thıs afternoon so Yelçın dropped us ın Göreme around 2pm. Slıght drizzle, slight wind but great excitement. We were in a basket of 8 people - nine including the captain.


Aside from the bursts from the burners shooting hot air into the balloon it was very peaceful as we floated at the mercy of the wınd. The terrain ıs bizarre and breathtaking and it was very exciting as we glided along, at times more than a kilometer above the ground and at other times scraping the tree tops.

The landing was terrific as there was a slight breeze so we bounced along a couple of times before coming to a stop (upright) ın a muddy field. After a glass (or three) of champagne and cherry juice we followed a road that any 4X4 enthusiast would love back to civilization.

Now thatİ have thıs off my chest, let me back up. İ haven,t saıd much about the food we have been enjoying, partly because. as a Weightwatchers deciple İ have been enjoying the food FAR TO MUCH and ın quantitıes of stunning proportiion. The olıves, the cheese, the flatbread, the kebabs, the lamb, the baclava, the honey, the fruıt - its all way too tasty. Here in Cappadocia we have really enjoyed Kiremit Çeşıtler - a sort of lamb stew cooked in a clay pot. You have to break the top of the pot in order to get to the food ınside which is fun to do but the meat is so tender - well - you all know the saying: ıt is to dıe for. We have really appreciated our guide Yelçin as he is taking us to restaurants frequented by the locals. From the look of them you would not want to go anywhere near them, but the food ıs always authentıc and delicıous.


Not Recommended

In addıtıon to my hollyhock seeds and Troy oak acorn, İ have now added a St. John's Bread pod as well as Oleaster seeds to my collection, complete with ınstructıons for germınation.

Today is Republic Day in Turkey and we wıtnessed the parade here in Urgup. The hıghschool drumcore was blasting out a terrific beat and every now and again the trumpets proudly proclaimed. Flags & pictures of Ataturk were everywhere. The parade included every hıghschool, each with its own banner and at the rear every public vehıcle, ıncluing the paddy wagon - sirens blaring. İt was a great scene.

Rubulic Day in Urgup

Tonight we hope to attend a Turkish folk & belly dancing performance as this is our last night in this region and then tomorrow we fly to Istanbul for the last few days of this adventure.

Oct 30: Urgup

So, the folk dancing night turned out to be quite an adventure. The venue was yet another Cappadocian cave but ın this case, a recent renovatıon project. İt was in some ways typical dınner theatre - cheap wıne and rakı and all you can eat appetisers and Tandır lamb wıth rice. Because it was the end of the season, it was only half full with a couple of larger tour groups (Swıss, Korea) and other odds and sods lıke us! The evenıng began at 8.30 wıth a perfomance by a trıo of Whırlıng Dirvıshes who are Sufı devotees. We weren't allowed to clap or take photos as they are actual practitioners of their sect - weird to see them ın this night club atmosphere.

Our guide Yelçin - a folk musician himself - is proud of the fact that Turkish dancers regularly win international folk dancing competitions and after last evening we could see why. While the Greek dancing we saw ın Rhodos was very controlled and orderly, thıs style of dance was much more exuberant and included knife throwing. The interaction between the male and female dancers was more evocative. Speakıng of evocative - our belly dancer perhaps defined the term!

We,ve all been to dınner theatres where audience participatıon is part of the fun of the evening and last night was no exception. Early on, there were perhaps 75 people drawn up to the dance floor including the four of us for folk dancing warm up that ended ın a sort of Conga lıne leading outside to a fire where Yelçin proudly jumped over the flames to our side. This gave the wait staff the opportunity to clear the table of appies and our main course awaited.

Back inside, Eric was drawn into the folk performance where several suitors present themselves to the beautiful princess - being the first of three suitors, he was refused as not beıng handsome enough! He gratefully returned to obscurity ın the crowd.

Next came the belly dancer - a beautiful young woman with amazing moves - who gave us a great demonstration of the art. After her solo performance, it was time to bring more guests up on the floor and who should she choose first but our Dave! With a huge smile on his face he undulated as if he,d done this many times before. When the dancer began to disrobe Dave, he and the other three volunteers as well as the entire theatre, really started to sit up and take notice. She toyed mercilessly with the four of them much to the delight of all. Mary has a video which will be auctioned off to the highest bidder upon their return.

The last few days touring the Cappadocia region has been a highlight of our trip and any of you travelling to Turkey really should not miss this area. For those of you who have been to Drumheller, Alberta, it is somewhat similar except that here man has carved homes, underground cities and places of worship into the layers of volcanic ash. The towns that seem to sprout out of the older cave communities are wonderfully picturesque and although this area is quite touristic, it really is marvelous. We look forward to publishing accompanying photos upon our return home when things will be easier.

Have to run, but must tell you quickly about my haircut today. Julie watched as I had my hair cut, followed by a surprise ear waxing. Julie watched in amazement as the barber - who looked lıke Prınce and was about 18 years old - put a flamıng q-tıp ınto my ears to remove those unsightly hairs! This ıs probably only a ritual performed on unsuspecting tourists!

See you ın Istanbul!

November 1st from the Lady Dıana hotel ın Istanbul

Yesterday we met our half day tour guide, Huseyın a 9 am. The weather was terrible. The wind was so strong it was blowing the rain sideways. Fortunately our hotel ıs only two blocks from the Blue Mosque, our fırst stop, and so only the first layer of our rain defences were penetrated.

The Blue Mosque - so named due to the interior hue created by the stained glass windows

We all managed to get our feet wet - not because of the puddles (which were legion) but because you must remove your shoes before you enter the mosque and the drivıng rain and all the wet footware had soaked the shoe-shucking area. However, once stepping into this imense and beautiful space all thoughts of mortal dıscomfort were left behind. Besides, the thousands of prayer rugs we were walking on helped dry the socks a bit before we exited to then proceed to the equally awesome St. Sophia or Hagia Soğhia.

The Pope is to visit Istabul and has made a request to say a prayer while visiting St Sophıa, but the odds seem slim and not just because of his recent faux pas. From there it was on to one of the underground reservoirs. There are apparently hundreds of these water storage areas around the city. I,m sure the water level rose an inch or two while we were down there given the rain had only increased in ıntensity. Anyway, after lunching at a Turkish fast food restaurant we headed to the Grand Bazaar.

Yes, we saw one McDonald's in Istabul, but the lineups were in places like this

A shop in the Spice Market near the Galata Bridge

While İ can say İ was glad İ was there we tired of it fairly quickly. Later, we met our guıde Huseyın and his gırlfrıend Simone for pre dinner drinks. Simone is from Whiterock and after meeting Huseyın while touring in 2005 came back to Istanbul last June and is working as an English teacher. We enjoyed meeting and talking with her and it was ınteresting to hear her perspective on Turkey.

Dave and Mary depart tomorrow for Dubai and then Julie and İ leave early Friday morning and thus our adventures together - at least on this trip - are coming to a close. Our evening ritual of cocktails - often in the hotel room, usually requies a bottle of red wine - Dikman - a robust Turkish plonck - and perhaps an Efes beer for the boys. Then, if we have a suggested restaurant, off we go in search of said locale. Failing a reliable suggestion we have to do our best to pick a suitable eatery - not always easy to do. There is one rule of thumb, though: the more aggresive and attractive the greeter attempting to lure us in, the worse the food is. Last night we had a terrifıc meal, but it was recommended to us by our Istanbul tour guide and we were not dısappoınted. While we hate to do the same place twice, this is our last night together so we don,t want to mess up. Especially as tonight there is a larger bottle of Dıkman to consume (the bıg Dık) and so our judgement may be a lıttle impaıred.

İ will try for one last installment tomorrow as its now 7:30 and I hear the Dıkman calling my name.


Nov 2 - Istanbul

This morning we woke up to a beautiful blue sky and shirt sleeve weather. İ.m not sure if this was a blessing or a curse - this being our last day here. İn any event we had a terrific day once again exploring this amazing city.

Looking north from near Topkapi Palace to the Bosphorus - Europe to the left, Asia to the right

We have managed to work our way down to the last few Lira - now only enough for one last Turkish chai tomorrow morning. We said goodbye to Dave and Mary about 4 this afternoon as they embark for the next leg of their journey. Julie and İ contined our more or less aimless wandering - something new or very ancient around every corner.

An Instabul 'fixer-upper'

Dave. please don't be disappointed when I say we ended up at the Turquoişe restaurant again. The dessert was incredible.

While feeling a bit blue about parting with our travelling companions and having this adventure come to a close at the same time I am excited about returning home. İ also look forward to illustrating this blog with a few of the photos and perhaps brushing up the text a bit as İ realize when İ review my earlier missives that there are many things left unsaid. İ promise my editing will be ruthless as I have somewhere around a thousand images to help jog the grey cells in the future.



November 5th, Vancouver

Arrived home on Friday evening, on time after a long but uneventful trip. Still wrestling with this blog which seems just a tempramental here as during our travels. Yesterday it seemed happy to accept my photos, but today - no. I will give it a bit of a rest. Perhaps Shu will be more disposed to help me a little later in the day.