September 2008 - Turkey
September 25, 2008
Hi We left Kemer Marina this morning heading for Kekova Roads about 55nm. We'll stay a few days while some weather passes through and then early next week we'll leave the boat and take a ferry to Kastledirison. Every 90 days we have to leave Turkey to renew our visa. So we take a small ferry boat from Kas to a Greek Island a few miles off shore, spend a few hours, then go back to Turkey. We could take our own boat over but then we'd have to give up our Turkish transit log and that costs time and money to get it back again. We plan to be out for another month before heading back to Kemer for the winter. We still have our Turkish cell phone (011)90 534 393 9401 (free incoming calls)
and we'll get emails once a day by SSB the kc0rmx email address. Happy fall. Love and God Bless Sally and Al
September 20, 2008
Hi All We had a fantastic time in Cappadocia with Mary and Christopher. We drove 9 hours first along the Mediterrean, next the mountains, then across a huge tumble weed plain arriving finally in the rocky canyons of Cappadocia. We stopped for lunch in Aksaray. We had found the name of a restaurant in the Lonely Planet so we asked a man at the gas station how to find it. He said follow me. He drove at least 5 minutes, helped us find parking then walked us another 5 minutes to the restaurant which was closed for renovations so he took us to another restaurant also in the book. Amazing... another example of how friendly and helpful Turkish people can be. Lalezar Cave Hotel was just that a cave hotel built into the side of the hill some hotels are hollowed out of Fairy Chimneys. Cappadocia feels like a Disney set or a Star Wars film set. The cave dwellings and fairy chimneys seem surreal. It was a short walk down the hill into the village of Goreme where we ate dinner each night.
Wednesday we walked to Goreme Open-Air Museum from our hotel. It's a cluster of 2nd century rock-cut Byzantine churches, chapels and monasteries. Then we drove to Pasabagi and Devrent Valley to walk among the Fairy Chimneys. These are a collection of volcanic cones. Most of these rosy colored cones are topped with a darker stone of harder rock that shelters the cones from rain while all the surrounding rock is eaten away by erosion. Our last stop for the day was Uchisar Castle. This is a tall volcanic rock outcrop with fantastic views of Cappadocia's Rose and Pigeon Valleys. Many tunnels, rooms and windows are carved into it. On Thursday we drove to Derinkuyu and visited an underground city. We crawled through tunnels and down steps covering about 5 of the 7 levels in this city. Many of these cities were inhabited over 4000 years ago during Hittite times. In times of peace the people lived and farmed above ground but when invaders threatened they moved below ground and could live safely for up to six months. Yuck I could barely stand 45 minutes. I certainly wouldn't want to wander around down there by myself. Tunnels and steps lead everywhere. Some stretch for 5 km connecting city to city.
We drove to Ihlara Valley and walked along the stream through the gorge with canyon type walls. Byzantine monks carved many churches into the rock. Midway along the valley we stopped for lunch at a restaurant along the stream in Belisirma. We hired a guy to drive us back to our car. He drove up in an old green Renault minus a door handle. We held on tight as we drove the hairpin turns climbing out of the valley back to Ihlara where the car was parked. A young man gave us a "thumbs up" and said "sweet" as the car drove off :-)
Sadly Friday morning we dropped Mary and Chris at Nevsehir/Kappadoka Airport. They flew to Istanbul for the day and left this morning for a day in London before flying back to Chicago. Al and I drove back to Kemer. It's fun having family here but so much harder to see them go. We plan to fly home mid December but that's a long . Love and God Bless Sally and Al
September 15, 2008
Hi All We had a wonderful time in Istanbul. The weather was perfect. Al and I were a little worried Wednesday when we landed and it was raining. It hadn't rained for 3 months. But by noon it cleared up and that was the end of our bad weather. It rained every day and was cold last November when we were here. We took the metro and tram to our hotel and checked in. The apartment we rented wasn't all the internet pictures made it out to be. As a matter of fact they combined pictures from both apartments making it appear like one. We moved into rooms the next day. Mary and Chris had a big balcony where we had our evening cocktails. We had a view of the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque. Our hotel was just one block away.
We met Mary and Chris at the airport and took a shuttle back. The Sultanahmet area is a fun area to stay as we were close to all of the major the sights. The grounds around the Blue Mosque were covered with food stands, banners and tents for Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkey). The Muslim people fast during this month from sunrise to sunset. Then people gather to eat and the food and music was free to the fasting people. It reminded me of a carnival type atmosphere with balloons, popcorn, cotton candy, candied apples, kebabs, corn on the cob, banana milkshakes, ice cream cones...
Thursday we visited the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, and the Grand Bazaar. We had some interesting times looking and bargaining with the shop keepers. Most are so friendly and it becomes a game. Some are not so honest. We had one get quite angry at the Grand Bazaar. We refused to buy from him after he changed his bargained price when we were paying. We found it much nicer to bargain and shop at the regular stores than the bazaar.
Friday we took a boat trip on the Bosphorus River up to the Black Sea. Three War ships were anchored by Istanbul one of them American. There was lots of activity because of Georgia War. It was a beautiful sunny day. We got off the ferry at Anadolu Kavagi and hiked up to the medieval castle. Spectacular views of the countryside and the Black Sea. We had grilled Black Sea sea bass for lunch before heading back down the river. We visited the Spice Bazaar and walked back to Sultanahmet through non-touristy neighborhoods. We visited with a young Irish couple from Mary/Chris balcony. It was funny as they were across the street on their hotel balcony.
Saturday we visited Aya Sophia and Basilica Cistern. We had lunch and walked over the Golden Horn on the Galata bridge. We decided to find the Old City Walls and ended the afternoon with a lovely walk through Gulhane Park (lover's lane). We took the tram to Taksim Square for the evening. We met a young Turkish couple on the tram. We asked about the tram stop to catch the funicular up to Taksim and they took us the entire way. They even gave us their cell phone number in case we ran into any difficulties :-) People in Turkey are so pleasant and truly go out of their way to be helpful.
Taksim Square is a lively place especially on the weekends. Last fall we were there on a Sunday night in the rain with Chris and Justin and it was still elbow to elbow full of people carrying umbrellas. Mary and Chris were surprised. They said it was like Chicago on a nice summer evening. The main street Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage) is lined with name brand stores, bakeries, cafes, and coffee shops. We had drinks at a meyhane (tavern) on Nevizade Sokak one of the most famous eating precincts in Istanbul. After wandering around among the thousands of people we had dinner at the same restaurant we went with Chris and Justin last November. We saw a Whirling Dervish dance as we walked back to our hotel.
Sunday we flew back to Antalya to Kemer Marina and the boat. We went for a swim then had dinner with friends at the Navigator Restaurant. Monday we showed the kids around Kemer and went to the weekly open market. We'd had enough Turkish food for awhile so we went to LaLuna for a nice steak dinner. Tomorrow we are driving 9 hours to Cappadocia. Love and God Bless Mary, Chris, Sally and Al