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Category Archives: Getting away

Turkey: Day, Um I don’t really know. (Antalya)

I went to plenty of places in between and I’ll share the pics later, but I couldn’t help but remember my first tour in Antalya, a beautiful area of Turkey I hadn’t heard out before this trip.  It was nice to

I got up early on a, uh, morning to make sure I didn’t miss the tour bus.  It was “cool” out and felt great.  The bus arrived and I got on.  This group was smaller and I still didn’t have to share a seat which was nice.  Our very “pleasant” guide got on and we were off.  I had no idea where we were going I just hoped it would be nice.  Turned out that we were headed to a region of Antalya, the Kekova Islands, which was 3 hours away.  The distance wasn’t that great but a good part of the route was through a mountainous area filled with winding roads.

Anywho, the guide walked through the bus speaking to everyone.  And when he got close enough to me he said good morning.  I’m telling you that man must have had some bourbon for breakfast.  Well, I don’t know that it was bourbon but it was definitely alcohol.  I thought to myself, “Oh great! Our guide is drunk already.  This should be interesting.”  He stood there at the front of the bus asking people where they were from and that’s when the silliness began.  I know that on the surface I don’t look “American” per se but when I talk, you would know that I couldn’t be anything else.  Anywho, he asked where I was from.  I said, sounding like a typical Ohioan, “America.”  He asked, “Saudi Arabia?”  Whatever, man.  Even though other people repeated that I was from America, he apparently didn’t get it.

Twenty thousand hours later we reached the Kekova Islands.  What can I say about this place?  Lovely!  And that’s an understatement.  I tried to choose one of my best shots to post.  As if I’m a photographer, lol.

I was really liking the view.  It was so peaceful and serene.  And to think I was planning to cancel this part of my trip because I was so tired from everything, the walking and climbing.  Anywho, the tour guide, still in a drunken stupor apparently, asked me again where I was from.  So I decided to go with something else.  I said, “The US.”  His response, “Tunis?”  Are you freaking kidding me?  He just didn’t want to accept that I was American I

lotspart2 181guess.  But I did get a laugh out of it.  To add to the humor, someone else asked me where I was from.  I thought, “Here I go again.”  The lady’s son told her that I was from Ohio.  So, she asked me about my parents.  I told her that my mom was from Michigan and that my dad was from Ohio.  And she decided to dig deeper.  Her son said that she kept saying, “Something’s not adding up.”  How far did she want me to go back?  My ancestors include Africans, American Indians, English and more recently I discovered also Turkey.  Finally, when I said that I was the only one in my family that looked like this, she was able to accept it.  Darn foreigners!

As part of our trip that day, the boat stopped and we were told we could take a swim for 30 minutes.  “Do you wanna go for a swim?”  Oh, silly tour guide!  I chuckled and said no.  He asked, “Oh, you’re not prepared?”  Again I chuckled and said no.  Picture it, I’m covered from head to toe.  Did he really think I planned of drowning myself as I tried to maneuver myself in the water the way I was dressed?  I must admit, it was tempting though.  Here’s where we stopped to swim, lol.  I can’t help but laugh when I think about it.

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Since I wasn’t “prepared” to swim, I did what I had been doing all day.  I took pictures.  I also started thinking that I would definitely like to return to Turkey, this area in particular.  Prior to my trip I had never heard of Antalya and when I added the stop to my itinerary I no idea what I would see.

I’m glad I went and I highly recommend it to you.  I was there in October which was nice.  The temperature hovered right around 75 F.  Don’t ask me about C temperatures because I have no idea.

Antalya!  I loved it.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Getting away, Uncategorized

 

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Turkey: Day 3 (An Indecent Proposal)

What can you say about people?  Sometimes, people are just plain weird.  On my third day in Istanbul, we headed to the Spice Bazaar which I kept calling the “Spice Bar.”  I had missed the tour bus because the driver said I was so late.  He left me.  I ended up waiting a bit for another driver to come and pick me up.  I sat in the hotel lobby, fuming, but not really.  I wasn’t sure I was that interested in seeing a bunch of spices anyway.  The backup driver arrived and I got on the little bus.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who missed it that morning.  When we got there, we didn’t have a lot of time because we had spent our time waiting in hotel lobbies.

Voila! Enter the Spice Bazaar.

When I walked inside, it was insanity.  So many people, so much “stuff.”  As I said, I didn’t have much time so I was just trying to rush through.  What was I supposed to buy?  Well, I guess spices.  I walked through, and as usual the shopkeepers were trying to get people to try their “stuff.”  And since I was dressed the way I was dressed, they assumed that I was Arab so they spoke Arabic to me.  It’s always fun to see the confused look on people’s faces when they speak Arabic and I respond in English.  They kept asking, “Are you Saudi?”  I responded, “Um, no I’m not.”  Everyone was trying to tempt me with Turkish Delight, but such effort was wasted on me since I don’t like it.  I kept wandering like a lost puppy.  I didn’t know what I wanted yet I felt the need to buy something.  I finally stepped into a shop and I even tried the Turkish Delight.  I wasn’t impressed, but whatever.  I bought some.  I figured I could give it as a gift.  So, I bought two boxes, choosing different mixes as if I knew any better.

The next stop was yet another shop with the usual, spices-a-plenty, Turkish Delight, all kinds of tea and some other stuff I didn’t really notice or care to notice.  But this time, I decided I’d get some tea.  I know that their goal is to sell, but what was this man selling?  He showed me lots of fancy shmancy teas which smelled absolutely divine.  There were teas for multiple things.  So, I chose one for a friend and waited impatiently for him to bag it.  He offered to make me some tea, but time I had not so I thanked him and said I didn’t have time for tea.  But he kept talking.  I could have left but I had paid the man so I wasn’t about to leave without my purchase.  He went on to say some strange strange things.  He said, “Please don’t tell me you have a Turkish boyfriend or worse, a husband.”  I laughed.  What else could I do in this situation?  He continued, “Cause I’m looking for a nice Muslim girl to marry.”  OMG!  But I quickly replied, “I’m not a girl.”  He was left speechless.  I took my tea and left.

Silly man, who offers marriage to random strangers in a store?  Just another day in the life I guess.

 

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Turkey: Day 2 (Tour of Istanbul: Hagia Sophia)

After I managed to catch my breath and move on from the Blue Mosque ordeal, our group walked a short distance over to Hagia Sophia.  What’s interesting about it is that it was first a church, then a mosque and now a museum.

Being the tourist, I first had to stop and snap a few pictures.  Here it is from outside.

 

Interestingly enough, I didn’t learn my lesson from the Blue Mosque incident.  I managed to get separated from our group yet again.  I was so proud of myself.  Fortunately this time I wasn’t alone.  My friends were with me.  We scrambled looking for anyone from the group or the guide, but no can do.  So, we stood in one place while my friend’s husband went looking for the group.  He found them and we were reunited :D.

So we got inside and learned about the interesting history of the now museum.  What interested me most was that so many things were still intact today, after all these years.  There seemed to be something from everywhere.

From the period under Christianity

 

When it was converted into a mosque, such images were covered in plaster as in Islam images are prohibited.  Amazingly, removing the plaster didn’t cause much damage to the original work.

From the period under Islam

 

Amazing how well all of these things have stood the test of time.  I don’t know if anything today is of the same quality of these past generations.

Anyway, other than the mishap when we first got to this place, this particular place on the day’s tour list was uneventful.  I was just happy to see all of these places, many of which I had either learned about in school or later from friends.

We left for our next stop which was a stop at a carpet weaving outfit and then a walk through the Grand Bazaar.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Getting away

 

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Turkey: Day 2 (Tour of Istanbul:The Blue Mosque)

I woke up the next morning, well rested obviously.  I wondered to myself, “Is it normal to suffer from jet lag when you travel three hours in the same timezone?”  Oh well, I got up to pray and then I sat preparing all my touristy supplies, iPad, camera, backpack, bottles of water and of course my phones.

When 7 o’clock rolled around, I headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.  I sat in front of a window with a wonderful view of the Bosphorus Strait.  The window was open so I also felt a nice cool breeze.

In the distance you can see one of the bridges that goes to the European side of the country as well as some mountains.  It was hard to even eat when this is what I saw.  I hardly ever see things like that any more.  I snapped back and remembered that I still needed to get cash.  I quickly finished my breakfast and ran downstairs.  That’s a lie.  I ran to the elevator.  I walked down the road and down the steep hill toward the ATM I had seen the previous day.  I got my money and headed back to the hotel lobby because the tour bus was supposed to be there by 8:00.  I waited in the lobby like a good tourist until the bus came.

First stop, the always talked about Blue Mosque.  I was surprised to learn that it’s not blue, at least not outside.  I was walking and fell into a tourist trap with a man trying to sell me a book about Istanbul which I bought.  As usual, he spoke to me in Arabic since that’s what people assume I speak.  I told him, “I speak English.”  I don’t know why I don’t just speak Arabic and make everyone happy.  Then two ladies asked me if I spoke Arabic to which I said yes.  Their chit chat caused me to get behind and I couldn’t find my group.  Great!  The last thing I needed was to be lost in a foreign country on my first real day out.  I ran frantically looking from right to left, front to back.  No sign of my friends or any other members of the group.  Good job!  I was starting to sweat and get nervous but still had the time to snap a few pictures.  I walked to an area outside the mosque and finally decided to call my friend who tried desperately to direct me to where they were.  I got inside, out of breath, and started snapping.  That’s what I do.  Turns out the “blue” they’re referring to has to do with the inside of the mosque.

Outside view

 

I have to be honest, my shots could have been better.  I’m not a photographer.  I’m only pretending to be.  My camera was on manual focus, as if I knew what I was doing.  In any case, it was really nice to see the mosque that I had heard so much about.

Inside views

 

If you ever visit Turkey, and I recommend that you do, be sure to visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.  It was amazing to see it especially since it’s from about 1609.  I’m guessing it’s as beautiful today as it was when it was first built.  But do remember to keep up with your tour guide and/or group.

Up next, Visiting Hagia Sophia

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Getting away

 

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Turkey: Day 1

Well, I managed to make it to Istanbul despite the extremely bumpy landing. We got off the plane and headed toward the counter to pay for our visas. Fortunately for me I had some American money in my wallet or I might have been in trouble. We then headed for passport control but the only signs we saw were for Iraqis, Indians and South africans. There were other nationalities but I don’t remember which ones. All I knew was I didn’t see the USA and we didn’t see the UK, Poland or Malaysia either. When we asked we were told to stand in the same line. The lying jerks! We were almost in front when someone informed us that we needed to go “over there.”

Over there was an extremely long line. But I have to give them credit for moving people through quickly. They’re better than the states, but don’t tell anyone. We got through immigration with ease and went to collect our luggage. I watched the conveyor belt go round and round but mine wasn’t there. Come to find out it was in lost and found. Why? Who knows? And the fun of trying to talk to someone in English while he’s talking in Turkish was out of this world.

It started to rain a little as I was on my way to the hotel which was quite refreshing. After all, I was coming from inside a volcano. The view was spectacular. The beautiful blue waters of the Bosphorus Strait, people having picnics in the park, historical buildings all around. Life!

I got to the hotel and sat. I was tired, apparently from nothing. My travel agent stopped by and walked with me to my friend’s hotel which was just down the road. I later walked around looking for an ATM. I stopped by a shop and being a stereotypical American, I asked the guy if he spoke English. I was in Turkey and had the audacity to expect people to speak English. I laughed at myself as I pictured being in a YouTube video making fun of that very thing. Anyway, thank God he did speak English and I asked him where I could find a bank machine. He looked at me like I was crazy and his friend told him, “She means cash machine.” In my head I was saying, “I’m American and I mean bank machine.” But then, what did I care? I just needed some money. They pointed me in the right direction and off I went. Unsuccessful in my attempt to get some money, I headed back to the hotel and on my way I stopped at a camera shop. I asked for a memory card and the sales guy gave me a price in Turkish liras. i told him, “Talk to me in dollars.” Fortunately I had enough American dollars to pay for it. I left.

Walking up the hill I was approached by an old lady “selling” tissues. I gave her the change I had in my hand and another one came. She was begging in Turkish and I was steadily replying in English that I had nothing to give her. Hey, I needed some money myself.

I went back to my room, drank some juice and collapsed on the bed. It must have been around 7:00 or 7:30 that I fell asleep. I woke up apparently after midnight, but I was delirious. I couldn’t figure out why it was dark when it was after noon. Didn’t matter, I got back in the bed.

Next, a tour of Istanbul.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Getting away, Uncategorized

 

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