Musings on my adventures around the world and my ties back in Texas as well as some of the the ideas I have to adapt and create to keep those places close to home.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

my new record

I think I might have hit an all time high for the number of different forms of transportation I've taken in one day...Taksi, bus, funicular, tram, ferry, dolmush, train, minibus. Eight (if you count walking nine) in just two separate trips - that's pretty impressive really. My favorite? The ferry, of course. My least favorite would probably have to be the blue minibus from Pendik back to school - it gets super crowded and takes up to an hour for a trip that could be completed in less then 20 minutes...but at least it gets me back to campus. The train would come in a close second, solely because I have never ridden it without having at least one Turkish man staring at me for an extended period of time. It just makes me uncomfortable, and after a while it's really hard to ignore them and avoid making eye contact. One of those times I'm quite thankful to put my earphones on and listen to my i-pod.


Sitting in the ferry getting ready to head back across the Bosphorus to Kadikoy I realized that after two weeks I"m all alone. There's a sense of relief in that. I'm free to enjoy my favorite part of any trip to the city without having to keep track of J (although I will miss her pointing out every boat and buouy we pass) or make sure the rest of the family gets off with me and heads the right way. Don't get me wrong - I had a great visit with my family its just nice to only be responsible for myself again. To only have to consider myself in the decisions I make. I plan on taking full advantage of the next three days to recover before my parents come for part two of the family visits.

Heating up in a Hamam

Cagaloglu Hamam
I was so excited that I managed to find the Cagaloglu Hamam without any wrong turns. Sometimes in the old city with the maps available that's the biggest challenge in an adventure (just ask my sister who accompanied me on an hour trek trying to find the hotel I'm staying in with my was just around the one corner we didn't manage to turn). S and I happily stepped through the doors for our new adventure. As we walked down the stairs we were met by the typical site of relaxation in a hamam - an oasis of cool marble with a fountain and short stools positioned for a view and for those drinking cay. Only all of those people were men. Once we had paid for our bath we headed down a corridor, around a corner and down some stairs to enter the women's section, well hidden from any man's eyes due to the twists we followed to arrive there. The thing that was cool was that it really is a completely female space - you don't often find those spaces in the world I know.

We were shown into our own glass and wood cabina where we were left alone to undress and wrap up on a hamam towel. After finding wooden slippers we could keep on our feet we clopped our way into the wash room. Completely marble from the middle of the wall down with a star studded (cut outs) down above the simple furnishings and smooth colors started the relaxation process. Around the exterior of the wall individual basins with separate hot and cold water taps continuously ran...and let me tell you the slightly cool water felt amazing after 30 minutes sitting there sweating. My theory - you have to sit there at least that long for your skin to be soft enough so that when the woman calls you over to be scrubbed (it feels quite decadent to have someone else scrub you down) your dead skin will just roll off. It was kind of gross to see, but I will say that afterwards my skin felt quite clean and soft. After a scrub, soap massage and getting our hair washed S and I were free to go rinse off at on of the basins again. An hour and a half after we entered we walked out of the hamam feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy the ferry ride back across the Bosphorus.

It's hard

It's hard to keep up on posting when you're on vacation and out of your normal situation. However, I do have three days before my parents come. I suspect I'll be spending a good portion of that time typing stuff up and trying to get my pictures uploaded to Flickr. Goodness knows that I have plenty of pictures to sort through...this is why it is a bad idea to have three cameras on a single vacation (and a person to use each camera). I think it took 3 cds to get all the pictures saved for my sister to take home with her.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Travelling Turkey with a child

So it's a bit of revelation to find out just how different a trip with a two year old turns out to be. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled my sister and her husband brought the little one along with them, after all if they hadn't it would have been two years before I saw her again and at this age it makes a huge difference. But it has changed the way we have to travel. Goreme, in the Kapadokya region, has been a good fit. It's slower pace lets us take off and seem some cool old/natural sites and still be back in time for a nap. I've discovered where at least five playgrounds are in town (who knew they would all be pink???). We've run up and down the street leading to our hotel at least twice a day, yet I've still been able to send my sister and husband off on a hot air balloon ride. So it's been a good mix. Unfortunately just as we've figured it out it's time for us to move on. We're headed to Selcuk and Ephesus tonight, to explore a piece of Turkey I haven't yet seen. I wonder what it is that will fascinate J there (after all I think we have to put a hold on public transportation until we get back to Istanbul).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This stinks!

So I got woken up by a call around 10:30 Saturday night, my phone didn’t register the number and somehow I just knew that it was either my sister or B. Sadly I was right. B was calling to say that they missed their flight from Austin so they aren’t going to be arriving in an hour. No, instead I’ve got a whole other day to fritter away before I get to see them. That call definitely didn’t make my night! Oh well, at least they called me with enough time to change my taksi plans and before I myself had left for the airport. Now I know why I scheduled all our other flights for the middle of their trip, just in case.

Just my luck

I flew into SAW Wednesday night without to much fear. After all, the school is less then 15 minutes from the airport. We can see the planes landing from school. Shouldn’t be too hard to get back to campus, right? Well it’s just my luck; I end up with a taksi driver who is not actually a taksi driver. Well, he is since he’s driving a taksi– but only for tonight. Turns out his friend is ill so he is just filling in for the night, normally he works at a hospital. Now tell me, how can you fill in for a taksi driver if you don’t know where anything is? Turns out I don’t know how to get back to campus from the airport (surprise, surprise). So we ended up on some back dirt roads (passing a funky housing development that had a vaguely Jettson-esque space-age lighted entrance). All I can say is at least he was willing to stop and ask people for directions. Otherwise I’m not sure I would have ever seen the o so welcome sight of school. Next time can I refuse to get in the taksi if the driver doesn’t know where the school is?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Random Inquiry

So while I was on the blue cruise the topic came up as to how you can tell the difference between a cockroach and a beetle (don't ask, just be thankful they were beetles). I did a bit more research when I got back to a computer and it turns out M was right (of course, I believed him but was curious to see exactly what he meant). So in case you ever need to be able to determine which you have here's the main visual difference. Cockroaches will fold their wings over each other so that there is a definite overlap, and occasionally you will only be able to see one wing at all on the back. Beetles, on the other hand, fold their wings down next to each other so you will be able to see two clear sections split down the cent of it's back when it's not flying. So now you have a bit more useless information.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quote of the week

I lost myself in the contemplation of nature, trying to forget my thoughts and to look only at beings as they appear, and to forget myself, joyfully, in the sight of them .How beautiful was the spectacle of nature not yet touched by the often perverse wisdom of man.

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

Word Search

New words I've run across on my readings....what do they mean?
saurian any of a suborder (Sauria) of reptiles including the lizards and in older classifications the crocodiles and various extinct forms (as the dinosaurs and ichthyosaurs) that resemble lizards (
iaculi seems to be some type of winged serpent. You can read a bit more here.
scitales doesn't seem to have a definition anywhere, so maybe it's a made up word from the book I was reading (The Name of the Rose). I did find the word scytale which is some type of encryption device but I'm pretty sure that is not what he was talking about. If anyone knows please enlighten me!

Recent reads

Holiday time brings on much reading for me. The five books I've read in the last week and a half while on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey (ok so I haven't finished the last one yet.) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Yesterday I went to the ancient site of Termessos. While I have to say much of the ruins are exactly that, ruins, the ancient city gets props for location. An absolutely stunning site in the mountains outside of Antalya. I was just as pleased by the short hike I got as by the ruins. Although I will say it had the most stunning theater I've seen all week, and possibly all year (and I've seen quite a few theaters this year). In remarkably good condition (I don't think it's been renovated, but who knows?) it's nestled on the side of one mountain with the view to one side over a valley and in every other direction of more peaks. Stunning. And complete enough to give you a good feel for what it would have been like to sit in the theater at the original time. This one seemed so alive to me in some way that I could almost imagine the original Pisidian people filing into their seats. Nowhere I looked did I find anything which says how old the city is - only that the earliest mention is 333 BC when they fought of Alexander the Great (which clearly means they were well established by then).


The Chimaera ıs a fıre breathing legend, part lion, part goat, and part dragon. He was so frightening that Zeus set him on fire and buried him under Mt Etna where he continued to send out tongues of fire. The legend makes it quite clear as to why area of Mt Olympos which has naturally igniting flames (gases which re-ignite upon contact with air if you manage to get one blown out) is called Chimaera. It was really a pretty neat sight - to climb/scramble up the path of the mountain for about 30 minutes and then see these flames licking out from under the rocks...and knowing that no one had set them alight. The 20 or 30 flames were all that was cutting the deep night dark (except for my headlamp and other torches - was I glad I had it for the walk back down!). One of the things I really like about travelling is that in many of the places I go to I get reminded of just how dark the world gets when the sun goes down. Its also about going to see the random oddities that a place holds - and the best part of that is that they are often in remote locations that get you into the heart of a country. So while Chimaera may not have been quite as dramatic as I expected it definitely falls into that "cool site you should see if you have the chance category."

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Blue Cruise

Lounge, Swim in the Mediterranean, nap, eat, swim, repeat. That pretty much sums up the first four days of my vacation. It is pretty hard to complain about that. 16 of us (teachers from school as well as some visitors) spent 4 nights and 3 days on a fillet (a quasi sailboat which normally ran off of an engine) around the south eastern coast of the Mediterranean. How lovely! It definitely felt like what a summer vacation should be. Not responsible for anything - the biggest decision I had to make was whether I wanted to dive off the boat or lower myself gradually by the ladder. Great people to talk to and discover (it is so much fun to meet friends of friends - a much higher chance of liking new people when people you already like recommend them...). We did get off the boat a little bit. After sliding by the sunken city (hmmm...I will have to write more on that later as I can not remember many details without my guide book) underwater due to an earthquake a long time ago we got off the boat to explore an old Crusader Castle - the most exciting bit was probably trying to get up the hill without sliding off - and some of the old Lycian tombs.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Vacation here I come

Well I'm finally done with it all. The only thing left on my list is to take out the trash and the recycling and close up my house. I'm headed off for vacation in about an hour and a half. Yeah! I'm excited to explore the Mediterranean coast of Turkey a little bit more - both from the boat and on land. I'm sure I'll see some amazing new things (that is the thing about Turkey everywhere you go you're almost guaranteed to see something amazing) and have plenty of pictures to deal with once I get back. Summer is definitely one of the perks of teaching!