Monthly Archives: May 2013

Those last things from Istanbul

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We arrived at 10pm last night back in Istanbul.  All so excited to be back, and sad it is only for just one day…

So those last things from here….

1.  Health.
Some folk have asked how our health has been, assuming perhaps we will fall foul to some wierd disease from eating dodgy food…Sorry no  all been fine.  Except me in the last few days I developed what I thought was a stie (sty?) on the corner of my eye but it turns out to be a boil, just semantics perhaps, who really cares.
We are particularly familiar with boils in our family although this is my first one (and hopefully last).  So out with the tumeric, echinacea and hot cloths,  It first really needed attention on a dusty road to Troy, while bouncing along in a minibus.  Luckily I was in good company with Ollie and his extensive first aid supplies he always has on hand, Charlie who could offer real sympathy from first hand experience and advice and Hannah who not only held the mirror, but has inherited  my family’s enthusiasm  of dealing with puss filled cavities!
So I am starting to look more normal now, not so much like I have been in a fight down at the local…

2. Photo of our Kilim (sorry to keep you in suspense Lisa!)  We just got it out and it is (small and)  beautiful.  🙂

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This hanging pocket thing is heavier than our kilim I think…

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3.  As I said our budget is perfect.  Absolutely to the cent…make that the Lira, literally…
We were planning another visit to the Hammam (Turkish Bath) Hannah and I, but with my boil I don’t think that would be nice for other bathers, so it all works out perfectly.  And we did have a second Hamman experience down in Bodrum…

IMG_1687This one was dfferent, we got a face pack, peel and soap massage.  Our two attendants were young and lots of fun!

4. Yes we went to Troy.
Mainly to see the big wooden horse.  This was being renovated  so we couldn’t climb up  it.

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There isn’t much there in terms of ruins – we were spoiled after Ephesus – and with time being of the essence we did a power visit.

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There is another horse in Cannakale which is the one used in the film (with Brad Pitt).  We feel as though we have had  a taster at least of  Troy, amazing history, layers of it literally.

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The “movie” horse in Cannakale.

Later….

Last Turkish apple tea -check,
ice cream- check,
bags packed (all except Ollie….)- check,
souvenirs bought with last Lira – check.

I felt quite sad visiting our friends and seeing their surprise and joy at seeing us again, then saying goodbye.  One young guy has just been diagnosed with diabetes (he works in the Turkish Delight shop…).

Such a buzz to have been here, we are truly blessed to have visited Turkey.

 

 

See ya Istanbul

money matters

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I know some people are intersted in money.
I tend to be very instinctive and not so exact.  I am also very good at manifesting money or making it stetch so it seems we have lots…

Anyway in case you are wanting to  travel in Turkey anytime soon here is an idea of what we have spent…

After a bit if research before we left I budgeted $4000 (NZ dollars sorry for those  in other places) for our month in Turkey.  The exchange has been about   0.67 for each NZ dollar while we have been here.  So 10 TL is about $6-7 NZ.

So effectively $1000 per week for the four of us – accomodation, transport, food  and entry into tourist attractions.

Now with just two days to go it is uncanny how close our budget has been..It was hard to tell a couple of weeks ago.

Accomodation is cheap.  Even with four of us.  We have always had a private four bed room , linen, towels, our own bathroom, air con, wifi, free breakfast and have paid on average of  $80 a night for this, sometimes as little a $50 a night for all of us!
Couch surfing was just two free nights.

Transport has all been on buses.  This is how the Turkish people travel so they are very comfortable, air con, individual TV screens like a plane (Charlie has watched hours of cartoons dubbed in Turkisk!!)   There is always at least one guy working on the bus and they offer free drinks and snacks.

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Hannah’s favourite here has been peach juice.

Prices seem to be similar whether the trip is a few hours or overnight. We have paid around $20-$30 each per trip.  Charlie getting a small dicount.
When travelling locally the Dolmus’ are usually just a few lira each, so we may pay $7 for all of us to hop on.

Tourist attractions have never been more than  25 lira to get into.  That is less that $17 each.  Charlie has always been free and sometimes Ollie too.

Food, glorious food.  We all like to eat and I thought this is where we would break the budget, but it seems not.  We have eaten out alot as it is hard to  find a place with a kitchen and really the food is so good and so cheap why bother cooking…?

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We have usually had a free breakfast and that means “eat up everyone…”
We have eaten well, fruit is plentiful and cheap – cherries, apricots, strawberries,  oranges, watermelon, cucumber tomatoes…. When we have a picnic I would spend around $7-$9 NZ  and we would feast, with snacks left over.  We haven’t skimped, if someone is hot  or thirsty then it is ice creams or freshly squeezed juice…
Eating out we have been paying  $2-$10 for a main meal.  There is always as much bread as  you can eat (a loaf costs less than .30c). The meals may be a pancake – filled with spinach, cheese and  potato -$3, a casserole of eggplant, tomatoes, veges, served with salad, rice, yogurt, bread – $8.
Here we have found a really good place where you get a plate for 10 lira (less than $7) and you can choose from a multitude of yummy dishes, we seem to be able to fit on 4 selections plus rice.
Water – we have drank bottled water here, like everyone including the locals. Mostly you can get a large bottle for 1-2 lira (about $1)
The Turkish people drink Cay – strong black tea served with sugar lumps – much to Charlie’s delight!  Cay is 1 TL and you can usually get apple tea too for the same (less than .70 c).
I have carried herbal tea bags around and got hot water when I can or had apple tea….
We have posted a parcel home, souvenirs, presents, 3 pairs of gorgeous turkish trousers…..
We have our Kilim which we have been advised to carry with us and post in Europe.

And tomorrow in Istanbul  on our last day we will spent up our last lira on apple tea to take with us, Turkish delight, little gifts and no doubt a slap up dinner somwhere to celebrate such a wonderful trip!

I believe in abundance and being here I certainly feel abundant! Maybe I can even squeeze in some more  of those trousers….

Gallipoli

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“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours … You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.”

 
 So said Mustafa Kemal Ataurk nearly 90 years ago.  He was a commander in 1915 here in Gallipoli and is known as the father of modern Turkey. I have felt his presence all around Turkey and it feels fitting that he was here in Gallipoli.
It is because of these words and this sentiment that Kiwis and Australians are so well recieved here, loved even.
 It is quite overwhelming to be here in a place that is so loaded with meaning for every New Zealander.   I have had mixed feelings about visiting Gallipoli.  On one hand I feel as though I have always wanted to, what Kiwi doesn’t long to come here?  But on the other hand I tend to want to focus on the positive, wanting to create a world full of love and peace, not visit a huge war cemetery, drenched in sorrow,  which is in essence what the whole peninsula is.
 
But I have returned from our  tour feeling very inspired by our lovely, humanistic guide and his wise words.  I feel cleansed by the tears I shed and moved by the beautiful statues and sentiments  shared by the Turkish people in this “peace park”.
 
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Ollie and I went on a tour.  There were many beautifully laid out information panels, statues and of course cemeteries.  This has the aforementioned poignant words from Ataturk printed on it, life size.
 
 
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Such a tranquil spot….
 
 
 
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Straight off the boats, onto the beaches and up the hills behind.  This is known as The Sphinx.
 
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There were so many amazing stories…this one especially.  

An Australian ‘Johnny’ was wounded and lying crying out in no-mans-land.  A  ‘Mehmet’ (or ‘Johnny Turk’) raised some white underwear on his bayonet and when the firing stopped he went out on to the battlefield (it was only 8 metres wide here).  The Allies had been warned about how mercenary the Turks were and held their breathe thinking he was going to finish the Australian off.  But he bent down, scooped the injured soldier up and carried him over to his side. Of course then followed the moments of eye contact, the close up glimpse of the fierce enemy and unspoken words between the two sides.
This was a turning point in the attitutes of those fighting this war,with the realisation that each were just humans, young boys most of them, following orders.  There are many common stories about truces to bury the dead, food and cigarette trading, messages attached to stones and thrown into  the trenches, help given to each side from their ‘enemies’.

 
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Lone Pine Cemetery.  Here we found recorded the names of many of the Australian soldiers who died  – including the youngest one….. a 14yr old.
 
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Mustafa Kumal Ataturk was a forbidding and brave commander by the sounds of it.  He acted instinctively and not always waiting for the proper orders.  Here is a relief of his famous words (shouted so loudly the English could hear him) “Go and die…”
 
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My song for this area is “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”  with the line “and how in that hell that they called Sulva Bay we were buchered like lambs to the slaughter.”  Here is the beautiful Sulva bay.  The whole area is a national park and absolutely gorgeous.  The memorials and cemeteries are beautifully presented.  Still, I bet the boys back then hardly noticed such details in the early morning dark, cold and wet….
 
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The Ottomans lost a whole generation in the war and as the young men were gobbled up by it younger and younger boys were recruited – sometimes just grabbed off the streets.    The machine guns they used were German and easy to use, a 12 yr old boy could be trained up in just one month.  This is an actual photo of the young soldiers, now on the back of a tour bus.
 
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At Chunuk Bair the main NZ memorial stands tall and behind is Ataturk himself.  The crack at the bottom of the monument is positioned perfectly so at sunrise on the anniversary  of the end  biggest battle on Chunuk Bair (August 9th) the rising sun shines exactly through the crack.
 
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I am so glad to have been to Gallipoli and am now able to visualise  all those places whose names I have grown up with.
Suprisingly I am left feeling hopeful for humankind thanks to the wise words of our guide. His sentiments were much the same as mine.
That travel is  very important to foster cultural understanding and peace.
That there may be a few not-so-good  people everywhere, but mostly the world is full of good people, who want to live in a loving world.
 

The complete Turkish experience

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Our trip started, if you remember with our pseudo-carpet-buying experience in Istanbul.  So it is fitting and very exciting that with just  few days to go I have decided we could afford a small Kilim (a rug as opposed to a carpet).

It is even nicer and easier as we have bought one off a friend – Alibaba, the brother of our couch surfing host.  I didn’t expect to buy one , but am very glad  to have the ultimate souvenir to take (well, post ) home.

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Charlie displaying one of the possible choices – out of hundreds of beautiful colours and designs…

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Alibaba in his wonderland of colour, bagging up our Kilim (it is small.)

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The rugs and Kilims in Turkey are just beautiful.
I could easily fill our home with them (don’t panic Wayne, I’m not)

 

Ephesus

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I remember sitting in a lecture at University years ago and hearing about this great Roman city  in Turkey, the biggest and best preserved ruined city in the area.  When I looked at a map I realised I had travelled right past it  and never even heard of it!

(We were young, naive and possibly a tad stupid….or maybe just didn’t read our travel guide that day…?)

So this time it was written firmly on the agenda.  And I was not disappointed.

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A stunningly beautiful city we only wished we could have travelled back in time to see it full of  Romans out and about on their daily business.

 

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The old library is a highlight.  It must have been spectacular, a rival to the great one at Alexandria.

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It is so well preserved you really get a sense of the streets and the buildings.

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I had never heard of Nike – a cute little winged Greek Goddess – the Goddess of Victory.  (Maybe a good name for a sportswear company….?)

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The ever fascinating communal toilets! The Romans never seemed to miss an opportunity to socialise….The next door baths were incredible feats of engineering too.

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The highlight was the massive amphitheatre. Incredible.  After a rest in the shade we all climbed up to the back seats.  The acoustics were amazing, I held myself back from delivering a full soliquoy to the assembled crowd, although one lady was testing them by singing  ‘Doh a dear…”  and I sang along softly with her. I may have muttered ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen…” at one stage too. But only quietly…

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The kids centre stage – it really brings out the performer in you, just imaging
20 000 toga clad, cheering Romans urging you on.
I think Ollie was glad we hadn’t brought our Ukuleles with us as there would have been no holding us back then.

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The not -so-ancient Goddess of world-schooling….

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Ephesus was the city of Artemis.  She was the Greek  Goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, childbirth,virginity and the protector of young girls, becoming  the  Roman  Goddess Diana.
Ephesus is also  the site of the very first Christian  church to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  Here it was decided that Mary was the Mother of God and her staus  in Christianity was elevated.   The cult of Mary was relatively easy to lay over  the Artemis infrastructure already in place. I say relatively.  The religious history is fascinating, having majored in it years ago this reminds me of how complex and also how all incompasing religion was especially when a new fangled cult arrived and had to be fitted in to the exsisting cultural climate.

Which of course took hundreds of years.

Perspective and hindsight are great things.

Couch surfing…

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We are staying with our first couch surfing host!

It is perfect.  Just like being at home.  Couch surfing seems like the most natural way to travel and being here in Selcuk, with Mehmet and his son Emre is just the best way to start our couch surfing experience.  They have opened up their home to us and we feel as though it is our own.
What  a treat to use a washing machine!
To be able to make a cup of tea, pick plums, cook a meal ourselves….

Saying that Mehmet and his brother Alibaba own a resturant, a top ranking one at that (on Trip Advisor).  It is, unsuprisingly called Mehmet and Alibaba Kebab House, but don’t be fooled by the name.
The food they serve up is delicious and the atmosphere just wonderful.  You can sit out under the trees, and recieve complimentary teas, information, travel advice and general chit chat all  in excellent English.

 

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Mehmet serving up a yummy lunch – we ate at his resturant when we didn’t cook at his home.

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Mehmet is so friendly, so sincere and so welcoming in everyway.

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Emre has just finished school and has two exams left, he was lovely with the boys….even indulged in some good old “rough’n’tumble” with them!

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Their home was ours.  They gave us a key and left us to it.  Only a few minutes walk to the resturant.

This has been such a positive introduction to Couch Surfing and  just reinforces what I believe –
…That the world is full of good people just waiting to meet you

….That as a race we have more in common with each other and should focus on those commonalities , not our differences.

….That strangers really are just friends we haven’t met yet.

Thanks to Mehmet and Emre.

Beautiful Bodrum

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I like Bodrum.

I love the natural harbour, the bustling waterfront, the full-on tourist infrastructure, the ruins nestled in the city and mostly the beauty of the blue, blue sea.
I can see how it would be pumping with tourists in July and August.  We are staying right by the famous Halikarnas nightclub – sort of like a modern temple to hedonism.

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I think on our last night here it opened for the season. There was fireworks, lazer lights crossing the sky and a pumping beat filling the bay.
No we didn’t go out dancing, not at $50 nz  entry…still we have found a few other things to do here….
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It is certainly a very picturesque place.  A huge natural harbour with a medieval castle bang smack in the middle of the bay/town centre.

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The hillsides covered in white chocolate box houses.

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Apart from yachts, the Gulet (traditional wooden boat) is what Bodrum is famous for and no stay is complete without a boat trip of some description.

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So off we went!  Our Gulet had a large open top with a padded layer and cushions all around to laze on!  Would be perfect for a big sleepover with friends.

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As soon as we left the dock the music went ON….and it was loud!  Up on the top deck it was incredibly loud, the boys couldn’t stand it and I could only cope with small doses.  Talk about fun, fun, fun!!

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The boat trip included four stops to swim, lunch and afternoon tea.
Hannah and I swimming off the boat in such clear water.

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Ollie perched on the bow – a good place to escape the music!

 

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It was a one big party on the boat….at one stage everyone was up dancing!

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One stop was at Camel Beach….I was wondering why it was called this when I noticed a couple of camels….We gave them a miss this time and opted for ice cream and a swim.

 

 

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The sunset view from our balcony with the the sweep of the main drag on the right.  I feel a though I have made good choices in regards to where we stay.  Right in the thick of things is good, where we can pop in and out easily.  In seconds we were at the beach, or walking along the main strip of resturants to the town centre.

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The medieval castle – Castle of the Knights of St John – is also home to Bodrum’s Underwater Archeological Museum.  Many fascinating relics recovered from the innumerable shipwrecks in the area are to be found here.

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Two thousand year old coins and what sort of bang you got for you buck back then.
Apparently a teacher  had to save  all their salary for 3 years to be able to buy a house…mmm some things never change.

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The setting is spectacular for a castle and  seemingly easy to defend…?

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Lots of rescued treasures like this room of amphoras – from different eras and wrecks.

I feel glad to have been in Bodrum – the party capital – when the high season has not quite started yet.  We could have done with a few more days maybe, but our time is Turkey is drawing to a close and we still have a few places to see…