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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Antalya to Istanbul ... and home


Saturday, October 20, 2012

What a wonderful day we had on the road today! The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the world was beautiful! We left Oludinez early this morning, knowing that the 300 kilometres we were going to travel today would take us far longer than most other people.

Jim and I are curious people and it takes very little to peek our interest and cause us to stop to investigate something along the way. By noon, we had travelled fewer than 100 kilometres!!

Much of the drive today was along a road that rivaled the Great Ocean Road in Australia. It flanked the deep blue sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea as the road rose and fell along steep mountains cliffs and across seaside valleys. Happily there was very little traffic along this road for most of the day so we were able to take our time and stop frequently to take photos.

Off the coast of Turkey, there are many islands. In the course of conflict and history, somehow Greece has acquired all the islands. So as we were travelling on the roads of Turkey, we were also enjoying the scenery created by the nearby Greek islands, their green landscapes contrasting with the blue of the sea.

One sight today that took our breath away was the vast array of greenhouses that covered many of the valley floors. It is no exaggeration to say that we saw thousands of greenhouses today as we drove along the coast. Tomatoes, peppers and herbs are grown in greenhouses here in prolific numbers. Much of the crop is for consumption within Turkey but these crops are all large export items, contributing substantially to the economy of this country. I am sure we just found out where most of the greenhouses are located. To look down into a valley from a high mountain cliff and see nothing but greenhouses was both awesome and surreal at the same time.

One other event occurred today that transported us to the mountain slopes of Austria with Maria singing The Lonely Goatherd. As we reached the top of a long climb up a mountain, we heard the identifiable jingling of goat bells. Sure enough, moving toward us was a herd of about 100 goats with a shepherd at the front and the rear of the pack. Of course, we stopped to take some photos. And traffic coming the other direction would have been totally blocked …. Except there was none. Whew!

As we travelled along today, we visited several lovely locations. The first was Patara Beach, one of the longest sand beaches on the Mediterranean. It was quiet this weekend, a nice change I am sure from the peak of tourist season, and certainly pleasant for us. There were a few families there and some of the folks even ventured into the water.

A few kilometers further we drove into the village of Kalkan. As advertised it is a cute fishing village, nestled into the steep slopes that run from the highway to the sea. While fishing is still an activity in this small port, tourism seems to have taken over. Restaurants, cafes, shops and hotels line the cobbled streets. It is clearly a popular tourist destination, one where a visitor would want to plan the day very carefully. The hills are steep and they go down a long way to the crystal clear and deep water of the sea.

Our final official stop was at the ancient village of Phaselis. This town was established by the Romans in a pristine location, situated on a point of land surrounded by three sheltered bays. Fishing was the main activity of the day and the sheltered waters must have supported and protected the fishermen. The Romans certainly knew how to build structures to last. The ruins in this place are over 2000 years old.  Many buildings remain partially standing but most impressive is the  aquaduct with its many arches still supporting the water trough that carried water along the top of it.  Surrounding the ruins is a lovely pine forest creating a shady beach, perfect for picnics and swimming. A delightful place on a warm sunny day.  We stayed a short while and timed our exit perfectly. As we drove out the access road, we encountered about 10 tour busses on their way in to visit this site. We are very happy that we saw it when it was quiet and tranquil.

By this time it was almost 4 pm and we had driven 260 kilometres. Still 40 to go. The last 40 were punctuated with road construction and a significant and continuous increase in traffic as we approached the city of Antalya, population 1,250,000. No wonder there was more traffic. We wove our way through the narrow and crowded streets toward the very centre of town, an area known as Old City. Our hotel was called Elegance East and when we arrived we could tell that it was going to live up to its name. The lobby was warm, welcoming and, well, elegant. Our room was beautiful. And the pool and deck area nestled in a central courtyard was calling our names.
We spent some time relaxing in that space before returning to our room to organize ourselves for our one full day in Antalya. Dinner soon followed and more relaxing before bed.

I finish as I began …. What a wonderful day we have had!


This will be the last post in this blog. The Robinson Adventures 2012 will officially end on Friday, October 26 when we land in Toronto and our son picks us up for the drive home.

Thanks to all of you who have been loyal or occasional readers. It has been fun to write this blog. We will reread it over the years and have some wonderful memories and recollections from this diary.

If you have enjoyed the blog or would like to make a suggestion or two, I would love to hear from you, either through the comment section herein or in an email to me personally. 

We are already planning our next adventure so look for us again next year about the same time as we embark on travels in a new location.

Happy reading!
Donna


Saturday, October 20, 2012

What a wonderful day we had on the road today! The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the world was beautiful! We left Oludinez early this morning, knowing that the 300 kilometres we were going to travel today would take us far longer than most other people.

Jim and I are curious people and it takes very little to peek our interest and cause us to stop to investigate something along the way. By noon, we had travelled fewer than 100 kilometres!!

Much of the drive today was along a road that rivaled the Great Ocean Road in Australia. It flanked the deep blue sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea as the road rose and fell along steep mountains cliffs and across seaside valleys. Happily there was very little traffic along this road for most of the day so we were able to take our time and stop frequently to take photos.

Off the coast of Turkey, there are many islands. In the course of conflict and history, somehow Greece has acquired all the islands. So as we were travelling on the roads of Turkey, we were also enjoying the scenery created by the nearby Greek islands, their green landscapes contrasting with the blue of the sea.

One sight today that took our breath away was the vast array of greenhouses that covered many of the valley floors. It is no exaggeration to say that we saw thousands of greenhouses today as we drove along the coast. Tomatoes, peppers and herbs are grown in greenhouses here in prolific numbers. Much of the crop is for consumption within Turkey but these crops are all large export items, contributing substantially to the economy of this country. I am sure we just found out where most of the greenhouses are located. To look down into a valley from a high mountain cliff and see nothing but greenhouses was both awesome and surreal at the same time.

One other event occurred today that transported us to the mountain slopes of Austria with Maria singing The Lonely Goatherd. As we reached the top of a long climb up a mountain, we heard the identifiable jingling of goat bells. Sure enough, moving toward us was a herd of about 100 goats with a shepherd at the front and the rear of the pack. Of course, we stopped to take some photos. And traffic coming the other direction would have been totally blocked …. Except there was none. Whew!

As we travelled along today, we visited several lovely locations. The first was Patara Beach, one of the longest sand beaches on the Mediterranean. It was quiet this weekend, a nice change I am sure from the peak of tourist season, and certainly pleasant for us. There were a few families there and some of the folks even ventured into the water.

A few kilometers further we drove into the village of Kalkan. As advertised it is a cute fishing village, nestled into the steep slopes that run from the highway to the sea. While fishing is still an activity in this small port, tourism seems to have taken over. Restaurants, cafes, shops and hotels line the cobbled streets. It is clearly a popular tourist destination, one where a visitor would want to plan the day very carefully. The hills are steep and they go down a long way to the crystal clear and deep water of the sea.

Our final official stop was at the ancient village of Phaselis. This town was established by the Romans in a pristine location, situated on a point of land surrounded by three sheltered bays. Fishing was the main activity of the day and the sheltered waters must have supported and protected the fishermen. The Romans certainly knew how to build structures to last. The ruins in this place are over 2000 years old.  Many buildings remain partially standing but most impressive is the  aquaduct with its many arches still supporting the water trough that carried water along the top of it.  Surrounding the ruins is a lovely pine forest creating a shady beach, perfect for picnics and swimming. A delightful place on a warm sunny day.  We stayed a short while and timed our exit perfectly. As we drove out the access road, we encountered about 10 tour busses on their way in to visit this site. We are very happy that we saw it when it was quiet and tranquil.

By this time it was almost 4 pm and we had driven 260 kilometres. Still 40 to go. The last 40 were punctuated with road construction and a significant and continuous increase in traffic as we approached the city of Antalya, population 1,250,000. No wonder there was more traffic. We wove our way through the narrow and crowded streets toward the very centre of town, an area known as Old City. Our hotel was called Elegance East and when we arrived we could tell that it was going to live up to its name. The lobby was warm, welcoming and, well, elegant. Our room was beautiful. And the pool and deck area nestled in a central courtyard was calling our names.
We spent some time relaxing in that space before returning to our room to organize ourselves for our one full day in Antalya. Dinner soon followed and more relaxing before bed.

I finish as I began …. What a wonderful day we have had!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy 10 month birthday, Edward!

Well, this is our first and last full day in Antalya and it looks like a pretty cool city. Lots of parks, fountains, public sculpture, cafes, and seashore! There is a tram line that runs for several kilometres from one side of the city to the other including along the old Roman city walls which encircle the Old City.  And, don’t forget, the hotel we are currently in has a lovely pool with water warm enough to enjoy and steps down into the pool that even I could manage (without the boot, of course). We were ready for a great day!

Until ….. we heard the thunder. At first, we thought it was someone running a cart down the cobblestone sidewalk. Then, we opened the door to our room only to find that the sky had opened and rain was bucketing down. We are not talking a short and gentle shower. We are talking about a torrential downpour that lasted for a long time.  When it ended some blue sky appeared overhead …. But it was merely a teaser. Because very soon …. More rain poured from the heavens … and we knew we were in for a long wet day.

Moving on to Plan B, we had a leisurely breakfast and then borrowed a hotel umbrella and ventured out into the wet. First we walked down the block a short distance to Hadrian’s Gate. Hadrian was emperor in about 30 AD. And he built a wall in Britain but also made his way all the way to Antalya where a very large gate was constructed in his honour.  I think his international travel is pretty impressive given that most of it would have happened on foot or horseback. Today, almost 2000 years since his visit, people walk through this gate every day to gain access to the Old City. 

There is a tram stop across the street from Hadrian’s Gate so we stood in the covered shelter and waited for the next tram to arrive. A story unfolded as we waited. We are not sure if it was a comedy or a drama. By way of background information, let me say that the tram tracks run along a segregated lane on the road and there are high curbs on each side of the tracks where no traffic is permitted. Unless you are driving an ambulance on its way to an emergency, siren blaring, lights flashing. In order to save time, you turn into the tram lane and drive to your destination. We watched as the ambulance stopped about a half a block down the street and the medics jumped out of the vehicle. A couple of minutes later (you have already guessed what happened) a tram came along and met the ambulance head to head in the tram lane. The medics hopped back into the vehicle and backed the van down the tram line all the way to the corner where we were standing and watching all this unfold. When the ambulance arrived at the corner, it simply turned into the traffic and drove away. I cannot tell you if there was no emergency after all or if they simply abandoned the situation. From our point of view, it was all a bit bizarre – comical if all turned out well, dramatic if it did not. We will never know. We simply boarded the tram and left the scene.

The tram ride was quite enjoyable. It took about 30 minutes to reach the end of the line. Along the way, we passed though large shopping areas; we travelled past large sports complexes; we saw countless restaurants and hotels; and the route travels along the Mediterranean coast for much of its route. Even under grey skies in the rain, the Mediterranean Sea has a charm about it.

At the end of the line is the Antalya Archeological Museum, described as having one of the best chronological displays of the development of culture in this part of the world. Even without the benefit of very much English in the museum, we were able to observe the differences in the various stages of in the ancient history of man. The artifacts on display were fascinating.

One of the main features of the museum is the substantial collection of statues that they have acquired. It is unfortunate that the names of the actual sculptors are not known and sometimes not even the names of the sculpted. But the quality of the work is remarkable, the level of detail, the sensitivity in facial expressions, the gentleness of the flow of fabrics, the structure and proportions of the human body.  And all of this achieved with rudimentary tools. And then buried under mounds of earth until someone accidentally found them in the course of their day to day activities up to 2000 years later. One of the notable sculptures in the museum was only unearthed forty years ago.

We paused for a beverage break after we were finished in the museum. The rain continued to pour down and we naively thought if we waited just a short while that might change. Alas, it did not and we ventured back out into the weather to reboard the tram. This time we remained on the tram from one end of the line all the way to the other. Although we retraced our steps along the route for half of it, we did see some different things. And, we met several other tourists who were doing the same thing as we were – a family from Saudi Arabia, a woman from Germany, a couple from Switzerland. This morning at breakfast we also met a couple from Sweden and a couple from the UK. Antalya is clearly an international destination for people from all corners of the globe. (It has two international terminals at its airport.)

We returned to our original tram stop and decided that an early dinner was in order. There is a restaurant adjacent to our hotel so stopped in. It was still pouring rain … and all the tables were outside, some protected by large umbrellas. We chose one of them and ordered our meal. Eventually we had to move to another table under an overhanging roof because the wind had increased and we were now using our own umbrella even under the restaurant umbrella.  It was actually quite comical. Sadly, it was a rather ordinary meal, except for Jim’s excellent lentil soup.

Jim has now gone to a hamam (Turkish bath) for a scrub and a massage. And I am happily settled into our room for the rest of the evening. This hotel offers excellent internet service, 3 English television stations and I have a new book downloaded on the kindle. The evening will be comfortable and dry!

Tomorrow morning we fly back to Istanbul.


Monday, October 22, 2012

We flew from Antalya to Istanbul early this morning. It was a short and pleasant flight. Jim and I realize that we, at times, treat a flight as if it is a bus trip. We just get on and the plane takes us where we want to go. No muss, no fuss.

This flight offered a new opportunity for us though. And it had everything to do with the fact that I am still wearing this ridiculous boot on my foot. Today the plane parked out on the tarmac away from the terminal. Therefore there was no jetway through which the passengers could deplane. Everyone had to go down a flight of stairs and board a bus that would take us to the terminal. I was quite prepared to do that. I can manage stairs well enough as long as no one minds a slowpoke.

But the flight crew had other ideas and directed me to an exit on the opposite side of the plane. There was an open door and a wheelchair sitting on a platform. It was at that moment I realized that I was about to be transported off the plane in a service vehicle that had a hydraulic lift to carry things and people apparently on and off the plane. Jim came with me as well as an attendant. The doors closed behind us and we slowly were lowered to a new level. But we were not on the ground yet.

Next, the vehicle began to move along the tarmac. What a great tour of the back end of an active airport we had. Planes coming and going.; luggage being conveyed in every direction; service vehicles of all kinds moving to and from planes; and us!! We finally arrived at the area of the airport where the ambulances are parked and at that point we were lowered to the ground in a kind of exterior elevator.  The attendant who had been with us passed us off to another attendant who then pushed the wheelchair to luggage retrieval and on to find our hotel rep who was meeting us. We all proceeded to the parking lot where I was safely installed in the waiting vehicle. It was a pretty amazing journey actually.

A short time later we arrived at the Ada Hotel (unlike our previous hotel, this one has an elevator).  We settled into our room and then headed up to the rooftop terrace for a cup of tea. There is a magnificent view of the Sea of Marmora from the terrace as well as a distant view of the skyline of modern Istanbul. There are about five mosques within easy view of our hotel as well as many beautiful views of Sultanahmet buildings and neighbourhoods.

It was not long until a Call to Prayer was sung. With five mosques at close range, it was like hearing five echoes. The same words, the same melody but five different voices, each of which begins to sing in its own time and its own pitch. So there was no synchronicity or musicality at all. An amazing practice across this vast country.

Jim headed off to the Grand Bazaar to pick up previous purchases and have a cup of coffee with one of the vendors. He arrived back quite late in the afternoon. We had not had lunch so decided an early dinner was in order. We used Trip Advisor’s recommendation and selected a restaurant, Fener Fish, that featured excellent fish and also provided transportation to and from our hotel. Bonus!!

The meal began with some tasty meses and Jim and I, uncharacteristically, ordered the same main course, fish stew made from sea bream. It was magnificent. Trip Advisor does it again!!!

As we ate at our sidewalk table, darkness fell and the daytime life of the street transformed into night life. The streets were crowded with restaurants. Tables and chairs spill out onto the sidewalks and streets.  Bright lights and coloured lights add atmosphere to the street scene. Pedestrians stroll from menu to menu looking for the best place to eat. Men gather at corner shops for tea and street vendors offer a very different range of products at night than during the day.

Vendors plied us with roses, corn on the cob, nuts, peeled apples, packets of Kleenex, cigars, sweets … the list goes on. Musicians stroll from place to place playing music and looking for tips. Bottles of raki sit on the tables of those diners who want to extend the meal through the evening. We never did try any. And cats prowl the streets, well cared for, but looking for any morsels the patrons will pass on to them.

After a long, leisurely meal, we were taken back to our hotel and settled in for the night.


 Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday was the day that we were going for a cruise on the Bosphorus Strait. Altan, our friend, was joining us part way along and we were going to have lunch at the last stop before the Black Sea. We were looking forward to the whole experience.

We boarded the ferry at about 10:30 and headed up the Bosphorus. Istanbul stretched for miles on both sides of the strait, Europe and Asia. It was an interesting feeling to be travelling in open water that separated two continents, although it was one city. We of course saw many fascinating buildings, two huge bridges joining the continents, and active ports where businesses and tourist activities flourished. What was the most memorable thing along the Bosphorus though was the number of freighters that were travelling from the Black Sea south to the Sea of Marmora and points beyond.  It was a steady stream of traffic, mixed in with a myriad of ferries, tour boats, small business craft and fishing vessels.

Fishing in the Bosphorus is a very successful industry. Fishing boats put down anchor almost anywhere along the waterway and, using a crane, drop their substantial nets into the water. After a few hours, they pull the nets up again and harvest the many fish that have been caught. Fresh fish are sold to markets and fish shops all along the shore where they are displayed and sold to individual customers as well as fish restaurants.

Altan joined us at the appointed location and we were able to ask him the many questions that had come to mind as we made this wonderful trip on the water.  We stopped for lunch at Anadolu Kovagi, the last port before the Black Sea. It was on the Asian side of the strait. We have not spent much time on the Asian side while in Istanbul although our entire road trip last week was in Asia.

In the distance, we could see the opening to the Black Sea, a place we have only read about in history books and travel information. And there it was, before our eyes. It was pretty thrilling to see it and hope that one day we might get there. So close today yet so far.

Lunch, of course, consisted of fish … this time a different kind of fish stew, prepared with sea bass, equally delicious as last night’s offering. The server brought a large tray of meses to our table so we could choose the ones we wanted and then he brought a large tray of nicely displayed fresh fish so we could choose the type of fish as well. We deferred to Altan’s judgement on both and he did not lead us astray.

After lunch we reboarded the ferry and headed back toward Eminonu, our starting point. Partway along, it was time to say farewell to Altan. It has been so much fun seeing him in his city and being able to ask questions that we could not easily ask anyone else.

The sky had opened and heavy rain was falling which made the world look a different place. We have heard that as autumn moves forward, rain is more frequent in Turkey. Hmm …. We have had some great weather up to this point. We only have a few days to go.

After we disembarked the ferry at Eminonu, we went to the Spice Market. What fun! We ended up spending a lot of time looking and choosing some purchases - dried fruit, nuts, Turkish Delight (of course) and some spices for Carroll. I also selected several ceramic pieces for friends and family at home. And a very beautiful scarf for me!

Then it was time to head back to our hotel. For all that Jim and I are pretty intelligent travellers, we did make one big mistake today. We did not bring the address of the hotel with us. So, we did not have anything but the name of the hotel to give to the taxi driver. We pored over maps to find the name of the street. We even called Altan to ask for his help. We knew he had the phone number for the hotel and we could call them to get the address. But, alas, no answer.

So, we took the plunge and hailed a cab. Happily, we ended up with a very friendly and helpful driver who could speak a bit of English. We gave him the information we had and he stopped several times in Sultanahmet to ask other people for directions. We were all relieved when we finally arrived at the Ada Hotel. We have already picked up address cards and have them in our wallets ready for tomorrow's adventure.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today began with a leisurely breakfast on the rooftop terrace of our hotel (fifth floor view).  It was a pleasant day and the sun was just emerging above the buildings as we ate. We paused to take many photos of the views at close hand and in the distance. The Sea of Marmora sparkled not far away and showed off the many vessels that make their lives and livelihood on the water – fishing boats, sea-going freighters, ferries, pleasurecraft and a myriad of other boats bobbing on the gentle swell.  Neighbouring hotels and apartment blocks were coming to life as the morning moved forward. And the streets were alive with traffic of the vehicular as well as pedestrian variety. Minarets of all sizes and design are visible from our hotel (I know I have mentioned the sounds that emerge from them at regular intervals throughout the day.)

After breakfast, Jim returned one last time to the Grand Bazaar to purchase couple of items and have coffee with a carpet vendor he has become acquainted with. I remained on the roof to enjoy the sights and sounds of Istanbul.

Directly across the street from our hotel stand the ruins of a minaret. The crumbling top is often a perch for a seagull or two. Imagine my surprise when I was distracted by some movement at the top of the minaret (eye level with me) and a head popped up from the centre. Then another … and then a third head. Three local children, all about 9 years old, had climbed the interior staircase and were happily perched on a narrow and precarious ledge of loose bricks high above the street. (I was on the fifth floor of our hotel.) Yikes!! They waved and I asked if I could take their photo. They were very obliging and life went on. Some time later I saw them traversing a narrow brick wall with a v-top on it. And then on the roof of the nearest mosque. I guess they are experienced climbers.

Speaking of people and photographs, one of the attributes of many Turks that we have met is that they want us to take their photos. The logic of this defies us since they will never see a print of the photo and most times they do not even get to see the original in digital format. Nonetheless, they are delighted when we agree to take their photos and often pose for us. We have several photos of very friendly but totally unknown people.

We arranged to have our laundry done for the homeward bound trip. We turned it in at 9 am and it was back before noon. I am always impressed with the cleanliness and the great folding provided by the laundry service. The delivery person was concerned because there seemed to be a turquoise sock missing. I showed him that I had the mate to the sock on my foot. (I wear one sock under the boot.) We all had a good laugh about that.

Jim was back, the laundry in our room, and our Whirling Dervish tickets were arranged for this evening. It was time to be off for a self-directed tram tour of Istanbul. We took a taxi to Eminonu and boarded the tram there. The tram tracks crossed the Golden Horn and we remained on board until the end of the line. Most of the time, we were able to see the Bosphorus Strait to our right and the cityscape to our left. There was always something interesting to look at or new things to notice as we travelled along.

At the end of the line, we disembarked and took the most sophisticated funicular railway ever to connect to another tram line.  The funicular was ultra modern and sleek and travelled through a newly constructed tunnel up a very steep coastal hill. When we emerged at the top, we were in Taksim Square, considered to be the central square of Istanbul. It was a busy place and presented some challenges to us to find and physically reach the other tram line. Uncharacteristically we both became frustrated and gave up the mission. Even getting back to the funicular was a challenge by this point.  Let’s suffice it to say that we were glad when we finally reboarded the tram line we had just travelled.

We then travelled to the very end of the line going in the other direction. This route took us through the oldest parts of the city and then, outside the walls, we passed through several suburbs, business areas, light industrial parks and housing complexes.  It was a long distance to travel but it remained interesting all the way along.

Much of territory was the same as we had seen on our first day here on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Somehow it looked more familiar now and we certainly have a far greater understanding of the customs and culture. There is a significant religious holiday this weekend (a 4 day weekend) and the streets are already beginning to fill with people who are coming into town for the occasion. Similarly, the highways are getting clogged with the traffic of the outward bound, those Istanbul residents who are leaving town this weekend.  It sounds like a long weekend at home!

When we returned to Eminonu again, we took a taxi to the Fish Market and enjoyed looking at the day’s catch, all beautifully displayed. We selected one of the many adjacent restaurants, one with a great sea view, and sat down for an early dinner. We selected a beautiful sea bream for our main course and supplemented it with some mese plates – mussels, chili tomato sauce and ground olives in oil. A glass of wine for me and an Efes Dark for Jim were just the right beverages.  We finished off with a delicious Turkish pastry made mainly of honey and pistachios and a Turkish coffee. Yum!

We enjoyed watching the Bosphorus bound ocean vessels as well as the fishing boats of various sizes. Two old geezers caught our eye and entertained us for a while as they cleaned and tidied their small boats after a day of fishing. Either one of them could have been blown overboard in a whiff of breeze but there they were climbing from one boat to the other to lend a hand with whatever task needed to be done. It’s funny how each end of this day has been punctuated for me with worry about the very young (minaret climbers) and the very old (precarious old men).

Jim has headed off to a Turkish barber. His barber at home told him not to come back to Canada without visiting a Turkish barber. True to form, Jim has left it until our very last night here.

Jim has written a description of his visit to the barber …

Before we left home, when I mentioned that we were going to Turkey, I was told to be sure to get a haircut there as Turkish barbershops can and do provide more services than most such shops in Canada.  They are also open longer hours: most are open at least until 8:30 or later. So I left our hotel at 6:30pm to get a haircut knowing that I had to be back two hours later to leave in a taxi to attend a performance we had booked.  Two hours – should be no problem to go out, get a haircut and be back: some places in Canada schedule haircuts every half hour.  But I was worried.
Luckily, I had checked out a few shops earlier and narrowed my choice down to two likely suspects: a shop with two older barbers in an alleyway, and another larger unisex shop with younger barbers.  The one with two older barbers was somewhat far from our hotel, and seemed always to have someone waiting outside to go in, perhaps a good sign if you are not in a hurry. So I opted for the unisex shop.
Here you get much more than just a haircut. I declined having a manicure, a pedicure (with fish I understand), and a full body massage. There may have been more on the menu, but I was there for a haircut, and luckily did not have to wait very long before I was allocated my barber (I will call him Mehmet).
First question from Mehmet: do you want tea or coffee?  I opted for tea and it came in the Turkish standard clear curved glass and saucer with two sugar cubes on the side.
Then I was asked about how I wanted my hair (shorter) and beard (#2 on the side and #1½ underneath).
My head was sprayed a bit with water, and then the snipping started. Now, my frequent approach to haircuts is to close my eyes to convey my complete confidence in the barber’s abilities. But in this case I did look in the mirror periodically only to notice a very young face, just a few inches from my head, following the scissors as Mehmet lopped off four weeks growth. I have read that barbering as a profession is taken very seriously in Turkey: no foreign national is allowed to cut hair there.  I also understand there is a huge apprenticeship system where young boys watch someone use scissors for two years before they are allowed to try cutting on their own.
Periodically, Mehmet would stop and invite me to take another sip of tea.  After the hair was mostly tamed using scissors, clippers finished off the beard.
Now it was time for the shaving: lather and a straight razor, and since Gillette has convinced people that one blade is not good enough for a shave, Mehmet went over the skin with the straight razor three times, and then applied a lotion.
About this time, Mehmet inspected my head – lots of oohs and ahs – it did not sound like he liked what he saw. A device was set up to blow steam onto my face. Mehmet then painted my entire ears including the cavity with a warm liquid, and went away.
A young assistant arrived with a large two-fisted vibrator and started massaging my calf muscles while Mehmet or someone else was massaging my neck and shoulders by hand.  After completing the calf muscle massage the vibrator moved up to give a thigh muscle massage. Meanwhile the neck and shoulder massage continued.
Mehmet returned and removed what used to be the warm liquid – it was now cold wax that contained lots of hairs that I was unaware I had.  Two big ouches and a few small ones as Mehmet picked off wax bits that were missed with the big pulls. Mehmet proposed doing a wax job on my nose as well, but I declined.
Instead Mehmet gave me a scissor job on and in my nose, but clearly regarded this as a second-best approach.
At the end of all this, the steam was turned off and I found out what it was about: the barber had noticed three pimples on my nose and they all had to be squeezed!
Once the face was looking marginally OK with pimples in retreat, it was time for face polishing.  Lotion was spread over my expanding forehead and face, and an assistant came along with an electric polisher: think miniature floor polisher with only one wheel and you have the idea. I guess my face must have been pretty dull when I started because it seemed to require polishing for a long time.
Now it was time to lean forward into the sink for a hair and beard shampoo and rinse. This was followed by a head massage.  During the massage I realized that it was 8:10pm and I would have to leave soon.  I excused myself from the massage and asked to pay.  Another assistant came up and indicated that I was not done yet; my understanding of Turkish and hand-waving was that I needed to have my hair blow-dried and I will never know what else as I excused myself and paid.

Jim got back from his 90 minute haircut just in time for us to leave for the Whirling Dervishes. Whirling Dervishes are Sufi who are practising Muslims in the Mevelevi Order. They receive intensive training in the beliefs and teachings of Mevlana Rumi, one of which is that repetitive, unconscious movements (ie whirling) can transform you into a meditative/mystic state and allow your mind to be free of all earthly thoughts. Live music, both instrumental and vocal, provides the background for the dancers who perform a series of dances, each of which culminates in whirling, at times slowly and sometimes very quickly.  The entire performance is in fact a sacred and spiritual event for the performers (musicians and dancers). It is hoped that the audience will also feel the spirituality of the whirling as they watch.

I have to be honest about this.  Sadly, Jim and I did not feel the spirituality. We went with open minds, looking forward to a new experience and deeper understanding of Whirling Dervishes. The audience was respectfully quiet and engaged. But we were left feeling quite empty and confused. Not what we had hoped for from this event.

Now we are back at our hotel and packing for one final trip home. We are happy about the way our luggage is organized and we do not anticipate any ‘weight’ glitches along the way. (As some of you know, we do not travel lightly!)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It is hard to believe that this three month adventure will soon be at its end. We have enjoyed every element of it. So many amazing people and experiences packed into each and every day. We have taken thousands of photos, written an extensive diary and compiled four photobooks which await our arrival home. I am about to press send on the final one tonight.

Today we enjoyed a final breakfast on the rooftop terrace of our hotel in Istanbul. The sun was shining, the sea was gleaming and the sky beckoned to us …. It is time to go home.

En route to the airport, we noticed that the streets were uncharacteristically quiet. Few pedestrians and few cars. Today is a significant religious holiday in Istanbul and most shops and businesses are closed. Families were picnicking in parks and fishing along the seashore.

And, we are flying to London (which is where I am writing this). And then tomorrow home to Toronto. I will say it gave me much pleasure when I saw the British Airways agent tag our bags with YYZ (Toronto).

One more sleep!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The A's of Turkey - Ancient Ruins, Agriculture, and Amusements

Harvesting Pomegranates

Roadside Stand featuring .... Pomegranates

Marketing .... Pomegranates

Marketing Pomegranates .... even in English!

Mmmmm - Pomegranate Juice and Ice Cream

Ancient Library at Ephesus

Main Street near the Amphitheatre in Ephesus


Pamukkale - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mosques and Minarets in every village

Harvesting Olives

Temple at Aphrodisias

Yes .... there are McDonald's in Turkey (but not very many)

How many peppers can Peter Piper pick - especially the hot green ones!

Peppers in Pots to Pickle

Priene - Ancient Ottoman Empire ruin

Harvesting Cotton

Amphitheatre at Miletus


Lots of Hot Water in these Homes ... and most homes in Turkey

The Temple of Didyma in the town of Didim

Roadside Tea Stand

Beehives - thousands of them dot the countryside - and the honey is delicious

Women working in the field

Jim and Donna enjoying lunch at Ekin Club Dipdag by Sulungur Lake

Hothouses - Greenhouses - Glasshouses - Call them what you will. We have literally seen thousands of them across the valleys and hillsides. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs and other tender crops are grown in these structures.

Tomatoes in a Hothouse

The Strip on the Beach at Oludinez

The Ups and Downs of Travel Outside Istanbul


Sunday, October 14, 2012

This day promised to be a day of adventure. We arose early in the morning, packed our bags and loaded the car. We were going on a road trip for 8 days! And, we had no maps that would be of much use to us. We knew where we wanted to go, generally which direction to head, and Jim had downloaded some cursory directions from Google Maps.

Happily the sun was shining and there was absolutely no traffic on the roads. Our first destination was Ephesus, about an hour’s drive south of Izmir. We looked at the map and tried to find some of the placenames on the road signs to give us a clue which road we should be on. We finally settled on the city of Aydin. It was in the correct directon and was actually a bit beyond Ephesus. So we followed the signs toward Aydin and soon found ourselves on a major freeway with almost no other cars on the road. We relaxed a bit and settled into a pleasant drive.

The landscape along this route was quite mountainous with a range of vegetation from land that was quite barren to land that was highly cultivated for agricultural purposes. The distance passed quickly and soon we were watching for a sign that would guide us to Ephesus. We almost whooped with delight when a familiar-looking brown sign appeared on the side of the road indicating that we should turn right to travel toward Ephesus.

And so we arrived at the entrance to this magnificent, world class place of history, architecture, and longevity. A shopkeeper approached us when we arrived with some very good advice. He suggested that we carry water with us and that we take a taxi to the top gate and walk down the slope of Ephesus rather than up.  We followed his advice …. And we are very glad we did. A short taxi ride enabled us to leave our car where we will end up after our tour and took us to the top gate where we would begin our descent. A second shop keeper sold Jim a hat which will really help Jim remain a bit cooler throughout the day.

We entered the gates, prepared to be awed …. And we were. Stretched before us down a long slope was the main street of what was once a magnificent city of 250,000 people.

The streetscape itself was fairly steep and led us from the top of the hill steadily down into a broad valley. We passed by the remains of homes, shops, temples, baths, toilets, theatres, a brothel, a libraries and a myriad of other buildings. It was truly awesome to imagine the history of this place and its place in history. Oh, the stories those stones could tell.

In some places, the columns, carvings and structures had been better preserved. It was possible to imagine toga-clad men walking through the arches and doorways or sipping tea in cafes along the way.

Jim spent some time in the terrace houses, the best preserved area of Ephesus. This area is now totally undercover. It clearly housed the wealthy as evidenced by the painted wall murals, the elaborate architecture and the size and complexity of the homes.

At the bottom of the hill was the immense amphitheatre, now being diligently refurbished in hopes of being used once again for live concerts and other performances.  The size was impressive by today’s standards. It was overwhelming to think about its construction over 2000 years ago. There was something dissonant about seeing a modern crane standing against the blue sky as a part of this massive reconstruction project.

We finally reached the bottom of the hill and the end of our tour of Ephesus. We were grateful for the shade in the grove of trees that welcomed us as we made our way to the exit and to our car. Of course, once through the official exit there was an array of shops that offered all things Turkish or Ephisian for sale. We resisted everything except an a pistachio cream cone for Jim and a glass of pomegranate juice for me.

Then it was time to travel on. We were heading to Pamukkale but as before we had no idea how to get there. A wing and a prayer …..

We passed through many small towns, over mountains and through vast tracts of rich agricultural land. Olive groves, fruit orchards, strawberry patches, market gardens, corn fields and fields of cotton lay before our eyes. It was clearly harvest season and there were many workers (mostly older wonen) busy in the fields. What back-breaking labour it must have been.

Along the roadsides, we were thrilled to find many, many fruit stands marketing the products of the season. We had to be somewhat conservative in our purchases since we still had a lot of fruit from the market we were in yesterday. It was hard to turn away from the rich colours, smells and tastes.

We were fortunate to encounter a harvesting process for pomegranates on one of the roads we travelled. We have never seen so many pomegranates on trees or in harvest containers. Each pomegranate was gently placed into its own compartment in the shipping container, just as an egg would be. The filled crates were piled high on trucks and headed off to market or processing. Of course, we stopped to take photos and one of the farmers was kind enough to give us 2 freshly picked pomegranates. Mmmm ,,,,, I love pomegranates.
We carried on along our chosen route, gratified that we could now see the chalky cliffs of Pamukkale. We clearly had chosen the correct route. We found our hotel, The Melrose House, and settled into our very comfortable and pleasant room. It was too late in the day to go to the cliffs but our host suggested that we spend some time around the lake in the park at the bottom of the cliffs. What a great suggestion!

First, we encountered a camel …. Only 2 lira to have a photo taken. Of course, I went for it. Then we found a terrific table at a café on the edge of the lake that served delicious Turkish coffee. From our seats, we had a wonderful view of the Pamukkale cliffs and terraces along with an overview of the entire park surrounding the scenic lake. As in Alacati, it seemed that wedding couples came to this place to have photographs taken and we were delighted to see four newlywed couples in various poses by the water and in front of the large white cliffs. One of the brides was a more conservative Muslim woman who wore an elaborate and utterly beautiful headpiece that completely covered her hair. It was so elegant.

Pamukkale is an area that has developed because of natural hot springs flowing fro the earth ….. At one time, land in this area was privately owned and several major hotels had been built at the rim of the cliff. Turkey finally donated the land to UNESCO who set out to discontinue its use for accommodation and reestablish it as a natural phenomenon. All the hotels have been dismantled and walkways, lovely gardens, a museum and informational signs have replaced them.

As well as the white chalk cliffs, at the top of the ridge there stand the remains of a very large Roman city. It extends for kilometres in every direction and is in a total state of disrepair. Walls, columns, buildings have tumbled and crumbles over centuries. Fields of rocks are what remain along with the knowledge and imaginations of scholars about once stood proudly in this place.

We left Pamukkale and headed toward Aphrodisias. This area certainly has a vast collection of ruins. Once again, we passed through many landscapes – hills, mountains, valleys.  Agricultural enterprises are a prime part of the lifestyle and the economy here. Tractors travelled possessively along the roadways and parked along the curbsides in the towns we passed through. Fields were once again filled with workers. Harvest season was in full swing

We were once again fortunate to come upon a harvest operation, this time, the harvest of olives. Tractors pulling wagons piled high with containers full of freshly picked olives arrived at a sorting station located in a field at the side of the road. Olives were dumped into a hopper and sorted according to their size. Containers were filled with various sizes and loaded by hand onto a truck that would transport them to their next destination, processing into edible olives, olive oil, or any one of the number of other products derived from olives.

Women, dressed in traditional clothing – baggy pants, long sleeved tops, colourful kerchiefs – travelled by tractor and wagon into the olive orchards to do the picking. Men did the driving, the sorting and the lifting at the sorting station.

After many stops along the roadside to take photos of various agricultural ventures, we finally arrived at Aphrodisias, recommended by a friend as the most delightful ancient ruin in all of Turkey. Once through, the gate, we immediately agreed with her. The main walking trail was lined with trees much of the way. The ground was relatively level and the various sites to be explored with fairly close together. Also, the ruins themselves were in moderately good repair so it was easy to visualize what the town had been like 2000 years ago.  Of special interest were the stadium and the theatre which were very well preserved. The pillars around the temple were also very striking.

We left Aphrodisias and continued our cross country driving tour but with a little more purpose this time. It was getting late in the afternoon and we had not yet organized a place to stay for the night. Our goal was to get to the city of Aydin where we knew of at least one hotel that we would consider.  We had agreed when embarking on the driving trip that we would always be off the road by sunset. It was going to be a close contest tonight.

We did arrive in Aydin at 6 pm and through chaotic rush hour traffic, we made our way to the hotel. Jim went in to see a room – it was not great – and even the luggage boy told us we should stay somewhere else. So we moved on to the Aydin Park Hotel – more arduous driving through bumper to bumper horn honking traffic. The Aydin Park Hotel looked great …. But it was sold out. A third hotel, The Anamone, was recommended and we made our way there.  Fortunately, it was clean, pleasant and a room was available. No view but quite a price!!! At this point, we really did not have any viable options so we spent a pleasant night at the Anemone and thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast buffet that was included with the room!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We slept in a bit (no nearby minaret to awaken me) and enjoyed a slower paced morning (including the breakfast buffet). Then we headed back through Aydin to find the road to Didyma. On the way to Didyma, we passed by several other sites of ancient cities and towns.

Our first stop was Priene, an excellently preserved example of a Hellenic town. A delightful fruit vendor at the bottom of a steep hill directed us up to the parking lot (yes, we did have to drive up that steep hill). Once in the parking lot, it was recommended by others that I not even attempt to make it into the town itself, due to the steep climb and myriad of uneven steps involved. So, Jim set off by himself while I waited at the bottom. (When he got back, even Jim said that I had made a good decision not to go in.)  The photos are beautiful and tell the tale of a city with a view that was mostly ignored by the Romans when they conquered the Greeks. Thus a well preserved Hellenic village.

Our next stop was a bit of a surprise along the way. We came upon a sign to Miletus and spontaneously turned up the road. We were well rewarded for our actions. Before our eyes emerged an enormous ancient amphitheatre, complete with stadium seats and underground passages that were constructed below the seats. It was a spectacle to behold. We were delighted that we had a chance to see it.

And now the road led to Didyma, an ancient temple ruin in the midst of the modern town of Didim. Confused? We were!! However, we found our way and took a leisurely stroll up the pedestrian area in Didim until we came to the site of Didyma. Columns from the temple soared toward the sky and tumbled rocks had fallen all around the grounds in disarray. Several partial columns outlined the main structure of the temple. It was a beautiful place!

We stopped for a light lunch in a café adjacent to the temple. Refreshed, we continued our tour, this time the goal was to reach Mulga by sunset. We did have a reservation there for tonight.

Even though the main events today focused on the ancient sites we were visiting, all through the day we encountered agricultural activities that diverted our attention. First we noticed a large number of tractors pulling unusual wagons filled to the brim with some sort of crop. Soon, we determined that it was cotton that was freshly harvested. We were able to follow the route of these tractors because all along the road were little tufts of cotton that escaped from the loads. We eventually found a facility where the cotton was being unloaded in an enormous pile that resembled a cumulous cloud but on the ground. As quickly as the wagons could be unloaded, a front end loader scooped the cotton from the pile and filled a transport truck. Yes, that is a lot of cotton! When the truck was filled, the front end loader would use its bucket to tamp the cotton down in an effort to prevent it blowing out of the truck as it was transported to its next destination. A large tarp was also stretched over the top of the trailer for even more protection from wind and rain.  As the day progressed, we saw more of these cotton collection barns. We began to realize how important cotton is in the Turkish agricultural industry.

The next crop that we encountered was the harvest and processing of peppers. We happened upon an enormous field covered with large black plastic barrels with lids (slightly smaller than a whiskey barrel). Next we noticed a large truck that was filled beyond capacity with bags of small green things. Once we opened the window, one whiff of the air confirmed that these were some sort of hot pepper. A nearby processing facility was putting the peppers into the barrels and sealing them with the lids. We can only assume that there were also other ingredients added to the barrels. It became clear very soon that we were not particularly welcome as observers to this process (even though we were outside the fence) and we were certainly not supposed to be taking photos. So the rest of the story about the peppers has to be left to all of our imaginations.

We travelled through very diverse landscapes today. Much of this area of Turkey is either rich agricultural land or barren and rocky landscape with few inhabitants. We encountered a couple of herds of sheep and/or goats along the way, tended by people who truly resembled nomadic shepherds. We may never know for sure.

Mountains reach for the sky in every direction, sometimes creating steep cliffs and narrow valleys, sometimes spreading so that vast plains lie between them. The highways traverse many mountains and we climbed high on many cliffside roads today, only to roll down the other side and start again on the next one. Riverbeds are wide and deep, but most are bone dry at the moment. The dry season seems to extend from the summer months late into the autumn.

Dry season is a good season from a traveller’s point of view. October has been a splendid month to visit this southwest part of Turkey. The daytime temperature is warm but well within the comfortable range and we have not seen a single cloud in the sky for days. It does not get much better than that.  Oh … and the sun sets late as we are at the extreme edge of this time zone. Sunrise is about 7 in the morning and the sun sets sometime after 6 pm.

Well, we made it to Mulga just as the sun was setting. And the room we are in tonight is perfect! We have chatted with both our children, had a truly Turkish dinner and have enjoyed a quiet evening getting caught up on diaries and photographs etc.

Time to get some sleep so we can explore some more tomorrow. Aegean Sea ….  Here we come!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This was going to be another busy day.  Heading out from Hotel Pedic in Mulga, we planned to drive along the Turquoise Coast, enjoying the beauty of both the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The road was marked on the map as a scenic route so we were excited to get going.

What we noticed right away was that the road itself was a major highway in most locations and wound precariously up and down the mountainsides, through passes and across valleys. Many times the slope of the road was posted as a 10 % grade, both up and down. Our little Ford Fiesta was able to manage the climbs but we were grateful for an extra traffic lane on the uphill climbs at times.

We also encountered an interesting feature of the Turkish policing system. There are periodic road checks at various points along the highway. Cars seem to be randomly stopped. A police officer indicates that you either can go straight through or you need to pull over onto the shoulder. Over the several days we have been travelling by car, we have been pulled over three times. The first time we were stopped we were quite unnerved, having no idea what we had done wrong or how we would communicate with the officer. He spoke to us in Turkish, of course, and I replied “English only” at which point he indicated that we should just drive on. Whew! The second time, the officer spoke a bit of English and asked to see my driver’s licence and the car ownership.  No, he did not want the Hertz rental agreement. He wanted the ownership papers. That took a little digging in the glove compartment but we finally produced the document he was looking for. He took them away, conversed with another officer, returned the documents to me and said, “There is no problem, Mrs. Donna.” The third time we drew an officer who was fluent in English and he wanted to know where we were from. When we told him we were from Canada, he smiled broadly and said, “Just go on.” I am grateful to be a Canadian!!

While en route today we drove off the main highway to a small rural community called Koycegiz. There we found a beautiful lake but sadly, no lakeshore drive as we had expected. However, we did see two moveable buildings, created from reeds and built on stilts so that in times of flood they could be literally picked up and moved to dry land. We also were deep in agricultural countryside where we saw citrus groves, tomatoes in greenhouses, olives being harvested and so much more.

We drove on from Koycegiz to a lakeside restaurant that Jim had found (he is very good at that kind of thing). I loved the name of the restaurant - Ekin Club Dipdag – on the shore of Sulungur Lake. We relaxed at a lakeside table and ordered a gozleme (Turkish pancake) and a salad. While we were waiting, a group of Canadian bicyclists arrived, including two women who had been in our cooking class last week in Istanbul. What are the chances of that!?!

After lunch we continued our country drive to Iztuzu Beach on the Mediterranean Sea. A Sea Turtle Research and Rescue Station is located at this beach because of the large number of turtles that use this beach to lay their eggs. These sea turtles dig holes up to one metre deep on the beach and lay between 75 and 100 pingpong ball sized eggs. Wow!

We saw several turtles who are in the ‘hospital’ and all I can say is – are they ever big!!

On our way back to the main highway, we made two stops. One stop was at a pomegranate sorting station with a restaurant across the road that sold freshly squeezed pomegranate juice as well as pomegranate ice cream. MMM good!

We also stopped in the small town of Dalyian and visited a grocery store. It was interesting to see what was available – lots of jams, jellies, pickles and other condiments (Iain, I know you will be impressed that I did not buy anything.) as well as a full range of products that you might find in a small supermarket at home.

On the way out of Dalyian, we observed a large number of greenhouses along the side of the road. Of course, we stopped to investigate and found that tomatoes, peppers, herbs and other plants that would be susceptible to high temperatures and bright sunlight are actually grown to maturity in greenhouses. That explains why we have never seen a field of tomatoes anywhere and yet we have enjoyed eating vine ripened tomatoes every day since we arrived in Turkey.

From Dalyian, we completed our drive up and down mountains, finally reaching our hotel in a seaside town called Belcekiz, although no one calls it by that name, not even the locals. It is widely known as Oludeniz, named after the large lagoon that can be found at one end of the town. The lagoon offers calm water and beautiful sand beaches. The main beach that stretches in front of our hotel and many other hotels on this holiday strip is the classic Mediterranean gravel beach running right into the water. A Mediterranean beach is beautiful to look at but perhaps not so comfortable underfoot.

Jim once again found us a lovely hotel, complete with a pool and restaurant, as well as beach access directly in front of the hotel. The whole area reminds me a bit of a summer resort with a wide boardwalk stretching along the beachfront with shops, restaurants, supermarkets and tourist activities. October is the shoulder season here (in fact, many hotels and shops close at the end of October for the winter) so we are blessed not to be surrounded by huge crowds of people. It is hard to imagine how busy this area would be in the summer.

One of the primary activities in this area is hang-gliding.  There are many fliers with high levels of skill performing daring stunts in the air. There are also tandem fliers so if you wanted you could go for a ride with one of them. Hmmm …. That might be something that interests me but not with a boot on my foot. At one point today, I counted over 20 hang-gliders in the air simulataneously. It was truly an awesome sight.

Thursday, October 18 / Friday October 19, 2012

We paused for a rest on these two days, happy to sleep, read, and lounge by the pool. Frankly, neither one of us felt particularly well. I think we have run pretty hard over the last few weeks and we finally had to acknowledge that it was time to take a break. And this was a beautiful place to do just that.

On Friday afternoon, we did take a short drive up into the mountains around Oludeniz. It is amazing how many little communities exist, nestled into the hills high above the sea. One was of particular interest – Kayakoy. It has an interesting history. It is built among the ruins of buildings that once housed the population of Karmylassos. Karmylassos was primarily a Greek community in Turkey. In 1924, the Turkish and Greek governments agreed to an exchange of ex-pats from each country. In that exchange, the town of Karmylassos was virtually emptied out and all that remains are the cement block shells of the buildings that were once a vibrant community. It is an amazing sight to see all the empty buildings that are nestled in the steep hills and cliffs, a silent reminder of the impact of government decisions on individual lives. Kayakoy, the village that has grown up among the ruins, has been adopted by UNESCO as a World Friendship and Peace Village.

And tomorrow, we are on the road again. Now it is only one week until we will once again be in Canadian soil. We have much to do in the short time we have left in Turkey.