Turkey…Weird, Wonderful and Whacky!

Getting to Turkey proved to be an adventure in itself. Our plane was late leaving Santorini so we thought we were probably going to miss our flight out of Athens. Not so…we land in Athens and there is a guy waiting for us. There are about twelve of us late for two planes that they were holding. He told us all we would have to hurry. All of us ran through the Athens airport together trying to keep up with this man, knowing he was our only hope of catching that plane. There were seven people trying to make our flight. I felt like we were in the amazing race. It was comical. We all made it on the plane though, congratulating one another on our success. We had laughed most of the way while running through the airport. Our plane had propellers and Garrett said it was the first time he had ever been in a plane with propellers:) A great start for our Turkey excursion!

We arrived in Izmir Turkey so we could see the ruins in Ephasus. It was night time and we decided to take our first full day to just hang in Izmir and the the second day to see the sights in Ephasus even though our plane left that same night. We walked through Izmir, heading to the sea port and strolled along the shore. Making our way through shops and markets we ended up in a plaza where the locals hung out and fed pigeons. We sat in this plaza for over an hour watching people and soaking up the culture. Garrett and I both commented what a pleasure it was to slow down and soak in the surroundings…a favorite travel thing for both of us I found out. I felt energized again to be in a place so foreign and that once more that held a lot of questions for me. Don’t ask me why, but I love foreign….the more confused or lost I am or the more questions I have, the better…I know, it’s weird.
A relaxing day in Izmir and a good nights sleep left us ready to tackle our long day ahead. Our taxi driver from the airport had offered to take us to Ephasus for $150 US dollars (one of the reasons we took a day in Izmir to sort through a plan). We ended up taking an hour long train ride to Ephasus for about 3 dollars each:) Made it to the ruins and spent a long day exploring the site. It was much larger than I thought it would be and quite spectacular. It was also very very hot. We still had a couple of hours to kill and Garrett wanted to see the little village of Sirince and we ran into an older shop keeper that was willing to drive us there…of course he had ulterior motives and Garrett had no issues pimping his mom out to see this charming little city in the hills. The guy stuck with us until we boarded the train to get back to Izmir and our plane…He was harmless enough and Garrett was smart enough to stick to me like glue. I think mainly the guy was just really bored:)

We arrived late but were ushered in to our cave dwelling in Goreme in Cappadocia. We woke up to the most splendid site of hoodoos from the breakfast terrace of our hotel. Cappadocia turned out to be one of the most unique places I’ve ever seen. Weird cylindrical and phallic shaped rocks that people had carved out homes and cathedrals in. We walked to the Open Air Museum and ventured through all the cave dwellings. It was really amazing to see the cathedrals that these spiritual monks had carved and the murals that adorned them from ceiling to floor. The people that had lived here were supported only through the generosity of the villagers at the time and spent all their time in prayer, meditation and working on the spectacular sites we were going through. That evening we hiked up the hill for sunset. The next morning we hiked back up the hill at 5:00 am for sunrise and to witness the hot air balloons ascending the air, a sight that Cappadocia is famous for. The rides in the balloons were expensive but I think to be able to see it from where we were at was even better. Over a hundred balloons dotted the sky above these weird rock formations as the sun rose high in the sky. Words cannot convey the sight but it was incredible! I almost told Garrett I was sleeping in and to go without me…I’m so glad I didn’t…Spectacular! We sat and reveled at the sight for hours and then made our way back to the hotel, took a quick nap and then breakfast and then to the airport with Istanbul as our destination.

Istanbul is a huge city with 15 million inhabitants. It’s well landscaped and for the most part clean and modern. Our hotel was less than desirable but we were in a good location, the Beyoglu area. A wide strip of walkway with an occasional trolley going through the center. We walked our a$$es off again. One day we actually walked nearly 15 miles…yep those guys are trying to kill me:) We crossed the bridge over the Bosphorus Straight and made it to the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque and many points in between. We soaked up the city life in Istanbul and even managed to get in a little shopping…something I had managed to nearly give up in my travels:) We even made it to the Grand Bizzare and the Spice Market.

We went to a performance of Whirling Dervishes one evening. Very unusual, cool and interesting. I hadn’t realized it was a spiritual thing but found out there is a ceremony they go through and they start spinning around and don’t stop…you know how you played that game as a kid…spun around for a couple of moments and then stumbled around as if drunk? Well they didn’t stumble, they just spun and spun and then came to a complete stop and moved about normal. They put themselves into some kind of trance. It’s a must see thing in Istanbul. I still don’t quite understand how it was possible and I kind of live in a semi trance state myself:)

Garrett also had given me some Turkish lessons…whatever you do…don’t go to Garrett for Turkish lessons. History yes, Turkish no:) He told me lutfen meant thank you, so of course we tried to use it whenever we thought it was appropriate. When doing this we always received strange looks and we didn’t know why. The day before Garrett left he learned that he had been wrong and lutfen meant please…DUH!

I also got my hair done in Turkey. My first male hair dresser…disaster:0 Instead of trying to match the colors for my root touch up he just put on black dye. Thus instead of gray hair that needs a touch up I look like I have dark roots growing out that need a touch up. Horrible…but it somehow made me feel younger:) I can’t even imagine what that is going to look like as it grows out:(

Five days in Istanbul and it was time for Garrett and I to part ways. He had to go home and I needed to figure out where I was headed. It’s always hard after being with someone and then they go…I always feel a little lost. I chose to go to Dalaman Turkey knowing next to nothing about it. Why? Because it had a beach and was the cheapest place I could go. I needed some down time, writing time and just plain relaxing time. Mission accomplished! Dalaman turned out to be a happy accident.

From Turkey….Traveling with my oldest son and Turkey…a winning combo:)

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