Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

My Photo

Following our Dreams and Kicking the Bucket List.  Started on a yacht, now it's planes, trains, Trailblazer 5th wheel, camels, rickshaws.  Exploring our wonderful world.

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Total Pageviews

SLIDE SHOW of Worrall Travel R's 2014 ODYSSEY

For our complete blog collection of adventure and travel photography CLICK HERE.

Now showing 2014 BEST Of TURKEY 3

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Goodbye Turkey, Hello Athens, Greece (Days 133-135)

Aristotle born 384 BC, Died 322 BC

Day 133 - Goodbye Turkey

After one month in Turkey, it was time to leave.  We were up at 4:00 and out the door to the airport by 4:45.  Our plane would be boarding at 7:25.  Traffic was non-existent at this time of the morning as we zipped along the freeway.  Returning rental cars here is a bit different.  You basically pull into the car park area, write the space number on the parking ticket, and drop the keys, paperwork, and parking ticket on the counter.  No one was available at the desk when we arrived.  Strange.  

Each time we fly, the check in procedure and security seems less and less tolerable.  On this trip we were only allowed to take 8 kilograms (about 18 lbs) of hand luggage.  Ordinarily, we are allowed 20-25 lbs.  We moved as much stuff as we could to our check in bags, creating concave hand luggage, but even that was overweight by a kilo.  We had already checked in our luggage when we weighed our hand bags at the checkin.  Fortunately, the clerk tagged our cabin luggage anyway, and told us to move some things into our backpack. (kind of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic), like it would really make a difference in the overall cabin weight.

We boarded the plane and took off for Istanbul where we would have one flight change.  We were concerned that we would not have enough time to change planes, but were assured by the check in clerk that it would not be a problem, as the airport was small.   We would arrive about 9:15 and boarding for transit plane would begin at 9:30, and take off at 10:15. (So if all went well, we would have an hour.)  Well, all did not go well.  First our plane did not leave on time nor arrive on time.  We arrived at 9:30.  

We were in the middle of the plane, so while they were unloading from both the front and back exits, we were still some of the last people off.  For the size of the plane, there should have been three large busses to take us to the terminal....there were two, and we had to push our way with our hand luggage onto a bulging bus.  Some passengers were left behind...at least we made the first round of busses.

When we arrived we followed the signs to international transit.  The doors were closed.  Two official workers told us the gates were closed and to go somewhere else, but the first worker told us to wait and the gate would open in about 5 minutes.  So we waited 10 minutes..  It is now 9:55.  We still had passport control, which was quite easy once the gates were finally opened.  Home free as we started quickly toward the gate, only to discover there was another security line 100 passengers long.  #$@@!  Why would there be an interior security for transit passengers?
No one was around to help expedite passengers who needed immediate boarding so we waited in the line, until 10:05 when finally someone came up and started a line for passengers leaving on 10:15-10:20 flights, about 1/3 of the line.

Fortunately, we were some of the first ones through security (yes, belts, hats, bottles out -- the whole enchilada...grrrrr).  We put ourselves back together, and started hoofing it to the gate.  Our plane, we hope is being held as it is now 10:15.  We run down the crowded halls, up a flight of stairs, more halls, down a flight of stairs, more running, but getting closer.  A clerk is yelling, "Athens", 10:15, this way, this way!"  Russ and I make it through check in and are shuttled out to the waiting bus. We are the only ones on, but we see some others coming behind us.  Another couple gets on.....and we wait while a young man is having an argument with the attendant at the check in desk.  Finally, as tempers seem to be flaring inside, the attendant rushes the young man on the bus, the doors close, and the attendant and man carry on their heated discussion.....his girlfriend who went to the toilet got left behind.  He was leaving and had her passport and wallet. They would not hold the plane any longer.  What a mess!

By the time we arrive at the plane, it is poring rain.  The plane is hot and humid and the passengers all of whom are seated except the five us are all grumpy looking.  We make our way to our seats, dripping with rain and sweat, stow our luggage and collapse in our seats.  It is now 10:30. Not a relaxing transit to say the least, but can't imagine being stranded in Istanbul without luggage, passport, or wallet.

Finally, we are on our way to Athens.

Hello Athens, Day 133

We arrived in Athens in the early afternoon, and were met at the airport by our AirBnB host who would also serve as our Taxi to his home near the Acropolis, and back to the airport in a couple of days.    It took us about 45 minutes from airport to to his place.  Christos lives in a 1950's flat.  Our room is very spacious and includes a sitting room, use of bathroom, kitchen, laundry, and roof garden.  

We do not have a rental car here, but everything we want to see is within walking distance of our flat.  The weather is dark and rainy, and not conducive to any island hopping, so for this trip we will confine ourselves to Athens.  During a weather break, we walk to the local market and pickup some provisions, and stop for a meal at the eatery a block from the flat, then home to bed.  It's been an exhausting day.

Zeus reigns Over Athens - Day 134

The clouds are dark and threatening as we left with ponchos and umbrella tucked in the backpack.  Zeus is unhappy and threatening to be even more unhappy as the day progresses.  Our goal today is to visit the new Acropolis Museum and the Tourist Office.  We'll leave the outside stuff for a better day.  To get to the museum however there is a hill with ruins we must climb or go around.  We go over the top, watching as the black clouds get closer.  By the time we reach the museum, it is raining.  We don't want to be on top with the thunder and lightening.

The museum is beautiful and built with peek-a-boo glass floor over the ruins of ancient Athens.  The original archaic Acropolis buildings (before the Classical period 480-323) and the first temples were sacked by the Persians in 480 BC.  The Athenians did not lose this war, but when they returned, every structure on the Acropolis was leveled.  To preserve the old, sculptures, reliefs, and other artifacts were buried in pits, later to be discovered in recent times and are now being restored and displayed in the Archaic Gallery of the new museum.  Unfortunately, no photos are allowed in the archaic gallery, but the sophistication of the artifacts from 800-480 BC, are very impressive.

By the time we left the museum, Zeus was clapping his hands and throwing lightening bolts towards the earth.  We decided to go around the big hill to get back to our flat instead of over the top.  We did not want to be one of Zeus's casualties.  The wind and rain whipped around us as we trudged back.

Once we arrived at the flat, we cooked up a big pot of cream of broccoli soup for dinner, drank red wine, and played cards before turning in for the night.

Day 135 - Looks like the least rainy day!

We will be leaving as soon as I post this blog to explore more of Athens.  I'll post more photos this evening when we return.  http://worrallwind.blogspot.com

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's in Athens

Friday, October 24, 2014

Last Day in Turkey, Day 132, Underground Cities

We spent our last day in Turkey driving away from Kapadokya then back for a terrific farewell dinner overlooking the city lights of the Fairy Chimneys.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Because of the unusual geologic layering of volcanic ash and pumice, plus years of erosion, the valleys and hills in the area lent themselves to habitation by those willing to carve a niche for themselves in the earth.  Beginning in 2000 BC, the Hittites, were the first known settlers in this area.  They started digging into the cliffs and underground.  

In later years, persecuted Christians took the digging to deeper depths creating underground cities (up to eight floors down and 4 square kilometers in area))  inside caves and straight down in the valleys to build monasteries, churches, wineries, animal shelters, caravansaries, and homes.  

Passages to different levels are narrow and steep where it is more like rock climbing or descent than stair passages.  Airshafts and wells built by the dwellers bring fresh air and water to the cities. Some cities that are combined with caves have some natural light on the first levels, but after that it is just dark and claustrophobic.  Today of course, these areas are lit with electricity for tourists, but it must have been quite dark and grim lit by torch and little lamps.

We visited two underground cities and a canyon with cliffside dwellings.  For more photos, they will be posted on http://worrallwind.blogspot.com 

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's - Our last night in Turkey

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hot Air Balloons over Fairy Chimneys, Days 129-131, Kapadokya, Turkey

Sunrise in Kapadokya, Turkey - October 21, 2014 - Day 131

For our last two days here in Cappadocia, Kapadokya (Goreme National Park) near Kayseri, it has been cloudy and rainy, and the balloons have been grounded for four days.  Today, day 131, October 21, the sky and wind conditions were perfect.  The dawn sky was filled with a backlog of waiting tourists and balloons.  What a fabulous experience.  We can check this one of the bucket list, but I think we will have to do this again.  We were talking to a couple who did a balloon safari in Africa and could view the animals from a balloon.  That sounds fun too....sometime in the future.

For now we are staying in a cave.  Yes, it is a cave hotel.

On day 129 we visited the UNESCO World Heritage Open Air Museum to view the churches and convent built in the cliffs and caves. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappadocia.  The ancient volcanic eruption, compressed pumice, limestone layers, upheaval, and erosion creates these pointy little mounds called Fairy Chimneys.

 Christians fleeing from persecution in the 2nd century migrated here and carved out lives for themselves....literally.  There are underground cities and over 2,000 churches in the area carved into the Fairy Chimneys and cliff sides.

Table and benches carved out of stone inside the cave

Cappadocia is unique among places on Earth.  

On day 130 we hiked in valleys, up mountains, and wandered through Red Valley

and Rose Valley.

The geography and topography are beautiful.  In someways, the area reminds us of Dunhuang in China at the Mogao Caves that we visited earlier this summer...http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogao_Caves The frescos here are not as well preserved, but the idea of creating religious chapels and grottos carved out the earth is the same.  It's very interesting.

And of course this morning was outstanding.  I have to say it was much more fun to fly over than to hike over. We were up at 4:30, picked up by 5:30, lift off about 6:30.  It was fun watching the balloons get fired up and lifting out of the darkness like lanterns.

Our pilot Durmus was quite skilled as he wove in, out, up, and over at close range through the Fairy Chimneys, spires, and curtains of the valley.

There were times when it looked as if we were going to collide with the cliff, but no, he skillfully avoided even a glancing blow, although we could reach our hands out to pick the leaves off the tops of trees.

And then the sun came up! 

We celebrated our exciting ride, the dawn, and a safe landing with a little bubbly!

By 9:00 we were back at our hotel and exhausted.  Tomorrow or this afternoon, we plan to explore the underground city, the 9th wonder of the ancient world.  Thursday we leave for Athens.  It won't be long now, and we will be coming home.

All is Well With the Worrall Travel R's in Kapadokyia, Turkey from 700 meters UP.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Days 126-128, SERVAS in Mersin

The Artes Family - Our SERVAS Family

October 16, 2014, Thursday, Day 126

We arrived in Mersin, Turkey on Thursday for a two day home visit with a SERVAS family of four, Mom (Gullizar), Dad (Davut) . and two young  sons, Cenor (9) and Toprak (5).  Before our arrival we stopped to pick up a few groceries and gifts for the boys.  We would find our family's home in a modern seven story apartment building.  We were very pleased to see an elevator as the family lives on the seventh floor with several balconies overlooking the surrounding area.

When we arrived mid-afternoon, Gullizar was just preparing some Turkish coffee for an English teacher colleague and herself.  It was time to relax a bit after a day of teaching.  The boys were playing with one another in their bedroom.  Davut, a high school teacher,  would not be home for a few more hours.  We introduced ourselves and were warmly welcomed and invited to have coffee.  If you have not had Turkish coffee, it is quite a caffeine boost.  Served in a little demi-tasse, it is a thick expresso that is best with a little sugar or chocolate.

Davut arrived a little later in the afternoon; we enjoyed a wonderful evening meal together.  Gullizar is a wonderful cook and enjoys making traditional, organic food.  She had prepared stuffed eggplants (dolma) and a green salad with tomatoes.  We also had some of Davut's homemade wine with our meal.  Afterwards, we shared some of the little house gifts we brought and the toys we brought for the boys.  Russ was excited as Cenor was with the helicopter model and promised to help him assemble it the following day.  I promised Toprak that I would teach him some card games, but it was time for everyone to go to bed.  Tomorrow was a school day, and everyone, including us were going to school.

October 17, 2014, Friday Day 127

Turkey's schools are old and crowded.  Education does not receive enough money (all over the world it seems) to build new schools and hire enough teachers and buy educational materials to keep up with the growing population.  I spotted a few computers for teachers in the classrooms, but the Internet is slow, and the students do not have access to technology.

Fourth Grade in Turkey
Gullizar said that her school where she teaches English is a typical Turkish school.  There were 30-35 children packed into small classrooms with a blackboard, and minute pieces of chalk.  Her school is on a split session.  Grades 5-8 meet in the morning from 8:00 until 1:20.    Grades 1-4, meet from 1:30-6:30.  As one group vacates, the headmaster is lining up the next group to enter.  Classes are 40 minutes long and passing periods are 15 minutes long.  Students learn textbook English, but do not practice speaking and are not motivated to speak.  It does not seem relevant to most of them.

Fortunately, we were able to borrow a world map from the history teacher so that we would have a reference point to share with the children.  We were invited to tell the students about our travels and why English is important to learn.  From our experience in the South Pacific with so many islands, languages, and dialects, English was the universal language of communication.  We spent our time at the school visiting 8th grade, 5th grade, and one 4th grade class  The kids were very excited.  We had a lot of fun and hope that the students will be inspired to travel and to learn English so that they can communicate with people from around the world.  Some of them seemed ready to climb in our suitcases and start traveling immediately!  We felt like rock stars as children followed behind us asking for our autographs.

After our day at school Gullizar took us shopping at a large regional shopping center.  I needed some contact lens solution and some eyeliner, neither of which I had been able to find on my own anywhere.  We went to a couple of optical shops and finally found some solution.  Contacts are not big in Turkey.  We also went into a department store, where the designer cosmetics are and after looking around, was just not thrilled to shell out $30.00 for a stick of eyeliner, so gave it a pass.  Finally found a shop that had "drug-store" quality cosmetics and found one for about $10.00.

Cinor and Toprak, being cared for by Gullizar's sister while we were shopping, were eager to start building the helicopter when we returned.
The model was recommended for 8 years and up.  Toprak was too young, and apparently Russ was too!  The model was much more complicated than it appeared at first glance, and it took, Cinor and Russ nearly five hours to complete.  Toprak and I played a match game of cards, catch, and took Ipad photos.

Davut returned home from work and looked relieved that the helicopter was nearly finished and he would not have to struggle with it.
 Cenor was unfailingly eager, willing, and attentive for five hours.  

Friday in this household is fish night.  Family members gather on Fridays to fry up fish, drink Turkish Raki, relax, and have fun.  We loved being included in this weekend celebration in which, Gullizar's sister, niece, husband, and grand niece, participated.  The kitchen was a beehive of activity.  In addition to model making, card playing, and meal preparation, Gullizar was blanching batches of green seedless grapes and spreading them outside on a table to dry and become raisins.

By 9:30 after Turkish tea and baklava, it was time to wind down.  It had been a fun and busy day.

Day 128, October 18, 2014, Saturday

The most difficult thing to do on a SERVAS visit is to say goodbye.  We come as strangers and leave as friends and family.  We loved this family and our time with them.  After breakfast, hopeful promises of meeting up again, final photographs, hugs,  and cheek kisses, we said goodbye, and headed north where we will be spending our last couple of days in Turkey.  Thank you Ates family and SERVAS for another wonderful and memorable experience.
Cenor takes the photo!

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's.