Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

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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

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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

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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 124-125, Pirate Castle in Anamur

Looking into the castle at the old mosque

The morning thunder clouds coming off the sea are overhead and hopefully will blow away as the day progresses.  We are leaving Anamur on day 125, after two nights at the Hotel Luna Piena overlooking the sea, and heading to Mersin with a one night stopover on the way.  Mersin is as far east as we will travel, keeping our distance from the Syrian Border.  We will be spending two nights in Mersin with SERVAS hosts, then heading north to Kayseri.

Day 124, Tuesday, Octobrer 14.

One of the joys of the off season is the lack of other tourists, little traffic congestion, uninhabited stretches of beach and streets.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that this is also the time of year when locals take advantage of infrastructure construction and reconstruction of historic sites, leading to delays and closures of some sites.  Today, with anticipation of visiting a historic castle....Wikipedia http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamure_Castle 

"The castle was built by the rulers of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia on the foundations of a fourth-century Roman castle.[1]Designed to protect against pirates, it was repaired during the Byzantine era and during the Crusades. When Alaattin Keykubat I of Seljuk Turks captured the ruins of the castle in 1221, he built a larger castle using elements of the earlier fortifications. Later, it was controlled by the Karamanid dynasty (who ruled a Turkish state in Anatolia). Although the exact date is uncertain, according to an inscription by ─░brahim II of Karaman in 1450, the castle was captured during Mahmut's reign (1300–1311). The castle was renamed as Mamure (prosperous) after repairs by Mahmut.[2] In 1469, the castle was annexed by the Ottoman Empire.[1] It was subsequently repaired in the 15th, 16th and 18th centuries and a part of the castle was used as a caravansarai."

We read in another brochure that Alaattin Keykubat I, was himself a pirate.  So this castle originally built to protect from pirates ironically became a pirate stronghold for a period of time.  There is a geocache here, and our Travel Bug Pirate's Parlay was excited to visit the castle and the cache. The Bad News:  Unfortunately, when we arrived the castle was officially closed to tourists due to reconstruction.  The Good News: A  very nice Castle Keep who sensing our disappointment took us on a personalized tour of the grounds not under construction.  He was knowledgeable, solicitous of our safety, and never left us alone for a second.  We enjoyed our visit but alas were unable to search around for the geocache, because the location was in one of the towers being reconstructed.

We returned to the hotel in the early afternoon, and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the lounge of the hotel enjoying the Internet.  I was able to attach photos to the blog of several of our past Turkey visits.  You might want to take a scroll on past posts on worrallwind.blogspot.com.  

All is the Well with the Worrall Travel R's in Anamur, Turkey...Arrrrrr!