Sunday, November 14, 2010


As in any travel, there is a lot more, but you sort have "had to be there" to understand the daily ins and outs of tromping through foreign territory.  It was a safe, comfortable trip, and we saw much more than we ever imagined.  There was the "shoe sole" guy who had configured a shopping cart of some kind and would put brand new soles on your shoes while you waited.  I watched a few people do just that. I loved all the fresh veggies and fruits at every meal, and the Turkish coffee, and the many "tea breaks" during the day  with little tea glasses.
Soles while you wait!

The captivating "Kismet" Hotel
I loved the 50's Art Deco Hotel, Kismet, and all the pictures of the famous people who had stayed there. I loved all the "Turkish patterns" one sees everywhere, and their vibrant red  flag with a crescent moon and a star.  This flag had it's origins in Gallipoli, where legend has it one could see the moon and stars reflected in the blood on the ground around the Turkish positions.  I even loved all the stories of the wars, as those wars are what shaped this country to what it is now.
Turkish Flag

 Turkish Tile Pattern Everywhere

I loved the day we spent in a Greek Ghost town that used to hold 5,000 people, 2,000cottages, and a basilica.  Everything is still there but the people, which were "repositioned" back to Greece after the War.  It was eerie, and fascinating, and we hiked all over it.

....and I really loved swimming in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, in clear, cool, water.  I loved the mornings when the sun turned everything red out the port hole of our cabin.  And even the 8 hrs of torrential rains and lightening we had our last night on the gulet.  What a show!
I am probably the only person who REALLY likes those stinky camels, too.  Camels are not used too much in  Turkey any longer, but I came across one who I swear was smiling at me!

Morning out the Porthole

The last night we spent in Ankara, which is the Capital.  I opened the shades in our room, and saw this depressing looking building with the Iranian Flag on the top. (well, I thought it was the Iranian Flag).  Sure enough, it was the Iranian Embassy right next to our room, and our guide cautioned us standing about taking pictures, and such......OOPS!

Finally, a word about one of the nicest, most patient and funny guy...Kaan Gulcur.   One of these pictures is what I call the "Gulcer Camera shuffle".  He would graciously take pictures for everyone with their cameras, anywhere, anytime.  I finally had to take one of him doing the deed.  At the end of the day he always had a big smile and a couple glasses of Raki with his dinner!  He told us hilarious stories, and not so hilarious stories.  He made history come alive, and no question was ever out of line or off limits with Kaan.  He knew world affairs better than anyone I have talked to in  a long time, and we enjoyed many dinners discussing how the world could be a better place.  We miss him and he is one of the reasons we liked Turkey so much.  I hope he retires to his olive farm by the sea, as he wants to some day! 

GOODBYE TURKEY.........for now

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Ok...the Turks love their sweets, but they weren't exactly like ours.  I never saw cake, cookies, or pies...but anything soaked in honey was BIG.  Nuts, fruits...soaked in honey.  Figs, baklava...soaked in honey.  Turkish Delight  was served in many ways, with nuts, without, and with all kinds of "flavours".  There was even a Turkish delight made with carrots and pistachios which I really liked.
Turkish Delight Rolls

Honey and Jam store

Turkish Delight shaved off the brick
This Turkish delight was in a convenience store.  They would  slice it  off the slab and put into containers.  Mint and Pistachio and Carrot Hazelnut.
Some times they would just serve fresh melon or pears after dinner.  Of course, for Steve and I, that just didn't cut it!  We would wait and drool for the sweet stuff.  One place we found had these awesome chestnuts covered in dark chocolate.  They were toasted, or ground, or candied and in many shapes, but they were all Chestnuts and covered in a delicious dark chocolate.  Jams and flavored honeys were abundant, and cherry jams seemed to be traditional...and 'bitter orange" marmalade which was made with a green orange, very pungent and flavorful.
 All these candies are made with only chestnuts and dark chocolate.  They weren't overly sweet.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Ok, guys can tune out now.  That's what they did anyway when the girls wanted to go shopping.  With the  exception of the  beautiful Turkish carpet factory and the "Chez Galip" pottery factory, most of us just bartered our way through thee bazaars and markets.  Yes, you can barter in Turkey and it is usually quite easy as they will barter in Turkish lira, US dollars or Euros.  They aren't very aggressive barterers, and there seems to be a set rule:  they start high, you go to half, they make a little fuss, then you usually get it for half or 1/3  of the asking price.  In the towns and stores, the prices are usually set, but out in the markets and small places, you can have some fun.

 These pottery vases and jars are made in the
Cappodocia region  and were quite expensive.  Some people bought examples and had them shipped home.

The head gear was usually purchased by tourists, but I rarely saw a local in this type pf stuff.  Same thing with the Fez.  It is not exactly in fashion anymore, since the demise of the Ottoman Empire, but the tourists seems to like one or two to take home and use at a costume party.  Most Turkish men just don't wear hats at all.  Baseball caps were only on Americans.
Then, we had the Turkish Viagra!  It was everywhere.  I think it was their version of saffron, but you could hardly see a store they weren't selling it.  sheeeesh!  Another common thing was the blue 'Evil Eye'.  Now, this really was everywhere, cars, buses, houses, hotel buildings, shops,  museums...everywhere.  It is also known as the 'eye of Medusa' and is an amulet that people in ancient times think protected them from evil spirits.  Turkish people are very superstitious, and the Evil Eye was everywhere even on the airplanes.  It really has become the symbol of Turkey, so i bought a bunch and now have one hanging inside my door and in my car...Might as well, jump on board!  One of the gals bought this awesome Turkish warrior hat all encrusted with metal charms.  She said she had a big black wig stand in her houseboat and it was going to go on that.  It was neat..but you'd have to have a special place for it.


Connie shopping!

Tanya's helmet

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The OLD and the NEW

Turkey is old!  Everywhere we went there were ruins.  There are even places built on ruins. The Lycians were first dominated there by the Persians.  The Lycian federal system of government was used as a model by the authors of the US constitution. Then the Greeks took over, then the Romans, then the Christians, then the Muslims.  Turkey has been a cradle of many civilizations, and seems to be evolving still.  We saw Hacilar, a Neolithic farming village in SW Turkey that may have been inhabited as early as 8000BC. They are still evacuating villages and urban centers.  Catalhoyuk was found in 1960, and is thought to be dated around 7000BC. The city of Troy was first evacuated in 1871.
Lycian Rock tombs

"Exact replica of the Trojan Horse".... (with Steve's head!)

Ascelepius Turkey
We visited so many museums and so many archaeological ruins that my mind started blurring times and places.  But, we had a great, knowledgeable guide who helped pull it all together and never tired of our ceaseless and repeated questions.  Turkey is land of earth quakes that have altered lives, but yet uncovered past lives.  I could fill up pages with pictures and descriptions, but will just post a few of my favorite examples of the daily treks we took to ancient monuments and displays.
Lycian Head
Hermaphrodite Sarcophagus

Hellenistic-330 BC

Bronze Age

So, in Turkey we also have a very modern vibrant country which is trying to find it's balance in the world and possibly the Europeon Union.  Yet, they are boarded by Iran, Iraq, Syria, Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Armenia! No wonder each person over 18 must serve 15 months of National service.  They also have a higher literacy rate than the US.  The have excellent roads, good health care, and an infrastructure which is trying to keep up with 72 million people.  They certainly didn't have a mortgage crisis, because people have to "save" a huge down payment before buying any home.  Until recently, most Turkish people could not afford their own home until their 50's.  The cars are small, the petrol is expensive, and people walk a lot.  We did not see many overweight Turks.  Even though the younger generations do not pay as much hommage to Kemal Ataturk, this man almost single handedly was the founder of the modern Turkey.  When the Ottoman Empire ended, it was Ataturk who took Turkey into the modern era and became the president of the republic of Turkey.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Can't go away from Turkey with out thinking of all the great food we enjoyed.  They serve tons of veggies ALL the time, but also lots of lamb, and chicken, and fish, especially along the coast.  We had a great calamari meal on the Gulet...with the most succulent calamari I have ever had.  Some lamb and Chicken were actually cooked in coals for hours.  The clay pot tops were covered in bread dough lids, which baked along with the meat and provided just the right amount of cover. Pomegranate stands are all over the streets, with fresh squeezed pomegranate juice a delight to drink.  Not sweetened, either.
Uncovering clay roasted chicken

Calamari feast on the Gulet

Ready for squeezing
Another big thing in Turkey are squash seeds!  They actually grow the squash only for the seeds.  They don't even feed the squash to the animals because they think it makes the meat taste bad.  They just return the whole squash to the ground and plow it under.  The seed gathering is labor intensive and you see many women sitting with big piles of squash, picking the seeds out of the meat.  Nuts are abundant, and even pine nuts (which I  dearly love) are grown on huge plantations, but are also VERY labor intensive and dearly priced! Dried fruits, especially figs and raisins are staples...and of course olives are sold and served everywhere.
PINE NUTS and Honey

Nuts and raisins

Squash seeds
I am putting alot of pictures on this entry because words just do not do all the food justice. We had a flat bread with mixed lanb and beef spread called "Pide" and pronounced "peeda"...whic is the Turkish version of pizza.  To die for!  of course kabobs everywhere and the hardest working waiter in Turkey!
Hardest working waiter in Turkey


Roasting chestnuts.

K-bobs ready for the grill, almost always served with cooked bulger.