Cabin Fever!

If you’ve been around awhile, this blog post might seem a bit familiar, as well, I’ve written about it before.  A LONG TIME AGO IN A PLACE FAR, FAR AWAY I had another blog, who’s life was tragically cut short by hackers (okay, okay, fine posts were getting few and far between, but still!).  My last few meager posts on were blurps about our Turkey and Greece trip, but in perusing one titled Cabin Fever! I was reminded of our last full day on the yacht boat.

And literally, it was a FULL day on the boat, as we were stuck in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Not to worry, we were within swimming distance to the shore.  We were “in” Knidos and yes, I’m using quotation marks because we weren’t in Knidos, we were in a small docking bay at the edge of Knidos.  The problem was that by the time we arrived, there were no more docks available (I think there were a total of three available to the public).

Docked for the night was the official term, however, I cannot reach landfall without getting wet or rowing myself in—and even if I did, there’s not a lot around except one dodgy looking restaurant, a lot of sheep, a few passing headlights, ancient ruins and a huge sundial…so I will stick to my story of being stuck.

The day didn’t start out so bad—we left Greece to make our way back to Turkey. We got to Datça, a city in the middle of the Datça peninsula, which was directly in our path back to Bodrum. Once again, the Captain and our passports left the vessel. This time we had no instructions to stay on board, so we disembarked and rambled about the town for about an hour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our passports magically returned, we had lunch, and then headed back out to begin our sail northwest. We were to spend the afternoon/stop for the night at what we believed to be another small sea-side village at the tip of the peninsula, called Knidos. The bay was pretty full by the time we got there, so we dropped anchor in the middle and were going to moor on the empty side. Turns out it’s private property and we can’t tie down there. Also we discovered that our dingy boat motor no longer started.  The poor crew members had to row all the way to shore, get yelled at by the locals, and row their way back to the boat to convey the message–however, since the owner was shouting loudly and gesticulating excessively, we didn’t need to speak Turkish or Greek to get the gist.

DSC_0068_2 DSC_0065_2 DSC_0064_2

Another boat kindly offered us use of their dingy for the price of 4€ each person. No thanks! So we spent the afternoon napping, reading, writing, playing cards, backgammon, etc, anything to distract from the fact that we couldn’t (without much effort or money) leave the boat. At this point, I know you’re thinking why not just pay the 4€? It was the principle of the matter!  And the Captain wasn’t offering to pay either, which was a rant for a very long informative email to the tour company, since it was his non-working dingy that left us stranded.

Overall, I really can’t complain, as it was very a relaxing day and a complete opposite of the jam-packed beginning of the tour or life in NYC in general.

As I lay listening the lapping of the water, I realized that–with proper phone and internet service, of course–I could easily pack it all up and move here. There is something inherently charming about the laid-back lifestyle of a small sea-side village, miles and miles of sea from anything resembling a city. No hustle, no bustle, no worries–just so long as I don’t have to spend any more nights anchored in the middle of a bay, with limited options for getting to shore.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

It’s All Greek to Me!

Can I just tell you how long I’ve been waiting to use that phrase as a title?  Pretty much ever since our yacht boat cruise took us through the southern Greek isles–the Dodecanese as they are known. SIDE NOTE:  Dodecanese literally means 12 islands; and the Dodecanese is made up of 12 larger islands and approximately 150 smaller islands of which 26 of these are inhabited–so 12 is really more of a figurative number.

While we were in Turkey, we had Osgur, our amazing guide who GUIDED US and kept us from getting lost and made sure we were where we needed to be in a semi-timely fashion, providing of course, the bus was cooperating.  However, then Osgur handed us over  to a Captain, Cook, and Deck Hand on a yacht boat who spoke very little English and the only guiding they did was with the yacht boat.

It was a complete 180 degrees from the first 10 days of our trip!  And don’t get me wrong, it was great to be able to explore on our own, however, after having everything in Turkey so organized (and by organized, I mean we didn’t make decisions about what to see and where to go), we were a bit flummoxed at our first island stop–Kos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First of all, while at breakfast the Captain tells us to stay onboard until he gets back, we then watch him get off the yacht boat with our passports and walk away.  I’m not gonna lie, it was a little disconcerting to see a man I only met the day before leave me on a boat while he walks away with my passport.  But soon he returns and says “Okay, you go, you be back by 6pm.”  And motions to the shore.  So we go.  And it’s pretty obvious we were dropped into a touristy part of town, so we follow the masses of people for awhile and then decide “hey! let’s see what’s down this street.”

We found some ancient Roman ruins.  We can’t tell you what they were because…well…we don’t speak Greek!

DSC_0834 DSC_0842 DSC_0836

We wandered around for a few hours, down little streets, around hidden corners, exploring areas that didn’t seem to see a lot of tourists.

DSC_0860 DSC_0845 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA DSC_0844

We eventually found our way back to the touristy areas, when we happened upon a museum dedicated to Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, who was believed to have been born in Kos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is Hippocrates tree, which is believed to be where he taught and practiced medicine.  The tree is so old, it is now supported by scaffolding to keep it from toppling over!  And in case you’re wondering how old, Hippocrates lived in the 5th century!

From there we wander back along the shoe, getting great shots of both the city walls and the stunning blueness that the Aegean is known for.

DSC_0849 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We finally found our starting point, however, since we still had a bit of time we decided to have a drink.  No, not alcohol, but Hellenic coffee for me and hot chocolate for April.  It was amazing.  Her hot chocolate, that is.  Oh don’t get me wrong, my coffee was good.  But her hot chocolate was everything-you-could-ever-want-in-a-cup hot chocolate.  It was thick and dark and smacked you around a little.  This was definitely not your watered down, overly sugary hot chocolate that caused me to not really like hot chocolate.

And it was at this moment that time stood still.  Sitting outside, basking in the sun, watching people amble by, listen to locals laughing and enjoying life, looking out on the sparkling blue water.  In that instant, I fell in love with this lifestyle and this landscape.  And when my reverie was finally broken by our waiter asking if we’d like anything else, we did the only thing we could: ordered another round–this time, all chocolate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Healing Waters and a Cemetary

I know it sounds like a crazy combination, but that’s essentially what you have at Hierapolis.

Near the town of Pamukkale is a hill, and at the top is the ancient city of Hierapolis–or it’s ruins, I should say.

DSC_0679 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC_0684

While there is not much left/excavated of the ancient city itself, it’s the hot springs of the ancient Roman baths that have been attracting people for thousands of years.  You can still swim in the pool and hundreds, if not thousands, do every day!  In fact, part of the reason that the ruins of Hierapolis are so limited is because of damage caused by hotels built on the site at the turn of the 20th century once the tourism potential of the hot springs was realized.  They were later removed when Hierapolis-Pamukkale was listed as a UN World Heritage Site.

DSC_0702

We opted out of swimming and headed for the terraces, made of travertine from the calcium carbonated water flowing down the hillside.

DSC_0694 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These waters are also said to be healing, so of course, we went wading–which was pretty much our only option, as shoes were not allowed when walking on the terraces.  It felt super silky and very soft–however, it made for walking along the terraces rather tricky and very slippery!

DSC_0718 DSC_0722

On the other side of the Roman baths and down the other side of the hill is the Necropolis, which at one time laid outside the city walls–you know, back when there were city walls!  It was by far the most impressive and extensive necropolis that I have ever seen.  Graves, burial mounds, sarcophagi and temples all served as tribute to Hierapolis’ population.  The Necropolis extended down the hillside, stretching well over 2km with over 1200 tombs excavated!

DSC_0755 DSC_0744 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA DSC_0746DSC_0743 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks a Yacht!

Let me sum up an email chain while trying to organize our Turkey trip.  Please know this is a very liberal translation, as those emails are hopelessly lost in an email account that was viciously hacked causing me to start over with a new email and all that jazz…but I’m not bitter.  At. All.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, emailing:

April: I found a tour that encompasses ANZAC day activities and Istanbul and several historic sites like Troy and Ephesus….and…IF we wanted, we could add a yacht cruise through the southern Greek Isles.

Me: Hell yes we want to add a yacht cruise through the southern Greek Isles!  Don’t we?

April: yes, of course we do (NOTE: April has much better sea legs than I do, but I have a much better sailor’s mouth than she!!)

Now when I think of yacht, I think:

images

And I knew KNEW there was no way our yacht was going to look like that.  However, I was NOT prepared for the S.S. Minnow.  Okay, so it wasn’t that bad…but it was close.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Granted it’s a cute little boat.  But it was not a yacht.  NOT A YACHT!  And it had 10 very tiny cabins.  Thankfully the fabulous and wonderful Osgur, our Turkish guide, talked the Captain into letting April & I have our own separate cabins since we were not a couple.  Good thing too because these cabins were the tiniest spaces, with beds slightly bigger than a twin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

my tiiiiiny little window

my tiny little window

One thing the yacht boat did have going for it was that we had the best chef.  Every meal he prepared was amazing.  I even ate eggplant–and liked it!  And for the record, I don’t like eggplant and tend to avoid it like the plague…but his eggplant was delectable.  Turns out he was using baby eggplant and through a series of gesticulations and a very broken English and Turkish, I believe he said that only baby eggplants were worth eating.  Now would be a great time to mention that between the Captain, Chef, and Deck Hand, they spoke maybe 20 words in English, which of course, was much better than our 3 words in Turkish!  Sorry, no pictures of the food–we were way too busy eatin’ to even think about snapping pictures!!

Our aft-side cabins smelled like diesel any time the yacht boat was in motion, which was a great motivator to be outside taking in all the fresh air and stunning views of  the open waters of the Aegean Sea.  More than once I was awoken way too early by the sounds and smells of the motor running, so I would just grab my blankie and went to nap on the deck.

strike a pose!

strike a pose!

best place for an early-morning snooze

best place for an early-morning snooze

The water was so blue and clear it was stunning.  We did have a couple of swim stops, but as the water was fr-r-r-r-r-reezing, April and I abstained.

yacht 11 yacht 10 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

yacht 4

yacht 7  yacht 3 yacht 2 yacht 1

One final note: we had a fellow tourist who was continually lamenting about how the “haze” was completely messing up his pics…The HAAAAAZE!!!….but I rather think it gave some of our pictures a nice air of shrouded mystery, which I feel is perfectly acceptable when you’re on a yacht boat in the middle of the sea.

yacht 5

Ephesus

Normally for me the hardest part of a post is figuring out how to start. However, for this post it was trying to narrow down the pictures!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ephesus was at one time one of the huge port city and connector of several large trade routes between the East and West. It was home to the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World.

Temple of Artemis

Temple of Artemis

It played a huge role in the beginnings of Christianity–and is thought to be where the Gospel of John was written and is where the apostle is buried. It is the city where Paul wrote 1 Coronthians and the city is cited in Revelations.  All around the city, signs of Christianity could be found.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Basilica of St. John

Basilica of St. John

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The excavations of Ephesus are massive and ongoing, unearthing history back to when the city was started in the 10th Century BC. We visited on an overcast and rainy day. However, that did not dampen the spirits of the masses of visitors seeking to look upon the ruins of old, especially the Great Library, which is considered modern-day Ephesus’ crown of glory.

DSC_0607 DSC_0602 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And sights we saw winding down the well worn stones to the library facade did not disappoint!

DSC_0588 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

talk about getting to know your neighbor!  here are the public toliets--for those who could afford to use them!

talk about getting to know your neighbor! here are the public toliets–for those who could afford to use them!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA DSC_0571

As per usual, the amphitheater was huge–and while originally created for plays, with the Romans also came the Gladiators.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Overall, it was an amazing day–even if I did end up shackled!! Of course, April will tell you that I happily volunteered…and well, she wouldn’t be wrong! ;- )

DSC_0624

Beware of the Tojan Horse

If I can admit my geographic ignorance for a moment, I didn’t realize that a lot of the ancient Greek cities are in what is now Turkey.  Honestly, I’d never really given the geography of ancient Greece much thought prior to this trip.  Then lo and behold, there in Turkey–I found myself smack dab in the middle of ancient Greek ruins, such as this:

Our tour group pose for the token Horse shot

Our tour group pose for the token Horse shot

Okay, okay…obviously this isn’t the real Trojan Horse, but you have to admit it’s size is pretty impressive!  Thanks to Helen & Paris, the story of the Trojan Horse is probably one of the most well-known Greek stories.  But archaeologically, Troy is a gold mine.  As was tradition, new cities built upon older city ruins.  There are 9 levels of Troy (it’s estimated that the Trojan War occurred in either Level 6 or 7)–and as we walked amongst the ruins we saw them all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DSC_0302 DSC_0301 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can see the amphitheater is the most compete structure, which was definitely the case in most of the ruins we visited on our trip.

DSC_0330

According to our guide the “horse” was most likely a battering ram–perhaps with a horse head–that was romanticized into what we think of today as the Trojan Horse.  And while seeing the horse might lure one to visit Troy, it’s the archeology that will make it worth all the while.

DSC_0307 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lest We Forget

It is dark and cold and with bated breath everyone seems to be lulled into a sense of stillness.  The streaks of the sun peak over the horizon and a lonely trumpet plays.

Dawn Service.

Two powerful words and of all the ones I have been to, there are two that stand out vividly in my mind: the first one I attended and the last one I attended.

The first was at the War Memorial, overlooking Canberra.

The second was at the site of the battle, in Gallipoli.  It was a very cold morning.  We arrived at ANZAC Cove at 3am, so that we could pass through the appropriate security check points and walk to the place where the service would be held.  As we sat and waited, the gravity of the day and the symbolism slowly descended until at last…at last it was time.  We were there to tribute the men who selflessly gave their lives to fight a war so far from home, as well as those who fought to defend their home.

On April 25, 1915 Allied forces, lead by Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops attacked the Gallipoli peninsula in order to secure the Allies passage through Dardanelles in the hopes of conquering Istanbul and thereby contolling access to the Black Sea.  The ANZACs landed on a small beach, under heavy gunfire, and faced a nearly impossible climb through an abundance of brush and hills.  It is estimated that 2,000 men died on the first day alone.

The battle waged on for over 8 months with a staggering death toll of 87,000 Turks and 44,000 Allied soldiers, including over 11,000 ANZACs.  But the Turks held on, in what is considered one of their greatest victories–despite their huge losses.  It also solidified the place and role of the ANZACs on a world stage and today ANZAC Day serves as a day of remembrance–Lest We Forget.

After paying tribute in ANZAC Cove, we then followed one of the trails up the hilly slopes, visiting the gravesides of men who died way too young and so far from home.

cemetary

Through the trenches we walked, over paths that were created to ease our walking, knowing that those who were here nearly 100 years ago did not have the luxury of such trails.  Up we walked, stopping, taking pictures, talking, taking in the view.  Up we walked, up to three different memorials:

 The Lone Pine:    Ironically, not the original pine after which the hill is named. This one was planted in honor of that Lone Pine that remained after the bloodiest battle in the entire campaign.

The Lone Pine (AUS Memorial):
Ironically, not the original pine after which the hill is named. This one was planted in honor of that Lone Pine that remained after the bloodiest battle in the entire campaign.

59th Regiment (aka Turkish Memorial)

59th Regiment (aka Turkish Memorial)

Chunuk Bair (NZ Memorial)

Chunuk Bair (NZ Memorial)

 

I can’t remember exactly how far we walked that day.  All I know is that at the very top of our trail, I saw some breath-taking views and as I stared over the picturesque landscape and gazed down to the sea, I had to stop and wonder how many soldiers would have had the luxury of doing the same.

Overlooking the northern shore of ANZAC cove

Overlooking the northern shore of ANZAC cove

Looking to the south

Looking to the south