Wednesday, June 12, 2013

These Road Trip Posts Are Interrupted to Bring You...


 For dessert last night we bought a ladybug cake. It was very tasty, it was white cake layered with chocolate icing and cherry bits :) His feet are chocolate as well as his spots and head. The bakery's display case was pretty empty, so we didn't have hard time choosing. The only thing with this cake was that it was rather small, and as a result, hard to cut into 5 equal potions. I always though we should adopt so cutting cake would be easier ;)
- Nicole

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday, June 7 Aydin to Saros Home

Friday we left Aydin and headed for Tire.  My Internet and guide book research had left the impression that Tire's large Tuesday market has on offer many hand crafted metal and felt items from local artisans. With fingers crossed we  hoped that the Friday market would be just the same.  Contrary to my research, however, there was no Friday market at all. Instead of rambling through the market stalls, we headed directly for the feribot at Lapseki and home.

We arrived back at our seaside house about 5:30 pm. In the time we were away, Cam drove more than 3200 kilometres: Saros to Ankara, Ankara to Konya, Konya to Cappadocia, Cappadocia to Silihili, Silihili to Aydin, Aydin to Saros. During this period the Gezi Park protests blossomed from a local protest in Taksim Square in Istanbul to a nationwide disturbance, but, we saw no unrest.  Cam visited three drilling rigs and had three other work related appointments during this time. While he was working, the kids and I put many miles on our sandals, eating with the locals, and rubbing shoulders with other tourists.We enjoyed our time together in Cappadocia, knowing that it was a chance of a life time to make some amazing memories.  We had a couple of close calls with horses and ATVs, but never came to harm.

We were home for just a week.  Long enough to do laundry and repack our bags for our return to Canada. Cam was particularly busy during this period, compiling his research from the trip, and preparing the turn over of local operations.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday, June 6 Silihili to Aydin

Thursday morning after breakfast, with a meeting deadline looming in Aydin, we paused to walk through some of the ruins at Sardes, not far from Silihili. Sardes was the capital city of the kingdom of Lydia. It dates from the Persian empire and continued to be important during Roman and Byzantine eras. The church at Sardes was one of the seven referenced in Revelations. The ruins are particularly impressive for the proximity of the ancient market street, Roman baths and Jewish synagogue.

Cam walking along the market street.

In the Synagogue.

In the Synagogue.

Sam in the doorway of an enormous building. Pool is behind him.

Johanna and Sam.

Cam and Nicole.
Afterwards, we drove without stopping to Aydin. This meeting was an unplanned last minute add on. While Cam drove, I spent some time on the phone with the office assistant getting a hotel for the night. The idea was that Cam would drop the kids and I at a local mall, while he went to the meeting.  As the drive progressed, we discovered that the people he was meeting were anxious about his arrival, because they had planned to feed him lunch.

Using the GPS to locate a mall in a city you've never been before and where you don't speak the language is not stress free.  The first mall turned out to be nothing more than a grocery store and although time pressure was mounting, we drove some more and finally found a mall that actually had stores.  I had to use my Canadian bank card to get enough cash out of a Turkish bank machine so that I could feed the kids and fund our afternoon. After a bit of a look around and lunch, the kids decided that they would go see Epic which was playing at the theatre - in Turkish.  I took the opportunity to wander on my own.  Cam met us at the mall about the time the movie let out and we headed to the Aydin Park Hotel where we had supper and a quiet evening.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday, June 4 Cauvusin Village to Silhili & Wednesday, June 5 Silhili

We packed our bags, went to the bank with our host so we could pay our lodging bill in cash* and headed cross country to Silhili.  Silhili is a city near Izmir where Cam had a meeting the following morning.  Along the way we saw fruit stands and cherry orchards.  The fellow Cam was meeting recommended we stay at the Hotel Lidya Sardes.  We left Cappadocia about 11 am and were having supper in the hotel at 10 pm.

This was the most frustrating hotel of our journey.  And we were tired which didn't help.  We ended up switching the kids to a different room after check in.  The one the hotel chose had two beds in a loft area, which sounds great, except the stairs and railing at the top were loose. I couldn't imagine coming down those stairs in the dark or half asleep.  Then we couldn't get the internet passwords to work, initially because the system hadn't been activated and then because they gave us the wrong codes.  Not an insurmountable problem except each time we had an issue, I had to walk a city block one way to the reception desk which was uphill from our room. I asked at one point if the restaurant was open.  I was told yes, but when we went in someone came and directed us to the lounge.  We ordered and just before our food arrived, a waiter tried to move us to a different table.  I shrugged my shoulders and stayed put. When I asked about towels for the pool, I was directed to the thermal spa in the basement of the hotel. Access to the spa was through a tunnel downstairs from our room or back to the reception desk and down a level.  I took the tunnel which has motion sensor lighting and creepy broken statues.  All their hotel brochures said there was a cost to use the thermal spa pool, but when I got there to get towels for the kids, I was told that it was free. So Wednesday, the kids and I hung out at the hotel.  They played in the outside pool and we all had a dip in the thermal spa.  It made us all think of Faulty Towers, except the food was better and we weren't laughing.  Which was more a function of long days in the car, cramped living conditions and a suitcase mostly filled with dirty closes.

*Turks prefer cash; that way they can avoid reporting the income to the government and paying tax which ranges from 8% -18%.  It's not unusual to make a purchase and have the vendor make change from his pocket or wallet.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3 Cappadocia

We shopped in the morning.  We were quite taken with the local pottery we saw.  The kids and I each had an opportunity to make a pot with the help of a master potter.  The kids really enjoyed their experience and are anxious to work with clay again.

We watched one of the masters make the round part of this Hittite wine jug.  It was amazing to watch him form this hollow ring shape out of a lump of clay. With a full size jug, you put the ring over your arm and carry and pour from the shoulder. 

Afterwards, we went to Derinkuyu, one of many underground cities in the region.  This one had eight underground levels with rooms for stables, kitchens, sleeping quarters, a church with a baptismal font, a school and tombs.  The kids and I visited all but the tombs on the very lowest level.

Going inside out of the heat.

After you've paid your entrance fee, they warn folks with health issues that they should stay out.  Crafty!

Listening to our guide.

Airs shaft or a well (I can't recall)

I worried a bit about the power going out as it does in Turkey.

Sam going down into the baptismal font so I can take his picture.

Posing !

Some of the openings weren't very big.

They told us this was a school room.  Obviously the walls and ceiling have been reinforced recently.

There were large round rocks in special niches which could be rolled to close doorways. This kept enemies out of the underground passages.  Sam's giving this one a big push - but it didn't budge. According to our guide, it takes four people to roll the stone closed and ten people to open it.

Standing in the church which consisted of two intersecting domed passges - shaped like a cross of course.

The school room from a different angle.

Sam in the baptismal font.

The school room.
 After being underground, the outside temperatures were unbearable.We stopped for a cool drink and then did some shopping at the tourist market along the street.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2 Cappadocia

Cam signed us up for a 4 hour guided quad tour of some of the valleys in Cappadocia.  The scenery is remarkable. Sam rode with Cam; the girls and I each had our own machines. There were a couple of narrow spots, and sharp steep hills that gave me pause, but I only asked the guide for help once.  I was very proud of myself! I have the least ATV experience of the girls and Cam. I almost opted out of the experience, but am glad I went. The quadding was a challenge, but we saw a lot in those 4 hours.

If you squint just a little it looks like the badlands around Drumheller, Alberta
You'll notice in the photos I never get off the machine ... it's because the parking brake didn't work!

Aren't we cute in our helmets!

The holes you see are man made.
A church (one of many) carved into stone.

Some of the churches are protected and guarded.  Many are not. Some were turned into pigeon houses by the Ottomans who followed the Byzantines into the region.  Many of the frescoes are literally defaced. The faces of the saints have been scratched out. Here you can still see crosses on the walls.

Royal burial site inside the church.

More tombs for the royal family.

This church was a steep scramble up - up.  You can see (almost one of three crosses on the ceiling.)  Cam remained below.  The kids and the guide and I made the trek up and down.

The small niches on the right side are the remains of pigeon houses.

The stone is very soft.  There were a couple of cm's of dust on the floor.  The dust is very slippery.

In church. Cam on the ground far below.

Our guide in purple. He gave us a good tour.  Like many Turkish men, he can smoke, drive, and answer his cell at the same time. Beware!

Looks like a ranch right?

I was grateful nobody needed the protection of these helmets - they were pretty shoddy.  And why'd I get the pink one?

Lots of steep ups and downs.  This one was mild compared with some. My horse slipped and slid quite a bit.

As with all dude rides, the horses have an order they prefer.  We were told to keep our spots.  Not hard for my horse who made it plain from the beginning she didn't even want to go. We were last.

Johanna on "Lumpkin".

Nicole astride Luna.

Cam on "Knothead".

See how far behind we are?

We road to the top of Cauvusin Castle.  Our hotel was across the road from this amazing site.

Moments after this photo was taken - atop Cauvusin Castle, Sam's horse got between Johanna's and Nicole's.  Johanna's horse kicked Nicole's with both hind feet. Nicole lost her left stirrup.  I was at the back of course, powerless to do anything but watch while Nicole's horse shied and side-stepped.  We all thought they were going over the cliff edge. By the grace of God, Nicole regained her lost stirrup and control of her horse, Johanna got control of her mount and we headed back down hill.  Halfway down on the steepest narrowest part of the path we met a horse group coming up.  They waited patiently for all to pass, except Pokey and I.  Pokey of course was delighted to see other horses and decided to do a u-turn and go back up the hill with them. I don't win every battle, but I won that one.