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Six years of adventure with pics to prove it.

Istanbul, Play it again

Filed under: Turkey — she_travels at 9:59 pm on Sunday, May 16, 2010

It may have been 5am when we stopped for the last time,  in Istanbul. The taxi guys were all over it. I told them no taxi,  Metro, they tried to tell me no metro… I knew the train didn’t start til 6 or 630 but also knew the hostel I was going to was not going to answer the door til 7.  I was happy to hang about in the bus station until the metro started.

I went looking for a potty and found an internet cafe sign.  The silliness which ensued when I asked if my computer would work..it was pretty funny 4 youngish Turks doing all they could to get my computer to login. In the end we all decided they didn’t have the magic code to the wireless,  I would use one of their computers. There was some wackiness here as well and something about cops and ya have to go upstairs…it made zero sense to be but hey I have time and if there is a functioning computer upstairs then all the better.

Two of  the four guys went upstairs with me..one of them got the internet working and punched in a web address. It was translation software. That guy wanted to say ‘You are very beautiful” to me so badly he went looking for software  to do it.  We had a short conversation, he would type, I would reply the computer did the rest…up until someone down stairs yelled for him.

I finished reassuring people by email I had not been in the Turkish earthquake and  Syria was not any kind of dangerous, just little to no internet.

I popped back down stairs to pay the man and get  two tokens,  one for the metro and one for the tram. The translation guy showed up, sorted the money and the tokens then walked me to the metro, he even asked the security guy which platform I needed to get to where I was going. Nice kid!

Sunrise on my old stomping grounds… whew but its nice to be back in a familiar place.

I was asked out for dinner by some delightful people who had found my blog… I had a visit to the Taksim area of Istanbul and a wonderful fish dinner.

The guy with hands behind his back had eight dogs following him. They all seems happy enough to do it.

I like the leaf less trees in the light.

This place never sleeps!

Right then, other than a mad mad dash through JFK on the way back the flights were comment-less. Wait, the gal sitting next to me was from nowhere, Oklahoma.

Mardin, Turkey to Aleppo, Syria

Filed under: Syria,Turkey — she_travels at 11:57 am on Sunday, May 2, 2010

Couple of things about Mardin… I spent the better part of a day snapping pics and wandering through the walkways in the old city. I saw few people until  closer to the main street.

The Ptt (postman) noticed me while he was talking to someone in a car. I thought he was going to come across the street to say some thing but he didn’t.  About forty minutes later I was standing in a mud patch above the new city looking for a way down the hill (I had taken the bus up)..when I saw the path people had been taking for ages I turned…to find the Ptt guy looking right at me.  His English was only slightly better then my Turkish. He wanted to know where I was from where I was going who I was with and if I was going to walk down the hill. I answered all his questions while showing him the camera so he understood I had stopped for the photos.  One becomes accustom to this sort of encounter in this place, everyone is so darn friendly they just wanna have a chat with ya.

When I was half way down the hill I realized I was almost in the parking lot of an honest to goodness store, I was not sure if  they were selling only clothes but figured if there was food to be had I could go for a hunk of cheese.  I walked through the automatic doors to be completely dumbfounded, I was standing in the veggie/bakery section of a Safeway, ok it was Megg-something or other but dang it looked like Safeway to me.

One truly should not pass up a bakery in any country… the two gals behind the counter were all kinds of chatty, “Where are you from, What is your name, Are you here alone”  We decided I would have a bit of several of the offered items,   she cut them in bite sized bits and I was on my way.  These two gals were the second I had spoken with, the 1st being the ladies on the bus in Anamur, the German chick doesn’t count, she is German.

On to the border…

Right then, one can get to about anywhere from anywhere in this part of the world, the only snag is how many transfers, at what price,  to what mode of transport you might have to take.

Mom and I did a day in Thailand(2008) , maybe I will remember all of it, here goes..  walked to the river boat, river boat to the skytrain, skytrain to the last stop,  bus to the airport,  a plane to Phuket,  bus to the ferry dock, ferry to Ko PhiPhi, and walked to the accommodation.  I have a vague memory of Mom saying “Let’s don’t do that again.”

I took a big bus from Mardin to Nusaybin, the driver kicked me out in a parking lot with a couple fruit sellers and what looked like taxi drivers.  I thought I could see the way to  “town” but that didn’t really mean I had any idea where the border gate was so…. to any of  the men willing to listen, I said “Dolmus? Syria?” They (maybe 4 guys) collectively said “no Dolmus, Taxi” I replied “Aww come on, Dolmus?”  I was rewarded with smiles and more negatives than the 1st time. I tell ya there must be something in my voice that brings the men in this country out of the wood work.

Ok, no dolmus….. “How far to Syria?  Walk?” as I mimed walking.  The 1st response was 2k… shezz I can do 2k easy…then someone behind me said 10k.  We, all the men and I,  chatted a bit about just how far it was when someone had the for thought to go get one of the cars they use as taxi. In the end with all of us laughing and me saying “ok , ok, ok,  I tossed my bag in the little truck,  gave the guy 10 lira and let him take me where he would.

As we approached the border I realized I could have walked it but I may never have found the actual border. The giggles alone where worth the 10 lira.

The border looking toward Turkey.

Looking toward Syria. Yeah, I really am the only one out here… I was just as surprised as you.

When crossing borders there is always a bit of confusion. They are all kinda the same, or the ones I have been through are but ya still get a case of the “where, who, should I”‘ going on in your head.

When I got down to the building with the rust-ish roof you can just see,  there was a  group/line of about six people. Some discussion was had about where and to whom I was to give my passport, being American it goes to someone other than the guy having a peek at the Turkish/Syrian passports.  While I was waiting for the guy to give it back a heavy set older lady in a dark long coat and scarf over her head walked right up to me, took my coat collar on both sides and with a smile showed me in no uncertain terms I was to zip my coat in an attempt to hide my breasts.  Mind you, I was wearing a shirt under my coat which covered all of my skin. This was my introduction to Syria, cover as much as possible weather and heat be damned.

With the Turkish exit stamp I walked to the closed gate beyond the building, one of the two  guards asked for my passport when I gave it to him he walked off.  I started to follow my passport through  the gate when the second guard stopped me. One tends to listen to anyone in a military uniform,  as with many borders these guys were carrying automatic weapons… one truly respects anything these guys have to say.   I was not overly concerned about getting through cause of pass port issues, I had sent my passport to Wash DC to get the visa before I left the states . Now, it was all about waiting to see what happened next.

The passport stealing guard  came back but without my passport, he motioned me to follow him. We were headed to a building marked “Welcome to Syria”.

Most of  the people who were in the Turkey exit line were in this room with a counter and passport guys on the other side. The gate guard said something to one of the men behind the counter. This new guy  asked my name, I think just to make sure I was the American he was looking for,  I was the only one around for miles. This was were something very strange happened, the passport guys starting talking to me, I mean conversation talking, they were laughing and smiling, it was a little unnerving cause most border guys, shezz,  if you can get them to look at you, you are doing well.

At some point they became serious asked me my name again, where I was going, where I was coming from, what my travel plan was, they asked both my mother and my father’s names.  When they had all the answers they wanted I was rewarded with smiles, waves  and chorus of “Welcome to Syria” from all of them, including some of the people waiting to  get their passports back.  Friendly doesn’t even come close to describing with these people are.

There was one more guard who stopped me to ask where I was going.  While I was looking for the answer in my note book ( I wanted to tell him the town name not just Syria) he waved me past..I think he got tired of waiting on me to find the answer.

One more gate and I was,  yet again,  in the middle of a flock of men (taxi guys).  There was some discussion about where I was going (hotel, bank, bus station) and how much it was going to cost.. I think I was taken (for to much money) but there are days ya just can’t keep track of everything.

The taxi guy took me from the border through the town of Qamishle to the bus station. He showed me the correct place to buy  a ticket to Aleppo.  I didn’t know it at the time but the bus guys in Syria not only want your passport but take it away…I was a tad concerned but decided I best go with the flow. I paid for the ticket, was told which bus and what time (10 minutes) but my passport had not come back yet. When it did the guy said “The police want to speak with you.”  Right then, what is a gal to do but go see the police.

Come to find out the guy who had taken my passport was the only English speaker around, he ended up being translator between the cops and me. The questions were the same as the border.. my name, where I was going, where I was coming from, what my travel plan was, they asked both my mother and my father’s names. Once the police guy had written down all my answers I was given my passport back and ushered to my assigned seat on the bus.

Enough of the text…pics comin at ya.

I know its fuzzy, I was not in the front seat. Adobe home on all that green field.

One can tell exactly where the water runs.  Yes, those are sheeps.

It felt like a check point but I am not clear on what was up.

I think that black sticky up plant out there is for fire fuel to cook with.

No, help with  the man/female signage for bathrooms, thank goodness the ladies on the bus adopted me.

This says male. They look darn close to me.  In most of the areas I was in, larger towns they had WC signs like Turkey.

Th edge of one of  the towns we rolled past.

Grain elevator? Gotta get the seeds from all these green fields to someplace.

We found a lake…ya know I think that trip was five hours or so…I know it was dark by  the time I arrived in Aleppo.

Much like in Turkey, trees to harvest.

A bit closer to Aleppo. This looks to be the last of  the trip, ahh yes I remember this is why….

Trees along  the road.

Next up… Aleppo.

Foot Note?

Filed under: Kind Strangers,Turkey — she_travels at 12:57 pm on Monday, March 1, 2010

I landed here (Ufra) after 9 hours in a bus. The otogar (bus station)  is some distance for the centrum (center of town) and all I saw were taxis in the lot on the way in…no dolmus (minbus).

The first person I asked said “no dolmus….taxi”. If you have not heard me say this before,  taxi drivers the world over are extortionist , I avoid them like nothing else on the planet. I would rather walk 6 miles as to pay a taxi.

I asked how much. He said 7lira…when he left the guy next to him pointed out the door and said ” Dolmus”..huh? ” How much? ” He said 1lira.

Ok so either the 1st guy didn’t know or….. I walked out of the building the way he pointed, I didn’t see any dolmus…hmm there must be a trick. A gentleman walking to me musta noticed my confusion. “Where are you going?” I said “Is there a dolmus to the centrum?” At the same moment he pointed to the otogar gate I understood. There are no dolmis in the otogar but if ya walk out to the road,  easy peasy.

I was stopped by a taxi guy on the way out “Taxi lady?”  “No thanks, Dolmus” He grinned  when two other guys came up saying “Taxi”  I stood there for a minute shaking my head when one of the guys said “7 lira”  I shook my head saying “To much money, Dolmus  is 1 lira.”  Ya know instead of walking off in a huff they laughed with me understanding I had figured out the trick.

Some one behind me musta heard my English “Where are you going?” I turned seeing two very cute 20 something guys looking at me.  “The dolmus to the centrum.” One of them said “This way.”  These guys talked to me all the way to the main road, flagged the bus and said good night.

I was not in the bus three minutes before a guy of  maybe 30 sat down in front of me. I don’t even know how it happen but he paid my 1 lira and started talking, he was with a friend on his way to the hospital to see a family member, he works in Marmaris  during the season, his girlfriend is British.  When he found out I was in my way to the centrum to find a hotel, he took me under his wing until we found a suitable spot. He was very concerned in the beginning of the adventure cause he only knew of three hotels and all were over 100lira. EEK.

His friend called a friend hoping to get some help…I had my guide book in my bag but they seemed to be having so much fun I didn’t want to take it away from them. Accepting help is a art form, it took me years to learn so..I let them have it.

In the end I spotted something which looked like what we were after on the way to one of  the expensive places. The guy with the British girlfriend talked to the guy in the hotel…20 lira, the bathroom is down the hall but no worries there.

I tell ya, no guide book needed in this land. The people are far to happy to help just cause ya need it.

I was so taken aback by the kindness of these people I had to say something tonight.

OK..back to out regularly scheduled program. Karaman to Groeme.

Day 23 ~ Anamur

Filed under: Photos,Turkey — she_travels at 2:36 pm on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Indeed my day was as promised, interesting.

The road noise last night in the pension was deafening and my computer didn’t work so I switched today to a hotel I had seen from the otogar. I figured the price would be higher but I didn’t really care if I could have the balcony door open without a headache from the road noise. Bonus, my computer works here, not in the room but there is plenty of space downstairs.

I packed my bag, found a bank, found a man to fix my sunglasses (by the by~ very few people here wear shades, only the occasional bus driver, wacky huh?), found the post office, paid the pension man, had a shower, shifted to the new accommodation and posted a quick note to the blog all before 12. I was feeling pretty good about the world. Not to mention the sun was out..woohoo, it was wet and yucky most of yesterday though not cold.

My feet landed in the otogar door at 12:05, it’s a holiday I can be late if I want. The man behind the counter where I had met the guys last night waved to me, he was not one of them though. I do not remember what he said..I replied “There was a gentleman here last night…” That was all I got out before he looked to the three people behind him saying “Hensin?” A kid came in the door, the guy said “Hensin?” The kid waved me to him going back outside…ahh there is the man from last night. Hensin is his name. Silly me!

Hensin asked me if I wanted to take a taxi, I shook my head “to much money.“ “Dolmus?” I nodded. We walked out to the main road, my guess was the minibuses run up and down it. He musta seen someone he knew coming from behind us cause I saw him waving as I have seen people who want ride wave. Sure enough the little white pinto looking thing stopped just past us. Hensin looked at me and started trotting toward the car, I went with him.

Dude doesn’t say much to just me but when ya get him around his county men he is a chatter box. I was not listening, instead I was looking about like a tourist. When we came to a wall that looked like I castle I said “Oh, you really meant castle.” They both laughed, I doubt they understood the words but my tone was clear “Wow, Castle.”

Hensin and I hopped out of the car and the driver left going the same direction. I was looking at the castle moat when I realized there may be a charge for seeing the inside but Hensin was in and out of the little booth before I knew what he was doing..for that matter I still do not know if there is a charge, if he talked them out of it or if he just went to say Hi to someone.

From Wikipedia : Mamure, the old Crusader castle, well-preserved, about 7 km (4 mi) south east of Anamur, Turkey. Originally built by the Romans in the third or fourth century AD, it was enlarged by the Byzantine Empire and the Crusaders. After the Seljuk Turkish Sultan Aladdin Kayqubad captured the castle in 1221, he had it rebuilt in its present form. It consists of three courtyards with 39 towers, surrounded by a moat. In one courtyard there is an ancient mosque with a minaret – built by Mehmet Bey of Karamanogullari (Karamanlis) in 1300-1308 – which is still open for prayer. There are the ruins of a bathhouse on the opposite side. The castle is in two sections with two lines of ramparts between them, a walkway along the ramparts links the two sides.

View inland from the top of  the castle. It was a very fine day!

View south from the top of the castle.

The top of which I speak.

They built this bad boy right on the rock.

Beach on  the north side of the castle.

Every castle needs a moat.

I was having a grand time snapping pics following Hensin were he lead. On occasion he would toss an arm over my shoulder or take my hand, stroke my hair but that was pretty much all there was, he only did it when there were no other people about…it was a small price to pay for a local guide. He never once went any farther, he didn’t get me up on some secluded hill and demand a kiss. He was very nice if a bit touchy feely.

Hensin snagged a mini bus on the way back. We hopped out of the minibus when he decided it was time, I paid the 4 lira.

This is where things get a little confusing, he said he was sorry no Anamurium today. I was not sure if he was trying to tell me it was closed, if he had changed his mind about going, if he couldn’t find a way to get there or what the deal was. Not knowing exactly why “No, Anamurium.” I said “No problem.” He understood these two words together. He then said Pension, telling me that is where we were going next. I told him I had moved but he was not listening to me..I think he saw someone he knew standing in a shop doorway, he looked back at me saying “Tea?” Yeah, sure, “Yes I will have tea.”

Holy Hannah, I walked in the place behind him and knew right off, chicks do not enter. It was full of men sitting about drinking tea with sounds coming from the back room of drink and poker. Oh yeah, this was going to be interesting.

Hensin offered me a chair, I opted for the one against the wall. Old gun slingers habit, always put your back against the wall and watch the door, this way ya don’t have to worry about what is behind you.

One of the well dressed men two tables over refused to take his eyes off me. I could not tell what he was thinking, I don’t think it was obscene nor was I seeing anger, he just was looking.

Some one brought me tea, Hensin was chatting away with two of the men when some bits of English were spoken. They wanted to know where I was going. I pulled out my little notebook, truly this bit of paper and pen has saved me more than once this trip.

I wrote down the name of the place I was considering next. Ermenck…I was offered several shaking heads. Hensin said “Mersin?” I told them not if I don’t have to..then someone said Silifke then Ermenck. Ahh ha! Nothing direct but if I go to Silifke 1st. I clapped my hands with glee like a silly school girl to let them know I was pleased as punch they found a way.

Some where along the line Hensin mimed typing at me..he wanted my computer, what for thinks me. Ok, but it’s not going to work. An older man sat down next to me, I gave him the computer. He looked at me confused..oops turn it on silly lady. I got it up and running but told them again it was not going to work..no www without a connection. They insisted…it was fairly funny, Other than my back against the wall I was now surrounded by 7 Turkish guys trying to get me to a specific web site with no internet connection. I was laughing more than I wasn’t.

Finally a very nice looking man next to me said “Internet” Everyone agreed “Internet” was repeat by several of them. I said “No internet, No connection, I need the code, the pass word to get in.” All of them sighed “No internet” they gave up. I tried to tell them the computer works fine if they could get me the code. Ahh well, fun was over.

The well dressed man had moved next to Hensin, when he heard I was going to Ermenck he told Hensin the name of a hotel and his name. He said it was very good and if I use his name all will be well. Ok, he didn’t say that but it is what he meant with the looks, gestures and pointing. He is a intense sorta quiet guy. I will use the bit of paper when I get to Ermenck.

Alrighty the fun was over so Hensin said it was time to go. While I was packing up the computer he was talking to someone. He sat back down and said “Tea?” “Sure, ok Tea”.

Something yellow was placed in front of me, Henson had normal Turkish tea, I had yellow with a bit of green plant in it. I had no idea what it was but you can bet I was not going to refuse. Hensin tried to tell me, he took the green plant out of the yellow liquid and let it drip into his tea, then placed it on is saucer. Guess ya don’t drink with the plant in the tea.

Once it was cooled enough I tasted it….yummy, still have no idea what it was but yummy. I told Hensin “Very good, thank you.”

The poker game in the back had broken up, most of the men were either gone or outside chatting. Hensin waved at someone outside who came in, then he said to me “Time to go” Ok, where? I just followed him.

Some where along the line he had found a ride to the Anamurium place. Whew,  this guy was Mario Andrei reincarnated…dude drove FAST! I think he was just trying to get a rise out of me, it didn’t work.

I saw the sign to where we were going before Mario turned, he was speeding along the road til he came to a stopped car, there was a booth with a sign in the window “Ticket” in three languages and a lady standing next to the stopped car with what looked like a book of tickets in her hand.

I wondered how much it was going to cost for the three of us and a car, I understood after the minibus trip all expenses were up to me. I should say, the tea had been free. I moved to take my little purse out of my pocket when Hensin put up a hand to say stop. Ok. No worries. Maybe cause they are Turkish it is free, the car in front said rental on it..so I waited.

The car head moves forward, Mario pulled up saying something to the lady at the same time he nodded his head in my direction, she looked at me then nodded to him. That was it. Ok, no fee for us today, but why? This answer I was not going to get, one just accepts and moves on.

Another turn in the road and Hansin said “OK” I looked up the hill the direction he was and saw ruins…this must be the spot. Mario gave me a nod, I said “thank you very much” and he was off. By the by ~ I have asked many many times what thank you very much is in Turkish, it is something like Teasugaryourdream but not.. Damn thing is complex. They have another word Sow, like a momma pig but it’s not proper and I just don’t like the sound of it. So.. “Thank you very much” with a warm smile.

Hensin was leading the way UP the hill, no worries I am at sea level I can do this, never mind I have been hauling my pack about for how many weeks. I am far stronger here, now than I was three weeks ago. In the end we had to weave up the hill through rock, sticker bushes, the tomb things, all manner of flora. It was great fun trying to find a way up and snapping pics at the same time.

From Wikipedia :

The Byzantine ghost town of Anamurium, 5 km (3 miles) west of the town center, is an eerie place of semi-ruined stone buildings–churches, public baths, shops, a theater, a stadium, a necropolis (cemetery).

Anamurium was founded by the Phoenicians, flourished under the Romans, but was sacked by the Arabs in the 600s and never recovered. Its very forlorn-ness preserved it: no one wanted to live here, which is why it has been preserved.

He insisted, it was not my idea.  Once I decided I had had enough pics from above I said to Hensin, “Down?” pointing down the hill. He was on top of it down we weaved. We had a stroll though the old stadium and out to the sea.

Yet another for the lone boat series.

See Bessie out there?

Tile left over from ages ago.

At some point I thought I understood Hensin was going to walk back to town by way of the sea…we did walk the edges for a spell but he musta changed his mind cause he headed back to the road and a building. He waved to the road “Centrum, OK?” I said “No problem” I thought he had said we are going to walk back to the center of town by way of the road but dude was not dressed in comfy shoes…how the hell was he going to pull that off. Did I mention town was 5 kilometers? It was flat I could do it no worries, hell, I would enjoy it.

When he got closer to the building he saw some men drinking, he said something to them and then I was asked to follow him. Sure why not, I have all day, though it’s getting on about 3 pm now.

The men musta offered Hensin tea cause he looked at me “Tea?” “Yes, I will have tea.” Tis the way of the country, they offer you accept, then you sit and chat. We sat and chatted, the older guy knew just enough English to tell me I was loco for traveling alone, the land I was looking at across the water was Cyrpus and that if I walked more I would weight less. At the last Hensin gave me a look..don’t pay any attention.


Believe me I tried to get out of this but those guys were not having any of it. I had zero choice in the matter. Hensin is in red, the old coot is next to me and  the guy behind was serving tea. The guy snapping the pic I later realized had a German accent.

About 20 minutes later the other shoe dropped, the old coot was going to drive us back in to town. Just out side of town he stopped for gas, one of the other guys had as well. He turned to me in the back seat “Excuse me madam, 20 lira please“ HUH? I looked at Hensin, he was staring out the window. I am not sure if he didn’t understand what was asked, if he was in on it or if he just had no idea what to do. I got mad, there was not a chance in hell I was giving this old coot anything much less 20 lira. Damn! I said “I had no idea you would want money, I will walk. I am not going to give you any money.” I got out of the car and started walking. Man! Was I mad, rotten son of a so and so.

I have no idea if there were any words between the old coot and Hensin, I didn’t care I was bound a determined to get as far away from both of them as I could. It didn’t occurred to me immediately, what are the rules in this country, shit had I just made a prison worthy mistake. Crap!

I heard Hensin call something, he must be out of the car…I didn’t care what he wanted..I was done. Damn, I have to find a way to thank him for the delightful afternoon. Ok., fine..I took a breath and slowed my walk a bit. He caught up repeating several times “I am sorry, I am sorry” I waved him off.

I never did stop walking, he said “Otogar?” “Yes, for a ticket to Silifke tomorrow at 10.” “OK”

We got to the otogar, I paid for my ticket. I thanked him very much for a pleasant afternoon, told him I would see him tomorrow at 10 if he was around. He shook my hand and gave me a half hug.

What a sad end to an other wise pleasant day. No matter, look at the photos I have! Woohoo!

Day 21 ~ Alanya

Filed under: Photos,Turkey — she_travels at 1:15 pm on Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ya know I am not sure where this first pic is from but I wanted to post it.  I think it is outside Antalya but I don’t know how it ended up in this folder…whew I was tired at the time.

See all the rock they built the houses around?

Were did I get up this morning…oh yes Side.

About the time I started to wonder if there was anyone manning the bus station a minibus flew past going the other direction…on the nose was printer “Otogar“. I knew from a postcard I had seen the day before the direction he was going was a loop, he would be back.

When I heard one coming behind me I whipped out the bit of paper I had written my next destination on (Alanya). The driver stopped I hoped in and showed him the paper…he shook his head and pointed to the door saying something I didn’t understand, then he switched languages “Next bus”. Just as he was pulling away he honked his horn as the bus behind him rounded the bend “That bus lady”. the horn said.

I showed the bit of paper to the next guy he waved me in the bus. He drove for some amount of time and not to the otogar where the peanut guy ambushed me.

He and I were the only two left on the bus when he said “Otogar” waving his hand forward. I understood, we are going to the otogar that way.

Let us pause here for a moment to have a chat about buses in this country.

I have been riding with them for several weeks, I can tell you a few things. One ~ these guys will pick you up or drop you off dang near anywhere on their route, they will pick up dang near anything though I have not as yet seen any live animals. I have seen crates of oranges, bags of something round looking like a pumpkin, I have seen packages we would have taken to the post office, I even saw a man hand a bus driver a rounded saw blade that he later dropped off where in looked like new construction. They have no standard for luggage either, if you can pick it up it goes, bags, crates, and boxes. I have, on several buses, been not only the one person with proper luggage but the only non local, much less American.

The farther away from Istanbul I am the more looks I get. I am not sure if they are looking at my breasts or if they are concerned about my being cold in a short sleeved shirt. If I hold my coat in such a way my breasts are less visible I get less attention, right up til the time I talk…then it starts all over again.. “American! Obama, Obama, American”

I have lied several times about my marriage status, only when I am feeling less than comfy with the person offering attention. Thank goodness for the jeweler in Istanbul for the silver ring, it has a tiny bit of sparkle as well.

I am still not clear on who owns the buses, they have a company logo but many have personal touches inside. I have also noticed they have to pay duty to the bus station because of this there is a chance if you are picked up or dropped off outside the station the price is less. The bus I took today I had to walk a block out of the otogar.

Some times you buy the ticket in the bus station, sometimes you don’t.

I do not see any rhyme or reason to it. I have seen the station attendant give money to the driver and I have seen the driver give money to the attendant. The next bus guy who offers me tea, who has good English, I will pick his brain a bit.

When the dude in the minibus from Side found the otogar he parked the bus and said “Lady, that way” pointing in front of the bus.

Two of the station guys came to me asking if I was going to Istanbul…Gads! Istanbul must be a ride just this side of hell from here. I shook my head and pulled out my paper, the guy read it saying “10 minutes” waving his hand in the direction of a bench. Alrighty, I will sit here til the bus going my way arrives.

If I remember correctly and this was only yesterday, I was going through Antalya to Alanya…the idea was to hop off the bus in Alanya wander about a bit then catch another bus to a destination farther south. When I saw the bus I knew I had no other choice, the last town listed was Alanya.

I saw the sign to say we were in Alanya but sometimes there is more than one otogar in any given town, because of this I didn’t know when we passed what looked like a bus station, it was the bus station, silly me. The bus driver kicked me off in the Centurm (center of town) near a bizarre of all things.

I had to weave my way through the bizarre with all the guys hawking there wares. They were speaking German..I would say “no, thank you” and they would reply, British? I would say American and they would say “Obama, Obama” It was kinda funny but three of four times of that not knowing where I was going and thinking it was about breakfast time…then one of the guys said “American? Well, if you don’t need a bag maybe I can help you. Where are you going?” I asked if there was a place near by I could use the wireless and have a cup of tea. He told me it was some distance but to take a left at the big road.

I thanked him and was on my way…this is where traveling with only a carry on sized bag comes in handy. I walked and walked and walked, I found a very cool park, (I would have a pic but I had to pee, badly) I found a castle on a hill, I found some cool art things, I found the beach and a zillion hotels but I never did see an internet café. I did see a local bus zipping up and down a road. I found a bathroom! Woohoo! In the end I bought oranges and cheese from the market and sat on a bench in a put put golf area which has seen better days.

Are they looking at the castle in the hill or just in to the sky?

It is a ship? It is a plane? maybe it is a time machine.

Sea, street, hotels, shops under the hotels.

About the time I was ready to wave down a bus to see if he goes to the Otogar, someone in a shop said hello.. I turned,  I always reply to Hello, its just good travel sense, ya never know what might come next. In a German accent she asked where I was from, I said “American” With wide eyes she said “What are you doing here?” I was surprised by the question, after all she was here, then I remember someone had said Alanya had many retired Germans. I told her I came to see it, the castle, the beach. “Do they clean up the beach before “the season” starts?” “Yes, after the big storms bring trash in from the sea they clean the beach by hand, then during the summer they clean it every day.” I was very glad to hear this.

We chatted a bit more when I asked about the bus and if it would take me to the otogar. She said yes but it will drop you outside, I told her walking was no big problem. We flagged the next bus and I was off.

Low and behold there was a internet café at the bus station, shezz! I asked the guy if I could use my computer with wireless he said no so I used one of his.

I had posted a question on Trip Advisor about going from Antalya to Cappadocia and what route they suggested. I didn’t have wireless in Side so I was behind on my research. I hopped online to tell my mother I was fine then clicked over to Trip Advisor to see what the next place was… I wrote down the names of towns and the alternative route, looked at google maps and logged off.

I was stopped by a guy outside the café saying “Where are you going.” I pulled out my bit of paper, he looked puzzled. He called in the shop to someone, who came out, he also looked puzzled. I wanted to go Ermenck, Mut then north.

On the other side of the paper I had written the coastal route but I was about tired of the coast… in the end there were four guys looking at my paper, finally one said Anamur on the coast and waved me to the correct ticket guy. I asked them about the Ermenck, Mut route and both of them shook their heads. They didn’t say why…the Coast it is.

This big bus and all those people are going to Istanbul…yuk that would be no fun from here.

There was a fair amount of  this kind of thing just outside Alanya. Later I started seeing what looked like all inclusive resorts…thay had to be cause they were fenced and little else around.

Bananas, the white shinny stuff is covers on the fruit stalk.

It was a bit wet out that day.

The bus stopped for a potty break.

Lady selling  the funny pants I see all the older ladies wearing.

The bus got a bath.

Finally someone wearing a bit of color.

Bananas and green houses on a wet foggy day.

I didn’t get here (Anamur)  til 6.30 last night, I was a little concerned about arriving in the dark but I have found if you get yourself to the otogar those guys can pretty much fix all your problems.

The bus stopped outside the otogar, across the street. Just before I stepped off the attendant pointed to the otogar so I walked that way.

I asked the 1st guy behind the counter where the Centrum was he said “800 meters and pointed” ( I really should know what a meter is, hell I should know what a yard is but sadly…) I didn’t take four steps when a voice said in English, “Maybe I can help you.” “Indeed, maybe you can, I am looking for someplace to sleep tonight.” As often happens he said with a smile “You can sleep with…you are looking for a pension?” “Yes thanks” “Tea first so I can practice my English” “Sure, tea first.”

We chatted about this and that, mind you he was working as well so it was interrupted conversation. At one point there seemed to be a problem with three men, there was a lot of talk, tickets being handed back and forth. When he was done I asked if they had changed the time they were leaving or their destination. He said “Our bus is broken on the mountain, I had to switch them to another company.” Broken on the mountain, that can’t be good.

Once the tea was done I told me his cousin would take me to a pension he knew of. I thanked him for the tea and turned to the cousin.

He and I walked, he said something about the three things people come to see in this area and then pointed to me and then to him. I understood he wanted to take me to see the three things people visit. The only one I remember now is a castle. He handed me his card asking if I wanted to go with him by Dolmus (minibus) I said “no money tomorrow” He said “no no money“. Sure why not,  he and the other guy at the bus station seemed harmless enough. The plan is to meet him at the bus station at 12. His English is not great but it may be an interesting afternoon.

Day 18 ~ Dalyan Redux

Filed under: Photos,Turkey — she_travels at 3:56 am on Monday, February 22, 2010

So sorry for  the delay, no wireless available though I am getting a few “American, here?” from people.  Seems I am a bit off the path many choose.  The locals are far more accustom to Germans, more on that later.

Right then…the bus stopped in what looked like the Dalyan  town square. In view there was a street with shops, a mosque, many men sitting about chatting on park benches and what seemed to be a café. There was not visible sign saying “Tombs this way”.

I set off in the direction of the sea, thinking I needed to cross the water to see the tombs. Not far out from where I started I was against a hill with what I thought was to much flat ground, the streets were empty. While standing there a mite confused, I remembered the bus guy in Fethiya showing me a picture of the river, the sea and beach between them…ok so I am not looking for ocean, I am looking for a river. Hmm if I came from that way and that way is the sea….let’s try…. My feet choose a direction, good choice too cause I found the river.

Looking at the paved path I realized this was the way most people went and by gum when I looked back toward were the bus had come I saw the mosque. So, this path is directly behind the mosque, easy enough to stay unlost…river/mosque. I am good now.

I walked along the river away from the mosque, it didn’t take long to find what I was looking for. I was under the impression one HAD to take a boat to see the tombs…not so much…if you are on the correct part of the river all is well.

I clicked a few pics then went looking for a bathroom. During my search I came across one of the very few shop keepers with an open store. While I was flipping through the postcards on the side walk he came out to say hi. Very nice guy, I had a postcard in my hand split in four parts , one picture was the face of the tombs, one was of turtles (the beach everyone talks about is closed during turtle hatching season) one was of the beach and the last looked to be canals. I was curious about the last. I  asked the shop keeper what he knew about the boats,  would it be possible to find someone to take me out for a price I am willing to pay. I knew from research the “season” doesn’t start until April, matter of fact the only reason this guy was in the store was setting up for the season.

The shopkeeper said he didn’t know anyone with a boat (he is not really from here but north someplace) then he thought for a minute, raised his hand, turned  and walked down the street. He came back with a very cute guy, he said he had talked the cute guy down from a higher price and found something not this guy was willing to take, cause his boat was being painted, but a friend of his could do it. He then asked  me if I wanted to follow the cutie on the bike or if I wanted the boat to come get me. I was happy to go with the cutie. I thanked the shop keeper after I bought three postcards.  I was off with the hottie on the bike, though he was walking with me. The cutie started to talk, perfect English this guy had. What the heck was all the conversation with the shop keeper in Turkish?  This place is a hoot!

Cutie  owns the bar down the street and had just arrived back after a six week holiday in Thailand. He asked where I was from and wondered if I was out alone (People need company). I told him I like to travel alone cause I meet more people. He went on to say his friend was coming to help with the boat, we walked the path back toward the mosque, just past it he stopped in front of a boat in a very long line of boats tied to the sea wall. He announced “This one is mine”  wait I thought his was being painted, oh well just go with it.

A guy came running past me jumping in the boat cutie said was his. I sat on the park bench waiting. They fiddled with the engine, talked, fiddled some more, got it to run then cutie hopped out of the boat with a plastic jug and said something to me I didn’t catch, he repeated the word then switched to British English “Petrol” and was off in his bike.

Once he was back with gas he two of them decided all was well. I was offered a hand in to the boat, can’t have the tourist falling in the sea. When I was seated, cutie hopped out to the sea wall, untied the boat and waved goodbye. Aww, this would have been fun with him.

Oops, this is sunrise in Fethiya from my balcony…goodness what a view.

Pics from the boat..

It may be a less expensive to go with a bunch of people, but I was happy being the lone person going.


I am just sure if  we could see behind the cloud there would be snow caps. I am not complaining cause I had a very fine day with plenty of sun.

If you look close you can see the ruins of something, perhaps the same people who made the rock tombs.

Imagine this place with boats full of tourists running back and forth… I am happy to pay a bit more for the quite. One should always travel in low season, sure your dealing with some things be closed or rotten weather but at least you are not dealing with heaps of people.

Turtle beach. I think they call it something else.

From Wikipedia :

Dalyan is a town in Muila Province located between the well-known districts of Marmaris and Fethiye on the south-west coast of Turkey. The town is an independent municipality, within the administrative district of Ortaca.

Dalyan achieved international fame in 1986 when developers wanted to build a luxury hotel on the nearby Iztuzu Beach, a breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle species. The incident created major international storm when David Bellamy championed the cause of the conservationists. The development project was stopped and the beach is now a protected area.

Life in Dalyan revolves around the Dalyan Çaye River which flows past the town. The boats that ply up and down the river, navigating the maze of reeds, are the preferred means of transport to all the local sites.

I was out there wearing my fleece and these guys were playing in the water. Brrr!

I understand these are markers for the turtle people during hatching season.

This is such a nice photo…imagine it in high season chock a block full of boats.

We went back the way we had come out to the beach but it all seemed new enough to me. The bird in this pic is just a bonus.

Someone has to make all those tourist boats.

Bits of the ride back to Fethiye. Straight takes you through a tunnel, I think the exit here if for those not allowed in the tunnel.

More planted forest.

I can’t figure the green house situation here…is is not warm enough to grow so they do this. Or is there to much rain, to much sun? What is the deal cause the green houses are everywhere!

Right  then, I decided since I had taken the minibus that morning to the bus station that I would walk back. I had a fair idea of which way to go cause there was hill-ish to my left and sea some distance but sea none the less to my right…then I found the canal that would go to the open market the Scottish lady and I had a look at a few days ago. I set off following the canal, I continued to check where the hill was to my left…at one point I saw this……

Dang silly tombs I went  to Dalyan to see are RIGHT here in Fethiya. Shezz! I would have gone looking for a better view but it was getting dark and I was still not sure how far from my sea view room I was. In the end it  was after dark when I got back, took just over an hour to walk from the bus station to my room.

Next up.. Olympos.

Day Seventeen ~ Fethiye n Chicken Soup

Filed under: Photos,Turkey — she_travels at 1:35 pm on Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Miss Laura (my new Scottish friend) decided chicken soup was in order long before I saw her this morning.

We had planned last night to pop over to “the agency” to see about a trip to Daylan, I want to see the Lycan Tombs.

We wandered the streets for some amount of time looking in all the shop windows before Laura found the place she was looking for..sure enough a tour operator. The guy was very nice, didn’t even attempt to sell me a tour, he simply rang  the bus station to find out  the schedule to Daylan. Good On him. He also mentioned the only way to get to the Tombs was by boat and being the off season they may not come cheap..I am going to pop down tomorrow to see what the what is. Daylan is only an hour from here so I will come back to my room with a view tomorrow night.

Now, we were off for a chicken. It was decided if Laura is going to cook then by all means I should buy. We came home with chicken, bread, eggs, milk, a paper, carrots and a bit of chocolate.

Half way home the chick from Texas (Ali) I met in Istanbul found Laura and I sitting in the park watching the world go by. She ended up coming with us, seems she gets a bit dodgy if she doesn’t have a English speaker to chat with on occasion.  Believe me, Laura fixed that in no time.

Ali went to Cappadocia after Istanbul then Olympos,  Antalya arriving here last night.  I told her Antalya doesn’t interest me but what is the what on Olympos beach, did she stay in the tree houses I have heard of. Ali said yes but the best bit is the flame coming directly out of the ground, seems it has been burning since the dawn of time. She also gave me a few tips on how tro get there. Cool Beans, Friday me thinks.

Ali is on her way back to Istanbul to hop a plane for Ethiopia, she is meeting a friend and hanging there for about 4 weeks. She will be going back the way I came down, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Gallipolli.

Anywho, only two pics from today. We sat around sipping tea and chatting most of the day… though…I did get my laundry done..for free I might add.

Fresh meat anyone?

By  the by ~ The chicken soup was yummy and I am told I get a chicken sandwich for the road tomorrow.

Day 16 ~ Redux ~ Fethiye

Filed under: Photos,Turkey — she_travels at 12:50 am on Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The web site for the place I wanted to stay (Ideal Pension) says they will pick you up at any bus station in town just have any of  the guys at the station ring. When I asked, he said “Ideal is closed, would you like me to call them so you can talk?”  In Asia if  this happens the guy is trying to get you to go where he gets a commission, in this place..the guy is just being helpful. I told him “no, is there anyplace which is open?” He said “yes, I will take you?”, he looked at his watch, “20 minutes.”  Yeah, ok what the heck, I had to visit the water closest and find food anywho.

I rounded up a couple oranges (have I mentioned they are YUMMY!) and some water then plopped myself in one of the seats next to my bag.  The guy came back “Are you Ozzie?” I shook my head with orange in my mouth. “Canadian, New Zealand? I was still shaking my head, by this time there were three guys standing in front of me “British?”  They seem stumped “I am American”  He repeated “Ahh, America”  nodding they all went back to what ever they were doing before I caught their attention.  There is something about  the sound of America which rolls off the tongue, it’s like a heartfelt sigh in some ways.

Just as he said 20 minutes later he called from the back of the room “My lovely.” It was  English course I am going to turn, he waved me , showed me a bus full of people then told the driver where to go.

The driver went through town dropping people as he went until I was the last one on the bus. He asked where I was from, how long  was staying and then told me it was a easy walk from were he was going to drop me,  to the outdoor market.

He musta been at the end of his route cause he flipped the bus about saying  “Up this hill, turn right, there is the place you are looking for.”  I said thanks, when I offered him money he shook his head, for that matter I didn’t see anyone pay him.

Up the hill I go, at the corner of my right hand turn I dropped my bags to strip off my the fleece I had been wearing indoors and out since the day I landed in Istanbul, yes gang the sun was back..woohooo! While I was sorting myself out the lady coming toward me on the side walk said “Can I help you?”  “The bus driver told me to walk up the hill and turn right, I am looking for a pension.”  She shook her head saying “I do not know but I am staying just up the way and it’s cheap.”

We decided it was worth me going back with her to see if they have room and what the price is. During the three minute walk I found out she is Scottish living here with her Turkish  boyfriend who was away for the week working. She has lived in several places in the country over the past 12 years.

By the time we arrived were she was staying we were pals. The guy running  the place was not about, we decided to drop my bag in her room and resume her walk down the hill to get a paper. We spent the afternoon strolling about town.

Did ya know flamingos are not always pink? These two were sunning on the path between the sea and the road.

I was trying to be sneaking snapping this..guy caught an eel…ick!

Colors of the outdoor market….one can find about anything here, backpacks, plastic goods….


Various grains….


Veggies and flowers….

All under temporary tents to keep the rain and sun off ya.

If your more “western” than an outdoor market… the “1 lira store”.

When we arrived back to the Pension? Hotel?, the guy offered me a private sea view with balcony and private shower for just over eight dollars a night…heck yeah.. the above is my view.  Did ya know one can view the Mediterranean and snow caps in this part of the world?  Cool huh?

K then, I have had my morning shower now it is time to see what the day brings.

Day Nine ~ Feb 9th

Filed under: Photos,Turkey — she_travels at 9:32 am on Tuesday, February 9, 2010

After some amount if thought and consulting  the folks of Trip Advisor I decided the best way to get to the ferry port was hopping the tram, then walking down the hill. I had thought I could take the train but in the end the walk from the tram was better, it was dark but on a busy street.

It is gray, cold and wet again though it was only spitting rain while I was out.

I had to be at the ferry port to get a ticket at 630a. I was not the 1st to arrive but there were a ton of people behind me… this ferry is HUGE!!  I walked on by way of  the car ramp. There are two stacks of racks for cars, once upstairs I though I was on extra, extra wide plane. While I stood there with my mouth open a gentleman said “May I help you?”  I replied “Yes” and handed him my ticket. He pointed forward, then to the ticket where it said “On Salon”.  I walked forward a bit more to find what looks like a food court in a mall. The wall in the forward is cafe with seating from outside window to outside window. I may snap a pic but it would seem I am the only non local on this boat.

I am seated with two gentleman who are engineers on their way from Istanbul to Izmir. One does not speak English while the other does, there was a mention of his father working in Texas.

They are very nice guys, I was offered a bit of breakfast, a pastry with some kind of cheese in it. Another in my line of free food.  One has to love the hospitality of the Turkish.

There is wireless on this boat but for some reason I can not get it to work. Sad, yes? I could have attempted to upload yesterdays pics.

Alrighty, no pics from the ferry, I did not want to play the silly tourist snapping shots if the interior and outside it was WET, very WET!

At the ferry port in Bandirma one has to board a bus to the intercity bus station to then broad a bus to the east (Canakkale). The two below are the intercity bus station.

Ya pay the guy in the little booth for the use of the potty.

These next few are a bit if the country side between Bandirma and Canakkale, mind you they are through a dirty bus window at traveling speeds.

I have a few of town but I am running out of time…

I was roped into a tour today of Troy and Gallipoilli, no worries,  the only way to see the place is with a tour…the wacky bit is the tour today, then night bus to Izmir so I will not be back until sometime tomorrow night…if I find a place with internet. I am not sure how this happened to me save there was a very nice Kiwi standing in the shop saying “It’s a good deal, It’s a good deal.”

We arrived back from the tour, wet and cold, then I found out the night bus leaves at 12.30am…yeah not so much my cuppa. I asked the guy to switch me to a morning bus and could a stay another night. He said, “Yes, no problem.” Good answer.

I have been sitting here in the hotel tea room for several hours researching my next move. I think I have it sorted but only cause the lady is bringing me Turkish Tea every time my glass runs out.

I could use some food to but dang it I don’t want to go out again in the wet, cold, windy…shezz what I pansy I am tonight.

Back to yesterdays pics.

Bits of Canakkale town..

Come on, that is a hoot in any country.

Wagons O fruit and Veggies.

Look, I found trees..woohoo.  This park was about a city block with exercise area, kids play area and many winding paths like this one.

Puffy Center and Cotton City. Giggles!

Even in Turkey the roads need work.  What a mess it was with all the rain.

What do ya bet they deliver pizza in all kinds of weather.

Alrighty, on to Troy and Gallipolli.

Day Three ~ Feb 3rd

Filed under: Turkey — she_travels at 2:49 pm on Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dang silly system kicked me out, though I only had a page or so typed tis still very annoying. One can not repeat such prose a second time. Phooey!

I was up before daylight, didn’t get much sleep last night do to the hostel being an echo conductor until 3am. I finally gave up trying at 4am, watched an episode of Castle then popped upstairs and out into the snow for a walk as morning call to prayer started. One does not need an alarm, just wait til five and singing voices can be heard.

It was cold, snowing and blowing, I was very comfy in my new coats, gloves, fleece hat and duck shoes. Yes, I brought two pair of shoes, it was a hard won choice leaving two turtle necks and taking two shoes. No worries both my coats have zippers to my chin.

Pics of my morning walk…

Blue Mosque

Hagia Sophia, across the street.

Sweeping the streets.

Is that a snow covered Palm Tree?

Old wood building with the Blue Mosque behind. I was not taking any chances I was keeping  the Blue Mosque in site, the streets here are mostly one lane sorta cobble stones, that do twist and turn. Some of  the side walks are marble, ya gotta watch ya don’t fall on your arse in the snow and slush.

See what looks like a blue roof?

Bits of a castle wall are all over the city here, I was told, by my friend, the other day the people are required to keep it in good repair, the wall must stay.

Ok, very slow connection and it’s getting late,  people want to turn off the light in the dorm room. I will get back to this tomorrow.

Quickly..A new friend found me today, I was wandering the streets near the Grand Bazaar…he suggest I go with him..long story short his family is in the carpet business, they offer me and two other ladies, food, drink conversation and many lessons in carpets. It was an afternoon well spent.

At one point I mentioned I do not get this kind of attention from men in my country and was there anyway to fend them off without insulting anyone.  The gentlemen from the street jumped up,  disappeared out the door and was back moments later with three silver rings. He told me to choose one and put in on my wedding finger, I did as I was told then asked how much  money he wanted. The guy looked truly offended I offered to buy it. Indeed, very nice people and a delightful afternoon. By the by ~ this new friend designs and sells jewelery world wide and to people such as Hillery Clinton and several other famous Americans I do not remember.

The light is not off yet, just one more thing. We were having lunch when a friend of my new friends niece came in, I did not see him right away but he said “I know her.” When I looked up he was looking at me…I tried to think if anyplace I may have met him, then with a dropped jaw I said “You are the guy from the Metro who told me it was the last stop.”   Remember the cutie….shezz in this huge place the same dude, small world indeed.

Ok more pics and stories later.

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