Ten Amazing Travel Days

Ten Amazing Travel Days

“It’s a perfect day, drank Sangria in the park, later on when it gets dark, we go home”  Lou Reed

A perfect travel day is when everything falls seamlessly into place. There are days when you experience amazing things because the world is an incredible place. I picked ten of my favorite days

Cappadocia , Turkey

Cappadocia could be among my favorite places in the world.  The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions of years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities.

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Floating across the sky at sunrise, above the lunar-like, rugged moonscape of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon was one of the most incredible mornings of my life and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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Dubrovnik and Peljesac Penninsula, Croatia

I had a great time in Croatia with my kids. A particularly beautiful day was spent exploring the Peljesac Peninsula with our tour guide Petar Vlasik http://www.dubrovnikrivieratours.com.  We stopped at a few different wineries for wine tasting. Ston is a fortified city from the middle ages with stone ramparts said to resemble a small great wall of China. Ston is known for their lush oyster beds and salt pans and is a great place to eat the freshest oysters and buy salt.

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That night we attended a really good jazz concert at the Old Rectory Church in Dubrovnik. It was a great family memory.

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Onsets and Ryokans, Japan

Ryokan are Japanese style inns found throughout the country in hot springs resorts. Ryokan are a traditional Japanese experience, incorporating elements such as tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style baths and local kaiseki ryori (eight course typical Japanese meals with local and seasonal specialties).

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The main activity besides eating is bathing. The geothermal springs located throughout the country( onsens) provide hot mineral-rich water for indoor and outdoor baths. The chemistry, temperature, pressure, buoyancy, sulfa and magnesium of thermal baths have curative properties . The meals show all that is beautiful about Japanese culture. Kaiseki is a multi course meal rooted in the Buddhist idea of simplicity. I have been fortunate to visit a few ryokans in Nikko, Yufuin and Iso Nagaoka. Each one has been special.

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Marajo, Brazil

Marajo is an island in Brazil in the state of Para at the mouth of the Amazon. It is the size of Switzerland and home to many beautiful birds and water buffalo.

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The story goes that a ship laden with goods and water buffalo from India hit a reef and sank off the coast of Marajo. Some of the buffalo escaped the wreck and swam to shore. The buffalo are descendants of this shipwreck though now more have been brought in. There are large herds of domesticated water buffalo on the island. At Fazenda Sanjo you can experience life on a farm in the Amazon. There is piranha fishing, riding and milking buffalo, canoeing and horseback riding through the river with the buffalo. We did the riding with the buffalo. It was definitely the most different thing I have ever seen up close and pretty amazing.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a summer theatre festival that includes cutting edge theatre, interesting comedians, and everything else. It is a festival where anyone can perform and my daughter’s high school took advantage of that and had a three-week summer program in Edinburgh. My son and I went to see her perform. It was my first time at the Edinburgh Fringe. Being a theatre person, I loved every minute of it and have been back a few times.

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My son worked there the following summer. The Royal Mile is the definitive part of the fringe. This road is packed full of street entertainment, groups doing excerpts from their shows (mainly musicals) and lots, lots and lots of acts trying to flyer you to get you to see their shows. There’s not really any equivalent to this anywhere else. Theatre goes on all day and all night. We had a blast.

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Cartagena, Colombia

The heat in Cartagena gives it a sleepy feeling which kind of makes it okay to sit on the wall, browse through shops and street vendors, buy fresh fruit from a woman carrying it on her head and not go to a museum.

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La Boquilla is a poor fishing village twenty minutes outside of Cartegena. It is a peninsula at the end of a beach with the Caribbean Sea on one side and a lake with mangroves on the other. The guide takes you on an old canoe through mangrove tunnels with flocks of birds and fishermen fishing for crabs ,shrimp and small fish.

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After the canoe they pull out a fresh coconut and make a hole for a straw with a machete. I walk for a long time on the beach with my feet in the Caribbean Sea. I have lunch on the beach of fresh fish, plantains and coconut rice.

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez became a writer in Cartegena. His novel Love in The Time Of Cholera Is set here. It is one of my favorites. I see Fermina riding in the horse and carriages and Florentino wandering everywhere in despair. You can see how much of Cartegena is in his books.

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Hoi An, Viet Nam

Hoi An is one of the most charming cities in Viet Nam .Hoi An’s Old Quarter is lined with two-story old Chinese buildings that now house shops with elaborately carved wooden facades and moss-covered tile roofs.

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The food market reminds visitors of another era when it was filled with goods from all over the Asia. (mangos, rambuchan, snake wine) Hoi An is a place where you can get clothes and shoes made at a reasonable price as long as you have a picture. It is also one of the best eating cities in Viet Nam and known for cooking classes and especially delicious food.

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After spending the day in the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Hoi An, i head back to the Nam Hai all-villa resort on quiet Hoi An Beach. The contemporary architecture is welcoming and eye-catching as feng shui mingles with strong modern lines.

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The Spa at the Nam Hai is truly something wonderful. Composed of 8 villas, floating around a lotus pond, it is the ideal location for a relaxing massage, steam shower and herbal tea! The people who work there are most helpful and always want to practice their English.

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Venice, Italy

Every corner you turn in Venice ,you walk deeper into some real-life watercolor painting that a camera can never do justice. It’s like no place else I’ve ever been.

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It’s  a maze of canals and small streets, whimsical bridges, and colorful buildings. And as with all mazes, you should prepare to find yourself lost a time or two. I was there with my kids and a friend,  It was during the Art Biennale in the summer.

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We got to see incredible modern art from all over the world in the morning and explore the city in the afternoon.

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An important Venetian holiday is held on the third week in July. It is the Feast of the Redentore commemorating the end of the plague that killed fifty thousand people including Titian. The fireworks display is so extensive and significant that the re-election of the mayor is contingent on their quality (sort of like us picking a governor based on his movies) I have to add that they were the most incredible fireworks of our lives –I hope that mayor got re-elected.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

It started in Tigre, a port a half hour from Buenos Aires. We sailed through the different rivers of the Delta Del Parana.

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At lunchtime, we went to Tres Esquinas in Barranca, a working class barrio in Buenos Aires for steak and empanadas. I love outdoor markets but the Sunday antiques market in Plaza Dorrego  in San Telmo is a phenomenon. The antiques are around the plaza but the shopping continues with arts and crafts vendors for many blocks. It is curbside capitalism at its finest.

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La Confiteria Ideal did not start as a tango hall but as  a pastry café in 1912. In the nineties it became a tango hall. Its faded glamour was a perfect background for the faded glamour of the tango dancers I saw that day. Dance has been a big part of my life. Andres Miguel my tour guide is a tango dancer.  tango@culturacercana.com.ar  Everything we did that day was related to tango  –  a boat on a river, good food and shopping, a milonga and always tango stories. He was the perfect tour guide for me and gave me a gift of the perfect day.

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Krueger National Park, South Africa

My daughter and my new son-in-law  were married on a safari In South Africa with sixty-five of their closest friends and family. A game park in Africa is an unlikely wedding destination. (We Love Pictures)

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You know that word that we Americans overuse for everything – awesome? i didn’t expect to have the feeling of humbleness and awe I had when seeing the African animals in the wild up close. There are moments of joy in your life. Watching your daughter get married to the right guy   in the peace and beauty of the African Bush is a distinctive moment of happiness. Watching your son officiate the wedding with intelligence, humor, kindness, sensitivity and even a bit of spirituality  (albeit in the form of animals)  makes it perfect.

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Fly safe,
JAZ

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Travel Photos – Catching Yourself In The Act Of Becoming Something Good

Travel Photos – Catching Yourself in The Act of Becoming Something Good

At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey.” 
— Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events

Some good advice about raising kids is “ catch them in the act of doing something good.” Most of us don’t feel good about ourselves all the time and we need to be reminded of things we have done. We don’t usually take photos when we are helping a friend or family member, creating something or facing our fears. Those are usually done without any fanfare but I found a few times where I’ve done these things ( though not the best photos) and I thought I would put them up as a reminder that change and becoming who you  never thought you would be, is good.

Feeding kangaroos in Tasmania, Australia

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Practicing English in Kyoto, Japan

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Going On A Seaplane in Vancouver, Canada

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Hiking near Bogota, Colombia

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Making Jewelry in Toledo, Spain

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Meditating in Bangkok, Thailand

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Going on a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey

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Buying fried crickets  “chapulinas” for a snack in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Driving in the Atacama Desert on unpaved roads for hours to get toI the salt flats of Northern Argentina 14,000 feet above sea level.

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After school tutoring at 826LA

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Ultimately the lesson is simple and powerful. If we are eager to create a world where people do their best, we need to highlight and celebrate when we face our fears, create something we are proud of and act with kindness.

Fly safe,

JAZ

My Top Ten Favorite Things In Turkey

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” 
—Roald Dahl 

My Top Ten  Favorite Things In Turkey

. 1.Cappadocia could be among my favorite places in the world.  The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions  years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, and caves and underground cities.

Goreme Open Air Museum is a group of cave churches and monasteries from the 11th-13thcentury.  The most famous and most restored one is Karanlik Killse (Dark Church) which is filled with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecution found shelter in Cappadocia.

Yunak Evleri Hotel is an amazing  Cave Hotel carved into a mountain in the ancient city of Urgup. (.yunak.com/en/index.html)

Ziggys  is not the restaurant you would expect to find in an  ancient cave city.  It is cool with interesting decor and great music . It is owned by Selim and Nuray Yuksel. Nuray is an artist and also runs a beautifully displayed  gallery filled with crafts and jewelry from local Turkish artists  downstairs.   The food is so good that we ate there both nights. ( ziggycafe.com )

Hiking through the Mushroom  Valley, Love Valley,  Goreme Valley, walking all around Urgup early in the morning

Hot Air Balloon at dawn over Goreme valley.

2.Any restaurant or menu chosen by Oguz Kaya.  I  have never eaten Turkish food before.  I had no idea it was my favorite food.  Every meal was “the best one”. We ate in expensive restaurants,   gas stations,  hotels, outdoor seaside restaurants, an organic garden , a mosque,  –even the food in Ankara airport was good. (Uzun Ev Restaurant in Behramkale, Daruzziyafe,  Ottoman restaurant in Suleymaniye Mosque by Sinan in Istanbul, Orient restaurant in Cappadocia)

3.Any mosque by architect Sinan especially Selimiye Mosque in Edirne I loved the Selimiye Mosque and it turns out that it is Sinan’s favorite mosque as well. He wanted it to be greater than the Hagia Sophia.  His genius was in his  use of form, simplicity, light and balance. It all worked when you walked in. He is also considered to be  one of the first earthquake-proof engineers. ( Selimiye mosque,1575, notice the recycled columns)

4. Hearing the call to prayer early in the morning at the Hotel Manici Kasri in Yesilkurt.  In a tiny village of stone houses at the foot of Mt Ida is this charming hotel. Yesilkurt (which I still can not pronounce – it is harder than it looks.) has the second highest concentration of oxygen in the air  in the world. It is a small hotel  with pomegranate trees and great food.  It was very quiet in those mountains and early in the morning I awoke to the call to prayer – the only sound in this village. I could have been in any mountain village but the call to prayer in Turkey always reminds me to take a minute and be in the present. (www.manicikasri.com )

5 Hammam.   I like a good hammam. I didn’t know  that until I got to Istanbul and found out what it was. You’re taken to a warm, humid room with a raised stone platform (goebektas) in the center, surrounded by bathing alcoves. The light, diffused through glass in the ceiling is soft and relaxing. You lay  on the platform (usually with other people), and you’re scrubbed cleaner than you have ever  been. They use  a coarse mitt to remove layers of dead skin and then comes the soap. A lacy cloth is used , like an icing bag, and  they blow through it to create bubbles so you’re covered from head to toe with white frothy bubbles. It is followed by a massage.

6 Hagia Sophia   I studied this masterpiece of Byzantine architecture in  school and always wanted to see it.   It was built in the fourth century as a church and converted to a mosque in the sixteenth century. It was the world’s largest cathedral for 1000 years and contains remnants of all the renovations.    It is now a museum and very crowded but I was able to block out the noise and feel the history and remember the architectural elements. I had so many questions but I  was overwhelmed and couldn’t  speak.  It was real. I was finally in Istanbul at the Hagia Sophia.

7.Drinking fresh pomegranate juice on the street and picking one from a tree and eating it.

8. “The Turtle Trainer” by Osman Hamdi Bey.  This painting is in the Pera Museum in Istanbul.  It shows a man ( self-portrait of the artist) in what looks like a religious red robe, holding a sufi flute trying to train turtles. But the turtles have no ears and a thick shell  so they probably don’t hear him.   The lesson is that change is difficult and requires patience.  Osman  Hamdi  Bey was an important artist and intellectual in the Ottoman Empire. He established the first School for the Arts in Istanbul. Who can say why a painting touches you?  But I will always remember this painting.

9. Shopping for leather, carpets,  scarves, bracelets and pottery .    Shopping again .  And again.

10. Stopping at  an empty caravanserai on the silk road from China to Europe  and hearing the call to prayer.  This time, I pictured the caravan drivers hearing the same thing.   The caravanserais were built like forts. They were a safe places for caravans.  Once within the caravanserai a weary caravan could look forward to warm food, a bath and a safe shelter for the night for both men and animals. They provided food and lodging reportedly at no charge for 3 nights and free repair to footwear. They were conveniently spaced a day’s camel ride apart. (camels can ride from sunrise to sunset. The riders worked like truckers and had their routes.)  Built to promote trade, they brought prosperity to the communities hosting them. Nobility and their entourages used them too. So did the military. (Hoca Mesut Caravanserai 1231-1239)

“Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai, Who portals are alternate night and day, How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp, Abode his destined hour, and        went his way.”             Omar Khayyam

There are countries I visit that I love and then there are countries where I leave a part of myself so I will come back. Turkey  is  a place I will return to.

For more info on  Turkey read Things I Have Learned In Istanbul https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/things-i-have-learned-in-istanbul/

Top Ten Meals In Turkey

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/top-ten-meals-in-turkey/

Things I’ve Learned In Ephesus

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/all-roads-lead-to-ephesus/

In Ruina

Iyi  Uguslar,

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Turkey

.“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

Things I’ve Learned  In Turkey

It’s hard to find turkey in Turkey ( but I found one in a cage at the caravanserai on the silk road).

Skembe (tripe soup) is a popular hangover cure.

If a hotel  in Turkey has a good personality, it is not five-star.

The tulip originated in Turkey and was exported to Europe during the Ottoman Empire. There are tulip tiles in many of the old mosques. (Rustem Pasha Camii , Istanbul)

In some villages, if a girl doesn’t know weaving and a man cannot make pottery, they shouldn’t get married.

Most Christians were illiterate in the time of Constantinople.  Now Turkey has a literacy rate of one hundred per cent.

Fresh Turkish bagels in Istanbul are better than Jewish bagels in New York. Pastirma is Pastrami in Turkish. It does seem strange having amazing pastrami and bagels  in Turkey. ( no mustard or cream cheese)

The world’s tallest man is Turkish (8 feet 1 inch).

Turkish toilets are like Japanese toilets.

Hillary Clinton and I both stayed at the Lugal in Ankara,

People can go into any mosque in Turkey.You do not have to be a member of a mosque –even on the Bayram  (high holidays).I happen to be in Istanbul on the Bayram ( last four days of the Muslim calendar). On the first day ( while many  Muslims are in Mecca) according to the story of Abraham sacrificing his son, livestock is slaughtered and shared with the poor, friends and relatives.  Traditionally the skins are given to the Turkish Airforce to make jackets.  Every part of the lamb must be used for God.  It is a holiday for visiting the sick, elderly, honoring the dead and giving to charity.  It is a bloody day in the villages.   I ate some amazing lamb meatballs wrapped in phyla dough in honor of the holiday. ( Uc Serefeli Camii, Edirne)

There is no such thing as buying too many leather jackets in Turkey. Everything is best quality and best price. (www.kircilar.com.tr)

The highest peak in Turkey is Mount Agri (5,166 m). It is also said to be the place where Noah’s Ark came to rest.(Mount Ararat)

It was in ancient Anatolia that writing was first used by people.  The first coin in the world was minted in Turkey as well.

Anatolia is the birthplace of Homer, King Midas, Herodotus and St Paul the Apostle.

Turkey is the only secular Muslim country among all the Muslim countries in the world. The thirteen countries surrounding Turkey are unstable. “You take Iraq, Iran and Syria and we will take your problems.”

Pide is Turkish pizza. Pita is not. (Nar Lokantsi restaurant, Istanbul)

It is better to read a book about Ataturk written by a foreigner because it will be unbiased. Turks worship him and rightly so – He is responsible for the way Turkey is today. (Ataturk memorial, Ankara)

Turks accidentally became Muslims. They started as shamans and encountered Islam on their way to Turkey.

Restaurants connected to gas stations in Turkey are delicious. Don’t try this in the U.S. (  If you are headed to the ancient  Greek city of Pergamon stop at Saglam Restaurant – Mehmet Saglam -Bergama)

We are luckier than the ancient Greeks because we got to take a cable car up a very steep hill  to  the Acropolis of Pergamon. We are also lucky that it wasn’t windy.

Turkish people take care of the old, sick and homeless in their families. If someone is homeless, the Turks blame the family for not taking care of them. If they don’t help them “they put them in the fire.” I think I saw one homeless person in the time I was there. Where was his family?

According to a Global Sex survey, Turkey is the world’s most virile nation.

I like the name Turkish Delight much more than the actual candy. I like the green m and m  pistachio candies a lot.

Don’t tell a Greek or Turk this but their food, dessert, liquor , coffee, evil eye jewelry, prayer beads, backgammon sets and seaside resorts are very similar.

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If you are a woman, the only establishments that you need to be aware of are the Turkish tea houses. If you are in doubt look around and see who else is in there.

Some hotels in Turkey have airport security. Airports have double security, first to come into the airport and then to go on the plane.

A hotel that cannot be run worse can have a restaurant that can be run best.

In a Hammam (Turkish baths), the Turkish women and children wear bathing suits. The foreigners do not . If you did not know this and you end up in a small hammam with Turkish families, it can be awkward.

It’s best to wear light slip on shoes when visiting mosques.

Julius Caesar proclaimed his celebrated words, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) in Turkey when he defeated the Pontus, a formidable kingdom in the Black Sea region of Turkey.

You can still get on the 6:00  car ferry from Gallipoli across the Dardanelles to Cannakale if you arrive at 5:57. (Cannakale morning)

Azerbaijan looks like a nice place to vacation. They have a lot of commercials for tourism  on Turkish TV.

Zeus was born on Mt Ida. King Priam sent his son Paris there to grow up with the bears.

Turkish carpets have double knots which make them the strongest carpets in the world.  Seeing how carpets are made are a big part of Turkish culture.

Hand woven carpets are dyed naturally.  Red – rhubarb, pomegranate; brown –wet walnut, blue-indigo, yellow-saffron, orange-onionskin and green –sage. (gallerycappadocia.com)

The Turkish government subsidizes the carpet industry. Carpets are shipped  anywhere in the world for free. Yes, I took advantage of that and also the best price for a beautiful dowry rug. (made by a village girl)

The most valuable silk carpet in the world, is in the Mevlana Museum in Konya with 144 knots per square centimeter. In the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote “the best and handsomest of rugs are woven here, and also silks of crimson and other rich colors”.

Turks introduced coffee to Europe but they do not grow coffee. Their coffee is famous for the way it is prepared. One of the few words I learned in Turkish ( a very hard language for me) is “tsekeses” – no sugar.

The property rates for homes are quoted in dollars and not Turkish lira.

According to Turkish tradition a stranger at one’s doorstep is considered “A Guest from God” and should be accommodated accordingly.

Mother in-laws in Turkey are smart. They know they have to get along with the daughter in-laws.  Daughter in-laws in Turkey are smarter, they know they have to respect the mother in-law.

Turkey provides 70% of the world’s hazelnuts; the nut in your nutella was most probably grown in Turkey.

If you happen to be on the road to Iraq and Syria, stop off in Cappadocia.

In Turkey, you can change continents several times a day. In one day, you can be in Troy, Mesopotamia, Byzantium and Constantinople.

The most important thing to bring to Turkey is pants with elastic waistbands. The food is amazing. It is a combination of Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean.

The Famous Trojan Wars took place in western Turkey, around the site where a wooden statue of the Trojan Horse rests today. There is another wooden horse that was sold to the city of Cannakale (nearby) from the Hollywood movie Troy. I saw both fake Trojan horses.( Troy, Troy, Heinrich Schliemann excavation at Troy, Cannakale-Trojan Horse from the movie Troy)

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Part of Turkey’s southwestern shore was a wedding gift that Mark Anthony gave to Cleopatra.

The are eight million Kurds living in Turkey. They are not all terrorists. The ones who are, control the drug trade through Turkey.

Iranians and Turks are not considered Arabs.

Gallipoli was the bloodiest battle in World War One.  It was an eight month campaign. In that time the total Allied deaths were 43,000. The total Turkish deaths were 63,000.  Many Australians and New Zealanders died there. (ANZAC forces) Many come to Gallipoli on April 25 which is ANZAC day. I met a few Australians in Cannakale who had come to see it. There are many memorials and cemeteries in the Gallipoli memorial park. (ANZAC memorial, location of fighting).

Quote on the Ataturk Memorial at Gallipoli ” Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”  Ataturk 1934

Whirling dervishes fascinate me. Belonging to the order of Sufism, they dedicate themselves to a life of poverty and spinning around.   They detach themselves from the here and now, to reach a state of religious ecstasy that I think can be achieved in easier ways.  Also, whirling dervishes are slow.

Turks do not throw their own garbage away in Starbucks or McDonald’s.

The opera and the ballet are state-owned and not as popular as soccer.

There are no images in mosques because God is unseen. The ban on images of people led to the development of the detailed and beautiful calligraphy that is the principle adornment of mosques and other Islāmic religious items. (Eski Camii, Edirne, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Sokullo Mehmet Pasa Mosque, Istanbul)

The only thing you have to do in Turkey is accept a drink every time it is offered. ( This will  happen in every shop you walk into. It is very time-consuming but pleasant -especially if you like apple tea or Turkish coffee).

for more info see

Top Ten Favorite Things in Turkey

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/my-top-ten-favorite-things-in-turkey/

Things I Have Learned In Istanbul

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/things-i-have-learned-in-istanbul/

Top Tem Meals In Turkey

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/top-ten-meals-in-turkey

Things I Have Learned in Ephesus

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/all-roads-lead-to-ephesus/

In Ruins

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/in-ruins/

I am “very good lucky” to have been on this trip.

Tsekkeru Edarim Turkey,  Fly Safe ,

JAZ