Landed in London

Landed in London

1-DSC_0021The bus driver slid a glance at me. I had rooted myself in front of the exit door, ear tuned to the name of my street. After two hours of dragging my luggage through tunnels and up staircases with a page of directions glued to my nose, I refused to risk a misstep in the last leg of my journey.

 2-DSC_0024 (3)Thankfully, my host had warned me of every possible pitfall along the way. Armed with her directions and my experiences of the D.C. metro, I gained her doorstep without a single wrong turn or missed connection. She welcomed me with tea, of course, and showed me to a guestroom perched on the top floor of her townhouse.  The window leans over the bed to share a view of London’s gray ceiling.

 Her little boy found my name fascinating. Soon after making my acquaintance, he presented me with a “Hello Kitty” t-shirt.  “Look, two kitties!”

Back Again: Bizarre? Bazaar

Back Again: Bizarre? Bazaar

1-DSC_0409 Two years ago, a veteran from this trip advised those of us looking ahead to it, “Do something at the beginning and end of the trip together.” Whatever it was, he suggested that the revisiting the act would help us grasp the time and changes elapsed during the three week journey.

This year we lacked the cohesion to share anything informally, but gracious scheduling allowed it nonetheless. You may recall my reaction to the Grand Bazaar. Today we concluded our second visit to Istanbul with the Spice Bazaar. Read the rest of this entry

Day 19: Gallipoli

Day 19: Gallipoli

2-DSC_0302 The sky teared up the day we visited Gallipoli. So did I.

Cemeteries bloom from every hilltop along the shoreline where the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) dashed themselves against Turkish forces. “They died before they ever got out of the water,” our guide recounted. Once on land, they continued to die for eight months before the forces withdrew to Egypt.

One of the Allied Powers’ greatest defeats inaugurated the Turkish Republic’s greatest hero: Ataturk. Read the rest of this entry

Three Days

Three Days

08-DSC_0080Three days remain for the Turkey trip. I fought a losing battle to keep my eyes open on the bus today. As rich as this tour has been, I’ll be glad to sleep in the same bed for more than two nights –and even happier to see my family! We rendezvous in London before catching the train to Scotland.

Highlights from my second week: Read the rest of this entry

Antalya Revisited

Antalya Revisited

DSC_0125 “Hey! Hello!” We slung our hands back at forth, leaning over the ship’s railing. On the dock below, a trio of our friends waved back. I bet the tub’s owner didn’t regret relenting on the ticket price for us. I had threatened to walk away three times before he agreed.

All aboard, we gathered at the prow of the boat, rocking with the waves and admiring the city lights. Hotels and restaurants gleamed neon against the cliffs. After a day spent in Antalya’s Old Town, feasting on the sea’s fruit and exploring bygone bookstores, we had reunited with the harbor for a jaunt on one of many eager vessels. The wrangling Turk who had secured our passage sidled up to one of the girls. Read the rest of this entry

Photo Tour: Nemrut

Photo Tour: Nemrut

Day 12: Antalya

Day 12: Antalya

2-DSC_0098Our guide loosed us on Antalya for a day of unscheduled leisure. I trailed our professors into Old Town, where vendors assailed us from every street corner. One man captured our attention with free samples of his candied nuts.  Prof. B shrugged and allowed him to fill a bag for her. “How much?” she inquired.

“Tirty-fow.”

“…what?”

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Update

Update
Why don't American gas stations install fitness playgrounds?

Why don’t American gas stations install fitness playgrounds?

This week hasn’t been all fun and games, though: I’ve come down with a head cold.  It leeches the fun out of clambering through Roman ruins and visiting early Christian churches.  The girls have been wonderful, supplying me with all the cold medicine and tissues I thought I wouldn’t need.

Day 10: Maiden Castle

Day 10: Maiden Castle

Why did we go?

Because of the ones who had gone before.

We swam in a crew of seven. Four of us called out instructions, warnings, advice. Two of us lagged behind, riding the waves on the strength of our fellows. One bobbed along in good cheer. Together, we bridged the moat and charged the castle.

We staggered over the seashore defenses, pricking our feet on the pebbles. We penetrated the walls unopposed. We scaled the battlements and admired the land that lay beyond, back from whence we came. We gathered together beneath the stars and rested there, in the serenity of a challenge well-met.

Why do we return?

For the ones who will follow.

Days 7-8: Urfa

Days 7-8: Urfa

DSC_0193“How do Muslims believe they are saved?”

We had settled onto a raised dais that once contained the altar of a church. Turks had re-built it as a mosque. Unlike the Hagia Sophia, the queen of Turkey’s re-purposed churches, this structure had no other visitors save our tour group. We had entered a silent hall, we women wrapped in scarves and long skirts, everyone barefoot. Overhead, iron bars pierced the marble Byzantine columns, reinforcing the stone. Across the floor, two men knelt in prayer. At our side, Mehmet concluded his brief introduction to the religion of Islam and invited questions.

In the silence that followed, I clarified my query: “How do Muslims get to Paradise?” Read the rest of this entry

Day 6: Cappidocia

Day 6: Cappidocia

DSC_0059“When I pull this string, you will lose a finger. Are you ready?”

 The carpet salesman looped a strand of silk around my index finger. He had graciously selected my left hand. I looked into his eyes and nodded.

 He grinned. “American women are very brave, yes?”

 Black belts are brave, too, I thought as I nodded again, grinning back at him.

 “Okay, then. One…

 “Two…

 “Three!”

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