Romania

We flew to Bucharest, a very flat valley full of greens and yellows (rapeseed).

There was a bit of a kerfluffle about needing an international driver’s license to rent a car. But Wm saved the day and we climbed up the mountains to the old section of Brasov, in Transylvania (bla, ha ha). The guesthouse has some baby guests residing by a bathroom window.

Baby Pigeons

Bosphorus

After an evening of Sufi dancing,

we spent the day traveling by ferry enjoying the Bosphorus. This is the strait flowing between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, dividing Turkey into Asian & European continents.

We stopped in Anadolu Kavagi, in sight of the Black Sea for food and silliness.

Anatolian Shepherds

There are dogs everywhere in Turkey. They roam freely, even the ones with owners. And they are huge. Some retrievers, lots of mutts, but mostly Anatolian Shepherds. Gy-normous! They bark and howl all night. Then they flop anywhere and sleep all day. Literally anywhere.

Right across the sidewalk, in the street, blocking doors. Like little toddlers they just collapse wherever. Everyone carefully steps around them so they sleep undisturbed. These amazing beasts are real sheepherders. In South Africa there is a program to stop ranchers from shooting Cheetahs by giving them Anatolian Shepherds. The sleepy dog above has a blue earring tag to show that he has had his rabies shot. For ownerless dogs they are sweet, love a good pet and give those beautiful doe eyes for a snack. Hard to resist!

Hamam

We are staying near the Hagia Sophia (the mosque, church, museum).

It was time to scrub this filthy traveler in the beautiful Ayasofia Hamam, a 16th century Turkish bath.

The right side is for women so I entered this lovely domed room. I was led by hand to be doused with warm water, scrubbed, then soaped up with bubbles, shampooed, served pomegranate juice & massaged.

The last time I was probably bathed like that was when I was 2. It was Glorious! We need Turkish baths in Oregon.

Uçhisar

We climbed the mountain in the snow, up tiny twisty roads, to the Uçhisar cave pension. We will sleep in an actual cave for the next 2 nights.

Gratefully they have a cafe at the top with 3 walls of windows, food and decent internet.

I love this panoramic seat we passed.

Surprising

I find Turkey very European with a pleasant twist. Everyone is very nice. If you nod, they nod. If you smile and say merhaba (hello), they will smile and respond. They love tea. For me that says “civilized” in so many ways. They love food. It is beautifully displayed. The breads are very fresh and delicious. Fresh fruits, veggies, meats & cheeses at every meal!

They are also very progressive. Their roads are excellent. They have gas stations with attendants and WCs (clean bathrooms with toilet paper!). They recycle. Solar is on every house. Wind vanes all over the country.

I don’t see drunks, addicts, homeless anywhere so far.

And the call to prayers, even for this atheist, is thoughtful, reassuring, a welcome pause. (This dog did not agree with me – https://photos.app.goo.gl/nj1Nby9apWSZzWUj7)

The Ghost Town

Kayaköy is a town abandoned by the Greeks back in the 1920s. There are 760 buildings slowly crumbling away. I am reading Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings. A lovely novel set in 1900, supposedly in this town. He brings to life the struggles between the Turks and Greeks and personalizes the revered leader, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (whose name and face we see everywhere we go).

Have I mentioned that I LOVE the library!?! My kindle and phone are filled with glorious, yummy stories. A series I am also enjoying begins with the Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin, about an Ottoman eunuch detective in the 1830s. (I won’t tell you that I am also reading Gaiman and Pratchett’s Good Omens for a bit of silliness.)

Travel in the 21st Century

a romantic breakfast in Ephesus

We have traveled a lot in our life together. The tools of the trade used to be large volumes of Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, tiny paper maps, and a lot of luck. We would usually stay in hostels so we could meet other travelers and learn where to go and where to eat.

Now Wm spends a great deal of time studying on the computer. TripAdvisor is a huge resource with review after review of the pros and cons of hotels, and luscious descriptions of yummy places to eat. It is all about “online” and when the internet goes down we have to remember how to walk around, how to look and try things, how to ask real people for help.

I am the hanger-on, the idler, the flâneuse. He is the busy determined guide, the historian, the navigator. He studies, I drink tea & read novels. I am very grateful that he loves me!

Ephesus

Wm found us an exceptional hotel with a window seat looking out on this amazing view. We can watch the storks overhead and the cats on the roof. There is the inevitable souvenir room on the first floor and they are trying very hard to sell us a carpet. (Put your order in now!)

Library of Celsus

And we have a library nearby. Built in 117 AD. A little open to the weather… and the scrolls were destroyed. Gorgeous nevertheless. Be sure to read up on Ephesus and this library, it is fascinating!

Istanbul to Bergama

(To see an interactive version of this map with the route: https://drive.google.com/open?id=14Gw4QMmjtOatUhShx8is5HZ-3Omp_Kbq&usp=sharing )

So far: Istanbul airport, Tekirdağ, through Gallipoli, a ferry to Çanakkale, Troy!, overnight in Ayvalik and now Bergama (Pergamon). We are staying in a beautiful old Greek designed home, with tiny staircases (you have to watch your head) and 9 foot ceiling bedrooms. This town is chockablock full of ruins, not just Greek, but also Roman and Byzantine. There are the ruins of the world’s first psychiatric hospital, including a “dream tunnel”.

New pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/yDFkKg4z5tVBVnZd7

Be a Naturalist

This is not a naturist as in England. No, this is the coolest website to figure out the Flora & fauna from anywhere in the world! iNaturalist.org. You can take a terrible picture, post it with your location, and it will figure out what you are seeing. Or give a description and someone will help you figure it out. I found the hooded crow, the eurasion blue tit, a pimelia beetle, a pear tree… I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but when your husband is taking lots of pics of old rocks, you have to find some entertainment.

Eurasian Jay