Monday, January 12, 2015

GOOD. RANDOM. FUN. V2.2


Finally... getting back to blogging!
Posting with Tamar @ Random-osity.
Each Monday, bloggers are invited to post any picture(s) that highlight
The GOOD
The RANDOM
The FUN

I'm posting pictures from several weeks ago...
JPE & I went to Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA with my mom, sister & bro-in-law. It was a "blast-from-the-past" as you'll see from the pictures.

At the entrance to the park is a water tower, complete with a square dancing couple. Generally, night photos are difficult for me... this happened to be pretty GOOD.

If you've never been to Knott's Berry Farm, the original section is an old Western town. JPE was goofing off & stepped into this casket... he didn't realize a little boy (about 4 years old) was staring at him, trying to figure out if he was a real person. Pretty RANDOM, huh?

Knott's Berry Farm is close to Disneyland, so the park has added some amusements that keep them competitive with the public. The Supreme Scream drops riders 252 feet straight down! Urgh, sounds frightening to me, but from the screams, this must have been FUN for the thrill-seeking crowd.
Matthew on his 8th birthday - August 2014
TODAY marks my 800th post since I started my blog 5 years ago!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS 2014

For the past few years, I've posted my MEMORIES, DREAMS & REFLECTIONS for the previous year. The picture "prompts" are the same every year! Here are my posts for 2013, 2012 & 2011.

Since this is a reflection, this post is L.O.N.G. but I hope you enjoy visiting TURKEY through our experiences.

This year, JPE & I traveled to TURKEY!!! to document this trip, my photos for MDR 2014 were pulled from our photo archives. 

Trip dates: October 22-November 8, 2014 & here's a map of our travels...
We started our trip by arriving in Istanbul four days before our "Best of Turkey in 13 Days" tour. Our tour guide, Mert Taner, was exceptional! in addition to tour guiding for Rick Steve's, Mert has also worked for Smithsonian, Rhodes Scholars, Tauck Tours & conducts private tours. 

ME - checking an item off my "bucket list"... (ride in a hot air balloon). Initially, we were to take a balloon  (near Mustafapasa) in the Cappadocia area. Our ride was canceled due to rain... but, Mert (our tour guide) arranged for a short trip over the Pamukkale travertine terraces, near Hierapolis.

LOVE YOU! My traveling partner, JPE... celebrating our 10th anniversary! YES, we hiked in the R-A-I-N in the Goreme Open-Air Museum (Cappadocia) when our hot air balloon trip was canceled!

Following a busy day at the Mevlana Museum (Konya), JPE & I decided to "venture on our own" for dinner. After checking several restaurants, we ended up eating chicken sandwiches & fries at a Burger King. Don't know if we should be embarrassed? but, we're definitely STILL LAUGHING about how great the fries tasted. BTW, we don't eat at Burger King in the US... which made this even funnier!
Saturday, November 1st - it felt like WINTER had arrived in Turkey... the skies were filled with angry, gray clouds that sputtered a constant "drizzle" BUT that didn't stop us from taking in the sights. The Musalla Mosque (Camii) in Urgup had slick, shiny domes w/two minarets. The "call to prayer" is broadcast from the balcony of the minarets five times a day! We enjoyed seeing two children swinging outside the mosque fence... oblivious to the chilly rain and "call to prayer"...

TOURING = NEW FRIENDS! Our tour began in Istanbul (Monday, October 27th) with two+ days of walking before meeting our bus driver, Rafet. Skilled at maneuvering the bus on narrow streets & hairpin turns, Rafet was exceptional! Although he was quiet, he was learning some English and hoped to visit his son's family in the US. I had a difficult time mastering Turkish words, so I can imagine Rafet felt the same about practicing his English.

October 29th is Republic Day (a national holiday & sort of a BIRTHDAY) in Turkey. The day is celebrated with bands and parades, the flying of Turkish flags, and public speeches in the larger cities. At Taksim Square (New District, Istanbul) Mert handed out small Turkish flags, so we'd feel like a part of the celebration... 

Near Mustafapasa, our guide took us to the Guray Studio to see a demonstration of ceramic plates, bowls, & teapots from start to finish. I was really INSPIRED BY the process used to hand paint the plates! 

SPRING weather? We were near Antalya (along the southern coast of Turkey)... the weather was a pleasant 70 degrees... perfect for a November afternoon. Cell phones are a critical tool for tour guides. Mert spent a fair amount of time confirming tour, meal and hotel arrangements whenever he had a spare moment. 
TRAVEL is good for my soul! ordering a meal without reading or speaking the language! walking through a town where people look different than you (& look at YOU differently)! seeing buildings & artifacts that are hundreds-to-thousands of years old & wondering how they were built!
The Hagia Sophia ("church of the holy wisdom") is over 1,400 years old... it was first built as a church, changed to a mosque & is now a museum. This structure is enormous!!! The NYC Statue of Liberty could do jumping jacks and NOT hit the ceiling of the dome.

Although every travel day included a "new" adventure... a DAY IN MY LIFE included taking photos (Aphrodisias "wall of faces"), drinking tea, walking (lots of walking) and hand-washing a few clothes (plus keeping our fingers crossed they would dry before our bus took us to our next city)!

We enjoyed SUMMER like weather conditions in Antalya... after a boat ride, a swim in the ocean, we watched two men playing backgammon... a photographer capture pics of a new bride... and walked the cobblestone streets.

In each city or town, our tour would visit a farmer's market to check the local HARVEST! Vegetables were H.U.G.E. (check out the cauliflower - it's almost the size of a human head). As in most foreign countries, people shop every few days - generally because refrigeration is limited or non-existent.

ALL SMILES... Mert joking with our Cappadocia hostess. A SMILING (?) pirate ship carving in Antalya. I don't care for having my picture taken, but JPE snapped this pic of me outside Suleyman, the Magnificent Mosque (with the Istanbul horizon in the background).

Enjoying lunch prepared by our Cappadocia hostess (mid-60's), her 93 year old mother, & daughter (mid-30's, wearing the white sweatshirt). The youngest female in this family was at school. Four generations in one house!!! Farming grapes & working their gardens. An incredible FAMILY! Seated on benches around the parameter of the room, we ate a hearty lunch, listened to the rain & thunder, and asked questions about life in rural Urgup. The two older women cover their heads, while the younger two are more Westernized in their appearance. 

We spent an afternoon in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. As I mentioned before, Republic Day is Turkey's National Holiday, so our group stopped by Ataturk's Mausoleum to witness the CELEBRATION. Children stood outside the Mausoleum singing songs & waving flags. Inside, people left flags in celebration of their favorite leader, Mustafa Kemal, better known as Ataturk (Turkey's first President). 


DO IT AGAIN... we spent an hour visiting with an imam (Muslim prayer leader). He is considered a leader for the community, and is responsible for leading Islamic worship services (five times a day). He recited one of the calls to prayer & Mert translated his response. Another highlight was our visit with carpet weaver(s). I actually took a turn at "tying" several threads on a carpet. The yarn is broken, instead of being cut. The weaving process was similar to following a needlepoint pattern.

In modern cities & rural areas, these crystal blue eyes were prominently displayed at the entrances to stores, restaurants, found in vehicles or being worn. It's the custom to give a blue eye to newborn babies, children and to couples getting married. When Mert's son was born, everyone who visited the baby safety-pinned a small blue eye to the front of his "onsie"... given to offer good luck and protect his baby from any evil spirits. JPE & I bought several gifts & found the store owners often wrapped an eye around the packaging. A pleasant MEMORY of our trip to Turkey.
Watching the Whirling Dervishes was a unique experience. It's believed music & dance produced a meditative state for the dervishes to connect with the earth and relieve them from the stresses & anxiety of everyday living. The mosaics were located in Konya (our hotel lobby) & near the Blue Mosque-Istanbul. BEAUTIFUL!

Being clean shaven is part of getting DRESSED UP... we ran short of time, so JPE missed getting a Turkish shave... but we both had a Turkish bath (in an Antalya hamam). Ninety minutes of heavenly pampering!

Visiting Aphrodisias at the end of the day was incredible! Ancient farmers visited this site believing it had magical powers to ensure prosperous crops. I think I took 150 pics in a two hour period... of course, many were trashed, but I was pretty satisfied with these two MACRO shots.

Doesn't this look festive? We didn't dare come home without some "Turkish Delight" (lokum in Turkish) for gifts! MB & SLE requested pistachio and pomegranate flavored delights! At first taste, JPE said, "it's just gummy candy with powdered sugar"... But, when we tasted the high-end delight, we realized why it's a treat people bring as gifts for the HOLIDAYS!

FAVORITES... turquoise-tiled mosque with Arabic writing (Konya); wooden door with a scalloped mailbox trim (Guray); and beautiful writing (Aphrodisias).

JUST BECAUSE... love the rusty discolored look of the marble carvings & how can you not love the sunlight setting on the stone building? the southern part of Turkey was stunning.
JPE... DON'T EVER CHANGE!... you push me when I need an extra boost! you let me research & keep track of travel details! And, you are always ready to make plans for another trip. Thanks for an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. anniversary.

Of course my HOPES & DREAMS are to continue to add stamps in our passports. Next trip? Ireland? Scotland? renting a place in Florence, Italy? Russia? ummmm. Lots to consider!

This post took way longer than I wanted to spend on it. Perhaps I should figure out how to read & write HTML. I had several glitches, adding to my writing time. BUT, it's completed & now I can get back to "regular posting". Yeah!

Please come back for a visit!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

CRUISING THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA...

Tuesday, our tour group had a FREE day
(meaning there were NO planned activities)
Rick Steve's Tours are busy & require a lot of walking,
so, at some point, you need a "vacation from your vacation"...

Fourteen of us (plus Mert, our tour guide) chartered a boat
for a two hour trip around the Antalya Harbor.
What a fabulous idea! 

The boat dock...
as you can see, it was a lovely day... sunshine, with a slight breeze!
Perfect weather after our chilly days in Cappadocia & a rainy drizzle in Istanbul.

sandals & cropped pants... what a treat after wearing walking shoes & socks!

this guy was fishing in his inflatable boat!

other fisherman had climbed down the rock cliff to fish!

our boat driver stopped the boat off a small cove so most of the group could jump in the water!
(l-r: Cathy, JPE, me, Tommy & Jennifer)

searching for a warm current!
actually, the cold currents weren't that cold!
I believe I remember Mert saying the water temperature was about 74 degrees...

a refreshing dip!

worth every penny
($25. each for our 2 hour trip)...

Monday, November 3, 2014

KONYA & RUMI...

Mevlana Mosque (Lodge for Rumi)
Well... we finally have some internet connection, but details of our days are melting together. We are on information overload! which is GREAT, until it's time to pull the written words together to detail our journey.

Street corners are decorated with whirling dervishes which I'll address in a future post!
Konya, Turkey
is a very conservative city!
Most women on the street cover their heads with headscarves... but we also saw Westernized attire worn by young women (perhaps college age?)!

Stephanie asked for prayer beads from Konya! Do you think she'll like these?

JPE & I are amazed by the number of mosques that dot the horizon...

these clay bottles act as chimneys & prevent rain from entering the flue...

a shopkeeper cleaning the sidewalk in front of his store!

one benefit of staying in a business hotel is comfy beds!

ummmm! endless cups of coffee or tea!

crispy potatoes with cumin, sausage or hard-boiled eggs...

an assortment of olives...

apricots (the tastiest dried fruit ever!), raisins &
 cereal (similar to cocoa puffs), as well as cornflakes...

& a chef to cook your omelette!

after one night, we're off to Antalya (on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea).


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