Sunday, July 8, 2012

Road Tripping... Turkish Style

Just before my time was up in Turkey I was lucky enough to have my parents and their friends come for a 3 week visit. Three weeks can seem like a long time to visit anyone but when you are riding around the countryside exploring and seeing things, it goes by really quick. We started with them having to wait around Ankara a little bit so that I could finish up with my work at BLIS and then a couple of day trips to places like Beypazari and Eskisehir. When I finally got done with the job spot, we loaded up the two cars that we rented (we chose to do two small cars for more comfort and to save on gas - which we did do, the failing was that it was 2 cars and it was easy to lose one another in the busy city streets). Our trip included the main stops of Kapadokya (Cappadocia), Mersin, Tasucu, Konya, Pamukkale, and Istanbul with short stops for pictures and/or lunches in places like Afyon, Isparta and the Salt Lake.

The Salt Lake... like a moon scape of glittery snow.

Our first big activity was to go ballooning at sunrise over Kapadokya. I was a little bit nervous in the beginning because all that keeps you from your fate is the wicker basket you are in.

About 3 seconds into the flight, you are so relaxed and nearly 400 metres into the air.  It's spectacular.

We were fairly close to the flames and it kept me WARM!!!

My dad and I shared a compartment of the balloon basket.

No matter how many times I go to Kapadokya, I simply can't get enough of the beauty and the history.

Next stop was the underground city at Derinkuyu.  I didn't go down there, but stayed up to photograph the beautiful Orthodox church.

This was the view from my room in our little hotel in Tasucu.  This was the very same hotel that my grandparents stayed in when they came to visit us in 1983.  Back then it was the height of luxury in the area, now it is little better than a pension but still worth the stay. 

Near to Tasucu is Kizkalesi.  We decided to spend a morning at this beach sunning ourselves and playing in the water.

The view couldn't get much better than this.  This castle has a fabled history of a king building the castle for his precious daughter, to help protect her from harm (I think the story goes that a fortune teller told him she would be bitten by a snake).  Her food was rowed out to her daily and a snake got into the boat, onto the island and bit her, thus killing her.  I'm not sure if that's the story or not, but it's the one my brain remembers being told as an eight year old.

This is the restaurant that we ate at once a week  when I was a kid... it's still there and still being run by the same family.  What a treat to visit a piece of the past!

My parents, sticking their feet in the Mediterranean for the first time this visit.

Me and the fabled castle in the background.

Who are those cute people?!

This is the old townsite where we used to live, it is now overgrown and unused.  A heartbreak to see for sure.

The beach I spent most afternoons at as a child... not too shabby, eh?

From Tasucu, we drove to Konya, one of my favourite cities in Turkey.

Mevlana's museum and masoleum.

After Konya, we sped off to Pamukkale, a place I hadn't been to yet.  I loved it!

Hieropolis is at the top of the pools of Pamukkale and it's said that Cleopatra herself came here.

In the first picture of Pamukkale, I was standing down there, near the island... now I'm at the top... what a view!

The pools are made of travertine (a type of marble I think) and are snowy white.

This is called Cleopatra's pool.  For a fee you too can swim in the healing waters like the famed Egyptian did.

Our final stop was the beautiful city of Istanbul.  We flew into here because the traffic is just too crazy for foreigners to drive.

A dervish, sharing his worship time at a local cafe.

My favourite sight in the city: the Basilica Cistern.

The Blue Mosque

An Egyptian obelisk in the area of the old Hippodrome.

My beautiful mom and I on our Bosphorus boat ride... this is where I hustled the hustler!  Don't be afraid to demand the price you want for the activities you do on vacation!!

Picture perfect... enjoying the sun, surf and breeze.

If you are ever in the area of Turkey and are looking for a good holiday location, look no further... I've loved my time in this beautiful country and I know I'll be back to see more of it.


As most of you regular readers (yes, all 12 of you) know, I have just completed my contract and my time in Turkey and have chosen not to renew with Bilkent Laboratory and International School, but to seek a new adventure instead.  While it's exciting to have a new adventure, it's sad to leave the old one behind. 

Turkey has been a wonderful experience for me on so many personal levels.  I've met some of the best people that I will ever know, I've taught some of the loveliest students (who will forever have a piece of my heart), and seen places most of us just read of in our school history books.  I can't begin to count the ways in which I've grown as a person during the last two years and how bitter it is for me to walk away from all of that.  However, it's also sweet because there is a real opportunity for a little more balance in my life in my new adventure in Singapore.

One of the things that I am always in search of in the places that I look to live is a place that offers me balance.  I want to live and work somewhere where I LOVE the school life (which I've been lucky to do in almost all my different situations), I LOVE the social life, and I LOVE the professional and personal opportunities for growth above and beyond what just the school can offer me.  While Turkey has given me some measure of that, it simply wasn't enough to keep me put.  Well, that and all the crazy changes currently taking place in the educational system there.

So cheers to the wonderful experiences I've been fortunate enough to have in Turkey and to the INCREDIBLE people I've been fortunate enough to know during my two year stint there... and cheers to the wide open adventure of Singapore that lays before me!!!