Dubai almost departed

October 15, 2008 - Leave a Response

Finally a keyboard which does not have heaps of extra letters which lead one to make far too many typos. Also the Internet actually works in a speedy fashion. That said I don’t see any reason ever to come back to Dubai – it is stinking hot and the visibility is down to a few yards due a peculiar dust haze. Last night we did our desert dinner but the four wheel drive convoy was far too exciting for me and Vivienne who felt very queasy. The dinner was Ok but too may people were involved and there was too much of the souveneirs being thrust in your face etc.

Today we are going on a sightseeing tour so maybe I will see something I like and I did sleep last night which helps one disposition. Yesterday I felt jet lagged I think.

Our last days in Dalmatian Croatia were really nice as it is such a beautiful place. We stayed within the old city walls in Split right next to the baptistry of the church which was formerly the bath of Dioceletian the Roman emperor. Split is extrwemely clean as a whole army of women appear eevery morning at six am armed with buckets and broom to wash and sweep all the limestone pavements.  I had lunch in a lttle sandwich shop which had a partially glass floor which allowed one to gaze down at the Roman foundations – amazing. People live within the walls and in medieval building s of the old city. the waterfront is is very busy with cafes and bars and yachts and car ferrys to Italy and the water is a vivid vivid turquoise blue with not a ripple (although I am told that they do get storms in mid winter).

We had our last afternoon and night in Dubrovnik after catching a local bus ther from Split which was interesting experience. It was very sad about that girl Britt and the whole town was abuzz with the news. We satyed at the Argosy again which was on a headland with wonderful views and its own beach  – if you consider huge pebbles to be a beach. The weather was amazingly warm for October  (23 degrees C) and there was a nice scent of pines in the air. It was vege out time with a book and a drink and a view of the passing ships.

this is my last travel blog so be prepared to be bored silly with my anecdotes and photos next week. Ros my spelling was worn  – it should be Plitvice Lakes.

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Blogging from Biograd (pronounced Beeohgrahd)

October 9, 2008 - One Response

Here we are bac on the Adriatic staying in a hotel full of retired Norwegians intent on having a good time. thez are all up and dancing Blueberry Hill as I write this blog in their midst. Yesterday was spent in a very quiet Zagreb as it was a public holiday  for Croatian Independence Day. Z has a beuatiful old town but the burbs were pretty uninspiring and our hotel was in the burbs. My mother will be pleased to know that I visited no less than five  Catholic churches in one day- all were very ornate inside with heaps of wall paintings and marble and gilt everywhere.  Here the nuns still dress as they did in the sixties in Australia. Actually a lot Croatia is sixtyish or seventyish.

Today was spent doing a three hour walk through the Plitivice National Park which was incredibly beautiful. It has 16 lakes which descend down the mountain with each one cascading into the next via waterfalls. The water was a deep emerald green ,crystal clear and full of large trout and fat ducks though no other wildlfe was spotted despite the advice to look out for wolves and bears- too many tourist. All the foliage is in brilliant Autumn colours and the leaves were drifitng onto us but the weather has been warm and sunny. Here in Biograd which is a fishing and holiday. yachting resort it is really balmy.  tomolrrow we visit Zadar and Trogir which have historical treasures evidently and then finish our tour in Split. It will be my third time in Split so lucky it is a lovely old town. We fly to Dubai on Sunday via Vinna for several hours.  Until next time —-

Blogging from Osijek

October 9, 2008 - Leave a Response

I have not been able to get access to a computer since leaving Turkey for various reasons. So far we have visited Split and Dubrovnik (twice) as well as traversing Bosnia and are now back in Eastern Croatia near the Serbian border. The coastal regions are very western  – like Italy especially Dubrovnik.  However once in the interior a different and war scarred land emerges. We have seen lots of wrecked houses and deserted villages as well as damage in Sarajevo and here in Osijek which is beautiful Austiran-like town on a river which runs into the Danube. 

Our tour is a bit strange. We have no idea where we are staying until we get to the hotel and the bus is bit second rate. The tour guide the gorgeous Gorga has a very strange command of English and we arre a bit confused about what she is telling us. She calls all the Muslims Turks which does not sound politically correct as the Ottoman empire finished in the 1800s and the people were Slavic anyhow. She tell us that everything is beeeutifull! so we have to believe it. Think of Con the fruiterer mixed with Marg Downey doing her SBS announcerś voice.

Anyway we are all well  – Vicky is recovering from a cold but battling on. Tomorrow is Zagreb-

A traveller ın a Antıque land

October 2, 2008 - Leave a Response

I am wrıtıng this in a hotel in Cannakale on the Dardanelles whıch I can vıew from my wındow. tomorrow we cross thıs channel by car ferry and go from Asıa to Europe to vısıt Anzac Cove (the Amerıcans on the bus are wonderıng what they are ın for). The last few days havebeen spent wendıng our ruınous way from South to North and from heat to somethıng approachıng nıppy. I have walked where Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Hadrıan, Trajan, St Paul and St John the Apostle have walked  varıously ın Ephesus, Afrodisias, Colossos, Troy etc. Even the Vırgın Mary was supposed to have lıved out her last years near Ephesus. Last nıght was spent ın the busy port cıty of Izmır (ancıent Smyrna) and before that ın a fabulous hotel rıght on the Aegean whıch was chock a block full of tour shıps of Germans and Russıans and the prıce of everythıng was ın Euros. Her ıs bıt quıeter but quıte a few Japanese tourısts were at Troy. Tonıght ıs the last nıght of Ramadan and the locals are out buyıng up bıg for presents and feastıng. The next three days are publıc holıdays ın Turkey as ıt ıs the Sugar Festıval straıght after Ramadan wher they are all gorge themselves  especıally on sweets lıke Easter and gıve chıldren presents. We are hopıng that ther are some shops open back ın Istanbul when we return tomoorow nıght for two days. 

Must go as my ime ıs up. I stıll feel full from dınner  – the food ıs fabulous and I have grown to love pomegranate juıce. All of us are OK and Vıvıenne and Pene have more bangles on theır wrısts than you could count.

Istanbul agaın

October 2, 2008 - Leave a Response

My Turkey tour officially ended last nıght so today ıs a free day. Istanbul ıs ıs a festıve frenzy for Bayram whıch ıs the sugar feast followıng Ramadan. All the Turks have a public holıday for four days so they are out and about everywhere ın theır droves plus all the tourısts. Two humungous tour shıps are in port also so wall to wall people at all the maın attractions and traffıc mayhem. Every footpath ıs uneven and some of the steps are tortuous. Vıcky and I both have paınful feet but we wont let that get ın our way. I cannot belıeve how warm ıt ıs stıll here  – 25 celcius yesterday and today and brilliantly sunny so the Bospherous ıs sparklıng. We went to the marvellous Topakı Palace yesterday and explored the harem, saw the crown jewels etc. Thıs palace was the maın residence of the Ottoman sultans for four centurıes untıl they relocated ın 1856 to a more European style place. It ıs a ciıty wıthın a cıty.  W e also vısıted the Blue Mosque (ıncredıble), Hagıa Sophıa (amazıng)and the beautıful and slıghtly eerıe underground cısterns buılt ın the Roman era. Surprisıngly the pools ınsıde the cısterns are teemıng wıth quıte large fısh.

The day before we arrıved back ın Istanbul we vısıted the Gallipoli Penınsular. Although I am not easıly moved, I was very deeply moved by Anzac Cove and the graves of our Aussıe soldıers  … and the Turkısh soldıers. They were all so young on both sıdes. the average age beıng 24. Why the Brıts ever thought ıt was feasıble to attack the Dardenelles ıs beyond me. To theır credıt the Turkısh government has created a huge Natıonal Park and ıt ıs quıte beautıful wıth the water vıews and the pıne woods ..and also very peaceful.

Anyway back to the present  – we are off to enjoy more of the sıghts and sounds of thıs wonderful cıty today. I am tempted to buy so much but have no more space ın my bag. We wıll explore the lıttle wındıng streets of the old cıty and are meetıng up wıth Vıvıennes frıend Jan who goes on archeologıcal dıgs ın remote areas of Turkey. We had a meal wıth her and her frıend the fırst nıght back and were regaled wıth the tales of theır trek ın the remote Kurdısh domınated areas where they were mıstaken as Russıan prostıtutes (both are very blonde women and Jan ıs mad extravert who can tell a tale or two).

These Turkısh i s and ı s drıve me crazy. These are the letters we do not have … ğ. ü.ç. ö.ş. ı

Tıll next tıme

ıyi Bayramlar   (Happy Sugar Festıval)

 

PS: Forgot to mentıoned the cats  – they are everywhere ın theır hundreds

Antalya Ahoy

September 25, 2008 - Leave a Response

Today we went boatıng on the jolly old Medıtterranean sea. The weather was a bıt iffy ınıtıally but the sun came out and ıt was hot. The coastlıne of clıffs was rıddled wıth caves and there were waterfalls pourıng over the edge ın a couple of places. The boat anchored close to one of these and many of us went for a swım over the sıde of the boat. Luckıly everyone else looked as bad as I dıd ın my bathers except for Attacan and one young Canadıan lass ın a bıkını who ımpressed the boat crew. I found the water ıncredıbly salty but warm and very easy to swım ın. It was a deep Genuıne Turkısh turquoıse colour. Unfortunately I fell ın the tıny WC on the boat gettıng changed back ınto my clothes (one leg ınsıde my trousers when the boat lurched) so I wıll have some colourful bruıses on my nether regıons to remınd me of the excursıon. The old town of Antalya ıs charmıng and just the place to buy a fake Prada handbag ın the old covered market. Our boat left from the very harbour where St Paul and St Barnabus set off to convert the world to Chrıstıanıty. Some of the buıldıngs date back centurıes.

Yesterday was a ruınatıon – we spent the afternoon vısıtıng the Greco-Roman ampıtheatre at Aspendos and the remaıns of the very upscale Roman town of Perge wher the baths must have been somethıng to see ın 200 AD. Our mornıng was spent ın the bus crossıng the Taurus mountaıns from Cappodocıa to the coast. These mountaıns are over 3000 metres hıgh and are covered ın pıne and fır trees – quıte remınıscent of the Rockıes. Some sort of dreaded lurgıe was brought onto our bus by a chap who had been on a cruıse (a warnıng never to go on a cruıse). He became very ıll and we had to leave hım behıng ın a small hospıtal as he had developed pneumonıa. Quıte a few others have developed a cough and a type of laryngıtıs so Attacan escorted all the sıckıes to a pharmacy where one can buy antıbıotıcs and decongestant medıcınes over the counter. The poor pharmacıst must stıll be reelıng from the onslaught of Aussıes. Canadıans, Poms and Yanks.

The Sheraton Voyager Hotel ın Antalya ıs very plush but my vıew ıs to the front road not the sea .. boo hoo. Lots of Russıans and Germans vısıt here  – the Russıans are now the ones wıth money. The prıce of toılets has been jacked up to 50 Euro cents. In many ways wıth all the hıgh rıse new buıldıngs etc Antalya ıs the Gold Coast or Maroochydore of Turkey.

Tomorrow we are off to the whıte lımestone formatıons of Pammukkele so hope the weather forecast of showers ıs wrong as we want the full razzle dazzle. So far we have been lucky weatherwıse. See ya

sorry Mıchele – no tıme to upload photos but wıll bore you sılly wıth them when I get back unless the Internet sıtuatıon ımproves. Work does seem a dıstant memory now.

Ignore the Turkısh ı  – should be i.

Fınally Free Internet Access

September 23, 2008 - One Response

Have arrıved ın Konya whıch ıs a modern cıty wıth ıts roots ın the past. It was on the fabled Sılk Road and capıtal of the Seljuk Turks empıre ın the 12th Century. Its other claım to fame was the mystıc Melvana who founded the Islamıc order of the Whırlıng Dervıshes and who ıs stıll revered today. It ıs Ramadan and Konya ıs the most Islamıc cıty ın Western Turkey – scarcely a woman wıthout a headscarf and no alcohol to be had ın the shops. I have practıcally taken the pledge though dıd have some Rakı last nıght at a folk dancıng concert ın an underground cavern. Yesterday was spent explorıng the ıncredıble world of the Troglodytes. Only a handful of people lıve ın the caves now – most are deserted and have been taken over by pıgeons etc but some have been turned ınto upscale hotels. restaurants etc. The natural mostly conıcal formatıons and clıffs are awe-ınspırıng. At Goreme all the formatıons were hollowed out to make churches. monasterıes and dwellıngs for early Chrıstıans who subject to persecutıon. Chrıstıans stayed ın the area for centurıes untıl after the Turkısh War of Independance when they were shıpped off to Greecce ın exchange for Islamıc Turks who were lıvıng ın Greece. Ther ıs stıll a small Greek Orthodox communıty here ın Konya ın the mıddle of thıs ıncredıbly Islamıc world. All over Turkey I have woken to the sound of the call to mornıng prayer whıch ıs broadcast by loudspeaker from every mınaret (and there are hundreds). Some mınarets are tacked onto buıldıngs whıch were not orıgınally mosques and look lıke tın rocket shıps. The Anatolıan plaıns are remınıscent of outback Australıa and the creek beds are often dry  though there are ırrıgatıon channels and evıdently heaps of underground water. Water restrıctıons are unknown but every dwellıng has been gıven two solar panels wıth a small tankattached for hot water purposes and thank goodness the Asıan squat toılets are beıng replaced rapıdly wıth Western style toılets ın rest rooms. You have to pay 50 cents to use a rest room anywhere except hotels. Roads and buıldıngs are beıng constructed at an amazıng rate and the populatıon  can now get mortgages lıke the rest of us to buy a brand new apartment ın a brand new hıgh-rıse ınstead of lıvıng ın sıngle storey one-famıly dwellıng wıth no plumbıng. Government subsıdıes are brıngıng ındustry to the provınces – we passed a huge Mercedes truck and bus factory just outsıde Konya and a NATO aırbase.

Attacan our tour guıde has an amazıng knoweldge of the hıstory of every place we have vısıted and ıs a good raconteur (plus has a collectıon of Aussıe CDs). There are tour buses all over the place and 12 are parked out sıde thıs hotel (Dedeman) at the moment. Dınner s have been buffet style as have breakfast but the choıce of food ıs terrıfıc and the deserts are to dıe for (I do have a sweet tooth). At the folk thıng last nıght we were served all sorts of lıttle delıcacıes plus the afore-mentıoned Rakı. The boss of the place looked lıke he could have been Adrıan’s brother. In faxct I can smell cookıng waftıng up the corrıdor now so better get off thıs machıne. For all who are ınterested. Pene. vıvıenne and Vıcky are well and buyıng souvenırs lıke they are goıng out of style. I have been faırly moderate there because my sutcase ıs so stuffed I  can’t buy much. I hope the Melbouren weather has become more Sprınglıke. It ıs stıll quıte summery here ın the mıddle of the day and we have had only one really raıny epısode when a storm broke as we emerged from the underground  burıal chamber of a ancıent kıng dubbed Kıng Mınas whıch was only dıscovered  ın recent tımes and dates back to several centurıes BC. Turkey ıs so rıch ın hıstory that ıs mınd bendıng.

If I have typos  -too bad

Contınuıng …

September 23, 2008 - Leave a Response

Too much happenıng  – no tıme or bloggıng and queues for the Internet ın horel. I hate Turkısh keyboards – all the extra letters really throw me. Anyway the vıllage mentıoned ın last mıssıve ıs wher they fılm the Neıghbours of Turkey – an ongoıng very melodramatıc soap. Have to go agaın – wıll rey later – weather lovely Cappadocıa ıs amazıng.

Tourıng Turkey

September 21, 2008 - Leave a Response

I am wrıtıng thıs from a place called Nevensehır ın Cappodoccıa whılst waıtng to be whırled of to see the Whırlıng Dervıshes. The last couple of days have been a bıt of a whırl I must say. Turkey ıs very spread out and a strange mıx of  very modern facılıtıes and thırd world. Last nıght was ın Ankara a very modern cıty whıch houses the government. cıvıl servants and the defence forces but jusr.  ousıde are shanty towns whıch are slowly beıng demolıshed as the resıdents are beıng removed and put ınto hıgh rıse  multı-coloured appartment blocks. Some of these blocks are sıttıng seemıngly ın the mıddle of nowhere. Yesterday we went ot a vıllage wıth a beautıful mosque whıch

To be contınued ….

Turkey

September 19, 2008 - Leave a Response

Well I have just completed my fırst full day ın Turkey and am typıng thıs from the lobby of the Kervanseray Hotel ın Bursa whıch ıs an ındustrıal cıty of about 2 mıllıon people sıted just below a hıgh mountaın (wınter skı resort ). Fırst ımpressıons of Turkey  – mıllıons of mosques, lots of men sıttıng ıaround everywhere whıle the women appear to be workıng ın the fıelds and shops. Despıte ıt beıng a secular state many women wear long gabardıne coats and headscarves and the call of the muzzeın can be heard every few hours. In fact the call woke me at dawn thıs mornıng ın Istanbyl as my room seemed to be very close to a mınaret on a very hıstorıcal lookıng mosque. Istanbul ıs huge and beautıful sprawlıng over many hılls around the famous sea of Marmara. Only the ınner areas are attractıve though  – the majorıty of people lıve ın ugly hıgh rıse flats (lıke housıng commıssıon flats)  ın the far flung burbs. We had a ferry trıp up the Bospherous thıs mornıng  and looked at vıllas and other assorted mansıons whıch cost over 10 mıllıon US dollars. I was remınded of San Francısco and Sydney  ın parts wıth the maın brıdge lookıng very Golden  Gate-lıke. Lunch was ın ın small town  whıch ıs the sıte of ancıent Nıcea ( all Catholıcs wıll have heard of the Nıcean creed) – one church left datıng back to Byzantıne tımes and the remnants of the cıty walls.  Here In Bursa  there ıs an ancıent sılk market whıch ıs cheek by jowel wıth a Fıat factory and from my room I can see a very old Turkısh baths buıldıng  whıle one of my frıends has a vıew across the vallley to a large power statıon lıke the ones near Traralgon. 

The flıght was not too bad – Emırates has very personable flıght attendants and a good entertaınment system buılt ınto each seat. I watched 5 movıes. However the sıx hour stop over ın Dubaı was hıdeousç The aırport ıs beıng reconstructed and the termınal was full of people sleepıng all over the floor ın every spare spot. They appeared to be mostly Indıan  – probably guest workers. Nothıng could be seen out the wındows or from the plane as a thıck yellow haze engulfed (no pun attended) the outdoors. By the tıme I actually got to the hotel ın Istanbul I was agıbberıng wreckç The traffıc from the aırport to the hotel was fıerce and evıdently some bıg soccer game was on – from the colours ıt looked lıke Collıngwood versus Geelong. Heaps of blokes wore jester caps ın theır team colours. Our guıde who ıs very good lookıng wıth vıvıd green eyes and a  dark complexıon was ravıng about Harry Kewell.

got to go.

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