Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Excursions in my own mind

From whatever place I write you will expect that part of my "Travels" will consist of excursions in my own mind.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1809
Galata tower and bridge from Topkapi Palace

Home at last, and finally.  Not just "arrived" with all the luggage and the laundry, which was, actually, on Monday- but finally I feel here solid and re-rooted in my own soil today. 

There always seems to be a certain disconnect when traveling between places and finally arriving.  Maybe it's because travel is so fast.  Flying time between Corfu and Istanbul is a mere hour and 50 minutes. Of course the airport waits and transfers and posturing is much longer.

Needless to say the dog was ecstatic on our return.  She likes us both to be in the same room with her, so she doesn't have to keep track of where we are.

For sure, we had a marvelous time. 

Turkey was as complicated and confusing and multi-layered as ever, with the same wonderful energy, charm  and hospitality we remembered so well from our time there. (Our surprise was that it was much better organized than when we lived there, as well as much more modern and updated.  In it's heart though, it was just the same...)

We kept fairly close to our initial itinerary schedule, surprisingly enough, to my way of thinking, as it was only an outline of suggested things to do and see.  Still it was an outline that worked and so we all fell into it.  We only made a few changes and that because of time and circumstance.

For me the surprise was that all my arrangements worked fantastically well! (with a few caveats in hindsight)

- We had three great yet very different hotels- all very recommendable!;
- The shuttles all showed up and worked nicely- both private ones and hotel shuttles (six separate shuttles to three different airports!);
- Our domestic flights within Turkey were great (Surprised and very pleased with Istanbul's "other" airport);
- Fortunately we connected with many old friends both in Istanbul and Izmir;
- The car hire worked out well (if a little roughly at first when we realized the car did not initially come with a map!) The fiat Doblo (diesel) is a basic and fairly comfortable car (LOTS of space for 4 people and their junk) to tour Turkey's back roads and ancient archeological ruins.  It's not pretty but it's cheap and did the job.

And finally, once we figured out the new highway system in and around Izmir, driving was actually not as bad as we thought it would be.  (sadly that "figuring out" part only happened the last couple of days... on our way to Pergamom we got lost following what we thought were the highway signs and ended up in a bird sanctuary. Nevertheless we persevered!)

My greatest regret was that I dragged my laptop along, which turned out to be as useful as a doorstop.  In spite of free wi-fi at all our hotels, my laptop pretended it didn't understand what was going on whenever I entered the password of the hotel. 

It did work once, when I found a technician the second day in Istanbul, and he connected with no problem- to an open and unprotected wi-fi signal.  (I will have to figure out how to solve this problem.  It would seem that when my computer was "wiped" and everything re-installed, that particular memory didn't quite awaken in the same way as it had existed previously...)

So this is the first post, but more will follow tomorrow, as I am trying to sort through about 800 pictures (t and i took separate cameras... so he could take HIS pictures, and I could take mine...) As my computer was pretty worthless I went back to my old fashioned journal keeping of years past, in a little spiral notebook.  Except of course that my handwriting seems to have morphed into squiggles that resemble a cross between a doctors script, shorthand and a kind of Arabic swoop that makes it harder to interpret as the time between writing and interpretation gets farther apart.

The last thing I have to say is that, while in the Athens airport (lo-ong delay before our flight to Istanbul) T in his infinite wisdom purchased all three volumes of Stieg Larsson's Millennium series (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; The Girl Who Played With Fire; The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest) These books have totally consumed both of us!!  Really well written, and completely addictive,  with a really unique and original character - not typical in most thrillers.  Anyway, I will recommend them to you with a caveat- they are violent in parts but I will also say that these books grab you and hold on to you right through the end.

So, more tomorrow!


  1. Again, quite jealous and in complete agreement about the Larrson series. I read them in three days or something equally disgusting because I couldn't put them down. Looking forward to seeing your pictures of some familiar and beloved places!!



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