Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Things We Miss

Current Location: Finike, Turkey
Current Position: 36 17.63 N 30 08.98 E (View Map of Location)
Next Destination: Hanging here for the winter

We are just two weeks from stepping foot back into the US-of-A! It's been three years since we last visited home ... five weeks out of five years is all that we've spent in the States. Yes, we are due for a long visit home.

We are often asked "What do you miss most" - usually with the caveat, "besides friends and family". We have posted some thoughts on the matter on our SailBillabong FAQ page, but we thought it would be fun to expand on that a bit.

Food seems to be a big on our list:

This is one of those you always want what you can't have items. Since mid January we have been in Muslim countries ... our only "problem" with this is the lack of pork. It's strange because we don't eat a lot of pork normally, but not having the option there seems to get the taste buds going! Specifically we miss BACON! Oh my, all the things I could do with a package of bacon ... especially with all the fresh tomatoes and lettuce in the markets - just screaming to made into BLTs. My mouth waters just thinking of the smell wafting up from the frying pan. Yes, bacon will be top on the list.

In and Out Burger
All I can think is "In and Out, In and Out, that's what a hamburger is all about" (add in some nice jingly tunes)! Grilled onions, toasted bun, melted cheese - and heck we better throw in a chocolate shake since it has been so long!

Cheddar Cheese
Now, I'm not talking any kind of cheddar, no sir, I want some sharp, sharp, really flavorful stuff - none of that mild or fake crap!

Okay, I should be embarrassed that this is even on my list, but yes, I'm craving an Arby's Beef and Cheddar (hold the special sauce). Oh that neon squeeze cheese dripping off the sides - and some curly fries to boot. I should point out that Chris wants no part in my Beef and Cheddar - the thought, as he puts it, "is making me gag".

Ice Cream
Again, we have specific requirements. First we'd love some Ben and Jerry's. Picking a flavor is going to be tough, so we might have to go for multiple samples! The really hard thing is that they actually have B&J's here in Turkey, but at 12 bucks a tub it's just a big tease. The other ice cream we're both craving is some real vanilla bean ice cream - I'm talking quality stuff, where you can see the black bean bits throughout the ice cream.

Sushi Bar
No doubt we've eaten tons of sushi while cruising - thanks to Chris' ever improving fishing skills. And not to complain, but it's all been Tuna (which I love, and I'm sure you're not feeling sorry for me!). I wouldn't mind just a bit of variety. I can easily imagine myself sitting in our favorite Sushi restaurant in Ventura (I Love Sushi) and ordering one of everything. Prawns, salmon, tuna, scallops ... oh yum!

Well, that's a good starter list on the foods - we'll have to be careful not to gain 100 pounds! So far there are two shops on our list:
Trader Joe's (okay a food shop, so maybe it should be under foods) and Fry's Electronics. It's not that we need or want anything from Fry's, but it's such a HUGE store that we'd just like to get lost in it for a few hours and see where technology is going these days.

Finally there are some "ease of life" things that I miss (probably more so than Chris): washing machine, dishwasher, and English (as in the language).
I think the first two go without explanation - who doesn't want a washing machine and dishwasher??? As for English - first I'll say that I think it's pathetic I only speak one language - and yes, I should work on that. In every country we both try to pick up the language, but it's hard, especially if we are moving a lot. Turkish seems to be an especially difficult language for us, and though I'm trying I don't seem to be making much headway. There are times when I miss being in a country where English is the primary language. It just makes life easier when you can read labels, street signs, and instructions. Things can be accomplished faster when you don't have to play charades every time you are trying to communicate! It will be nice to understand everyone around me for a change!

I am sure this list will double or triple in size before we board our flight home - it's fun sitting around right now talking about all the things we are looking forward to. And, just so for the record, yes, the number one thing we miss is friends and family!

Continue reading "The Things We Miss"...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ancient Cities and Flaming Mountains

Current Location: Finike, Turkey
Current Position: 36 17.63 N 30 08.98 E (llz=36.25887,29.98447,13)
Next Destination: Hanging here for the winter

On the same day we learned The Truth about Santa Claus, we also visited the ancient Roman city of Myra, Mount Chimaera, and Olympus.

The Myra/Demre area is a fertile agricultural area thanks to the good soil brought down by the mountain rivers. Prior to the tourism boom the local economy was very dependent on agriculture. Today you'll find the locals growing pomegranates and citrus trees as well as large quantities of fruits and vegetables in green houses. The ancient Lycians didn't want to take up the precious land with burying of the dead, so instead wealthy Lycians had stonemasons carve tombs for them from the limestone walls of the mountains. Today the tombs have all been broken into and robbed, but they are still an impressive sight. And at the base of these rock-cut tombs stand the remains of an ancient Roman theatre. If you're a history buff you can get more information about the Myra/Demre area on Wikipedia.

Myra Turkey

It was then a couple of hours driving away from the coast, up into the mountains to get to Mount Chimaera. But before venturing to climb up the fiery mountain we stopped for lunch at a trout farm. We were served endless amounts of hot pide bread with dips and cheeses, followed by seasonal salads, and finished with fresh trout baked whole in a clay dish over a fire. Ahh, I'm drooling just thinking back!

In Greek Mythology the Chimera is a three-animal beast with the head of a lion, tale of a serpent, and goat in the middle, who breathes fire and was thought to be indestructible. Then along came the hero Bellerophan who was sent by the King of Lycia to kill the chimera (the king was trying, in a round about way, to kill Bellerophan). As it turns out Bellerophan succeeded in slaying the beast thanks to the winged horse, Pegasus, who flew Bellerophon high above the chimera, away from its fiery breath, and shot the creature full of arrows until it died.

Some, however, say that the chimera was not a beast but rather refers to the mountain, as Mount Chimaera "was on fire here, had lions and goats there, and was full of snakes over there". And since it was Bellerophon who made this habitable, he is therefore said to have "killed Chimaera"

Mount Chimaera (called in Turkish YanartaƟ (flaming rock)) consists of nearly two dozen vents in the ground. The vents emit burning methane, which in ancient times sailors could navigate by.

Not far from Mount Chimaera lies the the ancient city of Olympus. This was quite a site, with ruins upon ruins to walk among. The city was founded during the Hellenistic period. According to Homer, it was from these mountains that the god Poseidon saw Odysseus sailing from Calypso's island and called up a huge storm that wrecked Odysseus on the island of Nausicaa.

One interesting tid-bit we learned from our guide was that the top of a fisherman's sarcophagus was shaped like the keel of a boat so that in the afterlife the inhabitant could flip the lid over and survive as a fisherman in the underworld (see the photo in the slideshow below for example).

As you can see it was a fantastic day, full of history & mythology. We look forward to our next Turkey adventure.

Continue reading "Ancient Cities and Flaming Mountains"...