Turkish Delights

April 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm (Travel)

It’s back to reality in Darmstadt after a wonderful Easter break.  I started off with three days in London… only just though.  I made my flight to England by the skin of my teeth.  I wanted to leave the house at 8:20 but cleverly forgot to set my alarm and woke up at 9 instead.  (This may have had something to do with a long evening at Pub Quiz)  I arrived at the airport at 10:20 and by 10:35 I was on my flight.  Thank God I can managed to repack my bag for hand luggage even in a sleepy haze.

My trip to London was all about catch ups.  I stayed with Catrina and her partner Nathan, saw Miss Suzie Sheehy for our now mandatory breakfast and Aussie coffee and last but not least… Susan Duchesne, my beautiful work buddy from McKinnon.  It was particularly fantastic to see Susan and her now husband Ian as well as his two children.  We spent the day roaming London and swapping stories.  I don’t think either of us realised how much we missed the other until it was time to say goodbye and the tears began rolling.

With my London part out of the way it was time to fly to Turkey.  Luckily my alarm went of this time and I arrived without a hitch.  Unfortunately the start of my tour wasn’t particularly well organised though.  We started off in the wrong group and the meal on the first night can not be described any better than totally atrocious.

The tour group was also very… how should I put this… special.  To begin with there were six younger people: a British couple,  two South African friends, myself and my absolutely beautiful amazing roomie Debra.  After that we had a mixture of Indians, South Africans, an American and Malaysians.  One women deserves special mention for her tai chai abilities at random stops along the way and the ability to always have something to complain about.  She spent the most time in the leather shop without buying anything and asked the most questions about the carpets.  I’m sure you all know the type 😉

First up was Istanbul.  We had a city tour and saw the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.  I was particularly impressed with the mosaics at Hagia Sophia.  They are particularly well preserved because the Ottoman empire covered them in plaster while the building was being used as a mosque.  I would have liked more time in Istanbul to be honest.  I did get to see the Grand Bazaar on my last day before flying out, but I would have liked the chance to go on a Bosphorus cruise.  I guess that’s an excuse to go visit again.  😀

The next day we visited Gallipoli.  It was a bit weird visiting the different memorials as the only Australian on the tour.  I don’t think the other people realised how big a part this event has played on Australian history and how symbolic it is for us.  It was definitely a moving experience.

Unfortunately the weather did not come to the party for our day at Troy and Pergamon.  We trampled round Troy wet, cold and grumpy.  I think we saw it in record time.  It was better at Pergamon, which was particularly interesting for me as I went to Pergamon museum last time I was in Berlin.  This museum houses the ‘Great Alter of Pergamon’ which is absolutely magnificent and I was keen to see where exactly this building would have been.  They definitely knew where to build cities in the most picturesque locations during antiquity.  Pergamon is perched on top of a hill with the most amazing view of it’s surroundings.

I must admit that I had no idea what I was in store for after this point in my trip.  When looking for a tour my criteria was Istanbul, Gallipoli, Troy and Pergamon.  Then I simply decided that I would let the rest surprise me.  I was not left disappointed.  🙂

First up was the ancient city of Ephesus.  It was one of the biggest ancient cities and housed one of the most important libraries.  The two storey Celsus library was simply stunning.  The first time I saw it, it just took my breath away.  I can’t say I was so impressed with the Virgin Mary House.   Apparently it was the last dwelling of the Virgin Mary before her death… I am not so convinced but the carpet village where we learnt about traditional Turkish weaving was surprisingly interesting.

The next day was not the best, as I was quite sick.  I spent the majority of the morning relieving my stomach and was lucky that I only missed a trip to a leather shop and otherwise was just on the bus.  I think it was dehydration, especially as during my Turkish bath experience the night before, I had spent an hour in the sauna due to their only being one lady to give the bath and five of us girls to do.

Of course, in true Kate style, by the end of the day I was ready and rearing to visit the ancient city of Hierapolis and the magnificent calcium terraces known as Travertines.  By this time I was quite over ancient cities, but the Travertines were fantastic, a beautiful natural landscape of a kind I had never seen before.  I think to be honest, it is the natural sights that I like seeing the most.

One night, we hit the town and found ourselves under the guidance of our young tour guide at… yes you guessed it… an IRISH pub.  They seem to have these everywhere.  I have never in my life seen so many young men working in a bar.  I kid you not, at least eleven hanging around with basically nothing going on.  The highlight of the night was them breaking out in line dancing.  They had a different line dance for about ten different songs and were absolutely loving it.  A great way to get people onto the dance floor though!

We finished with a very long bus ride back to Istanbul, which did include a trip over one of only two bridges that connects continents.  I was sad to say goodbye to new made friends, especially Debra but was surprising very much looking forward to returning back home.

I missed my kids, my bed and my hockey stick.


P.s  More photos?  Check out https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150782964920589.454757.509745588&type=3&l=4d581525db


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Return of the Ski Bunny!

April 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm (Germany, Travel)

Finally the Easter holidays are here and I am nearly off for my next adventure. Of course I can’t leave without updating first.  🙂  February and March have passed so quickly that I am seriously starting to wonder where time flies to.

February was filled with two wonderful weekends skiing.  First a long weekend in Switzerland with Peer and the family and then an action packed weekend in Ischgl with my Aussie mate Rob.  In Switzerland we skiied every day, mainly at the Belalp resort,  and I quickly improved.  Danny and Emil made me do a black run on the first day which ended in a lovely upside down crash but I must admit that the Nussgipfel was by far worth it.

There’s really something special about skiing in the Alps.  Just magical, especially when you have the Matterhorn in full view.  We barely had to wait to use the lifts either!  Such a luxury.  The highlight for me was skiing through a tunnel.  Apparently this was only for ‘good’ skiiers.  Not sure I actually fit into that category but Danny decided I had to do it.  I did make it down the following black run without stacking though.

No such luck on my adventures in Ischgl.  I had about ten on the first day.  Some quite spectacular and other just downright funny.  Luckily I didn’t manage to injure anything and I have definitely already got my moneys worth on the new ski helmet.  Rob took me all over the resort and we only rode one chairlift twice.  We even skiied from Austria into Switzerland for a beer and hot chocolate.  Seriously… how cool is that?  Ischgl is known for it’s apres-ski aka drinking after skiing.  Rob gave me a lesson in that too but no more needs to be said on that topic.  😉

Unfortunately one can not spend their whole life skiing and it was back to reality for me.  School has been much the same.  I was in desperate need of the holidays… very grumpy in the last couple of weeks but I got through and now there is not much time left at all before the end of the school year.  The term finished up fantastically with a Medieval Banquet, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed.  I also enjoyed a weekend visit from Miss Damaris.  We took our dancing shoes out with us and carved up the dance floor.  A week later I celebrated my birthday quietly.  No big hooha this year… I’m saving until 30!

It’s tradition here to make posters to support friends who are completing their Arbitur (equivalent to VCE) exams.  The posters hang up all round the schools and encourage the students before taking the exam.  Three hockey friends and I decided to make one for two of the girls we play with.  They turned out pretty well we reckon and we had HEAPS of fun making them and putting them up.  🙂

So things are going well here.  The sun is shining more and hockey has moved back to outdoor so it’s smiles all round.  I have an amazing trip to look forward to; three days in London catching up with some old friends and a week tour of Turkey.  Slowly but surely I am finding my feet again.


P.s  More photos?  Check out https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150754834315589.450990.509745588&type=1&l=69fd051f0b

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