Saturday, October 18, 2014

Turkey Part 4 of 4 (Istanbul)

Arrival in Istanbul involved the usual planes, trains, and automobiles approach we used with most of the other locations we visited in Turkey. On our last morning in Selcuk, we enjoyed a traditional Turkish breakfast at our hotel and were picked up by a friend of the hotel's owner in his jeep. He dropped us at a transit station, where we rode the train an hour to the airport. I was delighted again to see the vendors walking throughout the train cars with trays full of freshly baked breads to sell to the riders. Once we arrived at the airport, we hopped on a flight to Istanbul, the last of our stops in Turkey. Once were were wheels down the in city, a driver picked us up to take us to our studio apartment we were renting for the next few days.

It was such a cute, minimalist, modern apartment and I was in love with the place at first glance. However upon further inspection, nothing was very practical. It advertised as having a kitchenette, but there was only a small fridge and microwave with no dishes of any kind. The shower was a fancy, glass walk-in area, but the floor tilted away from the drain so I flooded the apartment on the first night. If not practical, at least it was cute!

Unpacking in Istanbul

The first thing we did after unpacking was head out to the streets for food in Istanbul, which is supposed to be some of the best in the world. We went into a small restaurant very near our apartment where no one spoken a word of English. There was a chef at the front shaving thin sections of meat from a rotating, slow cooked lamb. We pointed to it trying to convey to the waiter that we wanted that for dinner. He understood (or so we thought) and brought us back a plate with nothing but shaved lamb! Too embarrassed to try explaining again that we wanted something more than just a plate of meat we started chowing into what we were served. It was good, but we watched and laughed as the chef prepared plates full of delicious-looking ingredients like lamb, yogurt, rice, and tomatoes for all the other guests. Eventually we were able to ask for the additional sides and he brought some over so we did finally get a complete dish--even if it was piecemeal.

After dinner we walked to Takism Square, where massive protests were held in 2013. Initially, these protests were held in opposition with plans to remove the park, one of the last green spaces left in the city. Eventually the protests evolved into demonstrations for civil unrest when police reacted violently to the peaceful sit-in protests over the planned park demolition. It was plain to see why the public was outraged over plans to convert the beautiful park to an urban mall area. It is highly utilized as a green space with lots of children running around while their parents enjoy tea and talk with each other at open-air cafe areas.

Monument of the Republic in Takism Square. This statue commemorates the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

That evening, we also walked down to Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), one of the most famous streets in Istanbul. Closed to traffic, this street is now packed with pedestrians (as many as 3 million per day!) at nearly all hours.  It was like a constant street party lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. Numerous alleys lined with equal amounts of entrainment also branched off the main street. Most of these alleys are also filled with people trying to convince you to come into their restaurant or shop. It was a little intimidating at first because I didn't want to be rude, but eventually, they became so commonplace we barely noticed them. 

View of the Istiklal

The following morning, we set out to see the normal tourist sites: Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and the Blue Mosque. The Hagia Sophia, while not impressive from the decor outside, was full of history and astounding art pieces inside. The main room inside is massive with a perfect golden dome 182 feet overhead; it is mind-boggling to think about how it would have been built and decorated so long ago. Also dominating the scene were large, chandeliers hanging by chains from the very high ceiling. Unfortunately, construction was going on while we were there so the chandelier lights weren't on.

Originally constructed as a Greek Orthodox church, it was an important location for Eastern Orthodox Christians at the time. Immaculate, detailed paintings of holy relics and depictions of significant Christian scenes donned the walls of many of its rooms. It existed under Christian rule (and was re-built several times due to earthquake damages) for a thousand years until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453.

Following the capture of Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was raided and looted until the arrival of Sultan Mehmet II. Upon entering the church, he was immediately moved by the great structure and announced that it would be transformed into a mosque.

In 1935, Turkey's most famous leader, Ataturk, forbid use of the Hagia Sophia as a place of worship and led another transformation of the building into a museum. Persian carpets and plastering on the walls were removed, revealing elaborate decorations that were covered for centuries. 

It is common to see signs of both Christianity and Islam donning the walls of the the Hagia Sophia. Here is a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus alongside these giant medallions with the names of Allah, Muhammad, the first four caliphs, and two grandchildren of Muhammad. Half of the large dome is shown in the top half of the photo. 

Dr. Dre's Beats were used during the audio tour.

The Omphalion, a group of circular slabs of marble where the coronation of all Byzantine emperors would be crowned.

Looking up at the main golden dome at the center of the Hagia Sophia.

The view of the interior from the second floor balcony.

The Deesis mosaic, 1261. This is often considered the finest mosaic in Hagia Sophia, despite its damage. It shows the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist pleading for Jesus to be merciful on Judgement Day.

A view from one of the windows. The impressive structure in the background is the Blue Mosque. 

After leaving the Hagia Sophia, we walked across the street to the Basilica Cistern, the largest of the cisterns to be found lying beneath Istanbul. Upon entering the underground area, I was surprised at the preservation of the forest of 30 feet high, detailed columns supporting the ceiling in such a damp climate. It wasn't musty or humid, but the floor was covered in water deep enough for fish to swim around (and there really were fish!). Historical texts say that this 105,000 sq foot area was built by ~7000 slaves to hold water reserves for Constantinople. The place is now romantically lit and soft classical music plays in the background, which is complemented by the periodic dripping noise of water seeping through the ground above.

At the far corner of the room are two strange statues of a Medusa head at the base of two separate columns; one head is rotated on its side and the other is upside down. There were no texts found for where these two pieces came from. Some believe they are simply reused materials from a palace in Constantinople used for shortage of column blocks. Others think there is a significance to their presence and their rotation was done intentionally to negate the power of Medusa. 

  View of the symmetrical columns supporting this subterranean aquifer.

The upside down Medusa head looking stern

...and the other Medusa head...looking quite happy.

Our last stop for the day was the Blue Mosque. This is both a functioning mosque and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Istanbul, which I found a little uncomfortable. The line to see the inside of this impressive piece of architecture wrapped around the building and because we put it off until the end of the day, we were at risk of not getting inside before the final call to prayer when visitors were not allowed inside.We waited in the slowly moving line and watched women walking around and handing out pieces of cloth to some of the females. The pieces of cloth were headscarves and another garment to cover women who had exposed arms, legs or heads. Even though I had on leggings under my dress, it wasn't conservative enough and I had to wear the extra coverage. Of course, I had no idea how to wear it and it took all of my attention once inside to keep it from falling off. Because shoes are not allowed inside, I also had to manage carrying them, which only added to my fiasco.

My more conservative outfit.

The Blue Mosque is certainly a work of art. Outside, it is a lovely periwinkle shade with minarets springing up around the main body of the mosque. It almost resembles the Walt Disney castle. haha! Inside, floral tilings of blue, red, whites, and golds are arranged in beautiful, complex patterns, covering the ceilings and walls. As with the Hagia Sophia, many large metal chandeliers hang from the ceilings by chains, creating a soft glow throughout the main room. While the back of the mosque was full of tourists snapping photos of this awe-inspiring room, locals were starting to file in to the front of the room (where tourists weren't allowed to enter) to begin readying for the final prayer of the day; it was a very strange setting.

After leaving the mosque, we heard the call to prayer begin. Normally in Turkey, I found the call to prayer to be a beautiful reminder of this culturally rich country we were in. However, in Istanbul, there are many mosques in close proximity and they were all playing different prayer calls. It sounded like a ruckus that was almost comical. I'm not sure why they don't sync the soundings...

View of the tiling work on the ceiling of the Blue Mosque

 lots of visitors inside

More views of the ceiling and walls

We spent the rest of the day walking around the city. I bought some salep, a popular creamy tea made from the tubers of orchids, from a street vendor. He warned me that it was extremely hot and of course, I immediately dumped it all over my hand by accident. The thickness of the tea caused it to stick to my hand and fingers like oil. The vendor was not lying about the temperature of the me, it felt on par with lava. 
That evening, we strolled along the water front on the way back to our apartment and had dinner at a fish restaurant. While crossing the foot bridge to return to where we were staying that night, we found it to be full of locals (mostly men) fishing in the Bosphorus. Several vendors were walking around with trays of tea or breads, which I continued to find wonderfully commonplace.

Me eating again

Recreational fishing in the Bosphorus Strait

On our final day in Istanbul, we had three goals: take a boat ride on the Bosphorus Strait, walk through the Grand Bazaar, and experience a Turkish bath.We awoke in the morning and immediately headed down to the waterfront to buy a ticket for a boat ride up. The Bosphorus Straight connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and forms part of the boundary between the Asia and Europe continents. It is heavily traveled by boats, causing the water surface to continuously slosh back and forth with rather large waves. The ride lasted several hours and took us past some impressive structures built during the Ottoman Empire. Of course, there were also people selling Turkish tea from trays. Even on the boat, tea was served in a traditional glass cup rather than the Styrofoam and disposable plastics that are commonplace in the U.S..

View from the Bosphorus

Craig, Turkish tea, and Bosphorus

The popular Ortakoy mosque, built in 1854 with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background.

After making landfall again, we grabbed lunch at a dockside fish sandwich shop. The sandwiches were actually made on one of several boats tied to the dock area. Because the waters are always so rough, the boats were constantly rolling back and forth. How the workers on board did not have perpetual sea sickness is beyond me. 

Enjoying a fish sandwich

We also strolled to the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, both of which were supposed to be must-see locations in Istanbul. Because I'm not much into bartering, I didn't find these stops all that interesting. The Grand Bazaar is certainly impressive for the amount of local shops crammed into a small maze and the amount of colors and smells was fantastic. It was packed with people trying to haggle for prices of scarves, spices and jewelry. I think Craig was much more into the haggling Turkish tradition and ended up getting a decent deal on a backgammon set. I tried my hand at it and ended up getting a few lyra off a couple of scarves, but probably not as much as I could have gotten if I knew what I was doing. 

On our final evening in Turkey, we decided to get a Turkish bath. It was an experience unlike anything I've ever done before! The process is just like it really was someone giving you a  naked scrub-down with a room full of other people doing the same thing! Craig and I had to split up, as the building was segregated based on gender, and agreed to meet back out front once we were finished.

The bath starts with a sauna-like relaxation room, where eventually someone comes back into and starts pouring hot water over you from a golden bowl. Afterward, they take you into another room where you receive a full body scrub-down with an exfoliating cloth. When all the dead skin is rubbed off, they splash you with more hot water (which I thought was actually kind of painful). The pain was quickly made up for when they massage you literally with buckets full of bubbles. Oh, and you also get a full body massage and Turkish candies and tea before you leave! It was admittedly a bit awkward, especially since I wasn't able to communicate with the person performing the bath/massage, but somehow the experience turned out to be simultaneously hilarious and relaxing.

 View of the Hagia Sophia at sunset--post Turkish bath. I think Craig took this as he was waiting for me to come out of the bath.

Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami, where we had a Turkish bath

We spent the last few hours in Istanbul at a hookah cafe playing backgammon and drinking tea. I love cafes in Turkey. There are games on nearly every table (mostly backgammon) and the experience is centered around the company and conversation rather than the drinks. It is not uncommon for groups of patrons to stay late into the night chatting over tea and eating mezzes (which are basically Turkish tapas). 

Enjoying a game of backgammon and hookah during our final hours in Istanbul (and Turkey)

 As with most of our trips, they are too short. There are so many more things to see that Turkey has to offer such as the Black Sea, Lake Van, Mount Nemrut to name a few. I also consistently felt each time we left for a new location in Turkey that I needed more time where I already was to really experience it. I guess the only positive side to this predicament is that now we have to come back!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Turkey Part 3 of 4 (Selcuk)

While I enjoyed all the areas of Turkey we visited, Selcuk probably takes the cake as my overall favorite.

To arrive, we flew from the Mediterranean and then hopped on a train for an hour ride to the city. As with the bus ride we took to Antalya, taking the train sounded like a better idea than it actually was. It was extremely stuffy and full of people. The windows were sweating and the air inside was thick with moisture from all the bodies. One thing I did love about the train was that vendors would walk up and down the aisles with trays of freshly baked breads on their heads to sell to the riders.

After deboarding the train, we walked to our hotel which was across town and up a very large, steep hill that overlooked the city. It was a nice walk that allowed us to get a good feel for the city's layout and character. This place definitely had more of the authentic Turkish feeling I was expecting than the cities we had seen so far. We passed lots of game rooms filled with men smoking and playing dominoes. Many of the houses we passed had kitchen windows open, allowing us to hear the women gossiping inside. Most people traversed the city on motorcycle or bike. There was, overall, a more conservative vibe here and it was apparent that the majority of people in the city were residents, not tourists.

We checked into our hotel and immediately set back out across the town to explore the fantastic castle we could see from our balcony window. On the way there, we also passed through the Basilica of St. John, built in 536. Not much remains of the structure, as much of it crumbled during the frequent earthquakes experienced in this area. It is, however, believed to be the final resting place of John the Apostle and there is a tomb inside signifying his remains. 

The remains of St. John's Basilica

Craig and the Ayasuluk Castle. We didn't stay long here because they were closing right as we arrived, but thankfully, the guard let us have a quick peek inside. This castle was a part of the Christian Crusades times and was eventually overtaken by Muslims, who later built a mosque within the castle walls. Earthquakes have since destroyed the castle, but restoration efforts have re-established it to what we see today. Notice the differences in brick in the photo above.

View of Selcuk

From our balcony of the hotel

Me enjoying another round of delicious Turkish breakfast

While in Selcuk, we also visited Ephesus, home to some of the most well-preserved Greek ruins in Turkey. Built in the 10th century BC, this city was the third largest city in the Roman Asia Minor. Being such a significant site, it saw its share of battles, ransackings, and raids. It began as a Greek colony, was united with the rest of Asia Minor by Alexander the Great, and eventually was conquered and adopted into the Roman Empire. 

To say the site was impressive is an understatement.The group working on the restoration of the area is equally as remarkable. Although you can tell columns and archways have been pieced back together from the rubble that remained, it gave visitors a glimpse into what life might have looked like back then. 

One downside to the site, which we expected, is that it was very touristy. It was probably the most touristy place I've ever visited. The hoards of people speaking every language you can think of constantly bumping into you was a little tiring, but it was worth the crowds to see such a site.   

The Colosseum at Ephesus

Touring Ephesus

Temple of Hadrian

Inside of the main semi-preserved wealthy houses at Ephesus

Workers trying to recreate the murals that hung in this great room

Paintings of birds on one of the bedroom walls

A mosaic of Leo on the floor of one of the houses for the wealthy

Cats use the ancient columns as pedestals from which to beg for kitty treats

Latrines at Ephesus. They were constructed of marble with a gutter of fresh water flowing continuously in front of the benches for rinsing off...

The famous entrance to the Library of Celsus. It was built after Ephesus was under the Roman Empire and stored 12,000 scrolls. It was partly destroyed by an earthquake in 262, rebuilt and then completely destroyed by another earthquake in 400 AD. It wasn't until the 1970s that major restoration efforts began to restore it again to what is seen today. 

Family photo

View from inside the amphitheater at Ephesus. This was built to hold 25,000 people and was usually the site of public announcements and theatrical plays, but there are also accounts of gladiator battles.

This was the fancy, marble, column-lined harbor street that led to the bay where ships would be docked. The sea is now much farther away due to a shift in the river mouth and tectonic uplift.

The view looking inland from the harbor road. The piles of rubble and columns are storage areas as they continue to piece the ruins back together. 

Before leaving Selcuk we checked out the nightlife, which was something we didn't see evident in any of the other places we visited in Turkey. It was surprising lively with most people smoking hookah, eating mezas, and playing games rather than drinking, which was a refreshing change to American culture. On our final evening, we spent several hours smoking hookah and chatting with a few of the local Kurdish residents and one very, very drunk Frenchman.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Turkey Part 2 of 4 (Cirali)

After having a wonderful experience during the first leg of our trip in Turkey, we were excited to embark on the next location, the Mediterranean coast! There were a few challenges to overcome before we would see the warm turquoise waters. First up was getting there. We were 385 miles from where we were headed and had decided to take an overnight bus due to the popularity of it (based on  what we read online). This turned out to be a bit of an unpleasant ordeal as someone was in our seats and got aggressive with the bus host when he tried to make them move, the person directly behind us sounded dreadfully ill and hacked for the whole 8+ hour bus ride, and it was suffocatingly warm with no air flowing on the bus for the whole trip.

After a claustrophobia-filled night of little-to-no-sleep, we finally arrived in Antalya where we were planning to rent a car for the duration of our stay in Cirali (farther south). This brought us to the next challenge, which was finding a car rental. We searched high and low in the bus station and finally found the lone car rental company. Our interaction with the salesman was quite different than we had experienced anywhere before. To sum it up, a Turkish guy named Tony from Toronto rented us an old car that we had to pay for in cash. While looking it over we found that it was registered to a different company, had no fuel in the tank, and had an automatic locking feature after 1 minute of the ignition being turned off. The plan was for Tony to meet us at the Antalya airport in 3 days to retrieve the car, although he didn't specify where. We had no way of contacting him and could only somewhat communicate through broken Turkish and English. The situation seemed a little odd to me and I wasn't certain we were ever going to see him again. I was crossing my fingers in hopes that we had not somehow just bought a stolen vehicle.

After accidentally putting entirely too much fuel in the car than we were ever going to use within the next 3 days, we were on our way! I've heard bad things about the drivers in Turkey, but other than the fact that the road lines dividing the lanes only seemed to be a suggestion, I really didn't think it was any more aggressive than the Bay Area, California, where we currently resided.

On the way to Cirali, we wanted to make a stop at Termessos, a well-preserved ancient city located high in the Taurus Mountains. Prior to beginning the hike, we made a change into fresh clothes. Without even realizing what happened, we suddenly heard a 'click.' Craig's eyes immediately grew as big as saucers with the realization that the keys were still in the car and the click was the handy locked-after-one-minute feature. We looked through the windows and could see the keys stranded inside sitting on the platform just between the backseat and the rear window. 

The only potential entryway into the car at this point was the open trunk. I assumed this would be easy since there is usually an access way through the truck...but I was wrong. We did, however, find that we could fit a finger through the roof of the trunk, pop the middle seatbelt protector out and then technically be inside the car, even if it was only by a fingertip. After several failed attempts to loop the key ring with a stick to drag it through the hole, Craig finally got it! An hour later, we were finally able to start exploring Termessos!

After an hour of wedging our hands through a space in the car trunk, we finally get the keys back out using a stick.

Termessos was certainly one of my top 5 favorite things we saw while in Turkey. The trail through the old city climbed up a large hill and past several large armored walls that were at one point meant to protect the city limits. They are now crumbling and covered in vines, but it was impossible to not get lost in what it must have looked like at it's pinnacle. Throughout the hike, we saw several large (now crumbled) buildings and various temples dedicated to the Greek gods/goddesses, but the star of the city was by far the theater.

Situated at the head of the valley, the semi-circled theater, built to accommodate ~5000 patrons,  unfolded to a remarkable view of the plains below. A large limestone cliff, making up the far wall of the protective valley dominated the blue sky above. We sat here for a couple of hours admiring the details throughout the theater that would have been hand carved into marble centuries ago and imagined what kind of shows would have been performed. Adding to the mystique of this setting was an informational sign stating that Alexander the Great wrote about Termessos in his travels and quests to conquer. He equated the city as being an eagle's nest and due to it's strong position tucked into the valley crest, he decided to not attempt to add it to his list of undertaken cities. It was not until the main aqueduct collapsed during an earthquake that the city was finally abandoned.

Termessos. A view from the theater.

Me sitting front row at the show!

Another perspective of the theater. Craig is the tiny object sitting on the wall in the center.

After enjoying our hike at Termessos and our first glimpse at Greek ruins, we drove farther south to the city of Cirali, where we would stay for the next few days. Our home in Cirali was in a small area of bungalows in a river valley just upstream of the coast. It was a great location for walking to the beach, but away from the crowds. The owners of the establishment were super friendly and accommodating with  anything we needed. We even talked with the owner's cousin who at one time lived in Portland, Oregon!

We spent the next several days checking out the town of Cirali, lounging on the beach, swimming in the Mediterranean and checking out the nearby ancient city of Olympos, a city that a young Julius Caesar once defeated and added to the Roman Empire. The temperatures were much warmer here than I expected at this time of year. We had clear skies for the most part, with a few heavy rain events. While it rained, we sat at the open-air restaurants along coast and drank tea while we waited for the clouds to pass.

Morning tea in the garden. During winter and spring a river normally flows through here. 

One of the gullets that were common to see on the Mediterranean. This one was blasting Adele, which was also a common, as it headed to sea.

Turkish pizza!

The ruins of Olympos. We were unable to enter this section of the park because archeologists were excavating part of it.

Craig walks down an old street in the once happenin' sea town of Olympos.

Olympos. The sarcophagus of someone once very important. It was difficult to decipher the story behind who this person was, but there were lots of  detailed Greek carvings at the sides of the tomb walls. At some point, it was robbed of what it protected, evidenced by the hole in the center.

Evening beach near Olympos. Mount Olympos is in the background.

Once again, Turkey has the best breakfasts.

The night before we left, we went to see the Chimera Flames on Mount Chimera. We headed out just after dark and hiked up with head lamps through the woods until we reached a clearing. The entire hillside in the area was covered with patches of open flames! Fueled by an underground methane seep, these flames have been burning since the times of the ancient Greeks. This area inspired the Greek mythology story of the Chimera, which was a fire-breathing beast composed of three different animals--a lion in the front, a goat in the middle, and a python at the rear.

As with many of the sites in Turkey, we stayed here for hours being blown away by what an amazing place we found ourselves in. Within an hour's time, we were the only two people on the hillside and had the place to ourselves. As the night went on, the crickets got louder and their songs were soon ringing so high that we could not hear each other speak if we were too far apart. 

The dark sky disguised a storm that had rolled in over the Mediterranean, which we could see on the horizon. Bolts of lightning pierced across the distant sky, lighting up the sea below and was followed by the soft sound of thunder. It was almost impossible to leave such a captivating setting. Had it not been for the fact that the storm soon appeared to be heading straight for us, I'm pretty convinced we would have stayed there all night.  

Chimera flames

 Chimera flames

Not a great picture, but here's me with the Chimera flames and the Mediterranean in the background.

Video of the lightning, eternal flames, and crickets.Click here to see it larger on YouTube. Skip forward to ~1:15 to see the best of the lightning. 

On our final day, we decided to set sail in kayaks on the Mediterranean. The water was definitely the choppiest we had seen since our arrival, but I still felt confident that kayaking was a possibility. Somehow I forgot how prone to sea sickness I am and about 20 minutes of being on the water, I felt terrible. I thought if we could just make it around the next bend in the coastline there would be a beach for us to making landing on so I could recover. Unfortunately, rounding the next bend only showed us increasingly choppy waves and sheer cliffs dropping into the water. Looking back over my shoulder, the situation looked even more dire, as more storm clouds were building up and heading our way. With that, I faced the fact that I had to go back to the beach until the storm passed. Turning away from the horizon made me feel even worse and I struggled the whole way back to not loose my lunch. 

We beached just in time for the storm to hit and it began to rain. We took cover in some thick bushes just outside the walls of Olympos and waited it out, huddling for warmth since we didn't bring any warm clothes during the kayak trip. 

A few hours after the rains stopped, the sun returned and the waters calmed. I was still queasy, but agreed to at least paddle the kayaks from our landing point back to where we rented them. The sea was amazingly clear and warm and we jumped and played in the water until it was time to go to a home-cooked dinner our host was having for the guests that night (which was my favorite meal of the whole trip).

We headed back to the car to for dinner only to find ourselves in another car-predicament. Craig realized that the car key was in his pocket, which meant that it was also dunked in salt water all day while we were swimming. No problem, we'll just use the manual key to unlock the doors, right? Wrong! Doing so causes a kill-switch to be triggered and the car wouldn't stay started. We fussed and fussed with it, and in the end, it took replacing the fuse to reset the alarm. 

Looking back on it, we really didn't need a car at all while in Turkey and while it did allow us easy access to off the beaten path places like Termessos and the Chimera flames, there would have been other means of public transportation we could have used to avoid all the headache that came along with driving a car. 

Before ending this post about our fantastic time in Cirali, I should also mention that Tony from Toronto (the guy who rented us the car) did, in fact, find us at the airport. Apparently, there was a GPS tracker on the car. We were about to just leave the vehicle in the airport parking lot to catch our next flight when one of his workers approached us and drove the car away. I was never more glad to be rid of a a set of wheels...

Paddling on the Mediterranean as a storm rolls in.

Me post-storm paddling...having a much better time in calmer waters.

Craig letting it sink in that he's swimming in the Mediterranean.