Archive for October, 2007

Alabama Hills – Trip Report

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

On Sunday morning, Martha and I left for Alabama Hills. Along the way, we took a short detour to Black Planets, a local winter bouldering destination. Since I will be leaving soon, I wanted to be sure to show her the turn-off road from the 395. It’s very hard to spot, unless you go 35 mph on the freeway!

At Black Planets, we saw a turantula spider as it was bopping down the road. So we stopped and helped it to safety. Hopefully, we saved it from being squished by the frenzied off roaders who frenquent the area. (more…)

Final Day in Frankfurt

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

The View out our Window, looking back at the train stop (in the glass pyramid). Our Room's Entrance Foyer! Dennis enjoying the sofa & complimentary refreshments

The Bathroom with heated towel wracks, heated floor tiles, separate soaking tub - a five piece luxury! The Other Half of our Bathroom! Room Service, Gnocchi and Tortellini, Delicious

We left Istanbul for Frankfurt, and spent the night there before returning home. The last day of our trip, we always book a really fancy hotel Hotel Hessischer Hof. For a couple of reasons: the ammenities are great for preparation for the long flight, the staff are usually very helpful with airport information, we can print boarding tickets, and we are almost assured of getting proper sleep.

This trip, we outdid ourselves. The hotel we picked(*****), right in the heart of Frankfurt was gorgeous! The staff was just amazing, even when we walked in looking like hobos after a week trundling around Turkey. The hotel room was a veritable suite, full of antique furniture, and it was perfect for our weary over travelled bodies.

We ordered room service that night, because we were too tired, and it was quite late by the time we got settled. Room service came, and the food was delightful and delectable. If only we could afford to travel like this all the time! The entire contents of the minibar were free, considered part of the fee to stay, so we quickly downed the cokes, pellegrino, orange juice, and beer. Not in that order of course!

Our Last Day in Istanbul

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

The Marina Near the Crown Plaza just outside of Istanbul The Crown Plaza (big building) and our Holiday Inn (3 story building off to the side).

We were now back on our own. My dear friend Nalan’s sister set us up with a fantastic room at the Holiday Inn, just minutes from the Airport. We had an upgraded room with a refrigerator and microwave, and were walking distance from a mall. We were so tuckered out from the train ride, that we slept half the day away.

Dennis with Lunch in the Bag Clare & Dennis Dockside in Istanbul

When we got up, we walked over to the mall, and did a little food shopping. We went to MmmMigros (a chain supermarket). Lunch was obtained, and then we walked down by the seaside dock finding a nice place to eat. The day was pretty gloomy, brisk at about 60 dF with breezes. The sun managed to peak out for a moment while we were eating. As soon as we finished, it started lightly sprinkling, so we headed back to the hotel.

We had to pack for our trip back to Germany the next morning, so we did that and just relaxed. It was nice to not have a set schedule after the last 8 days of constant adventure!

The Night Train To Istanbul

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Dennis with our Overnight Train Clare, Louise, Jo, Barry, Sheryn, and Heather about to board the Overnight Train Barry, Robert, and Richard looking handsome in front of an old train

If you really love train travel (and can handle excessively smoky cafe cars), then this part of the trip was not bad. A lot of the group hung out in the cafe car, played cards, and chit chatted until bedtime. I could not handle the thick curtain of smoke, so I decided to hang out in our sleeper for the entire 14 hours of our journey.

A word of warning, sometimes Turkish Trains leave *Early*, as much as half an hour! We got there with plenty of time, and we did end up leaving about 15 till the hour. The overnight train is definitely not an express train. It makes lots of stops along the way, so it is quite difficult to sleep with all the jossling about. Also, the cars are not properly aired. When we got on our car, it was approximately 97 dF! After about an hour of travelling with the window open, it cooled down to 80 (which was still hot for me). So, if you travel by train in Turkey, bring a tank top and shorts!

Finally, after a torchurous ride (with only 3 hours of sleep) I got off the train. We boarded a ferry and road it across to the western part of Istanbul. Alas, the weather was crummy again. I suddenly wished I was back in Ayvalik, down by the water in a warmer climate.

Ancient Turret in Istanbul Blue Mosque (?) a view from the ferry Turkish Delight Shop, Open for business since 1777!

Travertine Cliffs at Pamukkale & Ancient City Hierapolis

Friday, October 19th, 2007

We had a busy day ahead of us. We were to visit the Travertine Cliffs in Pamukkale, and then wander around at the top of the cliffs exploring the ancient city Hierapolis. It was a beautiful day (couldn’t have asked for better)! We spent 3 or so hours at this site, then walked back to an Inn where we were going to be eating lunch.

We had arrived in the morning and unceramoniously dumped our luggage before heading off for the cliffs. After walking around in the warmth and working up a sweat, I really needed to wash my hair. (Also, my head was still oily from the Turkish massage!). So, I washed with essentially a garden hose-as the inn had no hot water. After lunch, we ran off to catch the 5pm night train to Istanbul (see next entry!).

The Group Heads up to the Cliffs...where's my ice ax? Here we had to take our shoes off to keep the travertine clean! Dennis dipping his toes in the cold water.

Travertine Up Close, it's soft and ripply in texture! Clare & Louise at the Travertine Cliffs Clare Climbing Travertine, what fantastic slopers!

The Ponds used to all look beautiful... Until Modern Bathers Muddied the Waters with Oils & Sunscreens! Intrepid folks soothing their feet in the warm & crystalline waters

Modern Motorcycle, Ancient Theater Ancient Roman Bath Houses Where the Water Once Was There was a sign that said, "Unstable Structure Do Not Climb"...Aww Shucks!

Information about Hieropolis (Pamukkale) An Ancient Olive was amazing! Some Beautiful Roman Columns in Hierapolis

The Agropolis, with a bumpy road! Roman Arches & Structure at Hierapolis I Walked on Top of this Aquaduct, with great views of Hierapolis!