Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I'm Free!


I'm Free-I'm free
And freedom tastes of reality,
I'm free-I'm free,
And I'm waiting for you to follow me
-The Who?


 What luck....This is the 4th or 6th try to get this stinking cancer off my temple. Apparently the radiation last year shrunk the thing down to almost nothing....the whole surgery amounts to a band aide....after all that worry and preparation....



The big kebab scene in Turkey led me to buy a pineapple and other tasty kebob things for dinner today....I mix up some soy sauce, Jack Daniels Bsr-B-Q sauce, Paula Deen Sweet Bourbon glaze and other (secret) ingredients to baste the Kebabs...the pork chunks are so tender that they fall off the skewers....



It's really quiet and empty around here in the almost summer....maybe we can still  make it to Alaska and back this season....it's only a 25,000 kilometer round trip...


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Goodbye Turkey.... Hello New York

At the last minute I decide to purchase one way tickets from Ankara back to Tampa.


Turkish Air has great food and entertainment systems on the flight from Istanbul to JFK. Unfortunately, the flight leaves late and is then is kept on the tarmac at JFK long enough for us to miss our connection to Tampa. We are pleasantly surprised when they comp us with a nice hotel, dinner and breakfast vouchers and we get some unanticipated sleep with a 6:30 AM replacement JetBlue flight.


A few days earlier we say goodbye to the Utopia Cave Hotel in Cappadocia.


We see another Cappadocia cave castle on the way out...


Alice and Carnot take us to an ethnic museum/restaurant on the trip back to Ankara. We learn a little about marriage and family customs here about 100 years ago...


Even if you read Wiki, it is very hard to understand exactly who this man was and what he taught. However this shrine is very popular for Turkish people. Alice was very pleased that we were the only Americans visiting today. There were hundreds of Turkish people crowding the shrine of this Teacher/Prophet/ Holy Man? Maybe he is why Turkish people are kind to stray cats and men give up their seats to old women and cripples?


Some women at the shrine in traditional dress.


Back in Ankara, Alice takes us to see Achmed, her favorite Turkish rug merchant.


While these rugs are very beautiful, Mrs Phred and I just spent five years painfully divesting ourselves of a lifetime of material acquisitions. We can make little sense of buying a rug no matter how lovely...


Eventually Alice buys another rug.


It's a pip.


Later we walk to the old walled city and then to the Ankara Archeological Museum.


I like this ancient two headed duck.


And this Roman head.


Cuneiform tablets and envelopes...they write some very small letters on the clay tablets. Mrs Phred thinks they write the letters when the clay is wet. She thinks it would be too hard to carve these tiny letters after the clay is dry...


We stop for lunch at the Washington Restaurant. Bill Clinton ate here.


Mrs. Phred climbs up to the top of the old city and takes this great shot of Ankara.


and of the old fortress.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hot Dogging in Urgup

hot-dogged, hot-dog·ging, hot-dogs Slang To perform daring stunts or ostentatious manuevers.  The next day, two of these balloons collide and the upper balloon tears a hole in the lower balloon. In the crash 3 die and 22 are injure. This confirms my impression of a general cavalier disregard for safety and prudent separation.

Mrs. Phred took almost all these pictures. I was paralysed with fear and afraid to move from the centre of the gondola, which I had both arms wrapped around and no hands free for the camera.


There are 90 to 100 balloons flying over Cappadocia this morning. Each balloon holds 12 to 25 tourists. Our young Turkish pilot is skimming the gondola along though this narrow valley of pointy rocks. He's bumping other balloons in what he calls his "morning kiss" and staying mostly inches away from  (and often below) the surrounding  terrain.


The balloon in the picture above resulted in a number of injuries, broken bones and three fatalities. It happened the morning after my flight when this blog was already written and published.


230 years ago, in 1783, a chicken, a sheep and a rooster made the first ascent in a hot air balloon. King Louis XVI thought it would be a good idea to use condemned criminals as the first human pilots, but Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis Francois d'Arlandes got him to change his mind and let them try it out with animals. When the chicken came back alive, they decided to try it themselves. They lit up a disgusting mix of burning straw and stinking manure in an attached burning pot and off they went.


They landed in a French vineyard, and while the farmers were debating whether to immediately surrender or first make a half-hearted pitchfork charge, the two pilots had the wit and foresight to produce bottles of champagne, a tradition which continues unabated to the present day.


Here the young Turkish Hot Dog pilot makes a balloon bumping a ''morning kiss". Later, after landing the gondola precisely on a waiting trailer, he produces a bottle of champagne and twelve glasses.


We spend almost an hour skimming the  "Chimneys" in the valley, often just inches from the strange eroded lava formations


They ballooned here 334 days last year. The scenic rock formations make this place either the number 1 or 2 place to balloon in the world, depending on what you Google..


Cappadocia is considered perhaps the best place in the world to take a hot air balloon ride. Today about 2,000 tourists took a daybreak  ride. Tomorrow three of them do not make it back alive.


Later, after the long flight at low altitude down the valley,  we shoot up to an altitude 2100 meters (I think, or maybe feet) to try to catch winds that will bring us down in the right place.


The balloons below heading for the strange rocks.


Landing....




Saturday, 18 May 2013

Cappadocia, Turkey

I always seem to reach a point on vacation where the vacation is moving faster than the blog.Now that We've been home a few days, I'm catching up on unfinished blogs, including this one..


On the way to Cappadocia,  Alice and Carnot stop to show us this old caravanserai. These were built about every 40 miles on the "Silk Route" between China, Rome, Constantinople and other trading points. There is some restoration work going on here but it looks like the project is going to last awhile. 40 miles is about what you can do on a camel in a day.


The "Silk Route" was actually a network of linked land and water routes.The entrances to the caravanserais were built to be large enough for a camel and its burden.


This particular Caravanserai could accommodate 800 camels and lots of people. It's a well built fortress. A caravanserai, or khan, or fondouk, also Han (in Turkish) are also known as caravansary, caravansera, or caravansara in English. Carnot tells me that travellers could stay in these for three days with no charge.


Alice and Mrs. Phred explore the Caravabserai.



We spend the next two nights in our cave rooms, which are carved out of the soft volcanic rock found everywhere in the Cappadocia region. Cave hotels are very big here. Carnot and Alice volunteer to take the room below.


Mrs. Phred and I sleep here in our cave.


Roses at our cave hotel in Cappadocia.


These cave houses were inhabited until 1952. At that point the government provided newer housing for the cave dwellers and turned this all into a major tourist attraction.


These young people are taking wedding pictures in the world Heritage Park that we visit in the afternoon.


Cappadocia rock formations with windows and doors and pigeon roosts carved by our humanancestors...they prized the pigeon guano for fertilizer....perhaps they sometimes ate the pigeons?




Camel.


Alice and Mrs. Phred walk barefoot in the salt lake between Ankara and Cappadocia.


Friday, 17 May 2013

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

Cappadocia, Turkey

Today (5/18/13) we were escorted  around Cappadocia by Zafer Yazici. He is the owner of Lirita Tours . Zafer did a great job for us. Zafer arranges tour packages all over Turkey.


Zafer at work in his Urgup office.



Zafer set us up in a lovely cave hotel in Urgup, scheduled our balloon ride, outlined an itinerary of two self-directed exploration days and acted as our personal tour guide for one very interesting day in the Cappadocia area.


Zafer took us to the Urgup market, which meets once a week in Urgup and moves to other places on other days. The faces were very  interesting. I bought a nice switchblade knife.


These are our old friends of 40 years, Alice and Carnot.  He teaches at the Bilkent University in Ankara and they are, of course, our reason for finding our way to Turkey in the first place.


Alice says that the different head scarves have meanings and may tell you that the wearer is Kurdish or that she belongs to another ethnic group.. What is perhaps more interesting is that headscarves for women were banned for public servants and in Universities since Ataturk established a constitutionally secular Turkish state in 1923. One woman, for example, was recently jailed for six months for refusing to remove a headscarf during her final exams. The charge was interfering with the education of others.


The legislature tried to remove the headscarf ban in 2008, but Turkey's Constitutional Court annulled the parliament's proposed amendment which intended to lift the headscarf ban, ruling that removing the ban was against the founding principles of the constitution. The highest court's decision to uphold the headscarf ban cannot be appealed


I take a picture of a rooster and amuse myself in the wee hours by trying different photographic effects with my free Picassa digital photo editor.


Zafer takes us to what was a Greek village until 1923. This old Greek church was built hundreds of years ago on a steep slope. It was built to last. If the foundation slips even a few millimetres something very interesting will happen. The column that Mrs. Phred is holding rotates easily by hand, but if the foundation ever shifts, the column will no longer turn.....


More headscarves....


Here you see some fooling around with a picture of clouds and sunbeams....In 1923, after Ataturk repelled the Greek invasion forces, an "ethnic cleansing" agreement was signed. Greeks in Turkey had to leave Turkey and Turks in Greece also had to leave Greece.


Lizard....


Greek gargoyle...Both ornamented and plain water spouts projecting from roofs at parapet level were a common device used to shed rainwater from buildings until the early eighteenth century. From that time, more and more buildings bought drainpipes to carry the water from the roof to the ground and only a few buildings using gargoyles were constructed. This was because some people found them frightening, and sometimes heavy ones fell off..


Turkish woman working in the garden wearing a headscarf.


Village in Cappadocia. The people of this area lived in caves until as late as 1952. Our hotel room is a very nicely carved cave.


Lizard.


We see many Christian churches in caves in our three days in Cappadocia. Here Mrs. Phred climbs into part of an old church.


...and up on the roof of the same church.


Turkish villagers on the roadside...


We stop for lunch in a village in Cappadocia.


Zafer tells us that the farmers in this area grow mostly potatoes. They dig huge caves to store the potatoes. This is a typical farmers house. The bottom floor is used to store potatoes. Notice the satellite dishes and solar hot water system. " It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes"....Douglas Adams....


Zafer shows us a map representing the ancient caves of one of Cappadocia's underground cities.


The caves are dug from solid rock and go down five levels, nearly 300 feet. Over 2,000 could live here for months when invaders came though the area. They rolled these big carved rocks in at strategic point to make it impossible for the invaders to gain entrance. Zafer says these caves were carved out with obsidian tools. He says obsidian was more valuable than gold or silver...


At points the cave entrances become very small. A single man with a spear could effectively block hundreds of invaders at these choke points.


A strange and beautiful area of the world....