Trip Of A Lifetime

Friday, September 22, 2006

Some Quick Picks From France

Have to catch a lift into town, so this will have to be brief. There will be more photos of France at some point... could be anywhere from today to a week from now. I just don't know.
The first two photos are from our first little town in France called Beune. A lovely place where I was able to eat my first brie baguette and my first pastry!I think this is Lyon, but I'm not 100%. Anyone else know?
The next two photos are in Avignon. Another beautiful little town. The River Rhone is behind us.
This is Monte Carlo. I didn't realise we would go to the Principality of Monaco. Another place for Adie to add to his list. This place was kinda weird though. We did love the gardens but avoided the casinos.Finally we have photos of Nice. This is a stunning resort town filled with pebbled beaches and little shops that you get lost in. The first photo shows Adie in amongst some of those shops I mentioned and the second photo is at the beach (obviously). The water was nice, but we had warmer along the way.

Well, I have to scram. Will write again soon.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why Don't More People Travel With Helen Wong?

Unfortunately we've just recieved an email to let us know that the tour we'd booked November (a month through China) has been cancelled due to lack of numbers. Can't be helped I guess but what a pain in the butt!

Our travel agent has been great and is trying to find us a place on an alternative tour that fits our current dates. We'll have to make a decision before we head off next week so that we can definitely get onto a tour and so we're not stuck trying to get around China on our own.

I guess this means we're with Wendy Wu rather than Helen Wong!

The History And Variety Of Turkiye

There was no end to the amazing places we were able to see while in Turkey. Here you can see Adie at the 'Cotton Castles' which are naturally formed due to the minerals in the water in the area. There were so many people here it was just nuts. Most of them were running around in little more than a bikini or speedos. Adie and I chose to leave our clothing on.One of the best days of sight seeing for me was the day we went to Ephesus. But before going to the site, we went to the Virgin Mary's House. Here is Adie standing in front of it under the shade of a lovely tree. There was suposedly a mystical spring here that can grant wishes, but I drank some and nothing happened. maybe it's a belief thing.And now to Ephesus. Here I am in the small amphitheatre at the top of the town. You see, the great thing about Ephesus is that it is a town very much like Pompei, the difference is that this place wasn't covered in a volcano.Here is Adie with a spectacular view of the main amphitheatre that we had just walked around and then left. It is just amazing what people were capable of building using none of the technology that we have today... and to see how much of it is still standing! Brilliant.
Here we are in front of the library. This place is something else. There are inscriptions inside it and the two story facade is stunning. As you walk over to it you can see between the large slabs beneath your feet and you soon realise that there are storage rooms (like cellars) directly beneath you. The other thing to consider is that these may be tunnels leading to the brothels so that men could say "See you later dear, I'm going to the library to do some serious pondering" and then bugger off to those women of the night. Cheeky!
Me and my hat at the end of one of the two main streets of Ephesus. They are in the process of working on a huge section of houses down the end of this street that will be fascinating to look at. I'll give it at least 10 years though because (a) there's still so much more of the world to see and (b) I wouldn't want it to still be unfinished.
Now here's me standing in a hole at the Asclepion (place of healing). There is a small natural spring at my feet... can you see it? The amphitheatre behind me was used to show comedies to help ensure that patients had both a healthy mind and healthy body.
Our next site was the Acropolis at Bergama. Again the structures here that have withstood the test of time are quite stunning. While the pillars are reconstructed, it's still amazing to have as much of the original as they do so that they can put it all back together again. And just check out the view from the top of this hill! Stunning!
Now we did make it to Troy, where there is the lame Trojan Horse. The excavations there are pretty good though, not that I've included any photos here. They have recently discovered a mudbrick house there that they are in the process of excavating. Very interesting. We also were able to see the Trojan Horse that was used in the film Troy with Brad PItt (sadly no Brad though). A local council bought it for US$20 000 and stuck in on the foreshore. I think it looks pretty impressive and it's much better thatn the children's play equipment on the actual site.

The last photo from Turkey is of Adie at Anzac Cove. This was a pretty moving place and we learnt a lot while here about the fighting going on and the relationships that developed between the anzacs and the turks. We also had a man whose dad was fighting here and for him it was a very profound experience.

So, that's our Turkey experience in a nutshell. I'll do France sometime this week and then we're off again for a week to check out Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia. Then I guess I'll post about those too.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's Istanbul but was Constantinople

It's about time I hear our parents sigh! Adie and I really loved Turkey. There is just so much to see and it's all varied and interesting. We also loved the people, especially the restaurant owner who shouted us dessert.

So, I'm starting with Istanbul. Here you can see Adie in front of Hagia Sophia, the christian church, that is across the road from the Blue Mosque. Unfortuantely you can't see the amazing structure that is the Blue Mosque, but rest assured because we have many photos of that also.

This somewhat blurry picture os of me and some huge marble urn inside Hagia Sophia. I included it because although it's blurry (or perhaps because it's blurry) I think I look pretty good in it... don't you agree?After we'd spent some time in the heart of all that religion, we went to Topkapi Palace. This place is from the times of the sultans and it is crazy in it's wealth and grandeur. We are standing out the back of the place in this photo with it's view of the Bosphorus. A little brezzy, but stunning!
This is another section behind some of the rooms that display various riches that came from the Sultan's treasury. Don't you think Adie could model for Target?
On our final day in Istanbul we went to the Grand Bazaar, nice and early in the morning so that the crowd weren't too bad. It's a spectacular place, but you rally have to be prepared for the charming Turks and their desire to sell you something thatcould be somewhat dubious in terms of it's quality... kinda like the watch I bought that has since stopped moving. It does still make a ticking sound though.
Now it's time for washing to be put out in the sunshine and for me to call the Chinese Embassy. If I get that done quickly, I will do another entry or two.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Gaudi Oranges?

While wandering around Spain on our own for a week, we came to the realisation that we really enjoy going on tours in countries that we've never visited before. We just had no-one to go to when we wanted to ask questions... about buildings, culture, where the nearest supermarket was. I guess we've been a bit spoiled.

We both thought that Barcelona was a beautiful city filled with gorgeous buildings. You could wander around the streets and really allow your imagination to transport you to another time. (It was the smelliest city we've been to though, and that did interrupt the happy thoughts on occaision.)

We decided to take the hop-on hop-off bus for two days around the city and it was great because we got some of the information we wanted while having the chance to se all of the important sights. Adie mainly wanted to see Gaudi's work so those were the stops we made most frequently. His work is so unique and quite beautiful, although I guess that's a matter of opinion. Here you can see me lounging near some of the beautifully mosaicked seats at the top of the Park Guell.
The city of Barcelona seems to be consistently busy after about 11am. Before then I think everyone sleeps. It's vibrant and exciting, especially around the Ramblas. We didn't really venture out much at night though, contenting ourselves with day trips. (We'd just heard too many bad stories about tourists getting themselves into strife or losing their wallets after dark.) We did manage an early dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, so Adie was happy with that.

To be honest I can't remember the name of the museum located behind Adie in this photo below. Not that it made a difference to us as everything seemed to either be closed (it was a Monday) or under restoration and therefore covered in scaffolding.

Once we were done in Barcelona, we took the train to Valencia for some R & R on the beachfront. Our hotel was quite literally on the boardwalk you can see in the photo below and we did some serious sunbathing here. At night the place was lit up and there was a market running on one section so we had a lot of fun wandering around looking at the things people were trying to sell. One night there was a group of guys playing beach volleyball with soccer rules... no hands! They were so much fun to watch. I found myself cheering them along.
If we were to go back to Spain I think it would be as part of a tour. There's one we've seen that also does Portugal and Morocco that looks brilliant. Maybe in a couple of years.