Back to Istanbul

J and moi shopping hard at the Grand Bazaar

J and moi shopping hard at the Grand Bazaar

After wending our way around the countryside, we flew back to Istanbul (after a few of the girls did a quick trip to the post office to make sure their bags weighed the regulation 20kg!)

A huge stack of simit on the tram! J was *trying* not to be tempted, but they smelled so good!

A huge stack of simit on the tram! J was *trying* not to be tempted, but they smelled so good!

Our last few days were just as frenetic as the previous ones, although we did manage to fit in the occasional hammam and massage. Continue reading

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Selcuk

 

Backseat bogans on the dolmus

Backseat bogans on the dolmus to Sirince

We moved the short distance from Kusadasi to Selcuk because A is great friends with Harry, who runs the ANZ Guesthouse in Selcuk. It’s like staying with family there. Mehmet who we met last time is also still there, but instead of he and his brother Ali having the carpet shop and another shop next door with other souvenirs, they’ve transformed the second shop into a restaurant, and have plans to close the carpet shop entirely to expand.

The view from the balcony at Artemis restaurant

The view from the balcony at Artemis restaurant

While we were in Selcuk we did a few short trips out of town, like catching the local dolmus around hair-raising bends on hills to Sirince, a small village about 20 mins away. The village was interesting, but had an influx of other tourists that day, plus a local wedding, so the streets were clogged. The markets were nice, and they had a few things we hadn’t seen elsewhere.

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Kusadasi

A gentleman at Afrodesias

A gentleman at Afrodesias

We were pretty happy to leave Bodrum for our trip around Afrodesias and Pammukale, but we were all very tired from our big night out the night before, and an early start again. The minibus was a bit cramped for our long driving legs, but we managed to fit all the luggage into it as well as ourselves. Continue reading

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Bodrum and Kos

To get from Goreme to Bodrum was quite an effort, including Victor driving us to the Konya train station for our night train to Izmir, then a taxi to the bus station, then a public bus to Bodrum, then a taxi to the hotel. Phew!

Our compartment on the train

Our compartment on the train

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Cappadocia

I certainly don’t recommend a 4.30am wakeup call for anyone! The flight was quite quick though, and although everyone was very tired, we had a full day of sightseeing to do. We girded our loins with caffeine and hit the road with our fabulous Rock Valley guide Öman and wonderful driver Victor.

First up was Derinkuyu Underground City, a series of manmade interconnected tunnels where people hid in various wars. We went seven storeys down, and our legs and backs were soon aching from crouching down to walk up the narrow and low, steep stairways. There are some great sights!

Volcano pool

Volcano pool

The next stop was a brief photo opportunity at a lake situated in a dormant volcano crater. It was so beautiful that we all craved going for a swim, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time, as we had to move onto the next stop, the Ilhara Valley.

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Istanbul

I haven’t posted for a few days as I’ve been so incredibly busy! The flight to Istanbul was pretty uneventful, apart from me being told off by Customs people in Dublin Airport because I took a picture of the Customs dog. Whoops.

Turkish Air business class is nice – they have an unidentified “champagne” which does all the right things, and they give a bowl of hazelnuts and dried fruit with their drinks. The meal was great too – some lovely appetisers and then a lamb and eggplant dish, just right to get in the Turkish mood!

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Dublin

Dublin has been a lovely stay.

In Dublin

In Dublin

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Plymouth

After finishing the convention, we hired a car (a teeny weeny 2-door Skoda that barely fit our luggage) and hightailed it out of the city to visit my great aunt J in Plymouth. It was certainly a different experience driving from the East End than last time driving from Gatwick airport, not least because the unhinged GPS decided on a route which took us straight through the middle of London at 4pm in the afternoon, instead of using the Ring Road, which might have saved us some time, and definitely would have saved me grey hairs!

We did end up doing a great sightseeing “tour” on the way the GPS took – past the V&A, around Trafalgar Square, along the Thames… eek!

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Brussels to London

Choccy!

Choccy!

My last day in Brussels was quiet as I was pretty exhausted from my big day in Amsterdam the day before! I wandered around the centre of town a bit more and found the Galeries Royales where there are heaps of amazing chocolate shops. Woah. I picked out a few choccies for people at home in one of them (they might get home) and meandered my way back to the hotel through the malls. The Flower Carpet was due to open the next day, but there wasn’t anything to see there yet.

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Brussels and Amsterdam

Day 2 in Brussels wasn’t supposed to be a huge day – I wanted a bit of a sleep in, to do some laundry and have a bit of a wander and explore. 

The laundry was easy thanks to Professor Google, which directed me to the Wash Club a 10 minute walk away. Easy, and even if all the instructions were in French and Flemish, I managed okay. 

Grand Place - very grand!

Grand Place – very grand!

Next up was the exploring. I headed vaguely towards Grand Place, which sounded interesting, and wandered through a long shopping mall street to get there. As I got closer to Grand Place, the shops became less high street, more “traditional Belgian” places (beer, chocolate, waffles) and souvenirs. By the time I got to Grand Place I wasn’t really expecting much, but woah, this place is amazing! It apparently used to be the big marketplace before they had to kick it out to the burbs, so there’s streets around it called “Butter Street” etc. Fun! 

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