Monday, July 30, 2007

SRE07 Upswing

The Silk Road Expedition 07 is just a few days away. Our scheduled departure is August 11. This is the second attempt to launch this summer, but National Elections and summer finances worked together to keep us in town longer.

In anticipation of our pending departure, we are posting a few pictures of last year's expedition. More on our route and time table soon.

Iranian and Turkish Border

Plains of Ararat

Kurdish Village

Laundry Day

Drying Socks in our 3 Star Hotel

Friday, July 27, 2007

Breakfast Report

Turkish Breakfast

We had the fortune to fall in with a great group of folks when we lived in LA the year prior to our continental shift. I talked to one of them last week and he requested that we blog more frequently about the minutiae of our lives. Making his point-- he said everyday things that our clan now takes as "normal" were not normal for us 16 months ago when we first moved to Asia...And "that" is what he wants to read about.
Hence the "Breakfast Report".

I am not a breakfast person...I know it is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but I figure that it was designed for Important People. I am happy waiting until late afternoon before I start grazing. If I eat breakfast it makes me want to get to lunch...which leads to dinner coming earlier and then I am forced to fit in a late evening meal.
Here in Turkey breakfast is culturally big...not to say it is the most important meal of the fact, anytime Turks sit down to eat it is a big deal. As an example a few days ago a knock on our door brought in half the occupants of our apartment building...since it was so hot they asked if we would mind turning on the A/C...We did and they brought the food and we had a party.
Kemal & Metin

This "Klima" party rotates from one apartment to another depending on how hot the day is and who is willing to turn the A/C on and pay for the electric. Those without A/C are few, but all of us are frugal...So if just one or two apartments a day run the A/C the rest can come with food, little electric is used, everyone is cool and everyone eats. Quite a concept, eh?
They sat on the carpet, the couch and some even laid down and slept while the rest of us talked. When others heard there was a "group eat" going on at the Stewards...our little apartment filled up. Our afternoon of work stopped from 2pm until they departed after 7pm. While that is so culturally different from the was a truly delightful afternoon.
Begum, Benal & Ann

This morning as we were eating our breakfast on our small balcony which overlooks one of Istanbul's busiest avenues when I realized how I had changed. There, on my plate, were 21 olive stones from my breakfast. It amazed me that I now expect and look forward to the time each morning where we sit and look out at the street and eat. The vendors below us, (a market, clothing store and used car dealer are located on the ground level) walk out and look up to see if we are out and about each morning. Once they see us in place and yell their greetings to us, their world is in order and all is right.

Our typical Turkish breakfast is:
  • Fresh Bread (not less than an hour old)
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • White Cheese (goat or cow...close to Feta)
  • Olives (black and green...both in brine)
  • Apricot or Raspberry preserves
  • Hot Tea or Turkish Khave
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Hard boiled Eggs

You put a spoonful of crumbled cheese on a slice of bread, cover it with apricot preserves, tomato and cuke and eat. The yogurt is eaten plain or with some apricot preserve mixed in and the olives are consumed in vast quantities...believe it or not, it is not uncommon to go thru 10 or 15 pounds of olives per family a month.

You leave a Turkish breakfast feeling "light and cool"...and unfortunately looking forward to çay and sweets, and then lunch. That my friends, is the Breakfast Report for today. Afiyet Olsun!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Out To Lunch
For the next few days our site will be going thru a tech remodel.
Along with the tweaking we may lose our E-mail for a few days. We are trying to coordinate Virgina, California, Sweden and you may not be able to access our site during this time.
And what do you get for all this trouble? Absolutely nothing...all the changes are in programming, not aesthetics. View this as brain surgery, not liposuction. I'll still be ugly....just smarter.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Grocery Gypsy

Giddy Up

Every Thursday our little corner of Istanbul is transformed into the largest street market we have ever seen. With 1000's of vendors selling produce, cheese, apricots, almonds, dry goods, hardware, clothing, and almost anything is the event of the week.
Every neighborhood in this teeming mega-city has a pazar within walking distance at least one day a week. Our's begins across the street and runs south, east and west for over a mile.
This collection of sellers moves daily and sets up in different locations on different days. There is a schedule and a choreography of tarps, tables, ropes and anchors that takes place every 12 hours. Tearing down and moving on and setting up is the life of these vendors. Somehow their stores are replenished, the tomatoes and watermelons are always fresh, the fish never smell and the dates, olives and almonds are fragrant and delicious.
The pictures below are of the same street...just a few hours before and after.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hell No (But Close)

I don't know why it always seems that the local weather guru's numbers don't match our own temperature readings at home...but someone has messed up this week. A lifelong Istanbul local told me the other day that in all his decades of experience in this city he has never lived through a summer this hot.

These are the readings from our shaded balcony yesterday...3 separate thermometers were used and the variance was less than 2 degrees between them.

Warm? You betcha.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Another Slice of Life in Istanbul

Ramazan Pide
Getting bread delivered to our door everyday is a luxury we take for granted in Istanbul. Three times a day our Kapaci (building handyman) delivers hot loaves of bread to a basket hanging on our doorknob (8am, 10am and 3pm).
All of the loaves are baked in massive ovens over wood fires...I watched a few days ago as one of the local bakers pulled 75 loaves from one shelf of the oven, shuttling them out with a 15 foot long wooden rake.
With bread regarded as the "substance of life" and sacred in Middle Eastern cultures, having fresh bread is nothing less than a daily necessity. In fact bread that is more than a few hours old is deemed inedible and whisked away to be fed to the birds, or dropped in the sea to feed the fish. While old bread can be left for the birds or would be taboo to throw it away.For less than 50 cents a day we get hot bread and a great slice of Turkish culture.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

20 Hours in Istanbul

We have been home for almost two weeks. That may not excite you...but to our crew it is a welcome break from being on the road.
Twenty five years ago Ann and I were looking at apartments in downtown San Diego. The "Frost House" (the home of 19th century lumber barons) in Golden Hills was high on our list. The apartment was located in the attic of the historic home and had an incredible view of downtown and the harbor...if you didn't mind standing on on tiptoes to look out a small round window high in the gable. We have often talked about a thought we had as we looked out that window; A book titled "365 Sunsets from the Frost House"....we had the idea of mounting a camera in the window and taking one picture a day, every day, for one full year, at the same time of day and of the same view.
Nothing ever came of it, we didn't rent the apartment, but I have never forgotten the view or the idea.
Since we have been in one spot for more than a week and had some time to spare...I thought I would give you the Istanbul version of our decades old project. No spiffy names for this one...just watching a day pass by in Istanbul.




Monday, July 09, 2007

Dracula, a Full Moon & Roman Ruins

We are home after a hectic few weeks of travel. Our route? Istanbul to Antalya, back to Istanbul thru Bulgaria to Romania, a stop in Bucharest and a return to Istanbul. The first half by car and the rest by train.
Stanley in Antioch Psidia

Our Romanian hotel was not too far from the lake and island where the grave of Count Dracula is located. Our schedule didn't have room for us to stop and pay our respects to the Count...figures, there was even a full moon for ambiance.
Now back in Istanbul there are just a few days to go before the kickoff of the The Silk Road Exp 07 and we are at full throttle with repacking and pulling all the loose ends together. We are really tired, but looking forward to a great season in the mountains.
Passing through Antioch Psidia Stanley played historian/archaeologist and tour guide. He had spent the weeks prior to our trip reading up on the Roman occupation of Central Anatolia.

Downtown Antioch

Bosfor Express

Elle and Stanley's Cabin

Crossing The Danube

The SRE07 will take in the Black Sea coastal villages of Turkey stopping in for several weeks at our Dogubeyazit digs and then concentrating on the Iran and Iraq border villages in southeast Turkey. The kickoff is approaching fast-- stay tuned!

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World