A Travellerspoint blog

March 2013

Getting Things Done

by Ben

overcast 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Gozleme Being Made

Gozleme Being Made

We are getting used to the reality that we will be back on the road in a few days. This is an exciting prospect but we do need to adjust to the return of structure to our lives and certain time constraints. It is much harder for the kids to study when we are on the move and certain tasks become more difficult when your environs are constantly changing. As a result, we have been working to make life on the road easier.

The kids have done a great deal of school work and taken some key exams while we have been in Kas, which will buy them both a lot of breathing room and peace-of-mind. Abby is just waiting to take one more module test after which she will be finished grade nine. We have been very impressed by Abby’s discipline, energy and independence in getting her studies done. Hannah has completed half an English course in three weeks time and is producing amazing writing. She is less than half a course away from completing the eleventh grade, quite an accomplishment when you do it all by distance education.

Muriel and I have been making it pretty much our full time job this week to get as much planning, transportation logisitics and accommodation booking done as we can. We have just wrapped up all the work for our seven weeks in the UK and Ireland. This will be a great relief to us when we are on the road. It is great just to be able to put your feet up after a day of sight-seeing and relax knowing all the picky logistics for your next location are already taken care of.

Some shopping and business tasks are more difficult to accomplish when you are travelling every 2 to 4 days so we are doing our errands this week. Until now we have been able to get any printing or scanning done for free. In Kas we finally have had to pay the piper. With all our plane tickets, car rentals and the kid’s school work it adds up. I went to an internet cafe to get 50 pages of documents printed and will have to go again soon. It doesn’t seem like people use laser printers here so 50 pages on an inkjet starts to add up in cost. It also takes some sleuthing to find a place as Internet cafes are becoming a thing of the past. The first place I went they wanted to charge over 60 cents a page. It seems that we have not yet entered the realm of paperless travel as car rental companies and some airlines and hotels still want a paper copy indicating your on-line purchase. Even the school wants the kids to do their tests on paper and have me scan the complete test (I just take pictures) send it via email and mail the original copy for auditing purposes. They really want to make sure that it is the kids completing the tests.

Potato and Spinach Gozleme

Potato and Spinach Gozleme

A nice perk of running errands is that we can go out for a relatively inexpensive Turkish lunch. We tried a new restaurant which serves gozleme. Gözleme is a savoury (sometimes sweet) hand-rolled pastry. The name derives from the Turkish word göz meaning eye. Fresh pastry is rolled out, filled and sealed, then cooked over a convex shaped griddle called a saj. We had spinach and cheese and spinach and potato. They were quite nice and it was great watching them being made from where we sat (click on link to see the video). We couldn't resist ordering an additional nutella gozleme to share for dessert.

Posted by KZFamily 03:08 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas Comments (4)

Remembering Saint Nicholas

BY ABBY

sunny 18 °C
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Hannah opted to stay home today, to get a little more work done on her English course. One family member down, the rest of us climbed into our car (her name is "Zoe") and went off to find Myra. Our GPS kept leading us down unpaved roads, but because the Myra Ruins were supposed to be a big attraction, we decided to wait until we saw a sign. Unfortunately, no signs were to be found, and we opted to leave it for a while and drive on to Saint Nicholas's church in Demre, which is a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

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Saint Nicholas had been a bishop in Myra during the third century; he was well known for his generosity as well as his gift-giving. We eventually found the church, but unfortunately, we had come at the same time as three large tour buses. We were pretty surprised at this because at most of the attractions we have been to, we are pretty much the only ones there, as a result of the" off season". I think my parents made a bigger deal out of it than they needed to. I just accepted the fact that we would have to walk around the crowds of people, but after we were out of the attraction, I heard complaints from them like "they were all so slow" and "just thinking of tours makes me sick".

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I really enjoyed seeing the church, even though it was definitely classified as a ruin in my books. You could see where the structure stood, but the flood left it in pretty bad shape. It was easy to see that it had once been quite grand, especially when you took into account how much work it took to carve and sand just one pillar, let alone enough for a giant church. You could also see the remains of lots of works of art on the walls, even though most of the colour was already faded. Lots of the parts were under restoration. We were able to see the crypt, as well as a small amphitheater-like set of seats in the largest area of the building. Just out front, there was a statue of Saint Nicholas with a few children, and on the statue it had a statement about world peace. There were lots of flags from around the world on it as well, no Canada though. It was cool being able to get my picture taken in front of a statue of the "original Santa".

After we left we poked our heads into a couple of shops on the street sides, but soon we stopped for lunch. We all had a Turkish pizza (pide), and devoured them pretty quickly. But from there we went to have another go at trying to find Myra. We decided to follow our GPS, but in the end, we just found a very small village and drove around there for a while. It was still interesting though, seeing how the people there lived. It seems like a pretty harsh existence, as you could see that their homes were mainly made up of sticks and tarps.

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On the way back home we stopped at another place called Kekova, but it turns out to actually appreciate the place, you have to take a boat tour. But even from the shore we were on we could see just how beautiful it would have been. We saw that most of the boat rental shops are closed for the season, and we weren't very into taking a ride from a stranger's own boat. To my mom, however, the whole side trip was worthwhile because she spotted the same man and his cart from whom she had bought baklava a couple of times. We bought a few more pieces and my dad and I tried some honey rings, which weren't so bad. We were followed by a few rabid dogs though, which made the experience a little less fun (you may remember I'm more of a cat person).

But this was the end of our journey, and we made the drive back home, and later enjoyed some fabulous lentil soup cooked by Hannah.

Posted by KZFamily 05:58 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas saint_nick Comments (1)

The Plan

by Ben

sunny 16 °C
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Last evening Muriel and I put the finishing touches on our upcoming road trip to Istanbul. It takes a fair bit of effort to book accomodation in six different locations and figure out the logistics of car rental pickup and drop off as well as getting flights in place for our exit from Turkey. All of this is really just the warm up for the logistical planning we need to do for the final four and a half months of our trip. If you are not partial to planning, a nine month trip may not be for you. Our research is showing that Europe in the spring and summer is not a place to just roll into town and look for a self-catering place to stay for a family of four. If you do, you will soon be out of cash and packing your bags for home. Finding affordable accomodation needs the same time and patience invested by gold prospectors.

Before we left on our grand tour, we had put together a fairly detailed plan of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. We knew things would change as we learned more about pacing and our interests as a family. We have learned a great deal from three months of travelling and from three weeks of staying put. In our last week in Kas, Muriel and I will be putting in quite a few hours reworking our itinerary and will start booking many of our accomodations. Until now, we have only booked a few weeks in advance so we could be flexible. Unfortunately, we don't have that luxury for much longer as we see the rest of the world is getting ready for spring travel. If we hope to keep within our means (extended though it is!), we have to trust what we have learned and reserve a good deal of the rest of our trip. This is a huge undertaking. However, we aren't fishing for any sympathy from our readers.

Muriel and I set up our travel office today on our veranda. We have moved a large table out into the sun and run a powercord for our laptop. We can just look up, gaze at the sea, feel the breeze and enjoy the warmth of the sun whenever we feel like what we are doing is anything like work.

Abby finished all her social studies coursework today and needs to only take two exams to be finished her studies for grade nine (except for that pesky French 9 course when she gets back). Hannah is progressing on her English assignments and will finish up while on the road.

And, now, back to planning!

Posted by KZFamily 04:57 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas Comments (1)

Chickpeas, the Good Doctor and Ataturk

BY MURIEL

sunny 20 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Kas Friday Market

Kas Friday Market

As the red orb gradually sinks into the Mediterranean, I find myself grateful for yet another relaxing, enjoyable, slow-paced day in Turkey. Somehow, even though slower-paced, we still find these days go just as fast as the busier ones. We start our day with some stretching and the obligatory cup of coffee for Ben and sometimes Abby. We have been spoiled here as this place comes with unusual conveniences, such as a blender and a juicer. Abby uses the blender every morning to make yoghurt and fruit smoothies while I treat myself to freshly squeezed orange juice once in a while. It is such a treat and with the portakal (orange) so inexpensive here, I can indulge. Ben and I have been going for more walks of late, trying to get his back stronger and get in travel shape as we contemplate becoming nomadic once again. The circuit of the peninsula on which our villa stands takes about an hour to walk and, after the construction zone is over, we benefit from the views of the coast and neighbouring islands. It is just the right temperature when we walk, about 18 degrees. We don’t meet too many people either, the odd goat herder and even odder tourist.

We once again made it to the Friday morning market. Like the locals, we see it as a big event in our week and wouldn’t miss it. It differs from week to week, the size seemingly dependent on the weather. Once we finish collecting our produce, we turn our attention to the sweetened nuts to which we have become addicted. Actually, some of them aren’t even nuts – I identified the candy roasted chickpeas that Abby and I love by searching online. Hannah prefers the sesame coated peanuts and Ben likes the roasted chickpeas covered in a hard, salty-sweet, orange-coloured coating. They’ve got to be better for us than potato chips, right? (Don’t answer; let us happily live with our delusions.) The final stop in the market is the pastry cart, where we buy our baklava. The vendor seems friendly so I try out my Turkish. It’s a success as I only have to string together the words ‘four,’ ‘baklava’ and ‘please.’ He actually gives us five pieces, but not because I have misspoken – this happens often here as they weigh everything and, if the cost does not come out to an even lire or half lire, they add in an extra potato, cucumber, chicken breast or what have you till it is ‘close enough.’ For us, it just means extra negotiating at the supper table to see who’s going to get that extra piece. Having learned the Turkish numbers one through ten, I discover from the vendor that I inadvertently know 11 through 19 as well since the second ten numbers are just the digits 1 through 9 appended to the number for ‘ten’, e.g., five is ‘bes’ and ten is ‘on’ so 15 is ‘on bes’. So sensible! Why don’t we all do it that way? I feel way ahead now and eager to meet the next language challenge.

Kas Friday Market Mobile Bakery Truck

Kas Friday Market Mobile Bakery Truck

I knew had to get a blood test done soon so I approached a doctor in Kas that was recommended to me by the villa’s agent. Even though she has been on vacation for the last two weeks, we have been in touch a few times by email, agreeing to meet this week when she was back. Her card says she is available 24 hours a day, which I believe as she publishes her private email and cell phone number to all. I stop in at the doctor’s office today for the results, having seen her yesterday for the test. She used to work for the government earning a salary but for the past eight years, has been in private practice, promoting herself to tourists because she can speak English. I’m curious to be able to see the Turkish medical establishment from the ‘inside,’ so to speak.

Her office is up a flight of stairs and is comprised of two rooms, the small examining room/administrative area and an even smaller reception area, home to a low Turkish sofa, two stools and the secretary’s desk. Because of my work interests, I scan the office for use of an Electronic Medical Record (computer software physicians use to administrate their practice and client care). I see a laptop but it only appears to be there for research and email. The examining room is crammed with a table, three chairs, the doctor’s desk and a cart of supplies. There is paper everywhere, notes lining the wall, books on the desk, filing cabinets spewing their contents. I quickly note the tourist books being offered for 20 lire off the corner of her desk. In the reception area, I count four variations of the ‘evil eye;’ in the examining room, I see another. I’m hoping they are all on display because of their merit as Turkish art or cultural objects and not because she feels they ward off medical issues. She takes notes in a haphazard way in her physician register, writing at an angle, ignoring all lines. The doctor is efficient, very pleasant, competent and, unlike my Canadian experience, she does the blood test and uses the centrifuge herself.

Behind her on the wall is a larger-than-life portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the first president of Turkey. It`s hard to miss and deserves some comment. So I oblige, noting to her that Ataturk appears still much revered in her country. She says Turkish people have a permanent place for him in their hearts for all he did for the Turkish people in such a short time; he radically modernized Turkey during his rule from 1923 till his death in 1938. She goes on to say that she doesn`t appreciate the current Islamic government and claims they show one face to the West and another, harsher one to the Turkish people. We certainly sense the love many have for Ataturk and their strong nationalistic spirit, as evidenced by the many pictures of him and the Turkish flags we see. On my way out, after I pay the 245 lire charge, she hands me a picture book of Kas and bids me well. The whole experience provides yet another view for my Turkish chapter.

Posted by KZFamily 10:27 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas doctor Comments (2)

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