A Travellerspoint blog

My last day in Goreme, Cappadocia

What took me so long?

Well, I meant to post this MONTHS ago, but I guess I just got to busy with school and such. Yesterday I told someone I would send them a link to my old travel blog and when I checked the link to see that it still worked I noticed I never posted my last day photos. So there they are, better late than never I suppose.

My last day was not a full day. My flight left around 5ish in the evening and my shuttle would pick me up around 2 to take me to Kayseri and the airport, so I had a good half day to fill wondering around Goreme. I suppose I could have did a hike in the Zemi Valley but decided I didn't want to risk missing my shuttle. Would I have minded being stranded in Goreme one more day? Not at all, but missing my flight from Istanbul back to the states would not have been to my liking. So I stuck around town, enjoying local scenery, chatting with a few locals, purchasing some music, having coffee, taking it all in before I would have to leave.

This was my hotel, the Peri Cave Hotel. Not a bad place to stay. Certainly not the lap of luxury but what would one expect for $20 a night?

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Coming into the town (village?) of Goreme. Truly there is not a lot to do here in the winter, although the hot air balloons still fly. I enjoyed it though. It was not crowded with tourists.

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A sign indicating some of the local food choices. Unfortunately in winter the choices are limited since they don't cook as much as they would in summer. I enjoyed all my meals here in Goreme none the less. The lentil soup was was always lovely, no matter where I ate it.

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One of the many friendly cats....she was precious. I really wanted to take her home. I picked her up and she just snuggled into me.

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The ubiquitous Ataturk monument

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Pottery kebab is pretty popular here. I didn't have these, but had something similar. The food is cooked inside the terra cotta pots and they are broken open for you to eat the food inside. This place was closed but had a plethora of broken kebab pots lined up on their wall.

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A massive icicle!

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Yea, even the Turkish can get a bit cheesy when it comes to attracting tourists

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Love the fringe in the windows!

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There were a lot of old wagons sitting around town

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A couple of dogs running around town....these two, although cute, were upsetting me because they wouldn't leave this cat alone. It was heartbreaking to see the cats that looked hungry, cold, and perhaps sick.

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Local wares for sale...

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I'm not exactly sure what the meaning of this was! But it made me laugh.

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The local market. I wish I had found this earlier in my stay. I really wanted some local citrus...Turkish oranges and tangerines are beautiful and tasty! They would have been quite welcome on my long hikes.

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I loved this door

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Last but not least a few more cats...yes, there are a lot of cats in Turkey.

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And that was my last day in Turkey. As I sat here and did this entry I realized how much I really miss the place. I had hoped to go back this summer but life took a turn that wasn't meant to take me down that road. So I'll plan a future trip for summer. I want to see the stars under the clear Cappadocian evening and hike the valleys when the trees are green and full. Yes, my heart holds a spot for this special place.

Posted by oceanchild 12.06.2009 04:09 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

The Red Valley hike- Cappadocia

With views of the Rose Valley

My final full day in Cappadocia was devoted to hiking toward the Rose Valley. I didn't make it through the Rose Valley, but did make it to the Red Valley and up on some ridges that gave some spectacular 360 degree views of the whole area. Now I have to go back so I can hike through the Rose Valley. Each day I have been given the gift of wonderful scenery and solitude. This day was no different. I would say the scenery was a bit more "grand" than my other hikes, and the solitude was not quite as sheltered. I do know that I did not have nearly enough time to thoroughly explore and enjoy the area. Hard to believe that many people go to Cappadocia on their tours of Turkey and only spend 1 or 2 days. I have been told that was changing and my 6 day stay, although it elicited some strange looks from locals, is starting to become more common. I could easily go back and spend another week there. Again. And again.

My map, if you can call it that, really gave me know good idea of how to get to any trail and where it would really lead me. There were, however, numerous signs for the Red and Rose Valley painted on the stone in the area leading toward these valleys. It seems almost every sign said 2km. Apparently I didn't take as many photos of these 2km signs as I thought I did, because I found only two in my collection. Needless to say, they were quite common.

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So, I head in the direction of these signs. I think it would really be tough to get lost here. The area is not all that big and going in any direction should lead to a road of some sort. But it's fun to go off on an adventure with no real idea of where you might end up!

My destination is somewhere over near those rose colored rock formations....hence the name Rose Valley. Looks like a long way, but it really isn't all that far.

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The first valley I came into had some graceful formations that made me think of desert sand dunes. I have to admit I was a bit impatient and wondering when I would get into the Red or Rose valley.

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So I decided to take another path that went up. There was a sign that pointed toward a church, something I'm always glad to find out on these hikes. You can see the paintings. I believe some of them had thistles painted on it. I really intended to come back this way and get some better photos with my zoom lens. Lesson number one, never wait until you come back to get photos, because you may end up discovering a path that will take you the long way 'round! Needless to say, I didn't come back this way.

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I enjoyed the various colorful striations in the rock formations.

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and the snow made this hike another beautiful, if not a bit slippery one....

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Good thing there was a rope to hang onto at one point

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Ok, I admit, here I was second guessing my decision to climb instead of stay in the valley. The trail just kept going up and up and up. It got quite steep at one point and believe it or not I got a bit warm with the sun blaring down!

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But then I got to the top and what I wrote in my journal was "sometimes taking the path of least resistance leads to the least reward" because I knew if I would have stayed in the valley then I would not have been able to partake in the vista that awaited me up top. Here I was once again, all alone and surrounded by such magnificent landscape that it was almost overwhelming. Here again I was able to just sit and ponder...reflect....pray...breath it all in. Here again I realized how much I had been blessed.

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Not much can top the views from up there. I did hike down to the Grape Church with is in the valley below. A Turkish man and his wife are "keepers" of the church and run a little cafe next to it it where you can get some lovely Turkish food. I had pllenty of tea and some wonderful homemade lentil soup. Lovely after a long snowy hike. He encouraged me to return in the summer and enjoy the star filled skies of the valleys here. I will.

Stairs down toward the church...

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The ceiling in the Grape Church....so called because of the grape motif

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Cafe seats and some beadwork for sale....and a wagon that sat nearby...

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I intended to hike back through the valley but ended up out on the road instead, with a great view of Mt. Eryces in the distance....

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Even though I was walking on a long (and deserted) road, the views were still beautiful and serene...

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Of course it was a longer walk that I had anticipated and I had a little trouble with icy roads and the only unfriendly animal I have ever encountered on my travels. A small dog decided he or she did not want me walking by its territory and came very close to biting my leg until a shuttle van stopped and offered to give me a ride back to Goreme. I wouldn't have minded the walk back, but didn't want to deal with this dog, so I gladly took him up on the offer. The Turkish hospitality really stands out to me. It is part of what makes this place so special. That ended my last hike in Cappadocia. I was glad to be heading home the next day, but also longed to stay and discover more of this beautiful land. On my last day I would do nothing but walk through the village of Goreme and photograph the local scene. I drank plenty of tea and talked to a few of the locals. It was a nice end to the stay in Goreme. I can't wait to come back.

Oh...and I will post photos from that last day.....so don't despair

Posted by oceanchild 27.01.2009 20:42 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

Pigeon Valley - Cappadocia

The only hike I didn't do alone

I had read the the Pigeon Valley hike would take me to Uchisar. I guess I was wrong because I only ended up at a dead end. That didn't make it any less memorable of a hike. Actually I'm not sure I even intended to hike the Pigeon Valley trail, I think I just kind of ended up that way after walking through Goreme and seeing the sign on a light post. I was just on the edge of town when I heard some dogs barking from above. Next thing I knew two dogs were running toward me. Now I have to admit I've always been a bit leery of dogs but I do my best to not let it show. So I just started a conversation with them and next thing I knew they were hiking into the valley with me. I figured they would go so far, turn around and head back home. Not these dogs, they stayed with me the entire way. At times they would veer off the main trail then turn around and look at me as if to say "are you coming?" I thoroughly enjoyed my hike with my new Turkish friends. It's true, everywhere you go in Turkey you find this sort of hospitality!

The beginning of the trail is in a wide open valley that was beautifully covered with snow from two days before.

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This particular trail has many tunnels. From afar this one had me hoping I brought my headlamp, but as I got closer I realized it was not that long of a tunnel, just curved.

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Another tunnel

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Fairy Chimneys. I'm telling you they are everywhere!

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My canine Turkish friend. I understand this is an Anatolian Shepherd.

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My other Turkish tour guide

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Wide open spaces in the valley

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Icicles!

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The valley walls. Pigeon Valley actually reminds me of the Zemi Valley.

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The hike was going well until I ran into this....it says (Turkish translated of course) "Closed - Danger - Closed - Dangerous - No Entrance" Do you think they were trying to get a point across?

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Of course I didn't follow the warning because it was not locked and easily opened. The adventurer in me just took over!
It was an apple orchard. I wondered if these trees would come alive like those in the Wizard of Oz and throw rotten apples at me.

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Oh but wait, now I see why they said it was closed. I guess this is rather impassable. Actually it looked as if there was a tunnel, but I'm not that much of an adventurer. I did want to be able to come home and share my stories with my family. Oh, the dogs? They got left on the other side of the gate. I didn't think they would stick around but they were waiting for me when I came back out.

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Another tunnel...this one I did go through...

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And there was my Turkish guide leading me on!

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Ah! Back in the sunlight!

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You can see one of the dogs further up the trail here leading me into a little side valley. I wondered what was in store for me!

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Some beautiful frozen seed pods

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Beautiful sculpture by Nature

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Up a slippery, narrow slope. It seems much easier when you have four legs.

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What a view! This was my reward!

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The dog sat down and looked out...and just sat there as if to tell me this is what I was suppose to be doing. It was what I was suppose to be doing. I sad there for the longest time, completely unaware of the cold snow on my bottom. It doesn't get much better than this.

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Until you get hungry and bring out the snacks.

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This was one of my most cherished moments. Just watching these dogs become my guardians. Knowing that they understand what a treasure this place is, what divine beauty is, what serenity is, what a gift solitude can be.

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Then I went butt-sledding down this hill

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A quartet in the symphony of nature

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Breathtaking doesn't do this justice

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Frozen in time

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Another gate with a warning about dogs

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Hike was almost at an end...time for a roll in the snow

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and a rest in the sunshine

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and one last look at some cave houses that are still being used as modern day dwellings

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Posted by oceanchild 27.01.2009 09:19 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Returning to Cappadocia, if only in photos - Christmas day

Goreme Open Air Museum and Swords Valley

Other than I have been thinking about Cappadocia and reliving, through photos, my time I spent there I don't have much to say with these. This was truly an incredible time, probably the best I had my entire time abroad so I wanted to add a few more photos from my last days in Cappadocia. Christmas day was wonderful. I went to church. No, not an active church, there are none in Goreme that I know of, but to the cave churches at the Goreme Open Air museum. I had been there before, last January. In fact it was standing in one of those churches looking up at the wonderful frescoes that I realized I was on the wrong academic path. It was not modern history that I wanted to study, but ancient and religious history. I'm glad I made that change. I still love modern history but changing my major to Religious and Classical studies has opened up these wonderful travel opportunities for me! Now let's just hope it opens up some grand opportunities once I have my degree!

The Goreme Open Air museum is a wonderful collection of rock-cut churches and other buildings that came to be in the 10th through 12th centuries. The churches have some of the best preserved frescoes of the rock-cut churches. This at one time existed as a Christian monastic community. The artwork of the churches varies from the minimal and simplistic to wonderfully colorful and detailed frescoes. Some are better preserved than others, with the Dark Church and Buckle Church having the most colorful. Needless to say, the Open Air Museum is a must see if one is visiting Cappadocia.

As you can see, it is truly open air

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Of course I seem to meet wonderful cats everywhere I go. This lovely little guy was intent on staying with me and cuddling. It was very hard to put him down and continue on. I am thankful that most of the cats I saw were well taken care of, or at least appeared so.

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A very nice Turkish man offered to take my photo for me....and I have to say this is one of my favorite photos

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Leaving the kitty to charm some other visitors I went on and explored the churches in the open air museum

St. Barbara church is small, very open, well lighted, and simplistic in design....

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The Apple Church takes it a step up in artistic design. The colors are not as saturated as the Dark Church or Buckle Church, but it is lovely in its own right

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Hmmm...that's the first time I've noticed that part of my face got into this picture...too funny!!

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The Dark Church is my favorite. The detail, the color...they are all so exquisite. It is so well preserved because of the manner in which the entrance was created. The doorway leads to a tunnel that bends to the right as you enter, keeping light out and the paint preserved.

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There are other churches and various buildings within the museum, but those are the highlights. Then there is the wonderfully treacherous stairs that one must climb to reach one of the other buildings. I'm sure these are not bad in summer, but covered with ice they were quite a challenge.

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Once you leave the museum there is one other church on the outside down the street. This is the Buckle Church. It comes a close second behind the Dark Church. The colors here are outstanding and I simply love the blue hues!

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Christmas afternoon I went hiking through Swords Valley. I had passed it the day before as I climbed above the valley in the snowfall. I'm sure I could have explored so much more if time had allowed but I found some amazing cones and beautiful landscapes! To top it all off I saw an amazing sun dog as the afternoon wore on and chased a hot air balloon! It was an amazing day, as were all my days here. As with all my hikes I had no idea where I was headed, I just went. Here is what I saw.

A horse farm...

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Untrodden path in the snow....

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Beautiful, crisp, clean....

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A lone cone...

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Cave room....I climbed in here and had my lunch...and called my mom to wish her happy Christmas..

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Hot air balloons are a common site in Cappadocia if the weather allows flight

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I actually chased this one!

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What a wonderland!

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But it isn't all fairy chimneys and windswept badlands. Cappadocia grows apples and grapes.

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Uchisar castle from afar

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And finally the day was topped off by seeing these wonderful sun dogs! I'll let www.astrophys-assist.com describe what sun dogs are since they do it better than I ever could

Sun dogs, also called mock suns, are colored, luminous spots caused by the refraction of light by six-sided ice crystals in the atmosphere. These bright spots form in the solar halo at points that are 22 degrees on either side of the sun and at the same elevation as the sun. Below is a closeup of a sundog to the left of the sun.

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Posted by oceanchild 26.01.2009 05:16 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

I'm back at home, safe and sound

Yep....I made it home, safe and sound. Not problems, no horror stories, no obnoxious people on the flight (except the guy next to me from Cameroon who did not know how to keep his elbows in his space. Now I know planes are tight these days, but crikey!! I think I have bruises on my arm from his restless wiggling..he was worse than a two year old!)

It was a long trip home. Left Goreme, Turkiye at 3 PM Sunday (8 EST) and here is what followed:

1 hour shuttle ride on a cold, crowded mini bus from Goreme to Kayseri. I had been given so much tea in the hours before I left that I thought my bladder would burst by the time I got to the airport in Kayseri. I had the driver a 20YTL bill and tell him to keep the change because I have to pee so bad. Oh, but then I have to go through security! Standing there, wiggling, turning yellow I'm sure I finally make it through only to have the guy at xray call me over and ask me what is in my tripod case. I explain to him what it was, he looks at me strange then tells me to go. Ok, now I have to go check in because I can't get my huge 29kg bag into the bathroom. So I check in, get my luggage checked and literally RUN to the bathroom and never in my life have I been so glad to see a squatty!! I'd take a freakin' hole in the ground at this point. Thank goodness I am pretty adept at doing the squatty potty and I didn't pee on my pants or my shoes. So it's through a second round of security which went smoothly and then about a 45 minute wait in this rinky dink tiny airport waiting for my flight to leave.

2 hour flight to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. I like Turkish Airlines. They serve you food, even on 1 hour flights. Real food, not peanuts or pretzels. Food, beverage, hot beverage...all at no extra charge. Olympic Airlines does the same, but there food is always a mystery to me. Turkish Airlines food is identifiable at least. Usually a sandwich, a salad, and desert. Arrive Istanbul 7:20ish PM (noonish EST Sunday)

12, long, boring, long, sleepless, long hours in the Ataturk airport. Thankfully wi-fi was available. Outlets were not as easy to find though. Food was expensive. People were loud. The lights were bright. The seats were hard, cold, metal. Thank goodness nej entertained me with advice on farts. I chatted with both my DD's....I people watched. I read, I dozed. I about jumped for joy when the counters opened for me to check in at 5am. Through passport control where the guy notes I have been to Turkiye before and tells me he bets I will be back (he's right, but I will never spend another night in the airport again if I can help it) and then he asks me what color my eyes are. Uh, red, white and blue....bloodshot. Finally I can do some duty free shopping!! Then when I head to my gate I find that a large group of travelers had moved into the area in full and were sleeping on all the seats and the floor in the area. So there was no waiting there...back out to Duty Free! Finally got to board, after another security check, 20 minutes late.

3 hour flight to Zurich...I've lost track of time by now. I think it departs around 8 AM (2AM EST). Breakfast is served, thank goodness. I'm starving by now. I sleep a little. Land in Zurich a bit late, I have just about an hour before my flight leaves to DC. Thank goodness I didn't have to move from one terminal to another. This one boards and leaves on time...I think around 12:35 Zurich time (it's 6 hours earlier here I think...so around 6:35 AM EST)

9 hour flight to Dulles....boring, long, elbowed numerous times, video system quits working so I can't watch movies...at least the lady on the other side of me is nice and interesting to chat with. She's a linguist who works for the US Army. Jordanian born....tells me I should visit Jordan and Syria....I would love to! I have to say it was the most uncomfortable flight I had ever been on. Window seats are the best, I hope next time I get one.

Customs at Dulles was a piece of cake and finally I was greeted with a long, very long, very needed, very wonderful hug from my hubby. Boy did I miss those! I was so wired though, I insisted on showering, dressing in some clean clothes, and heading into DC for dinner. Yes, I miss the cities. It was nice to just walk around that evening, with Tim by my side. We had dinner at an Irish pub and then headed back to the hotel, where I think I fell into a deep Turkiye dream filled sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. In fact when I woke up I thought I was still in Turkiye! Tuesday we drove to Charlottesville where we had lunch and then to Madison Heights to visit with my youngest daughter. It's nice to see family again. I think once we left there I must have slept on the way home, because I do not remember much of the trip. My parents were happy to see me back and it's good to be home. I'm finally getting my body back on Virginia time, although I am still having dreams that I am in Turkiye. Every night. I've managed to take some walks and did a wonderful 7 mile hike yesterday. I am determined to stay in shape. Walking in Athens and hiking in Turkiye did my body good. Let's hope I can keep it up.

Now I have to go back through my photos and do some backtrack posting of adventures that I have left out. After that I think this blog will come to an end, but there are more adventures ahead, I assure you. I will likely start a new blog. Who knows. I'll see how busy life gets.

Posted by oceanchild 05.01.2009 06:12 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

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