Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the Ali-pooh-pooh trip

We drove straight from the hollow cow to the airport to pick up Nanna. We showed her our fossils and then took her to Safron Bolu. We walked around the old ottoman city, bought a sketch from a tormented street artist and then on to Amasara.

We checked in with the Black Sea, took a boat ride to rabbit Island, played cards and ate a lot of popsicles.

What a lovely time. Then we came back to Ankara to celebrate Pat's birthday with a ladybug cake. It wasn't homemade but it WAS a very cute ladybug.
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Fossil finding

Sloane and her bucket o'fossils (they are ALL OVER the ground!)

To get there, you just drive down lots of random roads to nowhere and then turn on a dirt road and park at the cow carcass.

Cort got into it. Jackson did too but I didn't get a photo of him because he was climbing over the neighboring mountain by the time I got out of the car...he was with other 7 & 8 year old boys and apparently, we need to spend 4 hours rock climbing every day because there was not one whine, dispute, or disagreement the whole time.

Got in a little rock climbing.
Billie doing her usual pose "Supermodel/tomboy"
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Thursday, October 08, 2009

One big trip

So, we decided to take a big road trip...see some sights before we leave Turkey. We planned for one long day of driving at the beginning and one long day at the end. In between would just be shorter trips so it wouldn't be too much time in the car. We didn't have reservations at any hotels or a set plan of cities to stay in...we just thought we'd stop around...if we liked a place we'd stay for a night or two...if not, we'd just drive on. It's kind-of a "let the chips fall where they may" philosophy. And by this I mean don't freak out when the Doritos are all over the floor, the car seats and there are orange smears on the headrests. You have to be prepared for that on a road trip.
First we drove to Pammukale- we were all set with snacks and forgotten toys and audio books on CD to start things off. We did the mandatory road-trip stop in Afyon at Burger King and all of a sudden we were in Pammukale...driving time under 5 hours, shorter than we expected. We checked in to an overpriced hotel directly across the street from the amazing site. We got on swim suits, walked across the street, hiked up the hill stopping in all the ponds on the way up. At the top of the Mtn. there's a city of ruins- Hierapolis, which is fun to climb around in. We skipped the 'Antique Pool' (10 euros for the same water we were just sitting in?!) and hiked back down. A 30 min and easy hike over the sand/rock/clay stuff that looks like ice.
Next day we drove to Selcuk. This is where Ephesus is- we stayed at a great hotel there with a little organic garden and the food was EXCELLENT. Then we drove to the top of Ephesus and hiked around there for 3 or 4 hours. The hotel was easy on the wallet and darling with antiques and quite elegant.
Next day we went to Mary's house, it's a quick walk through but very nice to see, be very careful when you let your 3 year old light a candle but you've got to let her do it, it's Mary's house and all, right?
Eat some lunch and get back in the van to drive to Marmaris. Walk around Marmaris, ducking in to hotels to check on prices. After 17 min or so in Marmaris you will be sure to feel MUCH better about how body looks in a bathing suit. Why do the guide books not say that super-tan, over 70s people in very skimpy suits gather in mass on the beaches here? It's very touristy in Marmaris and it may be fun to attend one of the "Elvis or Micheal Jackson" shows but it is NOT fun to listen to the show's throbbing bass music in your hotel room all night. Marmaris is too touristy so the next morning we move on to Dalyan.
If you're lucky to have friends who've led you to a fantastic little hotel with a kitchenette and A/C and helpful staff like us you can stay at________. We really like Dalyan, walking around the town, taking a boat ride, seeing some tombs (again), Iztuzu beach is fantastic amazing for it's views and amazing that it hasn't been industrialized! There's a Hamam there and 1 shopping street with funky stores, lots of cafes along the river water.
Stay for two nights and when you're all packed up and ready to go you decide to do something crazy and call ahead for reservations in Kas so that you actually HAVE a destination. Don't panic when there is NO HOTEL ROOMS AT ALL available in Kas...because now it's Friday night and there's some festival in Kas that weekend. Just stay in Kalkan...and wind up liking it better than Kas anyway!
In Kalkan we stayed at Hotel Meldi and it was PERFECT. We had the rooftop terrace room, it's a teeny tiny room but you can stick one of the kids in the next room with the grandmas (bring grandmas and sleeping bags with you on this trip!). The terrace is big and perfect for staying up late sitting under the stars, overlooking the harbor and talking about old times...or, if you're Bill for working on your laptop under the stars finishing up papers for your final grad school class. Kalkan has really fun shops, strolling and restaurants. The staff at Hotel Meldi is really fun and the breakfast was lovely.
You can take a day trip to Kas (20 min drive) and get a boat from there to Kekova- which is INCREDIBLE. Or, walk around the shops there for super cool boutique shops and spend loads of money on handmade shawls if you're a grandma. Get free bracelets if you're a cute little girl who won't smile at anyone.
After two nights in the lovely town of Kalkan- shopping and long're ready to move on to something more active. Saklikent Gorge was one of our favorite spots on the trip. You're in this huge gorge with a river running through it and you hike IN THE RIVER. At one point it's rather deep and you have to cross it and the kids feel like they're getting caught up in the super strong current and they go into panic mode...but have no fear!...there's enterprising 7 year old Turkish boys who will rescue you in the hopes of a lire. The rest of the walk is easy and the water doesn't go much past your ankles in most parts. This walk was SO COOL. You can even have lunch on a little raft that is slightly attached to a wobbly foundation of some sort so that you may break away and be whisked down the river at any point during your meal...hey, this IS Turkey so it's not like there's any safety regulations or anything. The grandmas may refuse to take part in this risk but by leaving some people on sure ground at least you have someone to take pictures of you before anything drastic happens.
Then, you plan to stop at a hotel near some lake...which isn't really interesting but seems a good stopping point on the way back to Ankara. Make this decision because you're awake and alive and feeling fresh from your brushes with death this morning. After driving for 6 hours or so...after 7 days of traveling...and having people keep fallling asleep on you so that you are forced to hold uncomfortable arm positions for hours at a time...weighing the discomfort of your arm vs. having to listen to the whining if that person wakes up...well, at that point your brain just turns to mush. And for some reason you might start thinking that Afyon isn't that far away...and there's Burger King there so that's exciting. And then you might just get the crazy idea that well, since you're all in the car and as if you haven't already done enough that day...maybe you could just keep going all the way home. Especially if no one is checking on the cat and you're wondering if you left enough food for SEVEN might just think it will be easier to get home than to stop and unpack at another hotel. But you're wrong. So, the last 3 hours of your trip are the worst of the whole 7 days...but three hours really isn't that bad for a whole week of mostly goodness. You know it's bad when your 2 year old won't be comforted by anything...not even a twizzler will help at this point.
But when you get home and the cat is still was all worth it.

We're going away again this weekend...

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Pammukale is so cool! You can cool off in the spring waters as you hike up the mountain. And when you get there...a whole ancient city in ruins to climb around on!

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it's not always pretty

There were some grumpy times. Especially when Sloane noticed that Cort had destroyed her sand castle...again.

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Southern Turkey beauty

There were some beautiful moments on the trip.

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Med. Road trip

We went to Ephesus with Nannou and Nannou 2 (two Nannous?!)

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purple sparkle skirt

This is what it looks like when Bill comes home from work. Sometimes he's greeted by his son, who has selected his own outfit for the day- and sometimes that outfit is a purple, sparkley, skirted leotard. He runs around looking like a pleasant little girl as he hits Sloane on the arm with a back scratcher, sneaks sports equipment out of the closet to drag baseball bats and golf clubs around the house and screams "Shoot you! Shoot you!" as he chases guests around with his 'finger gun'. Not really a gentle child at all.
And sometimes Sloane insists on wearing her too-small pajama shirt all day. And usually, the big kids are not here because they are outside until 6:17 every night because we tell them they must come home at 6:15pm. And sometimes Daddy runs home from work instead of using his car because he's a freak like that, so he's all sweaty and that doesn't stop anyone from climbing on him at all.
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