Halloween01

Don’t worry we made it home safely…

As you may have noticed our European Extravaganza has dwindled in the last 2 months. To not leave you in too much suspense we did make it home safely! However, I was only about half way through sharing our travels with you. Unfortunately, my husband who was helping me compile stories and tips from our travels became unavailable to help any further. I was hoping it was just a temporary blip, but it doesn’t appear to be. So I’m moving on to bigger or better things, or at least other things in till his schedule frees up.

We’ve been busy with camping trips, Disneyland trips, and lots of new fall and Halloween crafts and cooking. My younger (and only) sister has also become a first time home owner of a hundred plus year old farmhouse and is about to become the owner of a dog only slightly smaller than the house and will be joining me in sharing some of her adventures only the way!

Europe042

August 8th – Cappadocia, Turkey

Today we decided to head out on our own. We had loved our tour the day before and had been very happy with the tour company, but we wanted to do a full day of underground cities and then visit another local town we were not staying in. There are lots of tours that visit one city or the other but for both we ventured out on our own; this is also why we had a rental car.

We started out first thing in the morning at Derinkuyu Underground City. This was awesome!!! Top pieces of travel I’ve ever done! It’s really a full city, built down; this isn’t built into the side of a mountain. The city dates back to the 8th century B.C. and supposed to be 60 meters deep and could provide shelter for 20,000 people, (no that’s not a typo).
Continue reading

Europe041

August 7th – Cappadocia, Turkey

A great day! After a nice breakfast at our hotel we tentatively headed out on a full day tour. We signed up for the tour the day before once arriving in Urgup. The tour was run through the local travel office, Red Valley. They had several tours all of which seemed well put together and planned. Our uncertainly came from doing a full day group tour with a 16 month old. One of the reasons we are able to do so much with her is because we hold onto as much control as possible so we can adapt on a whim, which we wouldn’t be able to do on a tour. The other concern was that her behavior would affect the rest of the tour; or slow them down. We didn’t want to negatively impact anyone else’s experience because we had a toddler. Before signing up for the tour we asked about a hundred questions so that we could do our best to prepare for any scenario. We were told that the van we would be using had room for the stroller if we chose to bring it, which was encouraging. So after breakfast we collected our things and headed to the front of the hotel to wait. When the van arrived it was clean and appeared pretty new, (a big step up from our rental car), and as promised had room in the back for our stroller and a second bag our toddler supplies. So off we went with our little one in the Ergo and our day pack; and a trunk of “in case of emergency” items.
Continue reading

Europe040

August 6th – Cappadocia, Turkey

On Monday August 6th we headed out way too earlier to be up, again and had a smooth ride to the Istanbul airport for a flight to Cappadocia. The Cappadocia area of Turkey is known for its underground cities carved into the rook and its vertical rock formations known as fairy chimneys. We were very excited to see and explore the area.
Continue reading

Europe039

August 5th – Istanbul, Turkey

On Sunday we travelled to Topkapi Palace which was the primary residence of the Ottoman Empire rulers and a sprawling complex. Having come from the land of castles and palaces (Europe) Topkapi was not a disappointment, but it did not stand out as the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque had on the previous day. One of the highlights, however, was lunch on the Palace grounds overlooking the Bosporus Strait. After thoroughly exploring the Palace and adjacent gardens we struck out for the Asian side of Istanbul via ferry, another quintessential tourist experience and opportunity to rub elbows with fellow tourists and Turkish commuters alike. After two strong days of sightseeing, we made our way back home for a quiet dinner in preparation for our morning flight to Cappadocia and her fairy chimneys.
Continue reading

Europe038

August 4th – Istanbul, Turkey

We stayed with friends in their amazing place, but it was a good hike to downtown historic Istanbul, which gave us the opportunity to experience all facets of Turkish public transportation! All in all we experienced bus, train, funicular, tram, taxi and ferry as well as lots of walking. We started with a walk down Istiqlal (Independence) Street which is a main thoroughfare in upper Istanbul with stops along the way to see an Orthodox church, sample some Turkish delight, and have a savory Turkish nosh. After Istiqlal Street it was down the funicular to walk across the Galata Bridge which separates old historic Istanbul from not quite as old and almost just as historic Istanbul. The lower level of the bridge is an equal mix of Pike’s Place market, Ponte Vecchio and Brooklyn Bridge with shops, restaurants and bridge infrastructure all fighting for space. After surviving the Galata we hopped on a tram and headed to the Grand Bazaar, which is an oversized covered version of every medina in Morocco. Even though we figured that if you have seen one bazaar, you have seen them all we were blown away by its size, scope and density which even the Medina of Fes in Morocco cannot quite compare.
Continue reading

Europe037

August 3rd – Istanbul, Turkey

On Friday, 3 August we left Europe behind and flew into Turkey. This was a section of the trip that we had really been looking forward to. As a secular Muslim country with a moderate Islamist party leading the government, there seemed to be many connections with our adopted country of Morocco. We were to find that our initial observation was both right and wrong. In addition to exploring this huge country we took the opportunity to link up with some more friends who are living in Istanbul.
Continue reading

Europe036

August 2nd – Basel, Switzerland

The following day after overcoming our disappointment we set out for our full day in Basel and quickly realized that we had seen most of it the night before. The tourist information office was open though and we were able to get a map and spent the day following a couple recommended walks. In fact, the highlight of our trip was talking to the tourist information office about Christmas markets in Basel and how exciting a city Basel is over Christmas. Fortunately, we were already planning on being in Switzerland over Christmas and started making plans to take a trip to Basel’s Christmas market. All in all it was a pretty relaxed trip and we were able to get ready for an airplane flight the next day, (which requires way more work than train travel), and our 2 weeks in Turkey which started with a 4:30 am cab ride to the airport. Stay tuned!
Continue reading