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Hard work in Turkey

Some days when you travel around the world you have to do the hard work of actually traveling. That's right, we don't spend all of our time lounging around Turkish gulet, drinking double gin & tonics starting at 11 am. Today we had to leave paradise, the Mare Norstrom, and travel to a new location, Pamukkale.

Our Turkish Gulet, the Mare Norstrom, all 132 ft of her. More boat photos in later blog.

To get to Panukkale we needed a rental car. The boat crew dropped off at the airport to pick up a Hertz rental car for the journey. I love these huge international companies like Hertz, Pringles and Oreo. They make you feel so at home. The Hertz guys, all dress like their US counter parts, went through the exact same employee training program for gathering signatures and questions about extra insurance. As a rule, we always refuse the extra insurance.

Geoff takes the wheel first at 1:30 pm. I am in charge of directions. My first direction is to get us some lunch. We stop at a gas station where Geoff suggests I go ask for a map to get us to Pumukkale. The guy inside the gas station replies to my map request by asking me where we are going? I'm thinking lunch, I but have to admit I can't remember the name of the place we are going so he starts naming some Turkish cities. I recognized one of them, so he gave me a map. Geoff approved, "Yes, this will get us there." The name of the city I remembered was where we came from, not where we were going. We were on our way.

After driving through a few towns. Geoff sees a road sign and announces with confidence we are indeed on the right road. One good thing about Turkey is that they don't have that many roads. If you are on pavement, you are probably on the right road. This cannot be said for all countries. In Costa Rica, for example, every little village decided to build their own road, and the government never put their foot down and said, "No. We are only going to have a few good roads." So in Costa Rica, there are no bridges on many of their paved roads. You make many river crossing by driving right through the water, and you can still on the "right" road to the airport.

But I regress. We were headed north along the coast, in search of Pamukkale in the central part of Turkey when the road turns right turn, up this huge mountain. Suddenly we are on a beautiful, new, divided four lane highway. The grade was steep, 8%, and the vista's beautiful with a national forest on the left hand side and farmland and the Aegean Sea on the right.

We finally stop at a little spot for lunch that is full of people, with greenery for shade, and lots of available parking. Most people in Turkey do not speak English but the owner/cook knew the English names of the main ingredients in their dishes. He invites us into the kitchen to see our options. This is an excellent way to select food and we said yes to every pot he pointed towards; meat, beans, rice, peppers, salad, and a plastic bin of fresh bread.

Once Geoff took the wheel again, he realized we was tired of driving since he didn't have any Turkish coffee. I agree to drive on my caffeine high so he can nap. Geoff pulls over at the top of the mountain and hands me the keys, "Do you remember how to drive a stick shift?" "Of course I can drive a stick shift!" I was just a little confused at first. The beautiful. new, divided four lane highway ended at the top of the mountain and we were headed down the mountain on a windy, two lane, bumpy road, with a steep drop off on Geoff's side of the car and ongoing traffic on my side. I momentarily forgot about how to shift down. Plus, I didn’t realize there were six gears along with reverse instead of the normal four gears. As we head down the mountain, Geoff reminded me to take my foot off the clutch. I told him he was making me nervous and he responded, I was making him nervous. We lived through the first few hairpin turns and me passing a couple of logging trucks which gave Geoff enough confidence to take his nap.

Conveniently, he wakes up to drive again just after the road returned to divided four lanes but before we hit the rain storm I could see approaching. The temperature drops twenty degrees centigrade and rocks of hail were coming down so fast the ground soon looked like it had snowed. Most of the cars had pulled over to the side of the road to wait the storm out, but we got behind the few brave souls willing to drive without being able to see in front of their car. I started to wonder how much body work in Turkey costs compared to the US.

Around 5 pm, we make it to Pamukkale, without hail damage. Geoff was hoping to see a rugby game on TV that night and I was hoping to see some Turkish dancing. I can't go into too much more detail and keep the blog short. But I will say we saw Japan beat South Africa in the World Cup Rugby tournament, a game considered to be the biggest upset ever in sports. I got to see my Turkish dancing when we crashed a wedding celebration with six male Turkish dancers twirling around in a circle. I couldn't get a good enough picture of the dancers from by position behind the bushes to include here so I am including a photo of the wedding cake instead.

Wedding cake awaiting presentation at a wedding in Pamukkale.

Before I end, I want you to know I will be posting a an answer to that body work question in a later blog. As we were leaving our hotel in Pamukkale a few days later, Geoff backed right into a light pole hidden behind our rental car. Maybe you shouldn't always reject the extra Hertz insurance but then it did add a nice ending to this blog on the hardships of travel.

Warm water of the Pamukkale Travertines cut into limestone with beneficial mud scrubs.

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