Friday, April 30, 2010

Spa at Pine Bay, Kusadasi, Turkey

another Turkish adventure!!

i found this photo which is similar to the haman we visited.... but there will be none of my photos here.

this afternoon Jim and I went for our Haman and massage and i’m so very glad i didn’t pass up this adventure!!! oh my....

So, we walk into the reception area of the resort’s spa, were given towels and instructions to go to the dressing room, take off all clothes... “be naked”, and wrap towels around you. when we came out we were met by a young man and a young woman who were also wearing towels (well, she also had on a body suit thing) and they led us to a large room with a big marble table sort of thing in the middle and with open alcove-type spaces around the edge of the room which had running water. she told Jim to lie down on his back on one side of the “table”, and he led me to the other side. when i was lying down, he carefully arranged my 2 towels. next, basins of hot water were poured over my body, followed by ground coffee (sounds kinda kinky, huh?), then he rubbed the coffee gently into my skin almost all over. the coffee is supposed to open the pores and exfoliate the skin a bit. after the coffee and rubbing came more hot water sloshed all over, then the back side was treated to the same, followed by sudsy water from a hose kind of thing... more rubbing and more sudsy water on both sides, more hot water, then wrap in big towel and sit on a marble bench in one of those open alcove places and get sloshed with more hot water. then wrapped head to toe in more towels and led to a chaise lounge in another area and told to rest a bit. after 10 minutes or so, the same people came back and took us to our own softly lit massage room with 2 tables and soothing music playing. did i say yet “life is good?”... well, it most certainly is and i enjoyed this haman and massage experience to the fullest! this was a lovely sensual and relaxing time. as i was lying there with my eyes closed i saw the most beautiful colored pictures on the back of my eyelids. the image would stay for only a moment, then float off and be replaced by other amorphic (from the Greek morph “form”) softly colored images... really pretty! and, no, there were no drugs of any sort involved. when we were back at the reception area, i was asked how it was... did i like it, to which i responded that i totally loved it and felt wonderful and could i take that young man home with me. she said that she thought he’d go.......

so, that was my totally not-to-be-missed Turkish adventure for today! and we are back at our bungalow drinking ouzo, which they call Turkish raki and isn’t raki at all! i feel all relaxed and noodley and a little bit goofy.

these photos belong with the post below this

this is Stelios with his new-found drinking buddy! we were at Stelios' taverna.
lunch - Berend, Stelios, Jim, Linda and Greg
this is the inside of Stelios' taverna, with writings all over the wall.
the beginning of the meal......

last day in Crete

things are way out of order now, but it seems the only way i can do it...

last day in Crete.... Linda, Greg, Jim and I with our dear friend, Berend who has a touring and trekking business in Vamos and has been all over western Crete with clients and also while looking for new treks. anyway, Berend has a wealth of knowledge of the history of the area, knows of lots of places to go, and of course he knows the locals along the way.... all of which makes him an excellent guide. he’s also a delightful person to be with... great sense of humor! young, energetic and full of a sense of adventure. so... he picked us up in his mini-van and the first stop was to see an old Roman bridge where an old road used to go down to the ocean. talk about well-built... still there and in good shape after all these years! on up in the hills south of Rethymnon with stop at Lake Kournas, biggest fresh water lake in Crete. parked near a taverna which had a ram’s skull perched on a pile of rocks as part of its outside decor. further on are the springs at Aryoupolis, then to the upper village of Aryoupolis where we walked around and of course had to visit another old church, which had beautiful well-tended flower beds around it. next stop was roman grave sites in the side of a hill, and another chapel. walked down a very very long cobblestone road to see the grave sites and the largest tree in Crete... which takes 14 men standing hand-to-hand to go around it. more feelings of amazement and awe in this area!! by then we’d walked and gawked the morning away and the next part of the plan was lunch. Berend decided on an out of the way taverna where he takes trekking groups. Stelios was happy to see him and brought out a round of raki before starting the lunch.... began with 2 huge bowls of salads, bread, oil, then came plate of sausages, plate of grilled pork, piled-high plate of fried potatoes, another of potato frittata, yogurt and of course non-stop wine. he said no to a request for beer... we must drink his home-made wine from his vineyard... and it was very good. his wife had been out harvesting herbs and came to show us what she’d picked. according to Berend and later confirmed by others who had been there... Stelios has a regular routine of going around to his customer’s tables, sitting with them and sampling the food, drinking wine with them, and by the end of the evening being totally happily, jolly drunk! at lunch he brought out a pitcher of wine, sat down by Jim and made him his drinkin’ buddy... Stelios would fill both their glasses, hit the table with his fist, hoist his glass for a toast, then chug it down... expecting Jim to do the same! he tried it with me and i only did once, then declared Stelios the champ! so, that was another one-of-a-kind happy adventure. and the next stop was a pottery village, where they make ceramics and every other shop sells it. Jim found a really sweet raki glass and i got a small vase! wandered around for awhile, stopped for coffee, then on to Rethymnon for a quick walk thru part of the old town before taking Linda and Greg to the bus station so they could go on to Heraclion and then see the ruins of Knossos Palace, a famous Minoan site, the next day. and we went back to Vamos to have our last night dinner at Bloumosifi and get packed to leave the next day and fly to Athens, then Samos. very grateful for no strikes or volcanic ash in Athens that day!!!!

biggest tree in Crete
Roman tomb
another Roman tomb
the five holy virgins in one of the small chapels we went to. the story goes something like... during one of the occupations in Crete these 5 young women were ordered to marry and submit to some of the conquerors, refused and were martyred.

ram's skull as part of outside decor of a taverna
Lake Kournas
Roman bridge
our neighbor, who brought out a tray of raki and shortbread biscuits to welcome Linda and Greg to Vamos... they are all big on hospitality that way!
me and Jim with our housekeeper, Eleni, who came from Romania to Vamos.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Selcuk, Turkey

did i say "life is GOOD"?? it is! and wonderful amazing things keep happening for us! i sure do hope our "good karma" bank account holds up for awhile longer! we went to Selcuk to spend the day going to the museum there and to a mosque.... did that, and also had a sweet adventure.
as we parked and got out of the car we were greeted by a friendly fellow who started out with the usual pleasantries of "how are you?" "where are you from?" "oh, yes, i've been to Oregon" and of course invited us to take a look at his carpet store. we ever so pleasantly told him that we'd already bought carpets and just couldn't buy more, and that we were headed for the museum. he told us where the entrance was and wished us a good day. we really did enjoy that museum... one of the best i've seen! the displays were all well-lit and had interesting info posted beside them... and also in english. we spent at least an hour there, or more, and on the way out i noticed an art exhibit/sale and went in. one of the first paintings i saw was of 2 women spinning on turkish spindle and knitting... and of course, i fell in love with it.. but it was cost prohibitive. an old man approached me and said his wife had done all the paintings there, so i asked him about my favorite one and he told me his wife spins and knits! of course, a lot of the conversation was done in pantomime. he showed me a smaller painting of an old woman knitting and it went much better with my budget... so it's coming home with me! will take a photo of it later!.

when we came out of the museum, there was our new best friend...Ali! wanting to know if we'd like to go now to see his carpet shop and we said what we were now seeking was a place to eat! guess what! he knew a place just around the corner... so he took us there. his friend/partner,
AliBaba (seriously!!) owns a small Kebab place, so we went in. and this turned out to be another of those lovely experiences! Ali and brother Mehmet run this place and Ali also has a carpet shop next door. we had a lovely genuine Turkish lunch... including a "pancake" which is like pita dough with spinach and feta sandwiched into it and grilled.
this is AliBaba's wife cooking in the kitchen (above) and grilling the pancakes below.
after lunch we went next door to AliBaba's shop and he showed us how yarn is spun on a Turkish spindle! and also demonstrated how the double knotted rug weaving is done. isn't that a sweet face? really a nice man!
here's Ali (the first one) with Mehmet in front of the kebab house.
below is what i'm calling a drive-by shooting... taken from the car as we drove by a carpet shop.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kusadasi, Turkey

at pine bay resort in Kusadasi, Turkey. took ferry over from Samos, a 1 3/4 hour

ride, on Sat. It seems that we have a lot in our good karma bank account! So far, all our plans and meetings-up have worked out beautifully! after we got off the ferry and headed toward the taxi area, a really nice man asked if we wanted a taxi and where were we going. he took us to the hotel, chatting all the way! seems he lived in LA and Seattle and drove down the coast from WA to CA, knew Cannon Beach, had been to Beaverton, mainly he works in construction and drives taxi when that work is slow. he asked if we’d like him to take us to several places of interest around this area, it would

take 3 hours or so and he’d charge us 30 euro. turns out this guy, Savash, is a wealth of info on the history and historical sites around here, loves Turkey, loves the US and is in general a really happy nice guy! his family owns Hotel Bella, which he says got high ratings in several travel books... Lonely Planet is the only one i can think of right now. So.... ok, we are staying at this resort on our time share points and we’d reserved an apt. with 2 bedrooms, sml sitting area and sml kitchen... when we checked in those accomodations weren’t available, so instead they gave us 2 side-by-side “rooms”, which is actually a bedroom, sitting room, bathroom, kitchen (sort of) and balcony. this resort is really huge and lovely... several swimming pools, several restaurants and snack bars, massage, a doctor on premises, and i’m sure a lot more stuff that i can’t remember. so, first night we try to find a restaurant and could only find a gigantic buffet area and they wanted 20 euro/each (about $30), which not only seemed WAY expensive, but was not what we wanted! we were finally able to find the in-charge person and convinced him we only wanted a salad and glass of wine, so we each got a huge plate full of salad, bread and wine for about 5 euro. On Sun. a.m. Linda, our coyote, scouted out a snack bar by a pool where we could get a little lunch. At 2 p.m. Savash picked us up and we started our tour, going first to his home town. Selcuk, he stopped and pointed out the one remaining column of the temple of Artemis (one of the 7 wonders of the world) and we took photos. close by were some rounded dome-shaped things which were roman steam baths. i sure do wish we’d had a recorder so as to have a record of all the information he gave us... it was astounding! St. John’s Basilica was the first site.... lots of photos and wandering around. then the House of the Virgin Mary. and holy water which came from the springs which miraculously appeared when the area was suffering a severe drought. the 3rd archeological site was Ephesus and

that was the most impressive and extensive of all. and then.... he took us to the roof top restaurant of his family’s hotel and we had wine and snacks/appetizers/very good eating, and could practically see into several stork nests atop light poles. the closest one we watched while the mom brought food to the dad who was sitting on the egg. they take turns sitting til the baby hatches out! and THEN... we went to the basement room to meet the brother who (guess what!!) sells Turkish carpets! he gave us a lot of information on the tribal villages and the rugs they make. Linda and i casually threw out bits of stuff about yarn and dyeing. i asked which sheep’s wool they use... Karakul.. so i had to tell him about Caesar, the Karakul ram i had and the lovely cross-bred lambs i got from him. ok.. the short of it is that i bought 2 carpets... not huge, but not tiny either. will take photos of them when i’m home again, as they are right now all wrapped up and ready to travel. and then Savash brought us back. it was an incredible day and we felt SO fortunate that we’d found/been found by this guy, a really fine human being!

this may be complete heresy, but i’ve seen about all the historical ruins that i need to see, and walked and climbed enough hot stone and marble walkways to make my legs and feet ache. today is a day off for me. Linda and Greg got a rental car today and they and Jim took off to go to a park... which i’m sure has more ruins and rocks. and i stayed home to get some clothes washed, go to the lobby for internet and then try to write down some of what i’ve done and where i’ve been. still a lot of catching up to do!

still in Samos

there is a marvelous archeological museum in Vathi, Samos. first 2 photos taken in the museum. 3rd is a fresco in a small church from Roman times.

Friday, April 23, 2010

still in Samos

haven't time or energy right now to write much of anything. been doing lots and lots of walking and gawking, taking lots of photos and maybe next week in Kusadasi, Turkey will take a day to catch up on travel journal. for now, here's a couple of photos from the ruins of the Temple of Hera and one from the Archeological Museum of spinning whorls.

Awesome is an over-used word, but i was totally awed to be standing in the Temple of Hera and to look at the huge size of the area and try to imagine what it might have been like......

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


today we arrived on the Greek island of Samos for a 3 day stay. I don't claim any expertise in foreign policy, but i can see Turkey from my balcony! you betcha!! actually, i'd have to go to the top of the hill to see Turkey, but how important are facts anyway? highly over-rated!

yesterday we had a wonderful adventure for our last day in Crete... saw many many interesting things, walked miles... all of it uphill... took lots of photos... and i'm still exhausted. it didn't help that we spent the day today traveling. i'm hoping for a low-key day tomorrow and will upload a bunch of pictures and try to figure out where i was. ttfn and see you on the flip side!

edited: here's Turkey from the top of the hill....

Monday, April 19, 2010

One afternoon we met Marina at Liakoto, had an ouzo together and she and i were able to piece together a conversation. she has some english words and i have a few greek words, so we shared what’s been happenin’ in our respective worlds. she left for a few minutes and came back with 2 liters of wine and one of olive oil, all products of Alekos’ vineyard and olive trees, so very special to us! she also brought a small photo album and we got to see her new “friend”, Adoni, who is from her home island of Syros. from the looks of it, they are smitten with each other... Bravo!!

the weather has been warm and wonderful with only one day of clouds and a night of rain. the rain brings out all the snails and relatives, large and small. they hung around for a few days before disappearing again. they are awfully crunchy underfoot! eeewwww

we went for a walk around the neighborhood with Greg and Linda... and they all did some unauthorized lemon harvesting while i got the evidence! actually, lemon trees are abundant and most are heavy with lemons begging to be picked!

the roses are blooming... also hibiscus and bougainvilla and poppies and many more!

we enjoyed some refreshments on their front porch!

each of the rental houses has a plaque with its name. their porch is featured on a postcard which advertises the place.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

i’ve become a slacker on keeping up with my travel journal/blog. will try for a bit of catch up. it’s sunday, sunny lovely day going on, lots of bird singing and i’ve got Andrea Bocelli playing on my computer..... life is good. Greg and Linda arrived on Friday afternoon from Athens and after they took their bags to their house, we all sat at Bloumosifi at an outside table and sipped cold Mythos while we caught up on their travels (and travails) so far... and made plans for the next few days. they got an upgrade on their house because the one they reserved needed some work on it after the winter... and are staying at Xanthippi’s rental which is really really nice... and has wireless, a beautiful view of the White Mountains, all kinds of niceties plus a washing machine! yesterday we took the bus to Hania and i was happy that it went the long way so we went thru Gavalohori, Almirida, Kalives and a few other small villages, which was like a tour of the countryside! Hania was bustling busy and it looks like all the merchants are geared up for tourist season. we walked thru one of the narrow street/alley ways where it’s like an open market of tourist wares and trinkets, also lots of vendors with really nice Italian leather goods (i bought a really nice fanny pack with lots and lots of pockets!!), then went thru the big market... it has fresh fish and meat in one section, an area of cheeses and baked goods, some fresh fruit and vegetable vendors, and of course many vendors selling the Greek olive oil, soaps, raki, ouzo, candy (i bought some of my fave - Halvah- to take home), and of course lots of teeshirts and hats and key chains stuff. we walked down to the Old Harbor and after walking and looking for awhile, we let ourselves be hustled into one of the harbor-side tavernas for lunch. many of these places have a “hustler” standing out in the walkway who quite pleasantly starts talking to you in english... or german, and invites you to come and look at their menu. most of them have some sort of gimmick to get you talking to them and can be quite charming! anyway, we looked, we sat, and we have a nice lunch and Mythos, followed of course by raki and dessert which they just bring to you when they start clearing your dishes away automatically.

after lunch we wandered a bit more, stopped at our favorite art gallery/shop, Jim bought a little statue of "the happy warrior". by the time we got back to that horrid scary bus station we were hot and sweaty and totally ready to get on the bus and come back home!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Almirida - several days ago we took a taxi to Giorgios’ taverna (Aeraki which mean small breeze). we walked around Almirida for awhile, gawking and taking photos. it is a nice little beach town which becomes overrun with tourists during the season, which will start pretty soon. it is suffering a bit of a delay due to the volcanic ash which is drifting over Europe and causing cancellation of air traffic. i sure do hope it’s better by May 3 so we can get home!! anyway, had a nice dinner in the outdoor part of the taverna, were able to have a little time with Giorgios before the place started getting busy. was a good evening!