Thursday, December 15, 2011

Redskins Game, Occupy Baltimore and Skiing all in 8 days

From Miami I headed to Washington D.C. "The Rock" had been in Washington on business. Something to do with downing of the CIA drone over Iran.

While in D.C. The Rock got some god awful Redskins Tickets, sure they were on the 50 yard line, but the workout climbing all the steps to get to our seats was one of my harder workouts. The Redskins were playing the New York / New Jersey Jets, the game was a blow out the Jets crushing the Redskins.

Next on my agenda was heading out to Colorado for some skiing. The Rock had arranged a flight on one of "The Company" jets. The flight took off from a nondescript airfield just outside Baltimore. I had been curios about this Occupy Movement in the United States. I decided to take a few minutes and visit Occupy Baltimore.

What a wacky experience. There is a little public park in the corner of the Baltimore Inner Harbor, instead of a beautiful fountain and decorative features, the park was filed with name brand camping tents, organized like a little encampment. There was a larger tent, the food tent. While there I watch the goup serve dinner. I would say about 80% of the occupers were homeless or wanted to appear to look homeless. The other 20% were 20 something's that I doubt ever suffered a day in their lives. Most had smart phones, iPads, and one even had a TV / xBox set up, being powered by a gas generator and a satelite Internet connection. I wish these folks could spend a day in my village in Botswana and see how good they have it.

My prediction: Who ever is behind this protest will at some point realize they picked the wrong people to be the face of the protest. Every time I visit the United States it is clear why there are problems, no one wants to make sacrifices to fix them. Much like what I saw in Greece last September. In the next 20 to 40 years the United States will be in a very similar situation as Europe, except the only country that will be able to bail the United States out will be China. Unfortunately the United States citizens will not agree to the sacrifices China will require the United States to make in order to get the finical bailout and World War III will break out. I hope I do not live to see this happen.

Enough about politics, on to skiing in Colorado. It has been 6 months since I had been skiing, the plan three days of skiing, two at Winter Park and one at Copper Mountain. As usually I was staying at my brothers. One disappointment, no real snow, yes there was man made snow, but that is not the same. One nice thing is my niece Lauren was also visiting along with her friend MAD. Lauren had skied with me a few years back and had improved greatly over the last two years. MAD a beginner skier showed great improvement over the three days of skiing even with the poor snow conditions. I would rate the quality of skiing: 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Though disappointing it was ok since it was my first skiing of the season, it gave me a nice chance to get my ski legs back.

I got to spend some nice quality time with my brothers family in Evergreen, Colorado. I am happy to say "A" who now goes by Scrappy is still dating Rita.

One interesting thing I discovered on the trip is a person can live on junk food alone. MAD only ate homemade donuts fried in lard, and software serve ice cream, from the Dairy King in Elmer, Colorado. For 4 days, that is all she ate, except at one point she did have a home made chocolate truffle that Sue made.

After 3 days of just ok skiing I schedule another trip back in a few weeks, I hope the snow is a little better. Off to find a location to play some poker and refill my bank account.





Monday, December 5, 2011

South Beach November 2011

Here I am again sitting out at the Pool of the Sagamore Hotel in South Beach, Florida. I think this might be my tenth year. Same hotel, same room, doing the same thing. Rest and relaxation by the pool. Rather then repeat myself feel free to see pictures and highlights from past trips to South Beach.

South Beach 2008 visit to the Everglades

South Beach 2009 Big Bill Ludwick's daughter Alli joins us

South Beach 2010 nothing exciting except dinner with Alli Ludwick

One thing different this year is I better be doing a little more running and a little less eating and drinking. I have a race in February that takes place in St Johns U.S.V.I. It is called The 8 Tuff Miles, 8 miles of the steepest hills you have ever seen, we will be racing from one end of the island to the other going right over the top. After my performance in the Philly Half Marathon or should I say lack of performance I better step up the training and slow down the eating.

I did a quick 4 mile run before dinner just as a start. We had a lite dinner at a nice Italian Restaurant we like on Lincoln Avenue.

In the morning, continuing with my training I did 10 miles in an hour an twenty six minutes, not bad for a fat, old guy. The rest of the day I spent laying at the pool reading Steve Job's biography. Well, worth the read, it will give you a keen insight as to why Apple products do what you expect. Dinner was at a great Topas Restaurant on Espanola Way.

Another run, 6 miles, that is 20 miles in 3 days, back to the pool and more reading. What a tough life this is. Maragrite does not like the sun while I worship it. The Sagamore is somewhat up scale and have folks ready to handle any need you might have. How can two people lay out by the pool when one loves the sun and the other rather be in the shade. That is simple, the cabana boy sets up an umbrella that shields Margarite from the sun while I fry from the sun. Every 15 to 20 minutes the cabana boy adjusts the umbrella to insure Margarite is shaded and I am burning.

This went on from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm with just a short break for lunch next door at the Ritz Carlton. We like the Ritz for lunch as it has a great view of the beach for some awesome people watching.

The Ritz is just south of the Sagamore, for dinner we went north to the Restaurant in the National Hotel, we had a great view of the pool and were the only dinner guest, what a lovely night.

Today is the big day we get to see the only daughter of Big Bill Ludwick, Alli Ludwick. I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but Alli is planning to go to the London Summer Olympics in 2013, knowing this, motivated me to run 10 miles in just over 1 hour and 28 minutes, not quite Olympic potential like Alli, but not bad for an old man.

Back to the pool, Alli showed up around 3:30 we hung out at the pool and t caught up on Big Bill Ludwick, it appears BIg Bill is as much a stress monster as he has ever been. We had dinner reservations at 7:00. We were trying a new Restaurant in the Mondrian Hotel called Asia De Cuba The hotel was situated on the bay side of Miami Beach with great views of the Miami sky line. Dinner was great the Sagamore consereiger who had made our reservation had ordered us some complimentary tangerine tequila shots, which Alli and Margarite quickly shot, "Down the Hatch". Clearly, Alli was learning something in college.

It was a lovely night so we walked the mile and a half back to the hotel.

Today is our last full day in south beach, we had a big errand to run, a few weeks back I did an adventure race. This race required that I carry a small hunting knife. I had forgotten this knife was still in my day pack. I have always had great respect for the TSA, they have a thankless job. When I arrived in Miami I was looking through my day pack for my sunglasses and what did I find, my hunting knife, not something I would want an evil doer carrying on a plane, like I did.

This now created a problem I was heading up to D.C. to go to a Redskins Jets game with The Rock. I did not want to check my bag or risk TSA finding my knife and keeping it.

We woke up, did a fast 6 mile run with the last 2 miles at 7:19 and 7:12 respectively. Then it was off to the post office to mail the knife back to Botswana, I hope it makes it.

Back to the pool I should be finishing up Steve Jobs biography today, what a tyrant, but he pushed people to do things they did not think they could do.

Big news tonight, we met NOBODY. It was very funny Margarite, not very culturally experienced had never met a street artist. I introduced her to NOBODY and she must of asked 3 times, "What is your name?" and the response she got over and over again was "NOBODY".

Today is our last day in South Beach, I did a 4 mile run to give me a total of 40 miles during the last 6 days, not bad for an old guy. Heading up to D.C. to meet The Rock for a Redskins Jets Game.




Monday, November 21, 2011

Philly Full Marathon and Half Marathon November 2011

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I got an email back in March from the Full Moon Running Club about running the Philly Marathon. Last time I ran Philly was with this club back in 2008, this year we had some new runners this year and they asked me if I would run.

After doing the Half Iron Man last year, I decided I was a half a guy and from now on it would be Half Iron Man and Half Marathons, but somehow I could not bring myself to say no, I committed to running the Philly Marathon. From the Full Moon Running Club here is who ran in 2011.

Lou (He ran it with the group back in 2008)
Michael (He ran it with the group back in 2008) (Half)
David (He ran the half back in 2008)
Christine (She ran it back in 2008 but not with group)
Scott (Half)
DUG (Half)

Some issue before the race started. Real sad news, David broke his ankle on his Thursday easy run, yes the Thursday before the race. David was sidelined but did come down to cheer us on. DUG, with all my travel, I did not train properly, so I decided to only do the half and pace Beth, for her first Marathon. Michael was only able to get an entry for the half and he had just done the Atlantic City Marathon.

What a great day, they say (not sure who "they" are) the perfect temperature to run a Marathon is 52 degrees. The temperature at the start was 52 degrees much warmer then the 28 degrees back in 2008. Lou, Beth, Marie and I all started together. Everybody else was somewhere in the crowd of 20,000 people. Lou had a very tight IT-band and just hoped to be under 4 hours. This was Marie's first Marathon and had been having knee issues since her last long run (24 miles) 2 weeks prior, her goal was to finish without any permanent damage. Beth, a little high stung had a goal of under 3:30. A 3:30 marathon for your first Marathon is very aggressive, Beth puts a lot of anxiety / stress into everything she does, and no one thinks she can mentally take training for another marathon. If she gets a great time like a 3:30 there will be no reason to do another Marathon. Margarite is our support, she will be riding along the course in case we need her.

In a Marathon people volunteer to be pacers, they commit to running the race at a certain time and carry a sign and balloons designating the time they will run. It is amazing but these folks hit the times within seconds. We lined up directly in front of the 3:30 pacer. I gave Beth very specific instructions. "Beth, Have fun and no matter what do not let that guy pass you." I was pointing to the 3:30 pacer. Though Marie was starting with us she was going to run her own pace to try to limit any further injury.

Beth wanted to be under 1:45 at the half way point to give herself some slack in the second half of the race. Lou said he will try to stay with us as long as he could. We thought that meant once he could no longer stay with us he would slow down. Beth had to average under 8 minute miles to be under 3:30 for the 26.2 miles.

We ran our first mile at 8:04 this was fine as we wanted to warm up, the bad news was the 3:30 pacer past us at the quarter of a mile mark. Beth was already not following directions. Lou was doing a great job directing us through the crowds. He appeared to be having no problem with the pace. Mile 2, we picked it up a little bit and ran a 7:41, giving us an average of a little over 7:50 per mile. All three of us remained together as we ran past Penns Landing. The race crowd was thinning a little, and we were a good distance ahead of the 3:30 pacer.

Mile 3 and 4 were 7:56 and 7:52 respectively. Beth was still not comfortable with her running. She started eating Jelly Beans to calm herself down and was asking about water. At mile 4 we found out what Lou meant about staying with us, he did NOT slow down, at mile 4 he surged ahead, about the same place he left us in 2008, I am starting to see a common theme here.

Somewhere during mile 5 I hit my watch so my splits got off, I will use the splits from Beth's watch but they seem a little fast. Mile 5 and 6, 7:50 and 7:44 respectively. We found Margarite just after mile 6 and got some water. Just a few hundred meters into mile 7 the 3:30 pacer past us. Beth said she felt like she was going to fast, I knew we had a little slack so I encouraged her to slow down. Lou was no where in site.

When you allow a pacer to past you, it effects you both mentally and physically. Mentally, because you feel somewhat defeated, physically, because their is normally a crowd following the pacer and you can easily get boxed in, bumped around, or pushed off the course. As the 3:30 pacer past us we felt the physically effects and Beth surged back ahead of the pacer.

Mile 7 and 8 were at a pace of 7:46 and 7:45. At this point I realized not only had I not trained properly for the marathon I had not trained properly for a half marathon, at least not at this pace. I knew I had to stay with Beth, if I fell back or dropped out, it would mess with her head, and hurt her time.

Mile 9 was a down hill and 10 a slight up hill so we stretched out our legs on the down hill with a 7:33 and relaxed on the up hill with a 7:50. At mile 10 Beth was out of Jelly Beans so I called Margarite and she said she would be just after mile 11 with some more beans. Mile 11 was down hill we did our fastest mile so far 7:31. As we came down the hill we saw Lou he was several hundred meters ahead of us. We got Beth her beans. I was really struggling but for 2 more miles I could hold out, everybody else had 15.2 more miles to go.

Mile 12 7:44 and 13 7:48. We came through the half way point at just over 1 hour and 44 minutes. If Beth holds this pace she will be at 3:28 and some change. Our pace for the half marathon was just over 7:50. My job was DONE.

I headed back to the car, I wanted to help Margarite so I got my bike and headed back on the course. Margarite was supporting 5 runners all running at different speeds. Margarite asked me to look for Marie. Marie's knee had locked up at Mile 11 and she was walk running. I made it to Mile 17 and could not find her. Margarite was at Mile 20 and did not see her, we had her boxed in. This part of the course is out and back so I was at mile 17 on the way out and about mile 21 on the way back. Margarite let me know when Lou, Christine, and Beth were coming toward me, they were all within a few minutes of each other. I saw Christine first she looked good nice and relaxed, then Lou, I asked Lou how far back Beth was, he response shocked me. "She is 5 minutes ahead of me." I headed out on the bike looking for her. I knew Christine would be fine at age 35 this was her 50th marathon, Lou was also good, a marathon without swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles first is a walk in the park for him.

Margarite found Marie at mile 20, she was in A LOT of pain and determined to FINISH! I caught Beth at mile 22 she was still very steady, running a very consistent 7:50 pace. She looked like crap and was starting to complain about some aches and pains. She asked about Marie, I told her she was doing fine, because I knew they were great friends and Beth would have stopped right there and turned to help and finish with Marie.

Beth and Marie both were running for Team in Training to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Team in Training provides coaches along the route to help runners make it through tough areas. At Mile 24 a coach asked Beth is she wanted some company. I knew I could not get past Mile 25 on the bike and Beth needed some moral support. As she refused the company, I told the coach she needed the company. He was a god send, he talked her through the last few miles and Beth held her pace even though her body said, "NO MORE!". She finished at a 3:27:52 negative splitting the course by a few seconds.

Lou finished second with a 3:33:16 so much for "I just want to be under 4 hours".

Christine came in third for our group at 3:33:43, just 27 seconds behind Lou. Christine went out like a rocket crossing the half marathon mark at 1:39:35. Christine had run the Marine Corp Marathon just a few weeks before and could feel some of the fatigue in her knee and rather then risk injury she slowed down the second half of the race.

Gary was fourth with a time of 3:58:12 he also went out like a rocket with a half time of 1:47:26 just a few minutes behind Beth. Gary said that must of been to fast for him, as the second half was very hard on his body. But still a very respectable time.

Marie gets the ALL HEART award. She had to walk run the last 15 miles. She completed the race in 5:05:14 any other person (like me) would have stopped at the half way point. Not Marie she made a commitment to Team in Training and there was no way in hell she was not going to finish, in my book this is what a Marathon is all about. Pushing past your limits.

The results for the half marathon for us Girly Girls

Scott - 1:58:29, Scott has been nursing a hip injury for about 3 years now, this was his longest race in the last few years, very nice job. Michael - 1:45:20 - Took 8 minutes off his best half marathon time and he had just run the Atlantic City marathon a few weeks before. DUG - 1:44:24 Was very happy with the limited training I have been doing and glad I help Beth hit her goal for her first and ONLY marathon.

Off to Miami with Margarite for some sun and relaxation.




Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy 60th Birthday to "The Rock"

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It was "The Rock's" 60th Birthday so we decided to head to Atlantic City for some craps play. October is a great time to hit the beach in New Jersey. So we put a call out to see who wanted to celebrate "The Rock's" BIG 60th birthday. Answering the call and showing up was: Mobe, Chuata, G d'B. So the five of us were ready to get a little wild in AC.

First Stop Cesar's Casino. For "The Rock's" birthday we got him a pair of loaded dice. What a funny time. "The Rock" had no idea the dice were loaded. "The Rock" rolled 32 straight numbers he was up $345,678.00. We saw the pit boss starting to get a little suspicious. It was time to get paid and get paid fast. Do you know how hard it is to get a guy that is on a roll (litererly), out of a casino with out making a scene. It ended up being eaiser then we thought. We offered him a sub at the world famous White House Submarines.

"The Rock" cashed out $350,000 even, he was up over that, but gave a very large tip to the Pit Boss. I might be switching from Poker to Craps.

Off to White House Subs. My phone rang it Pate' she was in Bethany Beach Delaware. The ladies had heard about our plan and decided to fly over and meet up with the guys. So all our other halfs were in Bethany Beach.

While we really wanted to stay in AC we knew it was smart to leave while we were up, what was the chance we would get away with using loaded dice twice in one day. We drove to Cape May and caught the ferry down to Delaware.

We met the ladies at this beautiful house on the beach. It ends up many people that own beach houses along the east coast of the United States, leave them empty in the fall and winter. The ladies picked a beautiful house. Pate' from her lock picking days broke in and we had a great place to stay. What luxury.

The ocean water was 55 degrees but that did not deter Margarite and Chuata from taking a swim see video.

What a great weekend and a great celebration. I have a few more events in the United States before I head back to Botswanna.





Thursday, October 20, 2011

Turkey and Greece September 2011


All Pictures are in the middle and bottom of the Story
On the road again - last year you all voted that in 2011 DUG should sail the Greek Isles. After some research I found out the eastern part of the Greek Isles had the best sailing and sites. So while I will be visiting some Greek Islands I will also be visiting some Turkish Islands and spend ten days touring the interior of Turkey.

As I write this I am a little over half way through my twelve hour flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Istanbul, Turkey. Once in Istanbul I will connect to a commuter flight to Dalaman, Turkey which is on the South East corner of Turkey. From there I will take a taxi 25 kilometers to Göcek, Turkey where I will be spending the night.

Arriving at the Istanbul airport, looks as if I could be arriving at any international airport in the world, at least the ones I have been to. All the unique features, Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King, and of course Sbarro Pizza.

I have a two hour lay over and then it's on to Dalaman. Fortunately, I speak fluent Turkish upon my arrival in Dalaman, not one of the Taxi drivers spoke English. I have a room booked at the Olive Garden Apart Hotel in Göcek. The taxi drivers were great and helped figure out where the hotel was.

I arrived at 10:00 PM (Sunday September 11, 2011) Turkish time and was greeted out front of the hotel as if it was mid-day. No check in just great service. The room was more like a small apartment it was very nice and clean If you are ever in Göcek, I would highly recommend The Olive Garden Apart Hotel.

Once I was in my apartment, I found a wonderful surprise! Margarite was there! I will spare you the details, but this was a great surprise.

9/12/2011- Monday
Göcek is a small harbor town catering to the boating / tourist industry. There are five marinas and many call this area of Turkey, the French Riviera of Turkey. Margarite and I walked the town and had some lunch at one of the many seaside cafe's. At 3:00 pm, we met the ferry that would be taking us to Club Marina, which is where we would be meeting our captain and boat.

We have chartered the T.G. Ellyson (TGE) from Gordon and Jennifer Abercrombie. Jennifer will not be joining us sailing, instead Brigitte-Anne Pelletier will be our first mate.

Captain Gordon Abercrombie was born in Alexandria, Virginia. He spent much of his youth in Annapolis, Maryland, in Plymouth, England, and in Ankara, Turkey. In Plymouth, he served in the Royal Navy Sea Cadets and was assigned to HMS Golden Hind. Returning to Annapolis he obtained a degree in naval science at the U.S. Naval Academy. For five years from graduation, he served on destroyers with the Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets, frequently visiting Greece and Turkey. Following subsequent tours of duty in Vietnam, in Washington, D.C., and with the Pacific Fleet, Lieutenant Commander Abercrombie resigned his commission and entered the investment banking business where he eventually rose to positions in senior management. Leaving investment banking in 1981, he purchased the T.G. Ellyson and set sail for the eastern Mediterranean where the TGE has remained since arrival in 1983, principally sailing Greece and Turkey. In 1985, Mr. Abercrombie became Chairman of the Board of Daley Securities in Cleveland, Ohio, a position held through 1994. From 1975 through 1997 he was a member of the Board of Directors of E Capital Corporation and from 1988 through 1997 of Wedbush Capital Corporation, both in Los Angeles where he also served on the Audit Committee of Wedbush Morgan Securities. The author of two manuscripts concerning a fictional sailor, Mr. Abercrombie resides with his wife and their two children William and Sian in Derby, England.

First Mate Brigitte-Anne Pelletier was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1961. Later living in Algeria, Trinidad, and Mexico, she returned to Montreal to pursue a degree in Women's Studies at Concordia University, subsequently working as a screen actress. Fluent in English, French, and Spanish, she is learning Turkish. Brigitte's passion for sailing was inherited from her father and grandfather, both sea captains, while her charm and easy manner come naturally. She is accomplished in the galley.

Club Marina is situated up against pined slopes of a national forest in the North West corner of the Gulf of Fethiye. As soon as we got our gear loaded on the boat, we immediately left for Tomb Bay. This was an easy six mile sail from Göcek, on the wind. Since there was no wind we motored. Tomb Bay is the idyllic site of ancient Crya, a Carian and Lycian city-state and the citizens are believed to have been bi-lingual and the ruins of which date from the 5th century BC. Among the numerous tombs are the remains of a Roman-Byzantine baths once fed by a nearby spring, while the Carian Acropolis immediately above is distinguished by both outer and inner walls of mixed ashlar and polygonal masonry. Positioned around the bay's startling and inviting blue sea are two 4th century BC Ionic temple tombs, three house tombs, numerous pigeon-hole tombs, and a free-standing vaulted tomb. Lycians are believed to have been Cretans driven from Crete by Minos of Knossos. Carians are thought to have been native to Asia Minor.

After a quick visit to Tomb Bay, Turkey, we decided with the wind so light to motor on to Wall Bay, Turkey as the breeze is typically stronger at Wall Bay and will be more comfortable for sleeping.

The only way to Wall Bay is via boat, there is one marina with full facilities. They bring everything in by boat. Dinner was fantastic! Gordon's let us know this is the quality of food we should expect for the rest of the trip.

After a morning swim, quick hike (to what many people think is Cleopatra's Bay), and a great breakfast prepared by Brigitte, we motored off to Ekincik, Turkey Twenty-seven miles from Wall Bay on the wind. As we left Wall Bay we re-entered The Gulf of Göcek.

Ekincik is like a mountain lake plopped down with its own pine trees against the red buttes of Sedona, Arizona. And does it have a restaurant! This restaurant may have Turkey's best comprehensive menu. Our first dinner was great and our second... even better.

In the morning, we hired a piloted River boat to take us up the Dalyan River to ancient Caunos. You can read about Caunos in Herodotus's History, a city-state and maritime power. We first went up the Dalyan past Caunos and saw Dramatic rock tombs before hiking through ancient Caunos.

After our excursion to Ancient Caunos, we headed to Kumlu Buku (Ancient Amos), Turkey, fifteen miles on and off the wind west of Ekincik. Once we docked, Margarite and I headed to the Ancient Amos Ruins which was a short climb above the beach, including an early Hellenistic theater with a hill-top view of Marmaris Bay. Behind the beach below is an extravagant example of modern bank-insider excess. A bank executive built a huge home along with additional villas for his family, all with Bank money, not his. At the other end of the beach is a restaurant featuring superb Beijing cuisine and unsurpassed ice cream crepes. Yes, we had Chinese food in Turkey! I had a traditional Turkish Lamb meal, but Margarite, Brigitte, and Gordon went for the Chinese.

One great surprise, Gordon is not only an accomplished sailor, he is a expert in Western Civilization, Greek, and Roman history as well as a expert archeologist. Margarite and I are enjoying the history Gordon is sharing with us though I wish I could say I am retaining it.

Gordon shared with us that Brigitte is a graduate of the CIA, no not the Central Intelligence Agency, but the Culinary Institute of America, though he did not have to tell us this we would have guessed by the taste and quality of the food she has been preparing.

I hope I get enough running and swimming in to burn off the calories I have been taking in.

After a breakfast of crepes stuffed with fruit and covered with chocolate sauce, we set sail for Loryma, Turkey, A Rhodian outpost twenty miles off and on the wind from Kumlu Buku, This was our first chance to sail, both Gordon and Brigitte did their reputations proud. Once we settled in at Loryma, after a refreshing nap, and swim, we hiked to the Fortress which dates from the third century BC. The anchorage during the fourth century harbored the Persian fleet of Conon the Athenian while it prepared to end Sparta's sea supremacy in a battle fought nearby.

We had dinner at Kucuk Mustafa's. Again there were no roads to this harbor so everything is brought in by boat and the food and service was great, the seafood could not be any fresher.

Because of a slight engine issue we choose to head to Selimiye, Turkey where a diesel engine mechanic would be available. What a spot! Hussein, the owner of the marina / restaurant, was so welcoming. We were in paradise. The rest of the day was swimming in the crystal clear water of the Mediterranean, reading, and just relaxing, life is grand, the day ended with Hussein hosting us for a fantastic dinner.

Gordon's daughter is a child prodigy piano player. Through YouTube and the Internet she played for us at dinner.

As we continued to enjoy great hospitality of the people of Selimiye, we also enjoyed a hike up to a Byzantine Castle. What a sight! On our return from the Castle, we found out the diesel mechanic was on Turkish time so rather the showing up at the promised 10:30 AM, he showed up at 1:00 PM. By 7:00 PM the issue was fixed. And we experienced Another Beautiful night in Selimiye.

We headed to Datca, Turkey to check out of Turkey through Passport Control. To make up the day we lost, we left at the crack of dawn to a beautiful sunrise. Datca was Knidos, before Knidos moved to the Triopian cliffs about 365 years before the Christian era. As Knidos, the city was famous for its school of medicine and many Knidian medical analyses have come down to us as parts of the Hippocratic Collection. Later, as Stadia (hence Datca), the city flourished as an agricultural center. Now it's a resort town where rug merchants are somewhat reasonable. Since we wanted to make up a day, we left Datca after a quick walk around and headed for for Simi.

Simi(Symi), Greece is one of 248 Greek islands, Gordon has sailed and feels this one, seven miles off the wind from Datca, is among the more striking. Simi Town has a special charm with neo-classical homes of long-gone sea captains climbing steep harbor slopes. From the heights above Simi Town, you can see the straits in which the Spartan fleet in 411 BC trapped the Athenian fleet, beginning a six-year decline in Athenian maritime dominance culminating in final defeat at Aegospotami. There is also the remains of the tropaion (monument) erected to celebrate the local victory. The best Taverna dining in Simi may be had at Meraklis one block south of the harbor. Simi is our Port of Entry for Greece. Brigitte, Margarite, and I hiked the hills for several hours before dinner. The town is built into the hillsides with stairwells connecting the residence.

To get back on track we are skipping Ova Buku, Turkey Fifteen off-the-wind miles from Simi Town, Ova Buku is a sleepy resort beneath steep slopes close by ancient Triopium. The latter is situated within fortified Archaic-period settlement walls with bastion above the village of Kumyer, the walls still standing to a height of 25-feet.
Instead of Ova Buku, we headed to Pali, Nisiros, Greece. A motor-bike island 40 sailing miles west from Simi, Nisiros is a volcanic cousin to the more-visited Santorini, last erupting 25 thousand years ago. Its verdant exterior and quaint rim-villages mask a crater floor nevertheless still bubbling in places. Thick-soled shoes are recommended, as is a visit to the ancient city said by some to have the finest Classical Period walls in all of Greece. Wonderful dining at Christina's Taverna Afrodite. Gordon, Margarite, and I rented scooters and toured the island.

We sailed out of Nisiros for Kos Town, Greece. Kos is one of the green Dodecanese islands, its beaches and inland treks popular with travelers since Cleopatra. It is also the birthplace of Hippocrates, and is remarkable both for its beaches and for its evidence of history. Among the latter is the medieval fortress built in AD 1470 by the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem in part from Hellenistic blocks purloined from the Asklepeion school of medicine founded in 357 BCE in memory of Hippocrates. Both are worth a visit. After a walk through the city center of Kos Brigitte, Maragrite, and I rented bikes and headed to Zia 13 kilometers away, but more important 2,000 feet up the mountain. The ride was worth the breath taking views. We had lunch at The Water Mill of Zia. Then we had a very fast ride down back to the marina.

Bitter sweet day today: we leave Gordon and Brigitte, even though we have only known them for 10 days, they had great impact on us.
Pictures from First Half of the Trip

We now move on to the next part of our adventure 10 days traveling the inland of Turkey. We crossed the eleven miles between Kos, Greece and Bodrum, Turkey by fast ferry. Once in Bodrum, we set out to find our rental car I rented through Hertz. Two hours and 250 Turkish Lira later, we found our car. We reserved our car at the Hertz Office at the Club Med Hotel per the Hertz website. Unfortunately for us, that office no longer exists. Once we got our car, we headed back into Bodrum and toured The Underwater Archeological Museum. This museum resides in the castle that sits on the banks of the Mediterranean in the center of Bodrum. Once we thoroughly toured the museum, we headed inland to see some of the sites in the center of Turkey. We drove about 140 kilometers to the city of Muğla, Turkey. This town is a business center with a very active community, and we found a great local restaurant for dinner. This stop is just a quick overnight stay as we did not want to drive in the dark. So far the driving has been fine, but we have been warned to be cautious and NOT drive at night.

We hit the first rain in 11 days. As we drove out of Muğla, we hit some roads that were called super highways. These roads resembled interstate highways in the United States, except with random stop lights, pedestrians, and scooters (many times going against traffic). Cars and trucks would pick the speed they wanted to travel at, the range was 20 kilometers per hour to over 150 kilometers per hour. Also you had to worry about construction work, which would occur without warning. All these facts made for stress free driving!

Today we toured about 400 kilometers of Turkey visiting two archeological sites. Aphrodisias the site the love goddess lived, you will see a resemblance to someone we all know and love.

We also visited Pamukkale (Hieropolis) - Pamukkale, Turkey's foremost mineral-bath spa because of its natural beauty: hot calcium-laden waters spring from the earth and cascade over a cliff. As they cool, they form dramatic travertine's of hard, brilliantly white calcium that form pools. The ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white "castle" which is in total about 2,700 meters (8,860 ft) long, 600 m (1,970 ft) wide and 160 m (525 ft) high. It can be seen from the hills on the opposite side of the valley in the town of Denizli, 20 km away.

From Pamukkale, we drove to the small lakeside town of Eğirdir, Turkey (eh-YEER-deer), a causeway that extends into the placid blue lake waters to connect two small islands to the mainland. We stayed on the island.

We left our lake front hotel. On the way we realized that back in the United States the stock market crashed and I need to start working again. So we stopped at the small town of Sultanhanı, Turkey and there I got training for my new job as a Turkish cook and the meal I prepared was awsome. Also in this town was a Caravansera, which is a historic road side inn where travelers could rest and recover from the days journey. It looks more like a castle then a roadside inn.

Eleven Hundred Kilometers of driving and we hit our most inland destination, Cappadocia, Turkey. We are staying at the Esbelli Evi Cave Hotel. Now I know why Osama Bin Laden did not mind living in a cave. This hotel is the finest hotel I have ever stayed at.

The next two days we will be exploring Cappadocia, Turkey

9/24/2011- Saturday
The prime activities we did on Saturday was visiting the historic painted cave churches of the many monastic valleys (especially the Göreme Valley and Zelve Valley) and hiking the volcanic valleys. The owner of the cave hotel took care of setting everything up for us. The landscape was out of this world as you felt like you were exploring another planet or the moon.

We visited the Göreme Open-Air Museum in the Göreme Valley, only a 15-minute walk (1.5 km, 1 mile) from Göreme Town and a short ride (6.5 km, 4 miles) from Ürgüp, Turkey which is the town our hotel is in. We had dinner at Ziggy's and what a meal it was. Five Stars all the way! Yes, I am getting fat on the trip as I am eating lots of good food.

After a refreshing run (to burn some of this fat off) and breakfast, we headed to The Underground City of Kaymaklı, Turkey Cappadocia has dozens of underground cities, but the largest and most elaborate (and frequently visited) are at Kaymaklı. What an unbelievable site! It's over six levels deep and miles of tunnels and all types of rooms from the winery to the bathroom. We only toured about 10% of the underground city. And just this 10% that we saw was overwhelming! I wonder how people living in this city did not get lost. Over 15,000 people lived in this one city at one time.

What started out as a very relaxing day turned stressful real fast. After the underground city the plan was to take the next day and a half and drive the 900 - 1,000 kilometers to Istanbul. As we started the drive Margarite said, "Maybe we should fly instead of drive" so we made a quick U turn and went to our Cave Hotel. Here we are in Turkey and we have no idea where the closest airport is let alone a flight schedule or cost. Once we reached the Cave Hotel, the awesome owner first laughed at us and then hooked us up. A quick call to a travel agent and we got the last 2 tickets on the 2:10 flight from Keyshir, Turkey to Istanbul, Turkey for 508 Turkish Lira. Now for the stress it was 12:00 PM we had 2 hours 10 minutes to find the travel agent pick up our tickets, get to the airport, fill the rental car with gas, return the rental car and catch our flight.

We found the travel agent and got our tickets in 15 minutes, it was now 12:15 unfortunately the travel agent did not know how to get to Keyshir she only knew it was at least an hour away. We found someone on the sidewalk that gave us directions. "Follow the signs toward Keyshir, about an hour away, once you past all the car dealers bare left and take the new road to the airport", clear as mud. RIGHT!

Once on the main road we saw a sign Keyshir was 60 kilometers away, it was now 12:30 no problem I was driving 120 kilometers per hour we should be at the airport by 1:00. (I WISH). We past the car dealers veered left found an old road that turned into an even older road, finally after some back tracking we found the new road. Back up to speed 120 kilometers per hour until the road turned to one lane now 20 kilometers per hour and it was 1:00. Finally we saw and airport sign and took the exit, only problem at the bottom of the exit there was no sign on which way to go right or left. 50 50 chance we went left. Bad call after 5 kilometers we clearly could see there was no airport in sight. Quick U Turn and we stopped at a gas station, luckily I speak Turkish. I put my arm out and ran around making air plane noises. 1:15 and we had directions for the airport 8 kilometers away.

The Rental Car was now full, just needed to return it and check in for our flight. It was 1:30 so all was good. After a few minutes of searching for Hertz, the police said you have to leave the car in the parking lot and take the paper work inside the domestic terminal. No problem as we still had 40 minutes. Margarite goes to get our boarding passes I go to return the car, there is every rental car company but Hertz. I was told Hertz was at the international terminal. I ran over there passing through security, it is now 1:45, 25 minutes before flight time. No Hertz in international and I am told Hertz is in domestic. I run back clearly there is no Hertz. I beg the Avis guy to take my car, he calls Hertz yells at them and then takes the car. Yah!! Avis! I find Margarite we have 15 minutes until flight time the flight is boarding. We go through the second round of security screening and Margarite is flagged. She has knitting needles. She now has to check her bag 10 minutes to flight time. The security officer walks her over to the ticket counter gets her to the front of the line and we make our flight with 2 minutes to spare. I skipped the part where a 5 year old kid who almost had his entire body splatter all over the highway. I am not sure who was more freaked out, the boy or Margarite when my horn and breaks simultaneously went full on. Luckily we all had good reflexes and a disaster was averted.

Once in Istanbul, Turkey we found the Side Hotel which was recommended by Brigitte and it was a great hotel, clean, great location and great price.

9/26/2011- Monday
We have four days in Istanbul, to make the most of it we decided to take a city bus tour to get the lay of the land. We had a few hours before the tour so we visited the Underground Cistern, Sultan Ahmed Mosqu also known as the The Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace.

The bus tour was actually made up of three tours. Our first was at 2:00 PM and would cover the northern part of the city and then cross over to the Asian section of Istanbul. This tour gave us a great overview of the city and it's rich history. After the tour, we wandered around Istanbul taking in all the great culture.

After dinner, we took a night bus tour (tour 2) as seeing the city at night gives you a different perspective. Though this tour had some interesting aspects, I would not recommend it because halfway through the tour they took us to a cafe for a one hour rest period. Clearly a tourist trap to get us to eat or drink at the cafe. Margarite and I found another bus that was heading toward our hotel so we hopped on that bus.

9/27/2011 - Tuesday
In the morning, I went for a run and got cat called by a beautiful women leaning out of her bedroom window. Boy did I feel like a piece of meat.

We have our third bus tour today the Golden Horn part of the city, I would not recommend this tour, as it was somewhat repetitive.

After the bus tour, we walked through the Grand Bazaar which was not that impressive. I guess after spending time at the Old Bazaar in Cairo, Egypt it would take a lot to impresses us. After the touring the Grand Bazaar, we walked through the Egyptian Bazaar, which was more to our liking.

After a quick lunch, it was off to Aya Sofia. Aya Sofia was a Byzantine Cathedral until some guy named "The Magnificent" kicked the Romans out and turned their cathedral into a mosque.

Aya Sofia is huge. You can fit the entire Statue of Liberty inside. The pictures do no Aya Sofia justice.

We had a great dinner tonight at the restaurant inside the Four Seasons Hotel, Seasons Restaurant, it was a great meal, pricy but well worth it.

9/28/2011 - Wednesday
We visited the postal museum. This was real cool. They did not allow pictures, but they had the camel express instead of the pony express, otherwise much like the history of the United States Postal Service. After the museum, we took a ferry up the Bosphorus River to the Black Sea. We saw a lot of palaces from the Ottomans Empire. Our last stop was in a small village, Anadolu Kavagi, Turkey, Which sits at the mouth of the Bosphorus River on the Black Sea. In this village, we climbed to the top of one hill where there is an old castle and the view of the Black Sea was very cool. I highly recommend this tour / ferry as it gives you a great understanding of why over history the Bosphorus River has been so strategic to the different empires occupying what is now modern day Istanbul.

9/29/2011 - Thursday
Our Last day in Istanbul!

This morning we walked over to the last mosque we will be visiting, Suleymaniye Camii. I once heard the saying, "If you have seen one mosque you have seen them all.". This is not true in Istanbul. From the mosque we crossed the Golden Horn (waterway) to visit one of two Jewish synagogues but due to the Jewish holiday, this synagogue was closed. We also found out this synagogue is no longer used for services but is now a museum. From there we visited the Galata Tower. The highest point in Istanbul, from the top of the tower, we could see the great expanse of Istanbul. From the tower, we found the second Jewish synagogue Neve Shalom Sinagogu. This one is a working Synagogue with a safe room with bomb proof doors on both sides for security. Once I explained I was Jewish we were allowed in, but they felt we were not dressed appropriately since services for the holiday were going on, we did not make it past the second set of bomb proof doors. They were correct about our dress. From the Synagogue we took the old fashion tram ( like a San Fran cable car ) to Taksim Square were we had lunch. Then we walked back to our hotel through the high end shopping district visiting a Catholic Cathedral, and then the pet section of the Egyptian Bazaar.

For dinner we took a cooking class at Alaturka Cooking. We had met 4 ladies from New Jersey on our boat trip the day before. They invited us to join them at the cooking class. I think they were hot for me, but got disappointed when they realized Margarite was with me. What a way to end a trip hang out with 8 other people you do not know and learn to cook a Turkish dinner.

The courses were:
Feta / Yogurt Soup
Green runner beans with Zucchini Patties with Herbs and Cheese
Egg Plant stuffed with beef and lamb
Dessert was Walnut Stuff Figs in Syrup
Followed by Turkish coffee

Tomorrow we fly for 11-12 hours.

Heading to the U.S. For a visit.