Thursday, May 02, 2013

Turkey and Croatia

As you can tell from the picture, we are home again. Our trip was divided between two weeks in Turkey and one week in Croatia. There were four couples during the Turkey portion of our trip. After spending a couple of days in Istanbul, we took a flight to Izmir on the west coast of AsianTurkey. From there we visited the restored city of Ephesus which is just amazing. It is hard to believe that we are walking the same streets as St. Paul walked. Of special interest was the exhibit of terrace homes. There are six homes with mosaics and frescoes all dating from ancient times. To protect them, you walk on a stairway made of clear plastic. Of course, the best known view of the city is the restored fa├žade of the library. This was our third visit and every time we get to see and learn more about this great restoration.

The next stop was six day cruise on the Aegean and Mediterranean on south coast of Turkey. Our boat was a 100 foot wooden boat with six staterooms. For seven days we cruised in and out of inlets and bays. We stopped and explored small towns. The picture is of our boat anchored at one of the towns while we climbed to explore an ancient fortress about the city. The week was totally decadent because the crew of five provided for our every need.

One highlight of the cruise was visiting a shipyard where a boat similar to ours was being built. OSHA would not be happy with the working conditions. The ladders to get onto the partially completed boat were a little rickety for me but we all got up and down with no problem. This 100 foot boat was started in November and its first cruise is the beginning of June. The place was a beehive of workers. There was no panic but lots of working being done.

The last part of the trip was two nights in Urgup to visit the fairy chimneys and underground city in the area. Our hotel was a cave hotel where the rooms had been carved right into the rock cliffs of the area. The hotel was totally unique and very comfortable. We were scheduled to take a hot air balloon ride but rain, fog and wind forced the cancellation of that trip.

From Kayseri we caught a plane back to Istanbul. There was a day and a half to wander the streets of this fascinating city. One of our must stops was the spice market. Bruce and I brought home a supply of spices to last a bit. Every time I use some of these spices it reminds me of the ancient Spice Road going through Turkey and first introducing Europe to the spices of Asia.

Patty and Mike Feeney continued with us on for a week in Croatia. Bruce found a beautiful apartment for us with a large balcony overlooking the Adriatic. With our car we explored the coast line, the city of Split, the Krka (don’t ask me how to pronounce this) National Park and one of the nearby islands. With only the four of us to set the schedule, it was a perfect ending to our trip.

Of course, during the entire trip we kept track of things back home – especially the snow. Gunflint got about 25 inches of snow during April. It was a huge amount but Duluth got 50 inches! There is still a foot of snow in the woods and the ice on Gunflint is just starting to look gray. Unless something happens very, very quickly the lake will not be fully open when walleye fishing starts. Also all the lakes in the area are going to have high water for a while. It’s quite a change from the last two years when the ice went out on Gunflint in March.

The returning birds are adjusting to the late spring. Some mallards tried to land on a shallow puddle of water on the ice. You could almost see the surprise on their faces when the water was only a couple inches deep.

Last week there was a group of seven eagles on the ice. Two were mature and the others were yearlings without the distinctive coloring of bald eagles. Up at the end of the Trail several mama moose with yearlings have also been seen. Almost everyone claims to have heard a loon calling but who knows where they are landing with ice everywhere.

When I write next week, there will be great changes in the ice and snow along the Gunflint Trail.

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