Saturday, April 30, 2005

Up, up, and away!

I am in the Cappadocia region of Turkey rıght now, and have just completed one of my top 5 all time favourite travel experiences. Hot Air Ballooning over the valleys of fairy chimneys...truely breath-taking and so beautiful.

We hit the jackpot by arriving just 10 minutes before the last overnight bus departed for the area of Cappadocia from Istanbul. However, we did get the final seats, which actually meant the middle seat on the back row for me and the dickie seat at the front door for poor Nat! A no sleep night, wıth eventual musıcal chaırs as the drıver trıed to makes us comfortable, and then dıscovered that the people that hadn't got on for the fırst couple of stops joıned the bus at a stop well ınto the nıght, and then movıng back agaın after they got off somewhere. Was a very long nıght.

After a little mix up about what town we were supposed to end up at, we checked into our gorgeous Gamirasu Cave Hotel in a little village just outside of Urgup. The owner sat down to chat wıth us, and told us that he had grown up in this village, his mother had washed the families clothes in the stream below where we were sittıng, and that he had had a vision to turn some of the cave ruins into a hotel. It was so beautiful. I can't imagine getting another chance to sleep in a cave!

We then hired a driver to explore the area for that day, and the following. There ıs so much to see here - although I think we did a pretty good job of it all. We visited the Underground City, stooping our way through the 6 storey structure that is available to be viewed. Reminded me of crawling through the Chu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Mıng, Vietnam - although this one didn't have the option of getting out when you wanted to! At one poınt we were 40 metres below the ground, looking at bedrooms, kitchens and the all important wine stores!

Bearly managıng to keep our eyes open during the drive between stops, we also saw the Monastery and other churches dotted around the region, all situated in the amazing tuff structures. Most dated back to the 9th and 12 centuries, the frescos are really mind blowing. Has almost given me pause about the validity of the whole Jesus story...I mean, if they were telling these stories back then.... Don't fear, I haven't found religon out here!!

Early morning wake up for our balloon flight, we were herded out the to launch site, and got to watch as the balloons were set up. So exciting! We flew with Goreme Balloons, and the view and experience was so amazing. Gliding over the valleys of the facinating fairy chimneys, floating on aır so high above the ground, or coming down to float inside the valley. Words can't describe.

We had the smoothest landing I have ever felt, and actually landed on the trailer for the basket. The customary glass of champagne upon landing ıs meant to be a thanks and cheers for a safe return back to earth.

(I will be needing to lift photos from Nat's site, at cos my camera did't work durıng the flight. My fully charged and rıght back up batteries were the thing I forgot to pack from London. Duh! Thanks Nat! Great photos - gıvıng credit where credit is due!)

After a nap, we were out again wıth our drıver, seeing the Goreme Open Air Museum, wıth more wow art frescos! Jessie, you would love this place! So amazing! (more photos)

I then made an obscence purchase at the pottery place we visited, a beautiful painted-for-me plate (this plate, but smaller!). It's just money, rıght! Shipping it home, I probably won't see it for years!! But I am thinking that perhaps if I start sending beautiful thıngs that I have fallen in love wıth from all over the world, I will one day have a home I love wıth memories of all the places I have been to.

Nat and I are now awaıtıng out overnıght bus back to the 'bul - our third no-sleep nıght in a couple of days. Have been very spoilt here wıth my time in Turkey, with two unforgetable experiences in a couple of days. The food has been lovely, too!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Istanbul, old and new.

After a sleep for the dead last night after our long Gallipoli experience, we got up and ventured out for some more of Istanbul.

We visited the Grand Bazaar for a little Turkish style barganing, and joking, and shopping. The Turkish sense of humour is so funny, have really appreciated that. And the sellers know how to get you buyıng - they are talking the talk!! The whole complex was so huge, and we literally only saw a portion of it, we still got the things we had thought we wanted.

We wandered down to see the Basalic Cistern after that, for some amazing underground architecture, and then headed off for farewell beers and a final water pipe - mint flavour this time. Glenys and Cam have now headed off back to London, and Nat and I then set off for the Galata Tower.

The view over Istanbul from the top of the Galata Tower is the full 360, and lets you see the vast and populous mass, and the contrasting areas of the city. After a bit of a hike, we walked up to the Takism Square, where new and modern Istanbul was bustling. We caught a trolley car through the cosmopolitan area of cool Istanbul. (more photos)

(Edited on the 29th April to add actual content!! Was in a big rush, and almost missed the bus to Cappadocia for this entry the first time!!)

Remembering the ANZACs

Early yesterday morning, along with 17,000 other people, I experienced the Dawn Service on the beach front of Gallipoli. Commemorating the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the beach, 90 years ago. A truely amazing, important, and unforgetable experience.

We left Istanbul early in the morning on Sunday for the long bus trip down to Gallipoli coast. Lunch in Gallipoli town itself, on the ocean, before heading down to the ANZAC sites.

After the first bus jam of the experience, we drove down to the site of the service to see where we will be, the set up, and view the Sphinx that confronted the soldiers upon their arrival that morning, 90 years ago. There were many people staking their place on the grass already for the night.

The tour then headed down along to a couple of the cemerteries along the coast, including Anzac Cove. Walking along the headstone of the soldiers, most so young, younger than me, was quite emotional. The reality of what ANZAC Day really means sunk in completely. The young lives gunned down before they even got their lives started, bravery one can only imagine, all for the fight I will never understand. I have heard and read about WWI over and over, and don't think I will ever understand why, and who was fighting with and against who, and what it was all for. And the loss of lives so young, the end of such promise - soaking that in was really full on.

Chatting amongst some of the group, especially after Anzac Cove, we decided we wanted to stay now, at the Service site and get our spot. The atomsphere around lead up to decide to have a bit of a tour revolt, and ditch going to the bar - which we can and do anywhere anytime - and 8 of us grabbed our stuff there and then and headed down to the grass for the Service. Much to the disgust of the rest of the bus, and the shock of our un-understanding tour guide.

Staking our place right at the front of the crowd, right at the walkway up to the stage area, we settled in for the night. The electricity around, with Aussies and Kiwis that had all travelled over in various ways, was awesome. The time actually didn't seem to be as long as it was. People playing cards, complaining of the cold, a group of lads near us doing the usual funny Aussie lads routine all night, chats with our groups. Was amazing.

Being moved from laying down, to sitting, to squishing up close, to let all the people into the area, the night was over soon enough, and the Prelude to the Dawn Service that we had actually seen during the night, began. The music, especially the digeridoo piece, the poetry, a diggers letter home before the battle and his death, and then the impressive light show, which actually lit up the cliff and sphinx to represent the coming light, was a prefect build up.

The officials had arrived, including a walkby our walkway by Little Johnnie, rock star style. I was close enough to have shaken his hand, and had my chance - but don't think I could have done it and kept my mouth shut - and I understand that there is a time and place. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales must have snuck past, cos I didn't see him walk by till they were all leaving after the Service. But I did see Angelo.

The Service was beautiful, and so significant. Howard acknowledged the cutting down of young lives, and thus ending a potential life and his life strain, which I had been thinking about as I walked along the headstones earlier. Prayer, the anthems, and the moving poem penned by Turkish Anaturk. Was so moving and unforgetable. A bit too hard to put down in words, really.

Words of Ataturk
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In the sun after the Service, we gathered all our things and headed off on the long walk to Lone Pine for the Australian Service. After a massive jam on the climb up (turned out every bugger was stopping for the food stalls set up on the walkway up, reducing the flow up to a trickle), we reached the top to discover the Lone Pine area full. Buggered from our long night out under the star, we sat outside the service in the sun, instead of fighting the crowd for standing room only.

The Dawn Service was what it was all about for me, and I am so blown away that I got to have this experience this year, being the 90th anniversary. (more photos)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The 'bul

After the excitement of finishing work, and heading back to London, I packed up my little backpacker backpack again, and went out to Heathrow on Thursday for my flight to Turkey!

The abundance of Aussies on the flight, especially with the silent solidarity walking with each other during the transfer from flight to flight in Rome, was apparent. The excitement, the reverence, the anticipation. It seemed that there really will be every man and his dog in Turkey for the ANZAC services.

I arrived in Istanbul at around 1.30am - every flight was running late - and was met at the airport by the They didn't know what they were doing and none of us knew what was happening. Was very amusing. Although did get old by 2.30am! Arrived at our room at 3am, to the sleeping Nat and Glenys, who had arrived much earlier in the day.

Joined by Cam at breakfast, we headed off to navigate through the streets of Istanbul for the day. Being signed up on a tour has made me amazingly lazy, I have done minimal preparation for this half of the trip, and so guidebook in hand, we found the tram, and were off.

We headed into town, and then to Eminonu and found a ferry across to the Asian side of Istanbul. For a whole 1 lira!! I think Turkey is a great place for me to start my Europe travels, with the merge of Asia and Europe right here. We wondered the little streets in Haram in Asia Minor, and not discovering all that much, we found another ferry back.

Jumping off the ferry, with the intention of walking across the bridge to see the third side of Istanbul, we get sidetracked by a cute and comfy pace for lunch, quite a few beers, and an apple flavoured water pipe.

Our 5 day tour for Gallipoli actually started this morning, with a full day of city sights. We visited the Hippodrome and the beautiful Blue Mosque. Then wondered through the Topkapi Palace and the stunning Hagia Sophia Museum. The amazing mosaics in the Sophia were incredible. (more photos)

The Blue Mosque
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Mosaic in Hagia Sophia
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Missing a sleeping bag for the night on Anzac Cove, and discovering that I wasn't the only one, we talked to our guide, Erol, who thought he could sort us out. During a break he lead us up many steep streets, until we arrived at a blank building with a black door. A phone call later had the door opened, and we were taken upstairs to a room full of various army supplies! I am sure it was the Turkish Mafia. Goods were displayed, price was agreed, and now I am the owner of a lovely green army camoflaged sleeping bag!! Will be needed!!

This evening we have had a cruise of the Bosphorous river, and enjoyed a yummy and authentic donor kabab for dinner. Ready to sleep off the last couple of days (and today's hangover) ready for our massive day tomorrow...

Monday, April 18, 2005


How good is Sean Penn!!?? There is nothing sexier than a successful man!! God damn!!

Went off and saw The Interpreter yesterday in my break, and was quite impressed. Although, I may be bias, as my admiration for Penn has grown and grown in the last couple of years.

Have heard lots of recent discussion from a whole heap of people, male included, stating that Johnny Depp is the best looking man alive. But give me someone real like Sean Penn anyday! Edward Sissorhands will always be too plastic, too dainty...

Penn has that raw emotion bubbling at the surface of all the roles I have seen him in lately. He's brilliant. Tough, rugged. Totally devoted to his family. Very good.

Interesting politics in the movie. Obvious look at Mugabi. Still find it ironic that the UN is situated in the US, with discussions about who should front the International Criminal Court, as depicted in the film, and yet the US won't ratify the ICC - for obvious repercussions of probably half of every American who has worked for or served their own government.

I couldn't imagine Kidman working in the role as a worker for the UN. But I was wrong. The accent she puts on, although not perfect at times, made her character stand out from others our Nicole has done.

This is the first movie I have actually gone to see on my own. Am I finally growing up? Or just preparing myself for my impending spinsterdom....

Anyway, back to the magic of the corridors of Hogwarts. Am really enjoying reading HP5.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Making plans...and a win!!

And oh what a win!!! We're A Happy Team at Hawthorn...... So good to hear the boys sing with full gusto!!

I must admit, after a couple of shattering early mornings over the last couple of weeks, my faith in my boys had waned, and I didn't get up at 5am. (Shame on me.) But after repeated text messages from Mum and the girls that we were having a dip, things were looking good, and we were 31 points up at half time, I was up and out of bed to be part of it!!

Brilliant!! A win against Brisbane, if you don't mind!! Awesome. Haven't beaten them since 2000, and what a team to beat for the first win of the season!!

Another day out for the Spida, Croad sounds fine (as always, but was actually talking about his playing ability this morning!!), and Changa! I love Changa. And Johnny Barker - he's back!!!

Makes me a little homesick... Melissa called me so I could hear the song (but I had to be quiet...shhhh!) Hee hee.

So, anyway, busy trying to work out my next travel plans, trying to solve my immediate homelessness after that, and then Active have been lining up my next couple of assignments. A 'quite assignment, you'll need a good book' first, which sounds perfect to me! And then the one after that is in Central London, and sounds like a really social and fun client, with lots of forced partying for me (poor me), plus lots of play time in London! Sounds great!

The last week has flown, and dragged at the same time. Can't believe the week over already, seems like not that long ago I was radio streaming for the footy...but then the work is so constant and non-stop, it's not surprising it has flown. 5 days to go...

Ash has been generating discussion, via email, about whether being London is all it's cracked up to be. I must admit, I am not overly convinced it's for me. Early days, sure. But the people are so self absorbed, and the city itself hasn't grabbed me, like say New York or Tokyo...
But having said that, there are people on their way over to visit, and to live (Michelle! Jenny! Dom! And Kris!!! And Ash.) things are looking good.

Have been taking the big van out a bit, while my client was up and about briefly. Getting used to driving on these tiny roads. I think being on the roads in Ireland convinced me that this is just the way it is.

Well, better get offline and back to work. No rest for the buggered, it seems!!

46 points!!! We're a happy team at Hawthorn...we're the mighty flying Hawks....

Monday, April 11, 2005

Another Hawk Heartache

Up early again this morning for the big match, and am still reeling now - after inaccurate and all over the place radio calling. And 2 little points.

God damn.

The game was close first quarter, and I was all tucked up under the duvet in the sitting room under the PC with the headphones relaying the radio streaming from the AFL site. The radio station was one I had never heard of before, and seems to have been the indigenous radio station.

A blow out in the second term had me resting my eyes, but then a burst of excitment saw 5 goals from our boys in the third - and we were in it!!

I know if I had have been at the game - under ponchos and sweating in the rain and heat, according to texts from the girls (well, Melissa, actually) - I would have definately lost my voice, had a heart attach and/or wet my pants. Instead stifled cheers and muffled yells, worried that I would wake my poor unsuspecting client, sleeping in the next room.

The dying minutes of the radio call had the Hawks winning, with an amazing last seconds goal - and then the bastard commentators took it back, and reported that The Scum's song was playing and that it was all over!! What??!!


Fair play to the commentators' focus on the indigenous players though, and thanks to some rare moments of actual thought at Hawthorn over the last couple of years, we actually have a few lads who can play! They gave big raps to Harry Miller, and Changa and Willo. Awesome. They also got so many things wrong during the call - his name is Ladson, dickheads!! The call was pretty bias too, even to my one-eyed ears!! But geez, Franklin sounds like a gun!


Sounds like Lloyd has earnt himself some time off to get that arm healed, after smashing Thurgood's face in with his cast. Same old, same old. At least when Heebie was the one-armed bandit last year, he didn't hospitalise anyone!

Quite shattered about it all really.
Don't know if I'll be up for the 5am wake up call next weekend to hear us be pumped by Brisbane...
Still, love the passion and the pain of it all. Couldn't live without it!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Nothing New

Stealing words from my favourite Waifs song, there ain't nothing new, here. And this is nothing new!
Day 10 of this assignment, and it's the same shit, different day. Although the real shit is only every second day! Hee hee.

God, the endless routine does my head in. Drives me insane. I need change on a daily basis!! I totally think this type of work is a personal challenge in temper, anger and frustration management. A test of my character!!! Although failure may mean jail time, or being committed to a facility!

Slight change now though, with my client starting to get up and about, after bed rest due to a pressure sore. Nothing like the sight you see in Million Dollar Baby (how could anyone let things get that bad??!! She was in a rehab centre, for crying out loud!!), but the skin of people with spinal cord injuries is so sensitive. Seems my expert care has got things back to working order (not quite, but I will take what credit I can!!).

We live through this day after day
And complacency's a curse
But you just can't escape it
And I've arrived at that place where my tolerance gave way
And I struggle to hold my head up high

OK. So I'm not quite that bad. Song just sticks in my head. Payday after 3 weeks of work is going to be like Christmas for me, even with the low rate of pay.

Too much thinking time is the real problem! Kept wondering what the hell I am doing, wiping pommy arses on the other side of the world. I mean, what am I doing? What am I looking for? Perhaps I should just pack it all in, move home to Ballarat, meet and marry an electrician or a plumber, beg for my old job back, knock this interest in the rest of the world on it's head, and live happily ever after... That's what people do, isn't it?
Would make my mother happy! But how would I cure the boredom???!!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Shhhhh! It's 5.10am...

So it's 2.10pm in Melbourne, which means bounce time in the footy! I have crept up and am listening to it on the radio, streaming through via the internet - brilliant!!

I can't tell you how excited I am about this! Missing out of the footy, knowing it is happening and not being able to see or hear it (let alone go to the game), could be the homesickness deal-breaker for me, so this is brilliant!

Hawthorn verses Richmond at the 'G, coming through from Triple M. I get to hear names like Johnny Barker, Crawford, Croad, Vanders, and Spida. Am impressed with the new names of Franklin and Thurgood. We are 10 points down now at halftime, but it sounds close. Lead is changing constantly.

This will get me through the next half a week here at this assignment, and then the build up to next week's huge grudge match against Essenscum will pull me through to this time next week. And then I be up before dawn again for the match. Awesome!

Especially with The Scum winless so far this season. Always brings a smile to my face! (God, I love to hate them!)

I must say, I am lucky I am at this assignment at this time, where I can just sneak out to the PC at this hour. For all the driving me mad, and the mind numbing routine...

Anyway, play is about to resume. Go Hawks!!
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