Monday, September 29, 2014

Hiking the Saklıkent Canyon

We spent an afternoon hiking the Saklıkent Canyon. Saklıkent, in Turkish, means "the hidden city."

Located in the Muğla province in Turkey, the Saklıkent Canyon is 11 miles long, though only 2.5 miles of the canyon are open to hikers. With vertical walls of nearly 1,000 feet, it is one of the deepest canyons in the world.

As is always the case with hiking in a canyon, flash floods are a concern. Two months ago, a flash flood swept through this very canyon, injuring eight people and killing two. Fortunately, the forecast showed no rain for the day of our hike.

Signs suggested that we wear helmets on the hike.
As helmets lacking proper adjustment mechanisms and chin straps
are nearly useless, we opted not to wear the helmets.
At least the helmets provided for a good photo op.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hanging Out in Thessaloniki

As we drove from Germany to Turkey, we passed through Greece and spent two nights in Thessaloniki. This city, located on the Aegean Sea, is the second largest in Greece.

It was quite comical using the GPS to navigate through the streets, as Ferit's GPS application apparently isn't able to speak Greek. The app constructed us to continue along the course of the road for 3 kilometers and then to turn right onto "Epsilon tau eta nu iota kappa iota sigma Alpha mu iota nu iota sigma." Ha!

The White Tower, which is the symbol of Thessaloniki.
The tower served as both a place of executions and a prison during the Ottomon Empire.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Running in Serbia & Skopje Fusion-Confusion

In Serbia, we stayed in a city called Novi Sad. Given the places we had already visited, there wasn't much to impress us in this city. It didn't help that the skies were a dreary gray and pouring rain down upon us during our stay. We joked that Novi Sad was indeed "sad."

The previous night, I was up most of the night with a major case of runner's leg syndrome, and so I desperately needed to move my legs when we got into town. Sitting in a car for hours on end, day-after-day is pretty hard for someone whose vacation days typically involve pedaling for hours on end, day-after-day. So, after checking into the hotel, Ferit and I laced up our running shoes to explore the city. At least we can say: "We went for a run in Serbia." Call me silly, but I think that's pretty cool.

When we got back from our run, we enjoyed a cup of tea, courtesy of the kitchenette in our room. I really enjoyed my cup of tea, not only because of the message written on the teacup, but also because of the cup's educational artwork.

We got a good laugh at the teacup in our hotel room.
(You may need to zoom-in to also appreciate the artwork.)

Visiting Buda & Pest

On our drive from Germany to Turkey, we stopped for two days in Budapest, Hungary. Did you know that Budapest used to be two cities -- Buda on the west bank of the Danube River and Pest on the east side?

We walked out of our apartment in the morning to find
a muralist painting a building across the street.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Look Up

A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook today. The message of the video, which is written, directed, and spoken in true Dr. Seuss-style by Gary Turk, is that social media is anything but social.

I may be a hypocrite for sharing this video, as I sure do like relaxing with my iPad, writing my blog, and keeping up with my friends on Facebook. But I even moreso like the simple pleasures of living a good old fashioned life -- one filled with real social interactions and real off-line activities.

This is precisely the reason why I don't own a Smartphone; I don't want to be constantly barraged with technology. When I'm lost, I prefer asking for directions rather than relying on a GPS. And when I'm wanting a way to relax, rather than browsing through the latest Facebook posts, I prefer reading a book, or people watching, or going for a walk, or doing some yoga, or a million other more productive things.

Please take five minutes to watch this video. It has a very important lesson for all of us.

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Afternoon in Bratislava

We spent an afternoon in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Bratislava is one of the youngest capitals in Europe and the only capital that borders two other countries -- Austria and Hungary.

For those of you who are behind in your geography, you may recall the country called Czechoslovakia. Due to the end of communism and the growth of nationalist tensions, in 1993, the country split into two -- the Czech Republic (which we visited yesterday) and Slovakia (which we visited today).

Smiles all around -- me, Ferit, and Dilek.