This report closes out our trip, then we give out our trip awards.

Note: Sharon may have added comments, and they will be in {angle brackets}.


Wednesday September 8 - Sunday, September 12, 2004. Winding Up Turkey.

During our last five days in Turkey, all spent at son-in-law Cihan's parents' apartment home near Ankara, we did the following:

Returned our rental car on Wednesday, to the Hertz office in central Ankara. Then we rode the Metro back to Kemal's. It was like riding any subway or high speed transit anywhere, I suppose, except that I couldn't understand much of what people were talking about. Unless they said 'please', 'thank you','yes', 'no', 'today', 'yesterday', 'tomorrow', 'now', 'how much does that cost?', 'I ate my head', or a few other words and phrases.

Visited at Cihan's sister Canan's house on Thursday, in central Ankara, with her husband Metin and daughter Burcu. Canan prepared a tea for us, which included many delicious things to eat. Cihan is on 24-hour watch back in Golcuk, which he does once or twice a month, for the navy and will be here Friday evening. Metin is an emergency room doctor, but is in the middle of a two-week vacation. His hobbies are computers, collecting DVD movies, dinosaurs, his fresh water aquarium and his parakeet.

Sharon and Tara went shopping in central Ankara (The Kizilay area, alive with students and young people, often sitting at outside tables of coffee or tea shops). {They had a store where they sell items that are made in Turkey for famous brand names such as "Eddie Bauer, Esprit, etc. They had great bargains. I had a great time visiting with Tara's friends Zeynep and Kadryie. They helped Tara a lot when she first came to Turkey as they had both lived in Naval husing for longer periods and could give her ideas. They were shopping that day for back-to-school things for their girls so we all had a great time shopping.}That evening, Cihan arrived on the bus from Golcuk, with all his luggage, Tara's luggage (They are leaving for San Francisco tomorrow morning), and our luggage we didn't take with us on the Black Sea Coast trip.

Saturday morning, some alarm clocks went off about 4am, and Kemal drove Tara and Cihan to the Ankara airport, leaving at 5am. The plane took off at 750am, and next day, we got a call from them saying they made it to San Jose ok. We will do exactly the same thing on Monday morning, until we get to Munich. From there, they took a direct flight to San Francisco, whereas we will take a two-leg flight to Chicago, then to San Jose. Tara and Cihan picked us up at the airport in Ankara, and they will pick us up at the airport in San Jose. What service!

On Sunday, we went with Kemal and Aysel to the Carrefour, a huge shopping supercenter, with groceries and Walmart type items. On the way in, we met people coming out, pushing a big TV carton in a shopping cart such that they couldn't see very well directly where they were going. Without seeing Sharon, they bumped into her, and Sharon started falling backwards like a tree that had been 'timbered.' Luckily, I was right behind her and caught her before she went down. If I had been wearing roller skates, I'd have caught those guys.

{We had a great two days with Kemal and Aysel, with their not speaking much English and our not speaking much Turkish. We all keep our English-Turkish dictionaries close at hand though and manage to communicate pretty well. If you just know a few nouns and simple phrases like "thank you", and "good night", you do well.}


Monday, September 13, 2004. "Back in the Good Old USA"

Up at 4 am (6pm Sunday evening in San Jose). Left Kemal's at 5am. Flew out of Ankara a little before 8am (10pm Sunday in San Jose). Flew to Munich. After about an hour turnaround, we left for Chicago. We went through customs without any problem there, then left Chicago for San Jose, where we landed about 730pm local time.

We slept a few hours, and the "trip" time from when we left Ankara to when the plane landed in San Jose was 21.5 hours. Door to door, the time span was about 26 hours.




Most Beautiful Coastal Village or Town - Amasra


Favorite Scenes and Events:

Changing of the guard at Ataturk's tomb and museum in Ankara


Employee on roller skates at huge Carrefour Super Center in Ankara


Marmar Sea view from daughter Tara and husband Cihan's apartment in Golcuk


Watching and listening to daughter Tara speak Turkish with the vendors at the local market


Turkish outdoor museum on Cihan's naval base


Hilltop, rooftop sunset dining, overlooking Golcuk and the Marmar Sea


Meeting Tara's class, where she teaches English, in Izmit


Having lunch with the ship's commander and his staff on the frigate "Kemalreis", followed by a tour of the ship


Touring the Turkish submarine "Preveze" (I got a cap)


Meeting and having tea with the commander of the entire Turkish naval fleet (Another cap!). He said, "Yes, but the U.S. Navy has seven fleets!" He is probably in line to become chief of all the navy in the next year or so.


Old, old houses in the village of Safranbolu


Spectacular Black Sea coast village of Amasra


Talking with wooden ship builders

Watching a crew building a giant stone wall beside the highway


Tobacco drying racks, being prepared by a couple of women


The four-star Hotel Belde west of Ordu, our favorite hotel of the trip


Watching women sort and set out hazelnuts to dry


The high mountain Sumela Monastery south of Trabzon


Seeing beautiful birds on the way up the mountain road - a Dipper, and a Hoopoe, shown here


Eating doner - beef or chicken sliced off a huge inverted cone of meat, cooked as it rotates


The Tea Institute and Botanical Gardens in Rize, as far east as we went on the coast


The tea growing on the steep sides of mountains


The way the tea leaves are harvested (large scissors with collection bag attached)


The scenery on the paved drive from the coast up to the mountain village of Sivrikaya, about 7500 feet


The rock and dirt road from Sivrikaya to a higher, summer mountain village, about 8400 feet


Meeting and visiting with bird guide Mustafa Sari and his family at that high mountain summer village


The fruitless search for the Caucasian Black Grouse, higher still. Mustafa is trying to talk the birds into coming down so we can see them.


Sharing breakfast with the mountain people in their ramshackle mountain summer home. This is Tara talking with Mustafa.


Seeing the Long-legged Buzzard (Sharon's photo seen here) and the Egyptian Vulture


Tara's mother-in-law Aysel's fantastically delicious assortment of soups. L to R, Aysel, Cihan's sister Canan, Sharon and Cihan.


Visiting with Cihan's sister Canan, doctor husband Metin and 2-year-old daughter Burcu


Coming back home to the good ol' USA!



Best Hotel

Hotel Belde, west of Ordu, on the Black Sea Coast. We had dinner on the deck between the pool and the Black Sea, both visible in the above photo.


Biggest Surprises

Only paying $40 (American) for our entry visa. We were told later that it should have cost us $90.

Speeding ticket east of Sivas, heading west. $55.

No women on the streets after dark in the eastern Turkish city of Bayburt. NONE. Tara was very nervous. We were eager to leave the next morning.

How well daughter Tara can speak Turkish.


Best Birds

Bee-eater, Long-legged Buzzard (Hawk), Common Crane, Dipper, Little Gull, Hobby, Hoopoe, Peregrine Falcon, Ruddy Shelduck, Spoonbill, White Stork, Alpine Swift, Egyptian Vulture, Yellow Wagtail. We managed to see four or five life birds to add to the 1600 we already had.


Distance Comparisons with the US:

Turkey, from east to west, is about the same distance as California, north to south.

Miles Driven (Black Sea Coast 8-day Rental Car Vacation) - 1700 miles (2700 km). Similar to a round trip between St. Louis and Washington, DC. Or San Francisco and Seattle. Or Greensboro, NC and Miami.

Fuel Used - 55 gallons (220 liters)

Avg Fuel Cost - $5.25/gallon (2.1 million TL/liter)

Mitsubishi 4-door Sedan Rental Car Mileage - 32 miles/gallon (100 km/7.7 liters)

Fuel Cost - ($300) 438 million TL

Cost per Mile - $300/1700 mi = 18 cents/mile (170,000 TL/kilometer).
{Oh, my God! Do you see what Bob does with his leisure time?}

Most Dangerous - Negotiating up and down the narrow, rocky road carved into the side of the mountain going from Sivrikaya to their summer village 7 kilometers higher into the Kachkar Mountains. TWICE. In the dark and misty rain. But well worth both trips, even though we didn't see our target bird.


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