Hello again -
We've had a great time since our last message went out. We had a lovely dinner with Himanshu and Jayantika along with other Agilent colleagues in New Delhi. Wonderful hospitality and Margaret starred at charades. I was a bumbler at best. We were able to visit old haunts in Delhi from my previous visit there as well as new World heritage sites - Humayun's tomb, the Q'ta Minar as well as the new Ba'Hai temple which is spectacular.
We left India and flew across the Indian Ocean to the Arabian peninsula, landing in Muscat and Abu Dhabi before settling in Bahrain just for one evening. Bahrain is lovely and we spent the evening cruising the old Gold Souk along with a number of sailors from a U.S. vessel that had just put into port amid duties in the Gulf. Among our souvenirs a couple of genuine Saddam Dinar notes. Also enjoyed the best hotel room of the trip - gratis, thanks to Gulf Air - who seem to have considered our decision to spend a night in Manala their chance to get a promo for Gulf Air and the Emirates. Well, glad to do it. Believe it or not, our flight path, according to the inflight magazine, seemed to directly cross Iraq. Must have been an old version.
We're also finally getting healthy again - getting over colds, voicelessness, traveler's stomach. Though my knees are starting to be an issue but more about that later.
Istanbul!!! I first came here in 1966 and felt like I'd reached a very far place indeed. The ambiance is still there but Turkey is much cleaner, more modern, more Delightful than ever (excuse the pun). I still feel that to stand in the square between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia (Mother of Churches) is pure magic for the soul. Then there are also the Grand Bazaar (The Mall of the Crossroads of the World selling only the best Stuff of every kind for only the past 500 years), the wonderful Topkapi Palace and Museum, the cruise up the Bosporus past palaces of the Sultans and to the best ice cream and sherbet of the trip, and cups of the sludgelike Turkish coffee. I even found a rug to buy - a Kazak from Eastern Turkey. As much as we've enjoyed other places Istanbul was hard to leave.
Down the European coast in lovely spring weather - past Galipoli, where more than 500,000 Turks, Brits, Aussies and Kiwis died during 9 months of 1915 - to no real end. Though it may have been his contribution that led to Mustafa Kemal's - Ataturk - rise to power and the subsequent founding of modern Turkey.
After an evening in Canakkale, which, though lovely, did not seem to serve food at at hour when we were awake we headed on to the ringing plains of windy Troy. A small place, poorly excavated, but so powerful. Also, very, very windy.
Which brings us to Selkic - the modern town next to ancient Ephesus. We spent the day wandering down the marbled valley of temples, gates, theaters, tombs, terraced houses and an extraordinary blend of ancient Greek, Roman, and early Christian history. For our NZ friends you should know that we chose to stay in the All Blacks Hotel which is definitely Kiwi friendly.
Tomorrow Margaret is making me leave Asia Minor. She insists on spending some time in the Greek Isles and who am I to argue? But Turkey is again on my come back and spend more time list.
So why am I sounding like Little Mary Sunshine on the Happy Tour? Is it Turkey? Spring? Great ice cream/kebab/coffee? New rugs? Or is it the one-a-day vicadin habit I'm on to keep my left knee going? Looks like surgery when I get back. No cartilege left so its just bone on bone at this point. We'll find out in Greece.
Only 10 more days of traveling with Margaret. More later.
- Ray and Margaret