Sunday, August 23, 2015

The wonder of Ephesus

Another highlight of my tour of Turkey was visiting the ancient ruins of Ephesus.  These famous ruins date from the 10 BC and comprise the most complete classical metropolis in Europe - and that's with 82% of the city still to be unearthed.  It is truly spectacular.  I'm not even going to go into its long drawn out history - totally amazing.  

It was one of those "at least its not raining days" but I think it beats the heat in the middle of summer...also while I was overwhelmed by the ruins I must admit I did not really know the all blurred together.  I will only comment on the ones I know for sure...done by checking google of course...where would we be without Google. 

So here we go...

Token dog picture with Bath of Varius in the background

Bath of Varius

Pillar guarded by a cat...

The Odeon

I believe this is the temple of Isis. 

Celsus library - magnificant! 

 Holes in the road so surface water could flow into the drains. 

Cats everywhere! 

Yes they are what they look like - the latrines....there was a fee involved and sitting "on the loo" was quite a social occasion.

Looking towards the Celsus library - built in 117 A.D.  

The road leading to the Celsus library 

Watch out!  There could be lions behind these bars!!! :)  Well, there were a thousand or so years back. 

This is an advertisement for a brothel ...seriously... note the foot telling you where to turn and the crudely drawn heart...

I believe this is the Eastern Gymnasium  

Memmius monument - constructed in the 1st century AD by Memmius.  You can see the statues of his father and grandfather on this momument. 

Can you see the Nike logo on here?  The founder was inspired by this statue.  Yes this was the goddess Nike - also known a the singed goddess of Victory.  

Fountain of Trojan - built around 104 C.E. (!!!!) it is one of the finest monuments in Ephesus and was constructed in honour of Emperor Trojan.  

The Theatre....the most magnificent structure in Ephesus...constructed in the third century B.C. and further enlarged during the Roman period - I'm sure they needed more room for the Gladiator fights as well as their fun filled throw the Christians to the Lions extravaganza.  It was also used for plays and concerts and held up to 25,000 spectators  

 Roman coffins

A last look at the theatre....

And it's goodbye to Ephesus.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.  Ephesus is a popular stop on the Greek island cruise circuit and it's certainly well worth a visit.   As a history geek I got the shivers thinking of all the many people and animals who lived here - the drama, the sadness, the laughter and the thought of chariots (as in other similar ruins you can still see the marks of the wheels) racing down the roads....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Thirty five beds in six months

I finally counted up all the different beds I slept in during my six months of adventure earlier this year.  Thirty five different beds....

So here are some of them in no particular order....and no I did not take pictures of all my rooms or beds!! 

This was at the Turim Suiso Atlantico hotel  in Lisbon.  My friend Pat recommended this hotel to me and I am so grateful.  Not only was it central but it provided a soft place to land for me after a very traumatic entry to Lisbon

I loved the exterior of this hotel!

The other place I stayed in Portugal was at an airbnb just outside of Funchal, the main tourist centre on the island.  It turned out to be a great place to stay with a killer view and a wonderful host, Jorge and his family.  It was a short walk to the charming fishing village of Camara de Lobos and a short bus ride from Funchal.  I would definitely stay here again - I could have sat on that balcony looking at that view forever!

Our balcony was the second one up and what a view....

I stayed in the gorgeous Bed and Breakfast above in St Ives...Downlong Cottage.  Trish and Michael were fantastic hosts and I was the only guest for most of the time so had some great onversations each morning.  The breakfast was delicious and the room newly renovated and lovely....I got a deal for booking for over four nights (I was there a week) and in the off season. I was a couple of minutes walk to the delightful harbour and close to everywhere in that darling town

I loved the nautical theme of my week in St Ives is one of the happiest memories of my trip. 

In Kayakoy, Turkey we stayed in a small family run hotel and enjoyed home cooked meals in the small restaurant.  As it was unseasonably cold we tended to take turns huddling around the heat.  And let's not talk about cold we all were that first night!  Still, I enjoyed our two nights here very much.  While the others tackled the Lycian Way three of us wandered the quiet roads and sampled the local wine in a quiet bar.  A nice break from a busy tour!!! 

We enjoyed walking along a quiet road observing the quiet countryside,.  We may or may not have seen Emus in a pasture after sampling that local wine! 

The pool would be lovely in the summer but not in March...brrrrr!!  My room was on the lower right with the blue towel hanging over the railing. 

Oh home away from home in London in Hampstead Garden Suburb, North London. This area is rather posh and the homes are all beautiful.  I have stayed here on my visits for eleven years now.  I resided here before my Christmas pet sit when I arrived in London in mid December.  I love it here.  Sadly my stay in late May/early June did not go as smoothly.  Due to water damage they were having construction done.  Being as I was such a long time guest I was invited to stay in their private quarters.  However one night it was impossible so I was virtually going to be "homeless" in London...thanks to my friend Pat I was able to stay with her an extra day in forfeited my train ticket and went up to Liverpool a day early on the bus....I paid a much smaller amount than I would have but would have gladly paid the full price (which is very reasonable for London I must say) to have been more comfortable....I did have the same view though...just on the next floor.  My usual room is the window right above the door...It was kind of Rosie and Christine to let me stay there though so for that I am grateful. 

This is the view from "my room" and the short cut to the tube station (Golders Green).

This is further along the short cut - Hampstead Heath extension....I love it.  I think next time I stay here I will opt for the room with the private bathroom though...I said that last time as frugal ways tend to win but I think my knees will appreciate a shower rather than the new tub they had installed....The reasons I didn't stay here my whole time in London were 1). I did not have access to a kitchen to fix meals as when you are traveling for six months you need to do for obvious reasons and 2) I wanted to discover other parts of London. 

I booked the hotel in Prague online as it seemed to be close to "the action" and the rail station.  It turned out to be a great place to stay and my friend Claudia liked it as well which was a relief.  It is always a bit nerve wracking booking a place when you are traveling with someone (I am used to traveling solo and if a place isn't up to standard I live with it) and you book an unknown place.  We opted not to pay extra for the breakfast except for the last day -it was exceptional.  However we were happy to just have coffee and pastry for breakfast and enjoy a heartier lunch.  I would definitely recommend this hotel...I wish I had taken a picture but we had a bedroom and a small living area,.  Claudia would sit and make her tea in the morning while I slept a bit longer.  It had lifts and an open air area within the hotel.  Very nice.

Pension Kraml in Vienna.  I loved this place.  Classical music played in the foyer as you huffed and puffed up the stairs (the down side).  My room was spotless.  I opted for a shared bathroom however the toilet was just outside my door and the shower room a one minute walk away.  Again, both clean as a whistle.  There are rooms with facilities however.  It is family run and the breakfast buffet (included in the cost of the room) was amazing.  It is located in a central area as well just three blocks off of Mariahilfer, one of the main pedestrian friendly shopping areas in the city with lots of places to eat as well.  Definitely recommended and a place I'd stay again.

I stayed at private homes through airbnb in both Dublin and Belfast...above is the place I stayed at in Belfast at Cliftonville Road.  A short bus ride into town with shops and restaurants close by - it worked for me.  A lovely breakfast of pancakes was prepared by our host - I say "our" as there were several of us staying there.  A bit too crowded for my taste but for the amount of time I was there it worked.  Would I stay there again?  Probably not but then again one trip to Belfast in my lifetime is enough.  I enjoyed my stay but I saw everything I wanted to see including The Giants Causeway in the sunshine...when will that happen again? 

My abode in Dublin was right on the sea and I had a sea view room.....while I wasn't crazy over the set up of the bathroom facilities...two enclosed toilets in a bathroom which people seemed to think was one use fact I got reported for barging in on someone in the middle of the night...can I help it if I was half asleep and forgot the UK and Ireland turn ON lights by turning the switch down....okay so I scared the woman to death by turning off the light then barging in but seriously...she thought I had broken into the house and was going to kill her? Anyway the woman reported me despite me apologizing profusely.  I loved being in Dun Laoghaire and if my travels ever take me back to Dublin I will stay nowhere else but the south coast as it's an easy ride by DART (suburban railway) into Dublin and up and down the coast line. (blog post on that coming up)
Colleen, the resident dog

This was the view from my room....

In York, my second favourite city in the UK I stayed at the Monkgate Guest House which was a two minute walk from the centre.  I even had Teddy Bears to keep me company...

The wall paper was a bit busy - British people love their wall paper!!!

Monkgate named for the beautiful structure below....Monkbar... which is the largest and most ornate of the gates around York's City Wall - it dates from the 14th century.  York is simply amazing. 

 In Liverpool (the first time I was there in March) I stayed at an airbnb home in the Wirral - across the Mersey from the city of Liverpool.  My hosts Ann and Steve were wonderfully kind and fun.  Steve fixed me amazing coffee each morning complete with eggs and toast.  I asked why Liverpudlians were called Scousers and was told it was because of Scouse which is a very thick stew.  The next evening Ann made some Scouse (in my next food post!) just for me which was so sweet and thoughtful.  My room was absolutely huge - why I didn't take a picture I don't know....and as a bonus two make it three as their daughter had a dog as well.  Three dogs - I was happy! :)  I didn't spend much time in the room as most evenings were spent sitting in the kitchen drinking wine with Ann and petting a dog!

On my way over to the UK in December I stopped in Reykjavik and stayed at a guest house.(because I wanted to be in the city centre and was arriving at a very early hour - sometimes not convenient for a home stay)   No pictures to show as when I left the guest house it was dark and when I returned it was dark!  On the way back of course it was the total opposite.  This time I stayed at another airbnb home and my host was Henry.  His nondescript apartment was on Reykjavik's main shopping street so was very handy to everything.  It was basic but had everything I needed.  Henry and I shared a love of travel and hiking and he has had a fascinating life.  My last evening there he fixed us seafood pasta which was delicious. 

So this was an overview of where I stayed...lots more of course such as Claudia's in Streatham, Ann's place in Southgate..I enjoyed all of my airbnb stays immensely.  Also there was  my cousin Sue's home in Sleights, Yorkshire and my friend Claudia's home in northern Bavaria.   And all the hotels in Turkey on my tour... I must say it's nice to be back in my own bed again...for a while anyway!!! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Food Glorious Food! - part 1

It's no secret that I love my food...and it shows!   I had some great meals on this last epic adventure of mine...I know this will be a two parter...or even a three parter....if you don't like food (you freak, you!) or you're an easily offended vegetarian then stop reading now but if you like food pictures keep scrolling as I think you will enjoy this!! To me one of the great pleasures of travel is trying meals you may not have at home....

So here we go....I am just going to pull these off at random...enjoy!  (and try not to drool on your keyboard -  liquid isn't good for computers you know! 
Portugese custard tarts (Pastel de Nata)  in Lisbon - I saw these babies everywhere and I had to have one every day.....oh about melt in your mouth.
Beef, dumplings and gravy in Germany - delicious but getting vegetables with a restaurant meal is almost unheard of in my experience.  And I do love my veggies! 
My favourite dish in Madeira - Espada (black scabber), a delicious local fish (that is ugly as hell)  with a banana and passion fruit sauce - oh my my my....veggies were served on the side in case you are wondering why such a small meal.....
Famous Whitby Scampi - enjoyed at a pub in Yorkshire with my English family

Delicious ice cream on my first day in Istanbul - I couldn't make up my mind so I had all three flavours.  Putting it together was quite the production. 
A delicious Cornish pasty in St Ives, Cornwall (plug for the St Ives bakery - they are traditional and so good). A delightful combo of beef, swede, onion and potato.  Served warm.  Pasties originated as a handy lunch for Cornish miners going down into the pit - something that contained meat and veg all in one  and could be held in their hand. 
I enjoyed this meal in Prague. Beef with gravy and Czech dumplings - very very nice. 
Icelandic donut...tasted like a cake donut...
You can't visit Vienna and not go to one of their famous coffee houses for a delicious piece of cake  - Sacher Torte at the famous Diglas coffee house near Mozarts's apartments (which I visited of course - love Mozart!)

Sometimes you just want an omelette and chips....London.  I loved visiting the local greasy spoon cafes for a fry up (cooked breakfast)  or this little bit of heaven. 

Irish stew in Dublin...because you have to don't you 
Turkish pizza (mushroom & cheese) OMG Turksih pizza...the seemed to be served differently every time I ordered it (which was a lot!)   Okay the keyboard is covered with drool...I want one and I want it NOW!!

Traveling by Goat to the Western Lake District of England

That title got your attention, didn't it?  Okay, I didn't actually travel on the back of a goat...I mean the poor goat would be dea...