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Heading South to Explore North Carolina

Visiting the (Actual) Cubs

sunny 25 °C

Sample Itinerary
- Day 1: Biltmore, sunset dinner in Asheville
- Day 2: Great Smoky Mountains hiking, dinner in Waynesville
 --> Clingmans Dome (loved these views): 1 mile starting from the parking area at the end of Clingmans Dome Road, fully paved, but extremely steep (well worth it for the views) – there are restrooms available, but no water
 --> Laurel Falls: 2.6 miles roundtrip starting between the Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont Campground, very popular since you can swim at the base of the falls – no restrooms or water available aside from at the visitor center
 --> Cataract Falls: starts near the Sugarlands Visitor Center, mainly flat
- Day 3: Blue Ridge Parkway hiking, dinner in Marshall
 --> Craggy Gardens and Craggy Pinnacle (loved these views): Roughly 2 miles roundtrip and 1.4 miles roundtrip respectively, both are fairly steep, forested, and lead to beautiful views (watch out for roots, and bugs) – we parked in the picnic area and hiked up then returned to our car and drove to the Craggy Pinnacle designated parking lot. The Craggy Gardens visitor center and picnic center both have restrooms.
 --> Mt. Mitchell Summit: 1 mile roundtrip starting from the highest parking lot which takes you to the highest peak east of the Mississippi; it’s very steep but paved the whole way and there are porta potties and water fountains for public use
 --> Crabtree Falls (my favourite waterfalls): about 3 miles roundtrip; you can either go back the way you came, or take a different, slightly longer more scenic route back following the river; it starts off easy but becomes increasingly difficult with uneven paths and the need to hold on to a railing to find your footing on a crumbled staircase on the return; no facilities along the trail, but there is a campground about a mile from the parking lot, en route to the trailhead
- Day 4: Asheville (try Urban Trails self-guided tour), including the North Carolina (NC) Arboretum
Optional: Drive from Asheville to Chicago through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois

Where to Stay
- Best Western Smoky Mountain Inn, Waynesville ($100 USD)
- Marshall House Inn (B&B), Marshall ($150 USD)
- Wingate by Wyndham Fletcher at Asheville Airport ($80 USD)

Where to Eat
- Asheville: Tupelo Honey Café, The Chocolate Fetish, Well-Bred Bakery and Café
- Marshall: Zuma Coffee, Star Diner
- Waynesville: Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant, Kanini’s Restaurant, Third Bay – Filling Station
- Louisville, Kentucky: Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint

My Travel Diary
North Carolina clearly hasn’t had the same publicists as Florida or California because growing up it wasn’t really on people's radar where I lived. There was no Disneyworld or Disneyland to dream of, and I’d never heard of the Great Smoky Mountains – only Smoky the Bear! But over the last few years Asheville has increasingly been the topic of travel talk; I’ve heard a lot about it being an open-minded oasis full of delicious local fare and surrounded by incredible mountain ranges. So, when deciding where to go on a five-day July getaway, my partner and I agreed on North Carolina. Full disclosure: it helped that the plane ticket prices were about $125 USD each roundtrip.

Before traveling anywhere, I always make sure to check the forecast. Once I’ve arrived, I always remember that meteorologists are fallible human beings. We were expecting three straight days of rain, including thunderstorms, so we planned accordingly; however, we only got sporadic showers. Regardless, we planned to spend our first day at Biltmore Estate because we could have a few hours indoors exploring the largest private residence in the U.S. We approached the house from the Diana Fountain at the top of a hill, such that we saw it increasing in size in contrast to the fading mountains behind it. The home, with its French Renaissance style, covers roughly four acres with 35 bedrooms, 43 washrooms, a bowling alley, and library with its own secret passageways.

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We spent roughly an hour and a half exploring the house, feeling more and more thankful by the minute that I’d never have the means to live in such a preposterously imposing house: there was a four-storey chandelier, a 90-foot room devoted entirely to tapestries (including one from the 1500s), and a 70 000-gallon indoor pool in the basement complete with underwater lighting at a time when many homes didn’t even have electricity yet. It’s well worth a visit not only to examine the architectural features (thanks to Richard Morris Hunt) and the landscape architecture (thanks to Frederick Law Olmsted), but also to reflect on the vast wealth disparity in the U.S. On the self-guided audio tour they made sure to emphasize that the estate was opened up to the public in the 1930s to try to increase tourism in the region and boost the local economy, while also being a major source of ongoing employment for locals.

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Although you could spend multiple days exploring the grounds at Biltmore, we booked our tickets for just one day and reserved a 3pm entry to the house. We started off by walking through the outdoor Library and South Terraces, savouring the shade and soaking up the stunning views of the mountains. We also happened to overhear an engagement proposal, although we were both so groggy from our flight that it didn’t register at first. The woman kept looking down at her hand and making an astonished face, so it finally clicked and I bluntly asked: “Did you just get engaged?” She shyly said yes, huge smile creeping across her face. I gushed over her ring and wished them all the best in their life ahead and then gave them some privacy.

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We strolled through the Shrub Garden, the Walled Garden, and the Rose Garden on our way to the Conservatory. I appreciated the diversity of plant life: from a bamboo forest to azalea gardens; and was incredibly impressed with the botanical model train display, fully functioning trains composed entirely of plant matter! We kept walking behind the conservatory, continuing on to the Bass Pond and Boat House with its own hidden waterfall – another prime proposal spot.

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Completed in 1895, the property included thousands of acres so it’s no surprise that the Vanderbilt family ultimately decided to start a dairy farm, winery, and now also own multiple hotels in the Antler Hill Village area. We didn't have time to hike or bike the many acres, but we did drive by the sunflower field and take in the art displays along with the educational exhibits. There’s also the adjacent Biltmore Village, which has historic cottages full of restaurants, cafes, and event spaces. We stopped there to fuel up at the Well-Bred Bakery and Café.

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We should have been more cognizant of our potential hanger when we packed for our hiking trips in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We also hadn’t realized that it may be difficult to refuel, even with water, along the way. Driving to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I also regretted not budgeting time to explore Cherokee – a town governed by the Cherokee Nation with a nice river, cute restaurants, and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Instead, we ventured on to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to get hiking early. While there, I was able to purchase water from a vending machine and use their restroom, while also picking up two paper guides: one devoted to day hikes and a Great Smoky Mountains trail map. It was only $2 for 2 of them! I’d highly recommend coming in with paper maps and guides because the internet was unsurprisingly unreliable. From there we stopped at a few of the overlooks like Morton and Carlos Campbell before doing our first hike at the Clingman’s Dome (steep but stunning!).

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I’d recommend wearing a hat, taking sunscreen, and going at your own pace – we saw a few people overheating on the way up, so it’s always important to stop when needed. We ended up spending roughly an hour there, really taking in the sights. We also had a strange delay in that we had to step in and distract some bees that were terrorizing a young girl whose mother was clearly also afraid and keeping her distance. Once the bees had buzzed off and the family had fled, we were able to continue on our way. Our eyes loved every twist and turnoff the drive (although my motion sickness definitely didn’t) and it’s clear why they’re called the Great Smoky Mountains given the clouds so stoically seated atop the summits. Our next stop was at the Newfound Gap where we learned more about the history of the national park, the region, and got to officially stand half in Tennessee and half in North Carolina.

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We couldn’t find water anywhere and the washroom had signage indicating its water wasn’t potable, so we stopped at the Sugarlands Visitor Center where they had water fountains as well as vending machines, but no food unfortunately. So that my belly growls didn’t get confused with bear growls, we diverted into Gatlinburg and grabbed lunch from Five Guys - mainly because it was cheap and easy protein. Gatlinburg itself is a tourist trap, overpriced with far too many neon signs, and I’m glad we didn’t stay there. We quickly headed back to the hills to hike more. We rounded off our day by hiking Laurel Falls, which took us roughly 90 minutes – my partner actually climbed down into the pool at the bottom for a quick dip. We found out that we had bearly missed a cub who had been spotted on the path; probably for the best because I’m sure a mama bear wouldn’t be too welcoming to tourists like us. Before leaving the park, we decided to walk the Cataract Falls trail from the Sugarlands Visitor Center, quick and easy but really pretty. If we were to do it all again, I’m not sure that I’d hike Laurel Falls – I’d consider trying Chimney Tops Trail instead, which is also popular but likely has better vantage points.

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In contrast, I’d love to revisit everything we did in the Blue Ridge Parkway. To begin with, we had the good fortune of seeing two bear cubs cross our path within about ten minutes of each other. We were in our car both times, otherwise I would have felt more like a not-so-happy meal and less like a happy observer. Fortunately, when we arrived at the Craggy Gardens Picnic Parking Lot no one was eating – bears or humans – so it was nice and quiet. We started our hike there so that we could get the ascent out of the way and have a breezier finish. The Craggy Gardens hike wasn’t overly challenging because the path was generally clear, but because it was steep at times, I took it slow. There was enough space to step to the side at times, but unfortunately, we still encountered some rude individuals. Maybe their attitude was a result of their hanger, we’ll never know. The hike itself was mainly through the forest without vantage points, but we did enjoy the rhododendrons and rock formations along the way. Once you arrive at the visitor center, the views are spectacular. Even more incredible are the views from the Craggy Pinnacle; however, I wouldn’t recommend walking to the trailhead from the visitor center – it’s much better to drive down the road, through the tunnel, and park in the Craggy Pinnacle hike parking lot.

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The highest peak we reached was Mt. Mitchell. Although it’d be more impressive to say that we hiked the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi, the truth is that we drove as far as we could in our rental car before begrudgingly huffing and puffing our way up to the 6684 ft. summit. It was a short climb, but a very, very steep one – more so than Clingmans Dome, and that’s saying something!

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A last-minute addition to our hiking agenda was Crabtree Falls. I hadn’t read about it in my research for the trip, but because I befriended a man on a motorcycle who recommended we visit Little Switzerland (long story) we changed our route and hiking plans. It turned out to be a blessing and a curse: Crabtree Falls were the most beautiful waterfalls on our trip by far, but Little Switzerland was about as authentic as Swiss Miss.

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In booking our accommodation, I chose to stay only in small towns rather than in Asheville proper. After two nights in Waynesville, about half an hour west of Asheville, we moved half an hour north of Asheville to Marshall. Between the two, I preferred Waynesville. It helped that there were more restaurants, cafes, and impressive views of the mountains. As with most small towns, we had to work around limited hours of service, which were greatly exacerbated by a labour shortage due to Covid-19. We felt that more acutely in Marshall, which only had two restaurants open for dinner when we stayed. The views from our incredible B&B (cannot recommend it highly enough) were far more appealing to us than sitting on a busy patio so we ordered take-out. We made the right decision because another guest at the B&B performed a live concert for us while we dined at dusk on the vast veranda.

Marshall:
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Waynesville:
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Surrounded by thriving small town life, we expected Asheville to be a more booming metropolis. In fact, it was bustling with tourists but had a fairly small, very walkable downtown. If you’re not in the mood to take a formal tour, then I highly recommend Asheville Urban Trail (https://www.exploreasheville.com/urban-trail/) because it outlines options for exploring Asheville with resources like a printable map, audio guide and even a scavenger hunt. I didn’t follow my own advice (typical teacher), so we ended up haphazardly wandering the town enjoying the architecture of the St. Lawrence Basilica and the Grove Arcade, chocolates at Chocolate Fetish, books at Malaprop Bookstore, vibe of Wall St. (couldn’t be more different to New York), and finally the Center for Craft on Broadway where we learned about women’s furniture and Asian-American artists (while basking in the glory of air conditioning).

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The highlight of our time in Asheville was actually meeting some of the incredible artists in the River Arts District like Andrea Kulish who makes Ukrainian pysanky eggs and Nadine Charlsen who shares my fascination with trains. There was something inspiring about not only seeing the artists at work, but also being able to safely interact with them (and Nadine’s adorable dog) at a time when connection can be harder to come by due to the pandemic. Sadly, we weren’t able to meet some of the other incredible artists whose work spoke to me like Kris Morgan for their light-hearted faraway scenes from Paris, Portugal and many other locales; and Angela Alexander, with her colourful portraits of animal life.

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Likely the safest social activity we engaged in was the socially-distant outdoor concert at the North Carolina Arboretum featuring Laura Thurston and Steve Newbrough. There was no additional cost for the live music, beyond the $16 entry fee to the arboretum. Sadly, we arrived too late to really hike the extensive grounds. But we had plenty of room to enjoy the acoustic guitar and unique vocals, and because the sound traveled so well, we were even able to walk through multiple gardens while still enjoying the sound. The Quilt Garden was an homage to the handiwork of the people in Appalachia, incorporating designs and bold colours into a patchwork garden. Nearby, a statue of the famous Frederick Law Olmsted stands approvingly.

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By the time we left Asheville we felt like we’d packed as much as possible into a very short time; we were satiated, but also excited to return in a different season for new perspectives and to learn more about the regional cultures: Appalachian and Indigenous. It turned out that it would be harder than we thought to go home. We arrived at the airport in advance of our 7 am flight only to learn that our flight was departing from Gate A12, yet the airport only held gates 1-7. Once we solved the mystery of translating North Carolina gates into Midwestern ones, we safely boarded the flight. Soon after, there was a ruckus beside us because Allegiant had overbooked and multiple people were assigned to the exact same seat. Next step? Mechanical failure. So, as quickly as we had boarded, we were told to disembark. I was drugged by this point, partially to lessen my motion sickness and partially to help my newfound anxiety, so I barely understood what was happening. All I knew was that I had taken medication to help with movement and I was suddenly shockingly still and stranded. My partner had set off to find reliable internet and search for new flights, while I tried to decipher what the airport attendant’s announcements actually meant. She had, at first, indicated that the next flight wasn’t until Monday (this was Friday) and had then listed the nearest airports in case we could find (1) private transit there; and (2) flights from there back to the Midwest. She then changed course and clarified that there was a slight possibility that the mechanical failure could be resolved by a system reset, in which case we may be able to fly out within a few hours. Unwilling to wait, I started looking for rental cars. There were none. Given that my partner had work the next day, we didn’t have much room for failure so I proposed that we go back in person to the rental car agency we had just returned a car to and see if they’d take pity on us and let us re-rent our beloved Kia. It worked.

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And thus began our unexpected thirteen-hour drive from Asheville to Chicago. Well, to be honest, our first stop was returning to our hotel for our complimentary continental breakfast. Fueled up (on multiple counts), we then set off. The mountain drives were stunning, including the Daniel Boone Forest. My favourite stops were: Berea, Kentucky which has a booming folk art culture including a visitor center right near the highway (buy the bourbon balls!) and Martin’s Bar-B-Que in Louisville, Kentucky (highly recommend the brisket tacos!). Driving through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and then Illinois was not how we planned to end our “relaxing” getaway, but it was worthwhile. I learned about Kentucky’s art and that for just $50 you can board a five-storey replica of Noah’s Ark. Personally, I’d rather spend the money on chocolate-covered bourbon, but to each their own. While driving through the region, we also saw plenty of ads for Jesus and guns (sometimes on the same billboard), but one really stood out: “gun control: buying one when you want two”. We couldn’t very well leave the South without at least a couple of stereotypes being reinforced, could we? On that note, I’ll mention too that we passed by Colonel Sander’s original Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant in North Corbin, Kentucky. It turns out that he was a real man, not just a cartoon conspiracy!

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We traveled with ease through the region and really enjoyed the solid infrastructure, well-maintained roads, and friendly faces we encountered along the way. Even our unexpected thirteen-hour drive home ended up being a welcome opportunity to see more of the South – especially the bumpy landscape and delicious food!

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Posted by madrugada 00:26 Archived in USA Tagged mountains churches art buildings animals chocolate rain architecture cities nature hiking vacation scenery summer rural usa tennessee forest beauty bbq eating cafes gatlinburg botanical_gardens kentucky blue_ridge_parkway american_history indiana arboretum north_carolina asheville marshall safe_travel waynesville scenic_road_trip coronavirus lush_greenery social_distance great_smoky_mountains illinoiswaterfalls Comments (0)

East, West and Center!

The last 2 months...

all seasons in one day

So, I haven't been able to bring myself to update in a while; however, the frequency of my posts is in no way representative of my travel patterns. Since April, I've been to: Istanbul, Eskişehir, Trabzon, Fethiye and Beypazarı.
I've also taken to discovering more of my own city - Ankara.

Istanbul - I was once again reminded of its chaotic, yet intoxicating nature. The purpose of my trip was to visit my friend Derin, who was coming from Canada. The journey involved an overnight train, which was actually a fairly pleasant trip once the infants stopped wailing. I woke up around 5:30 am to a gorgeous view of hills that we were sliding our way through (it was quite misty out). From the time I left my house to the time I finally met Derin, it took a total travel time of 13 hours. I was exhausted yet there was no time to rest, and so I left my backpack and we travelled. We started off at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, which is worth a visit for the spectacular view alone! It looks like nothing special from the outside, much like a factory, but the permanent exhibition had some gems and we both really enjoyed strolling around the temporary exhibition which was about the loss of nature due to pollution and industrialization. The pieces all had gorgeous landscapes, but there was always garbage scarring it in some way. We continued on to wander through Ortaköy, with its wonderful mosques and beautiful cafes. I tried one of the typical waffles, while Derin chose a Turkish coffee. The highlight was when we wandered through a tiny plaza that was filled with campaigning posters for the AKP (political party), and a woman walked up and proceeded to bash the AKP as best she could. After that, she pointed to one of the volunteers and said that she hated those people. She explained to us that the only people who supported the AKP were religious and traditional - not the kinds of people she wanted anything to do with. We smiled and tried to edge away as we weren't interested in getting into a heated discussion with either of the women. At this point the volunteer had wandered over and explained that she too hated "the other", in this case the more modern segment of the population perhaps? It was a strange experience, but very illustrative of Turkish politics and society. The result of the June elections? AKP won. In any case, Istanbul was mostly about seeing my friend. Sunday, I attended a church service, which was a very spontaneous decision. It was a Catholic church, I think, and mostly attended by Filipino immigrants. I didn't speak to anyone, but the service was interesting from what I gathered. It was a rushed trip, and made me realize that unless I'm in top form it's not one I'd like to repeat too often.

Eskişehir - a student's paradise. I had already been here before, but this time Cynthia, Kate and I decided to go so that we could also travel on to Kütahya, a place known for its hot springs. We didn't succeed, as the trains were packed and so we had to leave later than anticipated. As it happens, we went during the city's street festival. We decided to stay the night - a wise choice! We had a lovely time wandering the streets and listening to the live music everywhere. There also happened to be a salsa show that night, so we saw a star performer live. While watching we also played truth or dare jenga, which involved some of the funniest incidents in Turkey thus far. Suffice it to say that this city is a wonderful weekend getaway from Ankara; not because it has historical sites or wonderful museums, but because it's calm, relaxing and really pretty. You can even take a gondola ride on the canal (which we did)!

Trabzon - This city was once important, but now it's the least appealing I've been to. It was beautiful at times, because of the green. Even throughout the dirtiest parts of the city there were always trees everywhere, which was wonderful. It is raining constantly there, so it's not surprising that it should be so fecund. Two friends and I travelled together. It's a 12 hour bus ride from Ankara, which we took together. These bus trips are tough, because they're exhausting. You arrive at your destination completely drained, but it's morning and you have such a short time that you need to get going immediately. We went off in search of the Russian market, which involved a lot of walking and a very minor reward. It was filled with tacky goods that could've been purchased in Kızılay markets in Ankara. Within the city proper the most beautiful sight we saw was the Ayasofya, which was built in the 13th century. The city itself has been of great importance at different points in time, like during Ottoman times, or beforehand even after ancient times as a trade port, but now it looks decayed. The main trade that's done there now is prostitution, from what I gather. Unfortunately my friends and I were exposed to the darker side of this, as it must have been assumed by many of the men there that that was our reason for being there. We were harassed orally, and my friend was also sexually assaulted, which was perverse. I have never felt so uncomfortable in Turkey as I did there. It was also surprising just how few women we saw wandering the streets compared to the number of men (in certain areas of the city). At night we went to a bar, and once again I was surprised to see that there were two sections: one for men and one for groups of people (mixed, men and women or just women). This was the first time I'd ever seen something like it, but I wasn't bothered. I did notice that although this bar was packed, the streets were fairly empty by around 10 pm, and that there was definitely a shortage of bars and night clubs in the city. This has now been confirmed by a friend of mine who lived there for 8 years. Anyway, the highlight of this trip was seeing Sümela Monastery, which made everything worth it - the horrible men and the depressing weather. This monastery was built into the side of a steep cliff above a valley, and it really is spectacular to see from far away and up close. It looks to not have much depth, but then once you climb to it you see that there are courtyards and it's quite something. It was built in the 4th century and has been through quite a few rough times, always to be restored again. The mosaics in the rock church were amazing, but I was unable to get the information I would have wanted. I was told that apparently the mosaics were moved, but why? And from where? They were still in amazing condition really. If I were to go to north eastern Turkey again, I would probably skip spending any time in Trabzon proper and instead go just to the monastery and some of the natural conservation sites a few hours outside of the city. Apparently Rize isn't a bad choice for a weekend either, particularly if you're a tea aficionado!

Fethiye - a place for beach, sand and wind! I don't think I'll ever forget Fethiye, because I went paragliding there. It was one of the strangest experiences I've ever had. I went to Fethiye with Cynthia, Eilidh and Brian (Cynthia's boyfriend). The four of us had discussed paragliding briefly before going, but none of us did any research into it. When we arrived (after an overnight bus) on the Saturday morning, we were exhausted so we relaxed at the hostel, which was incredibly luxurious, and decided we would try paragliding if at all possible as well as a boat trip to Kelebek Vadisi. We set off for Ölüdeniz, and by the time we got there I already wasn't feeling very well. When they decided to go on a boat trip for the day, I chose to stay put at the beach alone rather than be motion sick as well as full of stomach cramps. This was probably a wise decision as the waters were rough to start with they told me. I spent the day lounging on the beach, surrounded by bright red, topless and mostly overweight British tourists. I was genuinely surprised to see so many British tourists there, and also that they weren't wearing their bathing suits. I later spoke to a local about this, because I wondered how the Turks felt - this doesn't seem to really fit with their cultural habits after all... He told me that generally speaking the locals go to other beaches, but that they don't judge these people by the same standards because after all, they're from a different culture. It was a very diplomatic response. In any case, I had no problem with my neighbours for the day as no one even spoke to me really. I got to read "Dune" on the beach and occasionally brave the walk to the water (over a lot of very uncomfortable pebbles, stones and rocks). I should have worn sandals, but instead I wore sneakers. The temperature was hot - about 36 degrees. I tried to avoid the sun, but even so I was extremely burned by the end of the day. One of the times when I was trying to avoid the sun, I hid out in a bus shelter and ended up chatting with the Dolmuş coordinator for quite a while. By the end of it I had secured a sweet deal for my friends and I for paragliding, which we did Sunday morning. Since we went with the coordinator's friend's company, they reduced the price by about 30% for us. This is yet another reason why I love this country. If you speak any Turkish, they're so genuinely happy and appreciative. I'm not sure whether it's because so few people try, or whether it's because they recognize that it's a tough language to learn; but, I've found people really kind (usually!) when I try to speak with them in Turkish. That being said, one thing that I find difficult is when they comment on their perception of my level and I'm left unsure of how to respond. This can be both negative and positive at times. When comparing us yabancı to each other it usually results in frustration, as people are very vocal about how they think we should speak and who speaks how. At this point, having now lived in Turkey for 10 months I can say that typically I can carry conversations, but I've given up hope of fluency because I think I've lost my idea of what it means. Back to the beach! On Saturday night we wandered into town and had a nice dinner at the marina, watching the boats floating and the stars shining. Sunday morning we set off for our paragliding expedition. The scariest part was the drive up the mountain because the driver didn't seem to mind the curves or the lack of road guards. I spent the ride conversing with the instructor beside me. We talked about politics and tradition. We decided to do the jump together. He put me in my suit and gave me my clear instructions: you'll run off the cliff, and make sure you don't stop running until I tell you and then you can sit comfortably and relax. I did as I was told and we glided. I was in front, sitting there, with a complete stranger, 2000 metres above the Aegean Sea talking about Australia. We glided and it was gorgeous. It was an incredibly peaceful experience, not like the adrenaline I had anticipated. We sat and talked, and smiled and took photos. It was incredibly strange because it felt like I was suspended in time. The minutes passed but I couldn't feel them nor could I feel the movement until I took off my helmet, at which point the wind rushed by and I felt better. By the time we came to land, motion sickness had hit me (as always!). During the landing he had to pass me a bag for fear that I'd vomit all over. The pathetic part was that we landed on the beach strip where people were standing to watch the paragliders come down, and instead of landing gracefully and jumping up and down with joy or even waiting for my friends, I landed and then ran off to the office to lie down and settle my stomach. I was fine within a short period of time. We then went for a hearty breakfast - I had toast. Due to the number of British tourists everywhere, the restaurants all offer British food, which was kind of a bit of a treat. My friends were able to eat meat that they wouldn't normally have. In Ankara bacon costs 78 TL at the supermarket for a small package that would probably be 10$ at the most at home; so, that was a treat for them in Fethiye. We spent the afternoon at Kayaköy. It's a village that was basically abandoned during the population exchange of 1923 between Greece and Turkey. It was then quite severely damaged by an earthquake in the 1950s; however, the buildings are still fairly intact, particularly the two churches. There also seems to be a sort of small artist commune there. I can't really express why it was unique, but it really did feel like we were walking through a ghost town. There were hardly any other people wandering, and the houses were all half ruined, but still standing. Once we hit the top of the hill and looked down it was an especially eerie feeling. There were many experiences that struck me in Fethiye and its surrounding areas. I'll return at some point, I'm sure.

Beypazarı - this small town is about 1.5 hours outside of Ankara, or less if there's no traffic. For such a proximity to Ankara, it's surprising the number of local dishes they have including stews, salty cookies (consistency much like South African rusks) and its own special baklava. Basically the reason for coming to this town is the shopping. They're well known for their inexpensive but beautifully designed silver jewellery. It lived up to its reputation. It's also quite pretty because of its nicely preserved Ottoman style houses, which line the valley and its surrounding hills. It's worth a visit if you're in Ankara. I'll probably try to go back a few more times next year, but I'll make sure to take less money next time :)

Next post: more photos, and more descriptions of Ankara itself! This will have to wait though as I'll be heading to Canada, America, Poland, Germany and Croatia for the summer!

Posted by madrugada 12:07 Archived in Turkey Tagged beaches art cities istanbul trabzon Comments (0)

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