Matthew's News and Gossip: 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
Matthew's News and Gossip
A man with no talent, but armed with a digital camera, can waste lots of bandwidth
Saturday, May 29, 2004
The annual Joe and Matthew rafting trip finally happened a month after it should have done. 8 hardy souls ventured up to the Merced river, stopping only to have tea on the way (too many Englishmen on board);
3 Englishman (and a New Jersey Jew) stop for tea as demanded by tradition
... and then having an outrageous amount of food and wine at a camp with no bears.
Mass Dinner; Mass Mess, with Samores
After a night when George's snoring drowned out Stephen's and when Meredith doesn't remember what Matthew and Patrick did to her because of the Roofie we'd slipped her, it was time to get out onto the Merced river and to be very brave.
On down the river, without dropping the camera
Lots of paddling too--the fault of those who wouldn't go when the water was high in April! The other boats were filled with lots of Cal and USC non-sorority girls with their jealous boyfriends, and a bunch of Argentinians who wisely kept damn quiet when they heard 4 English guys discussing the 1986 and 2002 World Cups!
All the pictures are here. Some photos of Matthew and Regina have "comments" from Patrick, who's looking for a job on the Tonight Show.
A fine day out, topped off by a very wierd dinner in Modesto town center where the Spin Doctors were acting out their retirement to a crowd that was even smaller than the one for the puppet show in Spinal Tap.
So we finally staggered out of Capadoccia, a beautiful and great place. The next stop was a quick night in a very dodgy hotel in Istanbul. And after that we flew down to Dalaman and took a quick hop with a licensed bandit in a taxi to Olu Deniz. Olu Deniz is a seaside town full of English oiks where you can buy a full English breakfast and where the locals are amazed to hear anyone even try to use Turkish, and were equally amazed to hear an American accent from Sarah.
The real reason to go to Olu Deniz (in fact the only one) is to go paragliding. It's a paragliding Mecca because of this big mountain (Babadag) a 2,000 meter mountain right by the beach.
You take off here
Take off over the ocean
You land here!
I had a great time flying although the thermal flying was pretty challenging. Sarah also had a great tandem flight, right before I had a fairly serious crash on take-off--thankfully my helmet and my back protection got me out of it with only a minor scrape. I girded my loins and took off again a few minutes later and had a great 25 minute flight.
One of the more amusing late nights we had was watching our hotel owner. Who had a special affinity with a certain well known American King!
You may notice that the photos have changed slightly as I'm now using Blogger's new photo upload service, which appears to be very clever and also means that I don't have to host the photos on my website. So the first one is Sarah in Cappadoccia.
Sarah smiles in Cappadocia
We got to Cappadocia after a little too much drama with air tickets for the wrong day, and terrible food poisoning which hampered our movements there (so to speak). But it is an amazing place in the center of Turkey, full of beautiful "badland"-type landscapes with wierd rock formations that the early Christians carved out into churches, such as these ones. Obviously too much time on their hands back then.
The Hittites, Christians and their successors also created underground cities in which to hide from raiders. We stayed in a hotel that was more or less carved out of the rock in the cute town of Goreme. (Photos of Goreme here)
The Rock Hotel "Local"
We took a tour of the underground city where the inhabitants hid out from raiding Arabs about 1,000 years ago. This was serious stuff. The city had 7 stories and lots of air supply. It also was used for weeks on end. Photos of the underground city are here
Underground City Room
On the way back from the Underground city we took in a few sights, including a part of the Star Wars set and the Ilhara River Gorge (which we hiked down to lunch). Here are some photos of that forced march!
One highlight of the trip was an early morning ride in a balloon. There are lots of photos here (especially of the end when Sarah got hold of my camera), and this artsy movie. (Again, be aware of the long download time!). Our pilot was Suat Ulusoy from Goreme Balloons.
Ballooning over the eerie landscape of Capadoccia
And of course Sarah bought Wallhangings and Matthew bought a carpet!
So we eventually got driven to the airport in Izmir and flew to Istanbul. After a quick nap to work off the Raki, we hit the Blue Mosque, which is only blue on the inside.
Next stop was into the Basilica Cistern, a huge underground water cistern built by the Byzantines and not discovered by the Ottomans until years after their conquest.
Later we made it to the Grand Bazaar, and then out to dinner on a very strange street full of identical fish restaurants all with their own very noisy band! More Istanbul pictures are here
The next day we went up the Bosphorous on a ferry--a very pleasant trip. Here's one Palace, but more photos are here.
That night in what I thought was a highlight (but everyone else thought was rubbish) we saw a real performance by real whirling dervishes. If you are patient--I suggest you right-click, open in another window and read on while you are waiting the couple of minutes it needs to download--you can see a movie of the Dervishes dancing. They kept this up for 30 minutes. You try it for 30 seconds and see how you do! (I fell over!)
On our last full day we went the Aya Sophia, which was a Christian Church turned into a Mosque and (very sensibly) converted by Attaturk into a museum. After breaking into and then being thrown out of the tomb of my idol Mehmet III (who took no part in actual governing of the Empire but sired 103 children), we then popped into the Topkapi palace.
I enjoyed hanging out in the Hareem but was a little nervous in the cirumcision room--luckily they accepted my "just visiting" excuse. More photos here.
After extricating ourselves from Diana's post birthday brunch, we eventually made it to Gatwick for the plane to Bodrum airport. After paying most of our holiday money to a licenses bandit in a taxi we had a quick night in Milas, and took several buses to Selcuk, near Epehsus. There we fell into the company of Zeki a pension-owning, carpet- and jewellry-selling lunatic. We had a long day fighting off the tourists at the Roman city of Ephesus
And an even longer night fighting off the Raki, Chelsea's defeat by Monaco and Zeki's new found love for Sarah!
Escape the next morning was very difficult due to a slight hangover....
OK so now I'm back and jetlagged at 1 am and can put up all those photos from my trip!
Sarah and I flew to London on April 29. We started off with a great dinner with my family, and then zipped up to London where we went to the Cathederal at Stamford Bridge and saw Chelsea beat Southampton 4 - 0.
Then it was out to dinner with a host of friends including Diana, Jenny, Carter, Gabrielle and more. After late night carousing in Jazz clubs (i.e. desperately trying to get a drink in a city which closes at 11pm) the next day we had lunch with Paula and John (soon to be off on their sailing adventire in the Windies), then it was on to Diana's 40th birthday bash. A fabulous affair with lots of black tied lovelies....