Rented the house, left town, on the road until further notice!
We eased into the traveling lifestyle in 2006 by spending 3 months traversing the US in a VW Syncro Vanagon, followed by trips to New Zealand and Iceland, and sailing in Maine and the Bahamas.
Then in 2007 we boxed up the bikes and spent 9 months traveling through Spain, Morocco and Turkey by bicycle. In 2009 we were bicycling again, this time spending 5 months cycling through Rajasthan and South India.
For our current trip we've ditched the bikes for a short winter escape to Southern Thailand. Click the links in the green boxes below to jump directly to blogs for our different trips.
Also, check out our expanded Flickr galleries of hi-res, geo-tagged and mapped
photos from Spain
and the latest photos from TurkeyIndia
. Other content you might find interesting can be found on my home page at http://web.mac.com/steve_hoge
Skype us at "steve_hoge"
May 1st 2008
From Akcay it was a 50km, gently rolling ride to the town of Ayvalik, relatively quick but somewhat painful due to the level of traffic back on the big D550 highway. In Ayvalik we did a quick survey of in-town accomodations but then decided to head out to Alibey Island, a 10km ride across the harbor causeway from Ayvalik proper. After a pointless ride over the island's steep spine to the Lonely Planet's favorite Ada Camp yielded only expensive 100YTL bungalows (the punatively-priced 6YTL beers were really the deal-killers), we rode back to explore picturesque little Alibey town itself. Here we discovered the comfortable Pansiyon Osgun, 50YTL including - big plus - our own kitchen, and checked in for a couple of nights, once again privileged to have an entire guesthouse all to ourselves. The next ... read more
April 30th 2008
We arrived by ferry from Istanbul in the port town of Bandirma on the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara to begin "the actual cycling portion" of our trip, intending to follow the circuitous coastline of the North Aegean for parts unknown to the south. Between extended stays as ordinary tourists in Marrakech and then Istanbul, we'd been nearly a month off our bikes, so we set a modest goal of 65km for our first day of cycling from Bandirma to Biga, not knowing what kind of conditions we'd encounter. Even so, we disembarked from the ferry a bit too late to start riding even this short distance, so we checked into Bandirma's quirky Hotel Elit, where we bargained them down from 90 to 70YTL for a glass-enclosed room high above the town square and ... read more
April 25th 2008
After a tough transit from Marrakech, we were in a state of somewhat exhausted excitement when the cross-Bosphorus ferry finally cruised into the Golden Horn and deposited us, our bikes, and a boatload of fellow commuters on the quay at Eminonu. Our initial impression of Istanbul, formed by the shifting views of the hilly skyline seen from the ferry and solidified by the sheer mass of humanity we encountered on the pier, was of a modern metropolis combining the character and geography of San Francisco with the intensity and scale of New York, and punctuated with a profusion of eye-grabbing landmarks unmatched by any other city. It was immediately apparent that Istanbul was going to be a very challenging place to manouever on bicycles, as we pushed them along the docks through the late afternoon throngs ... read more
April 11th 2008
After we returned from south of the High Atlas to Marrakech so Kate could travel back to North Carolina for a family gathering, she spent a furious last day of shopping around our neighborhood in the Ville Nouvelle looking for gifts for the folks back home and then trying to pack up all her spoils. Hassan, our innkeeper at the Hotel Toulousaine, was kind enough to take her to the airport for her 24-hour, 4-flight, 3-airline marathon, which she survived without a hitch. On the other hand, my incipient Marrakech Hack developed into a full-blown upper respiratory case complete with ear infecton, and I spent the two weeks she was gone trying to shake it while moping around the neighborhood from cafe to cafe, too enervated even to wander the medina, much less make good on ... read more
March 15th 2008
On our exploration of Morocco south of the High Atlas, we had originally considered cycling a loop from the Draa Valley village of Tansikht through Risani and Erfoud back to Ouarzazate, but soon realized we wouldn't have enough time to complete it before Kate had to catch her March 18 flight from Marrakech for a quick visit to the U.S. So, not wanting to pass up the Dades and Todra Gorges - "don't miss" destinations, from all the first-hand reports we'd received - we rode the bus from Zagora, near the end of the Draa Valley, back to Ouarzazate. After spending the night in familiar territory again, we started riding eastward along the Dades Valley on what was to be the last cycling leg of our trip through Morocco. The leafy character of central Ouarzazate quickly ... read more
March 9th 2008
After a day exploring the extremely photogenic kasbah at Ait Ben Haddou, we had a relatively short morning's ride to get into the city of Ouarzazate, at the intersection of the Dades and Draa River valleys. Ouarzazate was the real beginning of our trip south to the end of the N9 highway at M'Hamid, where the paved road finally gives way to the hammada and sand dunes of the Sahara. While riding out of Ait Ben Haddou it was very clear that we were now out of the High Atlas mountains and into the desert, with the tortured, red-rocked landscape reminding us of our own Southwestern U.S. (We got to telling people we met that the landscape looked a lot like Utah with the addition of palm groves and kasbahs.) All through this leg of our ... read more
February 28th 2008
After returning from a fresh 3-month renewal of our Moroccan visas in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, we wanted to spend as little time as possible in Marrakech and get back on the road. Outside of its famous medina, Marrakech is a large Europeanized city of vicious traffic and wicked dust storms, and on the whole held few attractions for us. We had already arranged a flight for Kate to her family gathering in North Carolina and had written off the attempt to retrieve our package of supplies sent from the States by UPS but now apparently marooned in the Customs shed at the Casablanca airport. We had a vague itinerary planned for the next phase of our trip in the regions south of Marrakech: to explore the Draa Valley as far south as the Sahara ... read more
February 20th 2008
Our arrival in Marrakech, at the ungodly hour of 3:30AM, was the result of the vagaries of the CTM bus schedule and our haste to leave the city of Guelmime sooner rather than later. We decided that hanging out in the Marrakech CTM station until sunup, when destinations like hotels and restaurants were opening up, would be our best bet. But it's cold at that hour in Marrakech, so Kate had to augment her passive warming system, consisting of all available clothing layers, with some active warming courtesy of a tiny stray puppy she found wandering the bus station, whose intense shivering gradually subsided after he settled into her lap and snoozed off. The inauspiciousnous of our arrival was compounded by getting thoroughly lost in the early-morning rush hour traffic trying to find the downtown hotel ... read more
February 16th 2008
We left Agadir with a sense of impatience to get out of that tourist town and back into the wilder coastal landscapes - not really wild, of course, since wherever you go in this country you are always surrounded by the curious and friendly Moroccan people, who seem able to materialize out of even the most desolate-looking landscapes. Our destinations were the towns of Massa and Sidi R'Bat on the Oued Massa river, which forms the southern edge of Souss-Massa National Park, a haven for overwintering bids and the enthusiasts who watch them. We'd already seen one of the stellar entries in any birder's lifetime list, the rare bald ibis, in Tamri, but we were curious about what constituted a "national park" in Morocco, and at 80 or so kilometers from Agadir, Massa was an appropriate ... read more
February 8th 2008
After nearly a week off the bikes "on vacation" in Essaouira, we resumed our southward journey down the coast with a very short 25km leg to the beachside village of Sidi Kaouki. This tiny town - barely more than a bus stop, and not even rating its own mosque - has only recently appeared on tourists' radar screens, and the road to it - a 30km loop west of the main N1 coastal highway - was only fully paved in the last few years. The driving force behind its development has been the international community of windsurfing fanatics; even more than in Essaouira, the winds here are predictably steady and strong, so much so that there is a huge wind farm generating electricity on the hillside just up the coast, financed by the German government and ... read more