Off again (finally!), with this blog as my link to folks at home.

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North America » Canada » Alberta » Banff National Park October 10th 2011

It was time for a break, so I headed out west where my son and I got to spend some time together AND explore the outdoors of beautiful Banff. My original travel plans took a bit of a u-turn with the threat of a strike by Air Canada. Instead of flying directly from home to Calgary, I spent a day driving to London ON to connect with a Westjet flight. That worked out fine since I have family there so the return home included a stop over and Thanksgiving dinner. Banff is a little over an hour west of Calgary, where my son lives, so this was a very manageable trip. We arrived in Banff on a Tuesday afternoon and got the lay of the land. Wednesday morning saw us up Sulphur mountain via gondola (yes, ... read more
On the gondola
Cosmic Rays...
At the top

North America » Canada » Alberta » Calgary July 22nd 2010

UPDATE: As of today August 15, folks have very generously donated and he has reached his target of $2200. Anything beyond this will be a bonus - much thanks to everyone who helped him reach his goal! This is about a journey of a different kind. In about 8 weeks time, on the weekend of September 10th, my son will be participating in a 100km 3 day walk in the Kananaskis region of Alberta. He was looking for a place to volunteer his time and challenge himself, and came across this event which is a significant fundraiser for the Kidney Foundation. It was also a good excuse to pay more attention to personal fitness - a win win situation if I ever heard of one! So he's registered, has the t-shirt and is ready to go! ... read more
Kidney March

North America » Canada » Alberta » Calgary July 11th 2010

A week in Calgary and the Badlands was a good break, and apparently timed in the midst of some great weather. This was just prior to the start of the Calgary Stampede, and there were some good deals to be had. For the first three nights I stayed in downtown Calgary right near the beautiful Prince's Island Park - a direct result of those great deals - relaxing and pampering myself. One evening we went to Body Works, that travelling display of actual cadavers that have been plasticized for preservation and educational purposes (!) and attended a terrific lecture by an orthopedic specialist afterwards. Another evening we went to Shakespeare in the Park for a unique presentation of Othello by the Mount Royal University College drama department. A day of shopping and then we hit the ... read more
Calgary to Drumheller
Majestic Scenery

Middle East » Turkey March 8th 2010

So I am home (in Canada). As I noted in an earlier entry, my trip was a series of seat sales (involving different airlines). My flight from home to Frankfurt return was with Air Canada, but my flight into Turkey was not, and Air Canada does not have a desk or office in Turkey. So I had to wait until I got to Frankfurt in order to explore my options. We landed a little bit late - about 8:15 German time - after our three hour flight. You need to clear passport control on arrival, and re-enter security if you are making a connecting flight. In my case, I had to clear passport control, enter the country, pick up my luggage and sort out where Air Canada was in order to see about changing my ticket, ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul February 27th 2010

*On our last day in Istanbul, we spent some more time wandering around Sultanahmet, sat in the Blue Mosque for a while, and had a local hot drink made of milk, honey, and a variety of spices. As we were getting ready to head back to our hotel before flying out the next day, the Blue Mosque's muezzin started the call to prayer, and my son got this video. Note the dog near the end, who isn't bothered by the volume at all. Our final day here and we cannot believe how quickly the time has gone (or how much ground we covered in the process!). After a slower start this morning we headed to the Archaeological Museum - and by slower start I mean we weren't at the museum until about 9:45 :). We ... read more
Archaeology Museum
Archaeology Museum

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul February 26th 2010

Yesterday morning we visited the ancient city of Troy, on the coast just a little south of Canakkale. Yes, it is a real place although it is debatable whether Homer's epic was really the first historical fiction novel, or whether these folks and events did exist. The Iliad was written about 500 years after the Trojan Wars (thought to be about 1200BC) and tells the tale of Paris, son of King Priam, who abducted Helen the wife of the King of Sparta and high tailed it to Troy. The King of Sparta did not take kindly to this, as the story goes, and a ten year war was started (ending with the Trojan horse that was left at the gate, and filled with Greek soldiers). There is no doubt that a long war took place here. ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Gallipoli February 24th 2010

We really enjoyed Canakkale - a small town that was easy to explore, in a beautiful setting. It is southwest of Istanbul (about a 6 hour drive) and located right on the Dardenelle straits which run between the Aegean and Marmara seas. Our first morning we visited the city's fortress which is also the Army and Navy Museum. It was built in the 15th century with 9 foot thick walls in certain sections (ie the officer's quarters....!). The grounds are well maintained and now include a lovely garden area overlooking the mouth of the Dardenelle. The day we were there, a large number of new cadets were being toured around as part of their training - perhaps this is why we were assigned a young officer (well, maybe not an officer) who gave us a guided ... read more
View from fortress

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Bergama February 23rd 2010

Yesterday we made our way up the coast of the Aegean to Bergama (Pergamum). We are travelling to Canakkale and this was a good way to break up that journey, while offering us the opportunity to visit the spectacular Acropolis. Pergamum was one of the ancient world's major powers during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Lysimachus, one of Alexander the Great's generals and friend, stored his lootings up here. The old city is perched high on a hill and has a spectacular view of the surrounding plains - it would be easy to see it's appeal for defensive purposes, and in fact Pergamum was able to hold off the Gauls here making them quite celebrated during Hellenic times. For some reason, the ruler Attalus III (Lysimachus' son) bequeathed Pergamum to Rome on his death in ... read more
The Acropolis
View from the Theatre
Theatre from the top of the Acropolis

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ephesus February 21st 2010

Ephesus was a major trading centre in the pre-Christian era, and on an important trade route. As a port city it offered, in addition to business pursuits, brothels, theaters, temples and one of the world's largest libraries. Plus a huge shopping street (the Arcadian Way) apparently offering goods from throughout the Mediterranean. In pre-Hellenic times it was the cult centre of Cybele, the Anatolian goddess of fertility. Seafaring Ionians arriving in the 10th century BC re-purposed her as Artemis, goddess of the hunt. By the 2nd century BC, Ephesus had become the capital of the Roman province of Asia and Artemis had been renamed Diana. Ephesus eventually became Christian, but of course not without a struggle. My guidebook notes: The Gospel of Luke recounts how the city's silversmiths drove St. Paul out of Ephesus for fear ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Aphrodisias February 19th 2010

I know this is a travel blog, but I am not entirely comfortable with it simply being a list of places visited and sites seen. Really, the best part of travel are the things that happen along the way to those sites or simply absorbing the day to day life of the place you have immersed yourself in. So on that note, let me start this entry with some thoughts on our experiences/impressions of Turkey so far. The people we have come into contact with are passionately proud of their country and its history, and are anxious to share this passion. A passing comment on the beauty of the countryside generated a heartfelt thanks in response from a beaming citizen. It is also a very family-oriented society that loooves children, and one that looks out for ... read more

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