Gary Jenohn Thogersen


Gary Jenohn Thogersen

I am a 65 year old retired lawyer. I live in Seattle, Washington. I love reading, travel, biking and gardening. I have three grown sons and two grandsons. I work part-time as an usher at Benaroya Music Center and as a check in agent for Norwegian, Oceania and Celebrity Cruise Lines in the summer.

That's me in 1963 standing by my first set of wheels, a 1948 Pontiac 2 door sedan. My first adventure traveling was in 1961 when my grandfather and I rode a Greyhound bus from Glendive, Montana to Lima, Ohio. From then on I was hooked on travel.

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet October 1st 2013

Istanbul, Turkey My hotel, the Byzantium, is located on a very narrow cobble stone street near Sultanhamet Square, the heart of old Istanbul. The streets here are crowded with small hotels and restaurants. If you are ever here I highly recommend the Byzantium, . The rooms are clean and the staff friendly and accommodating. The sidewalk café is a great place to sip strong coffee and watch the parade of locals and tourists. Breakfast is included and is very tasty. The rooftop restaurant has a commanding view of the Mamara Sea in one direction, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia in the other. Have a glass of Raki and let the cares of the world fade away. Istanbul is such a large city with so many layers of history and culture it is ... read more

Europe » Bulgaria » Burgas Province » Nesebar September 27th 2013

Nessebur, Bulgaria Nessebur is a nice little port city that thrives on the tourist trade almost exclusively. The old part of town is billed at the Dubrovnik of the Black Sea. I have never been to Dubrovnik but I doubt the comparison is accurate. While Nessebur has beautiful beaches and interesting ruins dating back a couple thousand years, it mainly sports souvenir shops and cafes. After a leisurely stroll around the narrow cobble stone streets I spent time over strong coffee at a seaside café with friends from the ship. Then I heard music and wandered off to find a wonderful exhibition of local dancers and musicians in the center of a partially excavated ancient theater. The music and dancers in native garb was superb. My favorite image of the performance is of a ... read more

Europe » Romania » Dobrogea » Constanta September 26th 2013

Constanta, Romania Constanta is a small city in the midst of a serious reconstruction effort. It has a long way to go. Nonetheless it is worth visiting if you don’t mind zigzagging around construction pits, loose cobble stones and piles of rubble. We were told that the reconstruction is being partially financed by the European Union, while Romania struggles to keep up with its more prosperous fellow EU members. Our talkative guide was a chubby little man who regaled us with tails of the disastrous years when Nikolai Ceausescu and his evil wife ruled the country. Fear of the secret police kept the people in line while Ceausescu ruined the economy. He and his wife got their comeuppance in 1989 when they were both arrested and summarily executed. Romania and Constanta has come a ... read more

Europe » Ukraine » Odessa September 25th 2013

Yalta, Savastopol and Odessa Ukraine The weather cleared considerably during the night and we arrived in Yalta on a clear autumn morning. This was the start of a three port visit to Ukraine. Yalta is a beautiful small city built at the base of imposing, cloud capped mountains. It had long been a destination for Russians and Ukrainians seeking a warm climate and beautiful beaches. It has the feel of a resort which is what it has been for centuries. The Russian nobility came here often to take “the cure” at spas along the coast. During the Soviet time the proletariat were sent here for vacations at the huge sanatoria near the beach. Here the working class was supposed to be entertained and pampered in return for their devotion to the Soviet Communist system. ... read more

Europe » Russia » South » Sochi September 22nd 2013

Sochi, Russia I am beginning to think that I may never get to Russia. For the second time circumstances have blocked me from entering. The crossing from Trabzon was rough. The wind picked up just as we headed north across the Black Sea and at times it rained heavily. I love the sea when it is rough because I really get to experience the power of nature. It also makes for good sleeping. Not all my shipmates share my enthusiasm. It definitely makes for quieter and less crowded dining in the dining room. In the morning it became clear that there were problems ahead. First the Russians had informed the ship that the port was being reconstructed in anticipation of the Olympic Winter games set to start later this winter. Therefore we would have ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Black Sea » Sinop September 20th 2013

Sinop/Trabzon, Turkey I have just visited two cities on the north coast of Turkey on the Black Sea. I’ll dispense with Trabzon first. It is a fairly large city that was founded by merchants from neighboring Sinop in about 1,000 BC. A walk around the central district today confirmed that it is still a city of merchants. The streets are crowded with mostly small shops selling everything from food and clothing to electronic equipment and jewelry. Many of the women, especially middle aged and older, wear head scarves and are covered to the shoes. Younger women are not as conservatively dressed although even many of them wear colorful headscarves. The men wander the streets arm in arm and smoking is prevalent. It was a rainy, cloudy day so I opted not to travel out ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul September 19th 2013

The Dardanelles and the Marmara Sea In the night Nautica sailed out of the Aegean Sea and entered the narrow passage through the Dardanelles. I couldn’t sleep so I got up at 3 am just in time to see the floodlit memorial on the cliffs at Gallipoli. This is the infamous spot where during World War 1 many Australian and New Zealand soldiers were slaughtered in an ill-fated attempt to subdue the Turkish army. On this evening the sea was calm and there was a full moon hanging directly over the site evoking a celestial requiem for those lost that fateful day. I always treasure these times at sea under a full moon. The shimmering white light reflected across the sea is completely unchanged since the beginning of time. I find that particularly comforting. ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Kusadasi September 19th 2013

Kusadasi, Turkey Nautica arrived in the Turkish port of Kusadasi to find a huge Royal Caribbean cruise ship already docked and towering over us. By the time we tied up at the pier two more cruise ships entered the port, not as large but adding to the expected crush of tourists. Most tourists come here to tour the ancient city of Ephesus. I could have done the same but chose instead to join a group of 7 others in a small van to visit other sites that would be less likely over-run with the waddling masses. First we drove to see the ruins of a Greek city named Priene. It is several miles out of Kusadasi and has to be reached by a steep climb from a small parking lot. The climb was well ... read more

Europe » Greece » South Aegean » Mykonos September 19th 2013

Port of Piraeus near Athens After a long flight from Seattle with stops in Philadelphia and Zurich I arrived in Athens, tired but ready to start experiencing a new part of the world. Athens airport is about 90 minutes by express bus from the port of Piraeus. I use the term express” loosely because it really isn’t far in actual distance but the traffic is terrible. Along the way I was amazed to see mile after mile of empty store fronts and small abandoned strip malls. Many of them appear to have been built within the last 10 or 15 years and have large plate glass showroom windows with nothing to show. I have read news stories about the economic troubles here in Greece, but unless one sees it in person it is hard to comprehend. ... read more

North America » United States » Washington » Seattle September 15th 2013

I am writing this note in preparation for my next grand adventure. My travel partner Bill Kepper and I will be flying to Athens on September 15 to board Oceania Cruise Lines Nautica to begin a cruise to the Black Sea. We will be stopping in the Greek isles and then to three ports in Turkey. Then sailing counter clockwise around the Black Sea we will visit Sochi in Russia, Yalta, Sevastopol and Odessa in Ukraine, Constanta, Romania and Nessebur, Bulgaria. The trip will end with four days in Istanbul. I will be packing my Microsoft tablet and will try to jot down significant observations as I go. The timing of sending these out will, as usual, depend on the speed of internet connections along the way. Now to get organized for departure in about 10 ... read more

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