Turkey to Wales June 30 - July 6, 2022

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August 11th 2022
Published: August 11th 2022
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A Great Visit With Friends, Peter and BridgetA Great Visit With Friends, Peter and BridgetA Great Visit With Friends, Peter and Bridget

sailing friends from our days sailing in Trinidad
1WWe have been in Turkey since the end of May and have gotten quite a bit done on the boat that needed to be done with the help of some great technicians. We knew some of the projects as we had lined them up before when we were here last Fall, but more kept popping up such as losing water pressure and still working out the software and settings for the controls for the batteries and solar system.

We had been warned about the heat here in the summer months of July and August, but it seems that everyone is telling us that it has started to get hot earlier this year as we have been having temperatures in the mid-90s already. As a result, the best time to do any work is in the early morning or late evening which definitely does have an impact on how much you get done each day.

One thing we definitely want to do while here in Turkey is to do more traveling around the country as it is a beautiful one with lots of history to learn. I started to plan out some land trips, but then something would “pop” up on the boat that needed to be dealt with before leaving such as the controls for the electrical system as couldn’t leave it without having this working properly. We were getting closer to figuring out a month or two long trip around the country when Bob decided to try out our navigational computer to find out that he couldn’t even turn it on! He checked out the power to it and it was getting 12+V of power so that wasn’t the problem. Now to figure out what to do about this! Digital Yacht is a great company for customer support so Bob sent off an email and was told we could send it to their support facility in the UK so they could check it out. That would be possible, but we have heard horror stories of trying to send any electronics/equipment into Turkey due to the customs issues. A new plan was now hatched – lets take it to the UK ourselves which will help in many ways. We now could visit many of the friends we have made over the years, we could bring the computer with us for repair/assessment and it would help with extending our time in Turkey.

We are legally able to stay in Turkey for 90 days within a 6-month period. If we wish to stay longer, we would have to apply for a temporary residency here in Turkey. We decided we would check into it and talk to an agent to find out more of the details as we do know others that have done this without too much of a problem. Many do this to stay in country for a year, but we were thinking of doing this just so we could stay until the end of October or middle of November. In discussions with the agent, he said we could do this of course, but he also mentioned that if we decided to travel to another country for a while that could help out. Now with deciding to go to the UK to see friends as well as try to get our navigational computer fixed, this time away from Turkey will help. We weren’t sure how long we would go for, but the longer we stayed away, the longer we would have later to stay in Turkey to sail during the cooler months. Now we at least have a partial plan, we looked into flights to the UK and we will worry about our return trip later.

Once that decision was made, I started to contact a few friends back in the UK. One in particular we knew lived quite close to where we had to send the computer so started with them. In doing so, found out that John was turning 80 and they were having a surprise birthday party for him and wondered if we could make it for that celebration. Once we heard that, we quickly made plans for a flight that would get us there in time. What perfect timing as we hadn’t seen them since 2012 when we came across to Portugal where they were living at the time. We first met Sandra and John in Botswana so this has been a friendship that has lasted many years. Their son connected with us in Turkey last year on Bob’s birthday so we were able to reconnect with him and his wife as well. A great way to start a holiday!

With having to still pay for the marina for the boat while in Turkey, we also were hoping somehow to cut down on some expenses while traveling through the UK as we knew that the dollar did not go as far there. Quite a few years ago we had signed up for a program called “Trusted Housesitters”. It is one where you can either advertise to have someone come to your home to sit with your pets while you are away, or you can apply as a sitter to take care of others. We did a few of these when we were in the UK years ago, so decided to check into it again. We were glad we did as in the end, it has saved us quite a bit as well as got us to numerous areas of the country, gave us a nice “cat fix” and met some very nice people on the way – a win/win in our book.

We now made flights to the UK for June 30th with a direct flight from Dalaman to London Gatwick on Easy Jet. Fortunately, with that date booked we still had a chance to meet up in Marmaris with our friends, Peter and Bridget, that we meet back in Trinidad “just a few years ago”. They came to visit us again in 2014 when we were in Chatham marina in the UK and now found out that they would be in Marmaris with their sailboat. It is so great to reconnect with friends that we have made over the years – even though we don’t see each other often, it isn’t a problem at all to start up as if we have been seeing each other for years – friends with common interest seem to be able to do that quite easily which we have definitely enjoyed. We spent a lovely afternoon/evening with them and will most definitely stay in touch as never know when or where we will meet up again. Thanks Peter and Bridget for touching base and making the effort to come see us!

With it being a surprise party for John in Gloucester on July 2nd we were able to find a lovely Airbnb in a nearby town, Cheltenham. We figured this would work out well as we could catch a bus from here to the party on Saturday and give us a couple of days to explore Cheltenham. First off, the Airbnb we picked was amazing as we got a chance to meet Joe and Sarah who were so interesting themselves due to all of the places they have lived, but they also had a beautiful garden and a lovely room with our own private entrance and sunroom! What a great welcome to the UK. Sarah and Joe made us feel so welcomed and almost as if we were family as we enjoyed having breakfast with them each morning and they also invited us for dinner one night as well – what a bonus indeed!

Our first day in the UK we had to attend to the business of mailing our navigational computer to the company to see if it could in fact be repaired. We also needed to get a UK sim card for our phone due to the length of time we planned on staying would be at least a month, if not more. We went into town and took care of both items very efficiently. As we told the person helping us at the phone company, it sure is easier to do this when we speak the same language! We realized when reading the fine print of the instructions for mailing the computer we needed to print off a
Clever Sightings in Cheltenham - A Defib in a BoothClever Sightings in Cheltenham - A Defib in a BoothClever Sightings in Cheltenham - A Defib in a Booth

and a permanent hopscotch on the sidewalk
form to include so found a place to get the document printed off, then off to the post office to buy the box and tape, mail it, and then we were done with business. Time now to wait to hear back from the company about the computer and enjoy our time in the UK. We were actually surprised to be told that even though we were mailing the package the afternoon of Friday, the company would have it at the latest by Monday. Will be sure to give them a call next week to find out the outcome.

We took time to explore Cheltenham and noticed quite a few similarities with our home area of Saratoga Springs. Both are known for its mineral springs as well as its horse racing. Both areas developed as a tourist destination in the 1800’s. In both locations the spa developed as the mineral water was marketed as being therapeutic and people flocked to them to help with numerous ailments.

In Cheltenham where our Airbnb was located it was in an area called Pittville. We learned that this “new town” was the vision of Joseph Pitt who had the Pittville Pump Room built in the Greek Revival style. This building held the pump that brought the water up from the well via filters to a drinking fountain so that it could be sold. He also charged admission for the numerous gardens and special events that would be held at the bandstand. A card room, library, reading room and billiard room were also located in the building. Unfortunately, by the 1880’s the Pump Room was not financially viable and was used for other purposes including as a US Army storage depot and housed soldiers during WWII. Fortunately, in the 1950’s restoration was done on the building and it was reopened and is now used for numerous functions. Unfortunately, the day we were there the building was closed so we didn’t get a chance to see the interior or more importantly (to me anyway!) couldn’t taste the water to compare with our famous Saratoga mineral water! We did take the time to walk around the gardens and the two lovely lakes located in the park – a lovely place to spend time and it was an easy stroll from our Airbnb.

On Saturday, we had an absolutely wonderful time being part of the surprise for our friend John’s 80th birthday party! You sure wouldn’t know his age as he hasn’t changed a bit and is as spry as ever! It was wonderful to meet their many friends and family and have a great time seeing our dear friends Sandra and John again. We first met them in Botswana years ago and have stayed in touch since. We have only physically seen each other a few times since 1982 (with my Mom back in 1984, in 2012 in Portugal and now in 2022). Even with the few times we’ve been together, our friendship is still one worth cherishing and it always seems like no time has passed between our meetings. That is good friends in my book.

As we had never been to Wales before, we decided to take a few days and go to Cardiff which we did by bus. It is really great to be in a place where public transportation is so prevalent and if you are flexible with your timing, you can find inexpensive ways to do it.

With staying 4 days in Cardiff, we decided to get an apartment through Airbnb so we could also do some cooking
The Lakes in Pittville Park in CheltenhamThe Lakes in Pittville Park in CheltenhamThe Lakes in Pittville Park in Cheltenham

an interesting history of a spa town
which always helps with the budget. With our last-minute travel plans we were happy to find one that was convenient to the bus station and the local sites within the city. The Cardiff Castle is one of the more prominent buildings you see when in town. It has a long history here as this location was first a Roman fort established in the 50’s AD. Archeologist believe that there had been 4 forts located here. After the Norman conquest, the Castle Keep was built at the site of the Roman fort. The one currently in place is not the original as that was built of wood, but later of stone as it stands today. When we went to buy the ticket, we found that we could purchase a tour of some of the rooms that are not on the normal tour of the castle so decided to do that. There was time between buying the ticket and starting the tour to view their military museum which provided much more of the history of the castle and the Cardiff area. There was also a part of the Roman wall that had been uncovered and was now open for viewing which we
The Pittville Pump Room Wasn't Open When ThereThe Pittville Pump Room Wasn't Open When ThereThe Pittville Pump Room Wasn't Open When There

built between 1825-1830, now can be rented out
decided to check out as well. The actual tour of the castle was of the many rooms that had been renovated by the 3rd Marquess of Bute started in 1866. We learned that he owned the docks in Cardiff at the time, making him the richest man in the world at that time. He wanted to transform the castle with lavish interiors filled with murals, stained glass, marble, gilding and extensive wood carvings. He wanted each room to have its own theme – the first we entered was of astronomy, the nursery was filled with children’s stories illustrated on the walls and the rooftop garden had an oriental flair while other areas had Italian and Arabian designs. Unfortunately, it was not completed in his lifetime, but fortunately the 4th Marquees saw the work to completion.

The Castle was put to use during WWII as the castle walls were modified and turned into air raid shelters due to the numerous aerial bombings in the area. It provided enough shelter for 200 residents when needed. After the war and the death of the 4th Marquess, the family gave the Castle to the City and for 25 years it was the home of the National College of Music and Drama. Quite a varied history.

With Cardiff actually being close to the sea, we had to spend a day at Cardiff Bay. You can easily take a bus there, but we decided to take to the water. There is a small boat that will ferry you from the center of town to the bay giving some history of the area and descriptions of the sights on the way. We always look for a way to be on the water and this worked fine for us!

We learned that Cardiff Bay has been transformed and is now a freshwater lake! The Bay in its heyday had been an important port for coal and other supplies. By 1830, Cardiff had transformed from a small town in Wales to its largest with its port handling more coal than any other port in the world! In 1913 coal exports from here reached over 13 million ton. After WWII, the demand for coal decreased and other countries had developed its own steel industries. Container transport was also now going to other ports and by the 1960’s coal export was all but extinguished. With this, the result
A Wonderful 80th Birthday Party for JohnA Wonderful 80th Birthday Party for JohnA Wonderful 80th Birthday Party for John

a great reason to decide when to fly to the UK!
was that the area became very neglected and run down due to the lack of employment in the area and the port not being used.

In the late 1980’s and into the 90’s, a Development Corporation came in and worked on stimulating the area. As with all development, there was definitely controversy about it, but eventually a barrage was created that turned the tidal Cardiff Bay into a freshwater lake. There is still access to the sea through locks, but the formation of the freshwater lake has given new life to the area as this was a very high tidal area and would not be navigable when the tide was out. Now there are sailing clubs around the lake, a wetland reserve for birds, and the development of commercial area for shopping, restaurants as well as the Parliament Building bringing people to this area regularly. This redevelopment project of Cardiff Bay has been said to be one of the biggest success stories – when we talked to people there, it did seem to be the feeling of many there as well.

When you land at the dock in Cardiff Bay, the first building that catches your eye is the red sandstone Pierhead building. We found that it is currently used for some functions/meetings for the Parliament, but that there are areas that are open to the public to see. The Parliament built a modern building here as well where most of the business of the country takes place.

The building itself was built in 1897 as the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company. This is where all the dock accounts were taken in and the Dockmaster oversaw the running of the numerous docks here. With knowing that the Marquees owned this building, you could easily see his influence on the tile details as well as the carvings of animals on the elaborate fireplace upstairs in the office area.

After touring the building, we decided to walk back into the “town” area in the Bay to see beyond the commercial shopping area. Unfortunately, you could see that there were many buildings built in an earlier era, but not being fully used, but there was still a feeling of activity in the area that was of people living and working here. We did pass a shop where “Welch Cakes” were being made. We had seen this before but
A Couple of 2 Wheel Modes of Transportation HereA Couple of 2 Wheel Modes of Transportation HereA Couple of 2 Wheel Modes of Transportation Here

one, much fancier than the other!
hadn’t tried any – this time with some encouragement from others, we definitely gave it a try. They have their “original” which is plain and dusted with cinnamon, but others had raisins, berries, or lemon flavoring. We tried an assortment and were impressed – we were fortunate as they came fresh off the grill so were still warm. Even though they look like silver dollar pancakes, to me they tasted more like a sugar cookie, while Bob thought they tasted like a baking powder biscuit. Either way, we definitely enjoyed this treat!

We decided to call to check on the progress of the computer on Wednesday and we were surprised to hear that it had been fixed and they just needed an address to send it to! We were very impressed with the speed of the repair, but even more so the cost was very reasonable. A definite success – we are now anxious to give it a try back on Tsamaya.

Our days in Cardiff were over soon enough as we had a commitment to do cat sitting through Trusted Housesitters in St. Albans, England so hopped a train to get to our next stop on our
Slug & Lettuce is a Chain Restaurant HereSlug & Lettuce is a Chain Restaurant HereSlug & Lettuce is a Chain Restaurant Here

not sure about that name for a place to eat!
journey in the UK. We know this was only a small taste of being in Wales and next time we will need to take the time to venture further into the country to see more of what it has to offer.

Additional photos below
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