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A Mark on the Map

Hey all,
Welcome to the peepshow on my activities abroad. If I'm not keeping this up to date then bug me about it on e-mail. If there's something I have to do that I'm not then let me know, otherwise let me know your safe and well and about all the exciting adventures that you are on. Speak to you soon, Mark.

Favourite Pictures more to add - LookForMark

Diary Entries

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Location: Antalya

Spent most it on the Internet since the rumour was there was nothing to do.

Thanks to Ricks challenges I had to go out and took a walk down to the Kireci - palace

At first I was all alone and was worried Rick had sent me somewhere dodgy. It was a very nice area lots of restaraunts and tourists.

I found the best lady minding her shop
Sign simply said 'no hassle shopping, all prices fixed' Bless! ;p

Took a brilliant walk down to the harbour and found a great cheap place to eat and watch the sunset so I could get rick his photo.

Was a great afternoon easy city to navigate, pretty views and good cheap food on the harbour.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Location: Antalya

Spent most it on the Internet since the rumour was there was nothing to do.

Thanks to Ricks challenges I had to go out and took a walk down to the Kireci - palace

At first I was all alone and was worried Rick had sent me somewhere dodgy. It was a very nice area lots of restaraunts and tourists.

I found the best lady minding her shop
Sign simply said 'no hassle shopping, all prices fixed' Bless! ;p

Took a brilliant walk down to the harbour and found a great cheap place to eat and watch the sunset so I could get rick his photo.

Was a great afternoon easy city to navigate, pretty views and good cheap food on the harbour.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Location: Perge

After the big sheesha nigt this was a Longgg day, lot of driving. I tried my best to sleep through it with mixed results.

First stop at the caravanasary which I loved but basically was woken from a dead sleep and stumbled out and through the gate so it took me a minute to realise where i was.

More sleep

I put on my too short shorts unfortunately as next stop was the whirling dervish museum which meant my legs needed to be covered and Davit choose a very embarrassing way to do so ;p

More sleep

Missed an amazing drive according to Penny ;p and woke up for an amazing lunch near this magnificent cliff. I ended up stealing some tourism by accidentally walking past the ticket office for a cave! and then having to subtely get myself back to society.

We then went to Perge to visit the amazing chariot race stadium where I challenged lynch to a running race and apparently lost.

We spent the night in Antalya and having done everything for tomorrow today we have a free day tomorrow.

I asked Davit what there was to do and his answer pisses me off. I understand that on tours they have their friends they take us to and that everyone gets kickbacks.

But his answer was, no there isn't much to do in Antalya and he couldn't recommend anything.

Well that's just shit and untrue, just because you don't have an arrangement here because you don't normally stay in town the day doesn't mean you can't recommend a few ideas. Pathetic.

Antalya is cool as I found out tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Location: Cappadocia

Day 5 starts with some bad news Racheal is sick, Pennys arm is making travel difficult so they decide to skip the 340 steps down into the Ilhara Valley.

On the plus side it gives me a chance to spend some ono on one time with Lynch and Richard.

Beautiful walk through a valley that seems to change climate every 50 metre's and is lined with stunning limestone homes.

Richard was eyeing off a set of steps way up the hill and since we had a small group and Lyn didn't mind Richard and I started climbing up.

It was awesome. Davit doesn't get the chance to do this very often so he came up too. We after travelling through a long pitch black tiny tube we discovered the second floor of huge home with amazing steps, tons of rooms and 'stunning!' views over the valley.

Thankyou,Thankyou,Thankyou lyn for your patience and taking the photo's.

Was a really fun day and i got to know lyn and rich a lot better.

That night went out with Richard, Davit, Eker to the flintstones bar nothing happens there till midnight so we went off to the bar for sheesha pipe, music and good company. We found kirsty-canberra and emily-manchester who are separately living the byron bay life in small town turkey.

Had some beers, sheesha (my pipe ettiquite needs some work) Davit and eker left us with the girls and eccentric locals and we finished up back at flintstones, good night.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Location: Cappadocia

Balloons were amazing very different experience to canberra I have been waiting three years to see this moonscape and it doesn't disappoint

All preparation and pack up is handled By the locals so no burnt eye brows. We were up for about an hour and Murat was making jokes for most of it.
Pilot was unbelievable bringing us within metre's of the rock face and then capped it off by landing the balloon "ON" the support trailer. No fuss, no lifting or pushing , just sets it down square on the trailer so the guys can tie us up and let the air out while we wait in the basket So cool.

We rejoined the others at 9 to tour the open air museum at Goreme words won't do here, but you get to visit old churches, homes and dining areas all carved out of the limestone pillars. All the churches still have fresco's painted across the roof variously preserved.

For lunchtime we are sitting at a little cafe the conversation is slow and the table is quiet. As a counterpoint the sheesha area has a bunch of very chilled travellers enjoying their afternoon.

So i'm still thinking this is going to be painful when a young fella from the restaraunt comes out with an instrument and starts to play.

He's good and we are enjoying it when another guy from the restaraunt comes out with some 'bongo' drums.

So now we've got a vibes going a third guy comes out playing finger cymbals, for a bit,... Then he puts them on me.

I was quite bored so i'm happy to get dragged up and then they get me to start belly dancing ;p

The sheesha table are getting into it, I handed off the dancing to a hippy lady, passers by are stopping to take Photo's and then Richard and Racheal got dragged up to dance, everyone is laughing.

And that is the moment where the group started to click.

We may have had the afternoon off? Need to check my Photo's while we got ready for turkish night

The five of us were seated in a back corner away from the massive groups so we were lacking some energy so again conversation was slow

Once the drinks got moving and the whirling dervishers started I was getting into a good mood apart from the Italians who seem to be light in resect whirling dervish as it is a religious ceremony.

Amongst all the dancers they got people to come down to join a congo line which was much more fun than it should be

The finale was the bellydancer who arrived in a red neon glass elevator

She got 8 volunteers but Red top wanted to kick the bellydancers arse, she was this girl who thought the whole room shoild be watchng her (and a lot were) and that we would all insist she should go back up in the glass elevator.

Once the performance was over the night finished with everyone up dancing to of all things - grease!

Fun night.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Location: Ankara

So we get down to breakfast to meet Lyn and Penny they are older than me, Penny has her arm in a sling and they have big bags that I am sure i'm going to be helping with. Again being honest this wasn't what I was hoping for.

I'll skip ahead at this point as they are all wonderful people that I really enjoyed meeting and had a lot of laughs with but the first few days I worried things were going to be different

So first surprise was the tour bus Davit had asked us what we wanted and we said a hummer

What we got was a minivan with barely enough room for people and bags

Davit was fairly pleased with himself though having found a hummer sign so we had a hummer and a running joke

We left @ 7:00ish for our twelve hour drive to cappadocia

Early night as we have to be up at 5am for the balloons, not much sleeping in being done.

The grounds were nice, but the hotel had dirty rooms for a place with four stars only place i was disappointed with ... better pool though.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Location: Istanbul

So for our first official day the major highlights are the blue mosque and Hagia Sophia. Both extremely different and amazing in their own ways. I'll write more when I do the pictures.

Then we checked out the hippodrome were we ran into a couple from the last tour.

Before lunch we made a last stop at the Catacombs which i had visited yesterday except this time i don't have to pay and i learn that it used to be a huge water reservour in case of seige and it was one of many. Davit has an astonishing grasp of 7 layers of Turkish history and will be a very useful guide.

For lunch Iskender kebap or Alexander kebab and a challenge attempt.

The other challenge was one of the most surreal moments of the trip. A self guided Turkish bath, I still laugh thinking about how ridiculous it was ;p

After that I went for a walk down by the harbour looking for replacement thongs after i'd left mine In london,

We had dinner with Davit
and if i'm to be honest I thought this trip was going to be a bust. The conversation was sporadic, laboured and fairly painful and i'm thinking I have to do this how many more times?

I was a bit freaked when i went up to the royal shield for a beer r&r were getting over jet lag.

Luckily i randomly bumped into and recognised Elliot and Emma from on the street, they are camera store owners in Sydney who had been on the last tour. Cliqued instantly with them to use a very descriptive pun, shame I was a tour late. They gave me lots of tips for the tour and i had steadied myself, if things didn't get better then i would just go out on my own every night and meet cool people like them.

and there is always Penny and Lyn they may turn out to be the sort of fun, good for a laugh and a drink people I got on with instantly on other tours, so chin up.

Mid drinks session I tried to catch the lightshow at the blue mosque i'd been told 9pm, turns out it was 8:30.bummer.

I also made it out of the pub then and again at the end without paying and had to go back. I haaaate paying for drinks at the end.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Location: Istanbul

Dumped my bags at the hotel couldn't check in till 12 so No shower till then. I was on the street 5 minutes Before Sobri found me, Besides carpets he did recommend a place for breakfast which was exactly what ii was after. Couldn't face a kebap this early.

He also suggested i check out the Catacombs, for some reason i couldn't be bothered pulling out a map or guidebook so i didn't really know what i was looking at ,... but i did get some nice pictures.

Wandering the streets and everyone you pass wants to know where you are from, you can either let it bother you or put it down to local colour. Of course the Aussie flag on my hat might have been a poor choice but given a guy yelled out 'Good tucker here mate' when i wasn't wearing it or anything Aussie so I guess they'll find you no matter what ;p

I was trying to avoid things we would see tomorrow and while waiting for a photo op a couple was waiting as well, we started talking and they are Richard and racheal from Melbourne andwe are on the same tour!
We'll be together for 20 days, so i left them to explore Istanbul secure in the knowledge that there are at least two cool people on the tour....

I'll be honest, I wasted today,... Should have gone to Topkapi palace and made the effort of getting to the great bazaar, But the heat was draining and I was feeling lazy.

Meeting point for the tour is at the hotel at 7pm and there is no-one around ! and i'm a little worried i'm in the wrong spot,.. no wait there is richard and racheal hmmm

Our guide Davit shows up and we are all quite shocked that there are only 5 on the tour. 20 year olds Richard & Racheal and two others named Lyn and Penny who will be joining us in two days.

I don't think this is exactly what any of us were hoping for as tours either side of ours are 20 people.

R&R and i have a couple of drinks and try and digest the news. Anyway nothing saying we can't make the most of things and have a good time.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Location: Istanbul

Kicking myself for not having a camera handy as we flew in the view of the city is jaw dropping, Rolling hill adter hill covered over every inch in 8 and 10 story buildings.

After i figured out that a Jeton is a token and not a cn I got the train and then tram into the city and then walked to the hostel only to find it is a hotel and its a bit nice for me, confused as to what is going on and worried that accomodation is going to cost a fortune on this trip.

They were full up and as i was a long way from the hostel district i tool a chance with the Osrep hotels 'friend'. Place looked ok on first inspection but was a skin crawling dive. I couldn't bring myself to shower there. Will need to toughen up Before Siberia

Didn't take long to meet my first carpet guy -- Sobri Same thing as in Singapore come to my place for a drink, no obligation. I think there is some genuine hospitality and again he gave me some great tips, but eventually it always comes back to the carpet.

While we were talking he told me about guys that start drinking with you and then the girls show up and they if you have too good a time then you find out they are Russian prostitutes and you owe a lot of money!!

Which i mention as i went out and had dinner at a local pub and on the way home two guys on the street start talking to me. They said they were in town on business and going to have a couple of drinks.

They could have been genuine guys and it would have been a fun night, but I said no because I didn't know who to trust.

Which sucks and takes some of the fun out of travelling.

Oh and i heard some mad Techno turkish music it sounded awesome.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Next day I wake uo to find Karo and her mum in the kitchen cooking. When Rick set the challenges he was a little adventurous for my budget and timeframes in Germany. The only challenge I was able to do was a traditional meal with german sausage and this was it. Spetzle and cider made from scratch of course.

Karo dropped me at the station and I travelled to Munich was weird being there just to sleep, but I wasn't able to fit oktoberfest into the timetable.

Really not sure when i will see Sigmaringen again, but they looked after me for a second time and I will miss them till i see them again.

Off to Istanbul tomorrow to start the tour....

Friday, 22 August 2008

Location: Sigmaringen

Next day I--slept--in. Karo's family was starting to worry about me by lunchtime. Lunch was huge in people and food, very nice.

Very strange experience only ?? The sister in law and Johanna the small sister speak any english so I in the dark for much of the meal. I could pick up enough to know when I was the subject, I enjoyed it and it was very funny but it makes me wish I spoke german better as they are lovely people and I would love to be able to speak directly.

After lunch we had a look at the house ?? And michael ?? are building. I'm hoping to see some pictures when it is finished.

Blogged until christine picked me up to go waterskiing ;p

They have built a pulley system over the lake at Seeworld. So after selecting some ill fitting skis from what was on offer I was sitting on my skis ready to go.

The pulley jerks into action and i'm pulled pnto the lake. I can snow ski ok but this was my first time on water so I was happily surprised when I got my legs and arms straight.

Got down the first straight and shakily around the first corner when my right ski gets stiuck in the water and my foot pops out of the binding.

So,.. i'm skiing on one foot but I can't leave the ski there so after swearing, I fall in and swim back ending my hopes of a perfect first lap and I begin the long painful walk back over the gravel path.

Attempt two and three end the same way, i'm a bit off the path and I loose forward power and face plant. Once on the first corner, then on the last 'so close!'

Last try and its all going well until I have to crash to avoid killing a guy whose fallen and is in the water. I pull a muscle in my ankle with the impact. As I come up I check he's ok, he just nods and swims to the side without so much as a word of danke

So I follow him to the bank at the furthest point on the lake and start the long, painful! Walk back -- ingrate !!

Dart and Christine meanwhile were whizzing around (not there first time) take the walking out of it like they did and it was a hell of a lot of fun. I want to rent a speedboat for a weekend over Summer now.

The girls all had band practice so Dart and Anna were nice enough to babysit me. Dinner with kiwis in a chinese restaraunt in Germany (as I write this i'm eating one of the best hamburgers and chips i've ever had in an english pub in Stockholm -- I love travelling and apparently juxtaposition )

We all settled on a meeting at a cool piub with pool table and set about some team killer. Was able to catch up with Nicole but Iris was in Russia and got back a few days after I left, would have been nice to swap notes.

Fun night, we found a random Australian too,no since there have only ever been 5 that went to meersburg that's impressive.

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Recent Messages

From Mick Rowell
Yes, they certainly do a pretty good burger at wanna burger!!
Response: They sure do :p
From Leigh Whitaker
Thanks for the email - I thought you were ignoring me. Great to hear you're having such a great time, you lucky devil. Take care and see you when you get back.
Response: Never! Like I said can't wait to see you alll, glad the be on the homeward bound bit (gladder that it will take 3 to 4 weeks ;p ) Give choco a big hug for me.
From Lawler
Hey dude,
A russian airliner went down near the town of Perm, which caused a shutdown of part of the Trans-Siberian railway on September 14th. Were you anywhere near there?
Response: Nope, still in Athens, my trip starts on the 24th. Geez and I was worried about pickpockets ;p
From Lawler
Woo hoo! You got me a shirt! I was a bit worried when I read your day 3 notes about not being able to find what I was after... Good job there buddy.

Although why were you drinking Tennants? That's the scottish version of VB for god's sake. You are such a tourist. Belhaven Best is where its at...
Response: Yeah.... it's not exactly what you want but pickings are slim.

Its a short sleeve rugby shirt, I got one for myself as well buying two brought the price down from £20 to £15 bargain :)

hope that's cooll, it might even be in canberra now. Gary P may hand off to Ferris.
From Tom
Hope that leg hasn't stopped you in your tracks and that all is well.
Response: It is pretty ugly still but isn't painful and I climbed the hills of Cappadocia just fine so no it's just my laziness/busy-ness keeping me from updating :)
From Elisa
arrrgh! i arrive sept.13th, will u still be around? i'll be in some unheard of resort in sithonia, called gerakini. fate help us, hahaha!
Response: Checked and the flight is on the 17th out of Athens. I am planning on maybe taking a 2 day tour out to Mycenea after this one ends, but I'll see how I feel,... but I wil definetly be in Athens the night of the 16th so we shouldbe able to meet up :)
From Elisa
Hey Mark!
I'm gutted, didn't make it to Edinburgh.. I would've LOVED to see you. To make matters even more annoying, I'm in Romania at the mo and it's scorching, 38 degrees Celsius. Where you off to next? I'm off to Greece in about 3 weeks. Will you be around?
Take care and keep me posted. So sorry I missed seeing you in Scotland.
Cheers, Elisa x x
Response: Hey!! yeah I was disapointed too. i'll be in Greece from the 3rd on the Islands and in Athens around the 10th - 13th, let me know if that sounds close and I'll get exact dates. Mark
From Emma
Hey ya,
You don't stand still do you :0) Lovely to meet you in Edinburgh. Hope to catch up next year with you in Oz and have a beer. Happy travelling!
Em ~<:o)
Response: Hey Emma, brilliant to meet you too, that would be great. Hope the festival withdrawl's aren't hitting you too badly :)
From Tom
Nice work Willis. Keep up the commentary.
Cheers mate, hope the new job is going well and the family is happy and healthy.
From Elisa
hi Mark, how've you been? so sorry I haven't written in ages, I'm in L.A. now, been here for almost 2 months, then I'm off to Scotland and then I've no idea. it's been hectic, but a great adventure, nevertheless. you going to Europe? do keep me posted!
cheers, Elisa
Response: Hey Elisa, Great to hear from you, hope to see you in Scotland, I've sent you an email.
Hello Mark!!! Hope you remember me, your brazilian friend Kátia. We´ve met each other in Prague on 2006. I was taking a tour here in internet and decided take a look in your site to know what are you doing and where are you now. I hope you are well and traveling so much too. I´m still trying to learn english. Do you believe? I think that every day I improve it more and more. I will wait an e-mail from you to know what are the news, ok?
Response: Hey Katia, of course I do, I sent you and email but it came back. you need to send your new email here or to me on hotmail or gmail. I wrote this on 15th of July 2008
From Karyn
Hey Mark - its great to read about your adventures in NZ - it sounds like you are having a great time! Have you swum with the dolphins there yet?
Where are your photos? Being the photographer that you are, I am suprised that you dont have any on here of NZ...

Anyway - hope you are well and still having a great time! :)
Response: Photo's are too big to put up so they will have to wait till I get home. Yep, swum with the Dolphins at Akoroa and it was brilliant. I've been dot pointing everything so I have tons to write, but need the time :) Hope you are awesome, Merry Xmas :)
From Lawler
See, this is the problem with your fancy digital SLR camera - the photos are too big to upload to any website... I see a lot of blogging, but not many photos to back it up. You're slipping Willis, you're not the backpacking, blogging machine that you used to be...
Response: Tell me about it, the XD card won't go in the iMate, and it takes too long to upload 100 3 meg files :) I hate to let you down though, let me see if I can price a laptop and broadband connection while I'm here :)
From Elisa
heya Mark, it's my last day in Barcelona, wrote u a short email yesterday.. sigh, i'm leaving in a few hours, it was brilliant, loved it, can't wait to come back. just browsed thru ur BCN pics, hehe.. got some similar ones, i'll send em when i get back home. sorry for being soooooo bad at keeping in touch :-)
cheers, Elisa
From Jamie
Hi Mark!

I hope I didnt leave this message twice, but I wrote one earlier and it never showed up on your message wall - thought I'd try again.

This is Jamie, one of the American girls you met on The Yellow's pub crawl in Rome. Do you remember me? It has been a while, but I wanted to say hi and I hope the rest of your travels were amazing!

I tried sending you an email after we ran into you in Florence, but it bounced back to me. I was hoping you'd be able to catch up with us in Granada. Well, maybe next time we're out travelling around the world!

Hope all is well, take care and I'd love to hear from you :)
Response: Hey Jamie, yeah I remember you :) I'll send you an email and say hi. I'm still updating the pics so you'll have tomcheck out the new one's and see some Aussie snow :)
From Rachael from Edinbur
Hi Mark,

I had actually stopped checking this site but luckily I did. Your photos are really awesome! I'm half homesick and half really want to see Europe! I was actually checking the site to see what travelling you did round Italy. We are planning a trip for September if we can get enough money together and that's probably one of our main places. What do you recommend?

Say hi to Mark and Bree for us!! We have been away 2 years now which means it's ages ago since we were all in Edinburgh. Those were the days..

Response: Hey Rach, Italy will be awesome, hope the tips I sent come in handy.
From Elisa
g'day Mark!
i just came back from Paris a few days ago and i gotta say, IT WAS SOOOO MUCH BETTER than in november, hehehe.. absolutely brilliant, 10 whole days of SUN, i never thought i could get THAT lucky. best decision ive taken in months!
im sendin this short message here cause im too lazy to email right now. anyways, hope ure doing great, keep me posted, hope to hear from ye soon.
cheers, Elisa
Response: This was a while ago, will get back in touch soon.
From Leigh
Awww MAN! Your damn photos from home of people in shorts & t-shirts enjoying a beer are making me homesick : (
Meh - I'm sure a quick trip to Europe will solve that ; )
From Ree - Croatia Trip
Hiya Mark
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Hope things are going really well for you in Aussie. I have just been having a noisy at your Journal and Pics, we are planing a trip in March to Poland Krakow, Warsaw and then on to Germany Berlin, great to find out about the Hostel you stayed in and the must do things to see. Take care.
Ree & Daniel xxx
From Dan
G'Day Mark,

Merry New Year and all that rubbish...sorry i dodnt email sooner but you know...Im lazy.
Hope you had a good one....We were in Egypt for was lovely...except for our luggage not arriving...oh well. Anywho I will email you proper like soon..take care mate from Me...the guy who knows more about you than you think....thanks to this website.
From Tarun
Hey i dont know if you check this so i dropped an email.... hope everything is good and you are learning back your Oz accent :)
From Meril
Good on Ya Mark! least I made it onto your web site with my Christmas toilet paper game!!! This year's will be even better!!! Enjoyed your company though as we always do, it wouldn't be the same without you coming over. See ya Christmas 2007!
Response: Hey Meril, Thanks as always for looking after me and thinking up a new game each year :) Hope 2007 is off to a good start. Hope to see you again soon. Mark.
From Maree
Hi Mark,
Loved the photos of Christmas part 1 especially as I was in it. By the way Meril spells her name with only one r and one l. It was good to see you at the Christmas eve bash in person again though
Response: Hey Maree, I always look forward to seeing you all as well. Thanks for the tip, oops :) Hope the year goes well for you, if you head down to Canberra let me know. Mark.
From Leanne
Mark! Hopefully you remember me, I'm an Aussie who was in Lisboa the night of the Melbourne cup...i just found your website address stored in my phone, because I wanted to steal your awesome and stunning photos from Sintra (I went on a crummy and foggy day)!

Hope all is going well for you. I'm back in the UK after some intense travelling.

Merry Christmas!
Response: OF course I remember, I will send off a few pics now, and put a few more on the Flickr site for you to grab. Hope everything is going great in the UK you'll have to tell me about the trip. Mark.
From Rach and Dan
Hey Mark, Rach and Dan here. I can't believe that 11 months have gone that fast. I remember going to Hogmanay when you first got here. Anyway, I have enjoyed looking at your travels and it's helping me get an idea of what we might do. Have fun back in Oz and if you wish you were here just think how cold we will be!!!
Response: Hey you two,
Yeah I am completetly blown away by it all being over. I was hoping to get back over to Bristol to see you before I left, but money was tighter than I thought :) Hope you had a good trip home and let us know when you are home so we can come visit. Until then be awesome and enjoy the time (sweltering here :) Mark.