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Joel Stewart’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 04 Apr 2009

Location: Turkey

Map4/4/09 - A bit of a Vacation

It has been two years since I have had a real vacation. I suppose the good news is that I have had a job for two years and now would be a horrible time to loose my job, but as quote that was on my Google home page said yesterday, "I finally figured out that the meaning of life is to enjoy it". So looking into the eye teeth of the devil I am using up the months worth of vacation that I have accumulated and a third of my air miles and I signed up for a 3 week motorcycle tour of Turkey!!

The original dream was to do a tour around the Black Sea but it was either going with a way too expensive tour or doing it myself. So looking via the Internet I got a list of 15 different tours in different countries around the black Sea (Turkey, Russian, Georgia, Ukraine, Romania, & Bulgaria) to try to link them together. Getting a calendar and mapping it out it would almost work, but not quite. There was one tour that stood out run by an Australian company so at the last minute (2 weeks ago) I signed up for their tour.

I land in Istanbul and have about a day and a half before the tour group shows up from Australia. Then a three week motorcycle tour around western Turkey and back to Istanbul where it ends. Then I have about 5 days in Turkey before I fly home. I was thinking that I would explore Istanbul for 5 days but now the notion of getting to a nice small beach town and just reading and resting is starting to sound wonderful.

Though I have heard wonderful things about Turkey (mostly from travelers that loved it and said they would go back at any time) I really have no idea about what to expect. For me it is hard to see past the next two big hurtles: 1.) just dealing with flying and enduring livestock treatment and cattle car coach travel for about a whole day 2.) I know how to ride a scooter as big as a motorcycle but it is like driving an automatic car - I have to learn to ride a real motorcycle (learning to shift and brake differently) as I leave the hotel in downtown Istanbul and head the 100 miles to Gallipoli.

I have traveled enough to get my filled on seeing old dead things very fast - one per day is almost too much. Travel for me is much more entertaining to get the sense of knowing the locals and trying to understand what is important to them and how they see the world. Rather than looking at a bunch of stones, where 3000 years ago, a group of men sat around and drank wine I would rather go to a small town and sit in a local bar where they are having a bit of wine and talking to each other. Of course being in the blazing sun and gazing across a shimmering sea would not be so bad either.

So in little over a day I will be enduring our air transport industry and in little over two days I will be in the spice market of Istanbul wondering what each of the 53 different color spices are.