Monday, June 7, 2010

One Sweet Trip...Part I

I've been wanting to write a synopsis of my trip since we returned home. 2 weeks ago!! But, between having severe jet lag and being totally overwhelmed by the entire experience--I really don't know where to begin. Or how to begin for that matter. I truly am speechless. That's how amazing it was. Everything we saw. Everything we did. Every authentic meal we shared, was a gift. I'm certain this will be the first of many blog entries about our journey.

This, for instance, is Ephesus~
It's a very ancient city in Turkey dating back as far as 600 BC. But, we'll get back to this place a little later. I could write an entire book on this, "the oldest city everrrr..." {Sorry couldn't help myself here. It's an inside joke between my husband and me}.
We always left the ports we were visiting late at night and sailed the sea while we were sound asleep. It was quite nice, we were rocked to sleep. Nightly. Like little babies. Fortunately, the seas were perfectly smooth the entire trip~despite the fact we traveled through two bad storms. One, when we left Athens and the other in Kusadasi, Turkey. My prayers were answered! It was smooth sailing the entire trip in every way.

This trip was such a dream and so exciting that I think I must have felt the same level of excitement a small child does on Christmas Eve. Every day we'd wake-up bright and early. In fact, as soon as my eyes popped open, I jumped out of bed and hurried over to our big sliding window which opened up to our balcony. I'd pull back the curtains to unveil places I'd only seen on TV or read about in history books! Each time, I was super surprised by the beauty and grandeur of it all. And couldn't wait to get out and explore the city that awaited us. It was a thrill ride like no other.

Back to those storms I mentioned earlier. Simply because this storm is one of the funnier more exciting stories. Gary and I got stuck right in the middle of a massive rain storm in Kusadasi, Turkey~and it was everything from hilarious to terrifying. Let's just say that it was pouring rain. Buckets. And buckets of rain. In fact, one of the Turks we passed in an alley said that this was the most rain they've had in 30 years! Weren't we lucky?!?!

See for yourself. Nice, huh?? Real nice.
Before I go on, I should explain to you a bit about Kusadasi. So you can visualize it. It's a port town filled with open air stores in little alleys. Also, please note on this particular day that Gary and I were dressed in the only clothes we had at the time!!! Let me repeat that....THE ONLY CLOTHES and SHOES we HAD at the time!!!! And now we were completely drenched. From head to toe. And our shoes were soggy. My one and only pair of shoes!!!! So from this you can figure out that our luggage didn't make it to Athens when we flew in the day prior. It was still stuck back in the U.S.! Funny, huh? ALL my new clothes, shoes and necessities of life were still sitting somewhere in the Philadelphia International Airport! However, they finally made it and arrived while we were in Santorini. Three whole days into our trip. It's a long, long story. Maybe I'll bore you with it later. But the most important part of the story is that our stuff did make it and I was over-joyed when it all finally arrived. I even stood on the balcony of our room while I watched the water taxi deliver our lost bags to the was quite a happy moment for me! I went as far as to yell down to them from my room, 5 floors up....cheering and clapping loudly!
Here they are!!!!
It was a long journey from the U.S. to Santorini. Poor Bags.
Or maybe it was more like poor me?
Anyhow, back to that aweful storm in Kusadasi. After touring Ephesus we attended a carpet demonstration with our group {'cause if you didn't know, Turkey is well known for their carpet weaving~and they are gorgeous}. Afterwards we told our National Geographic tour guide that we wanted something authentic to eat for dinner! Afterall, we were starving. We'd walked all over and worked up a huge appetite.

Gary and I love tasty Mediterranean food and wanted to make sure that we found a good restaurant where we'd get the sweetest meal! I thought it was so nice. Instead of the tour guide just telling us the name of a restaurant and how to get there, this kind Turk personally led us through a maze of streets to an amazing little Mediterranean joint. Almost immediately after we sat down, our server brought us a huge brick oven cooked pita bread. Along with some amazing humus, feta cheese, and grape leaves wrapped around something very yummy. Not sure what it was, but it was truly incredible!!
This delicious appetizer was followed by a huge platter full of chicken, pork, steak, and lamb kabobs. The food was off-the-hook! And they treated us like gold. But while Gary and I were sitting outside dining, dark, ominous clouds rolled in. The restaurant workers began working furiously to put all the tables, chairs--anything that was outside away where it wouldn't get wet. I looked at Gary and said, "Uhhhh, I think they know something we don't. Maybe we should move inside." Good thing we followed their lead because it started to rain.

By the time we paid for our meal and left, it was pouring. Thankfully I had on a raincoat. But Gary only had on a short sleeved shirt. And we had NO umbrella. We ran through the alleys in the direction of the port where our ship was docked. All the storekeepers were putting their merchandise away. Most of them laughed at us and told us they thought we were crazy. Maybe we were. But we had to get back and there was only one way to do it. We dashed around in the pouring rain.

I felt like we were in a James Bond movie. Gary was Bond, James Bond and I was his bond girl. The rain didn't bother us. It was exciting. Fun. I even bought Gary an umbrella at one of the stores we ran past. And it seemed to help. For a little while. That is until the lightening and thunder came. Lightening was striking all around us. It was so close the lightening and thunder came simultaneously. It was so powerful the ground shook!

We continued on as we wanted to get back to the ship and get out of the rain. But the closer we got, the harder it rained and the more furious the storm became. At one point Gary and I joked about his umbrella and how it probably wasn't smart to have it up in this particular storm. About two minutes after we laughed about his umbrella being a lightening rod, a HUGE lightening bolt struck the water right in front of us! Close to where our ship was docked. It absolutely freaked us out! It was so loud! And it set off all the alarms in the area. The only funny thing about this moment in time was Gary's reaction. He was still holding his umbrella when that bolt of lightening shot out in front of us!! He screamed and immediately threw it to the ground. It made me laugh and I practically started crying it was so hilarious! We both were laughing at ourselves. It finally hit us. Maybe that Turk back in the alley was right. Maybe we were crazy trying to navigate a storm that intense. Later we found out from one of Gary's CA co-workers that there was even a water spout over our ship!!
This is the view we had when the bolt of lightening struck the water. And where we planted ourselves right under the eaves of a big building~while we waited for this horrific storm to pass. We stood there soaking wet. No coat. No umbrella could keep us dry. When we felt it was pretty safe, we darted over to the port where we managed to find a few high end stores still open. We stopped in. Hoping to find some dry clothes to wear once we got back on the ship. I bought a nice linen dress. A sexy pair of red sandals. And Gary found a handsome shirt and nice pair of shoes {he packed more extra clothes in his carry on than I did--he's the seasoned traveler. I only packed enough for two days. And none of it was evening dress code worthy. The ship we were on had a dress code for the evening. It was "country club casual-no jeans". Jeans were all I had with me at the time. And now they were wet and clinging to my body}.

Once we made our purchases we hopped aboard the ship. Went straight to our room where we took a very warm, welcome shower. Dressed up and headed to the Casino where Gary used his mad Craps playing skills and won us some good money. I'm his lucky charm. When he's with me....he always wins. If I'm gone, he loses. It's that simple. So I can never leave the table during play.

We lucked out that night and ended up with a "hot" craps table. We left while we were up and headed to bed. It was a great way to end a day filled with some seriously amazing tours {Ephesus--that is a blog entry in and of itself}. Great food. And a lot of excitement!!! And this was only the first full day of our trip. It was a day we'll never forget. I can't wait to tell you about Ephesus~"'s like, the oldest city...everrrrrr!" {insert me laughing here~so sorry! I couldn't resist}

Until then, take a look at this decadent treat~Chocolate covered Turkish Delight! We found it sitting on our bed waiting for us when we returned to our room. Soaking wet. We tore into that sucker fast and dug right in. It was really good. Now that I'm home, I miss it and want more. I need to have some shipped to me! Stat!
This was just one of the many great gifts we were given by CA on our Compass Club Odyssey. Sweet, huh?!? Jealous? I would be! 'Cause this was one dreamy be continued....That is the blog entries. Not the trip, itself. I wish. I wish I could go back.....

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