Friday, June 5, 2009

Steps, Food, Drink, and Bathrooms

Our challenges on the trip range from the mundane to the amazing.

First -- steps. Steps, steps, and more steps -- where ever we go, steps lead us to the destination we are seeking. Steep steps, slippery steps, rough steps, crumbling steps, carpeted steps -- you name it, we've seen hundreds of them so far. With cane in hand, and a steady hand on the railings, or walls, or massive columns, or whatever we can find to hold on to, we are climbing, climbing climbing, only to wonder how the heck we are going to get back down without breaking some bone in our bodies! A few times, we've landed on our butts as we've missed a step. But, so far, everyone's limbs are getting stronger by the minute and none of us has yet failed to maneuver those inevitable STEPS!

Next, if it smells, then a WC is nearby. Susan's first question after "I need to go to bathroom" is "what does it smell like?" And, then it's "is it a toilet or a hole in the ground?" So far, in most public places, the WC's have ranged from the luxurious (Hagia Sophia) where all of us wished we could have gone twice just to be sure we could avoid the next one -- to the toilets at Goreme open-air museum in Cappadocia - where the toilets were a combo of some ground targets, and some traditional seated fixtures. Unfortunately, the latter one exhibited the lack of self-control by one poor soul, who seemed to miss entirely the toilet that was provided for the purpose. Fortunately, I got to that one before Susan saw it, or undoubtedly Susan would have lost her lunch right there on the floor! Generally, the toilets are the traditional porcelain covered hole in the ground (don't drop the paper in the toilet, please), with a small faucet in the wall and a pitcher which must be filled with water to wash down whatever is deposited by humans. The paper is disposed of in a small receptacle. However, these people have figured out that if you put three mothballs in the sink where you wash your hands, the mothballs will eliminate the smell from the room. NOT!!

Next, food and drink (great segue from toilets, isn't it?!). The food so far has been very good, as long as we stay away from the hotel dinners (which are bland buffets designed to meet a variety of ethnic palates). The home made peda bread is some of the best we've ever eaten. Breakfast is almost always a buffet with all kinds of white and feta cheeses, boiled eggs, a variety of olives, cucumbers, cereal, breads, jams, fresh yogurt (no low-fat here), fruit, halvah, juice, tea and coffee. No one starves at breakfast. Lunch has been a variety of eggplant type dishes, lahmajoon (ground spiced lamb on thin crusts of bread), kebabs (chicken, lamb and beef), yogurt with garlic and cucumbers, and salads. Dinner is usually more of the same. Dessert is almost always a variety of pastries - bakhlava, khadayif, watermelon, and assorted pastries. Apple tea and turkish mud (aka coffee) round out the meal.

And, that takes me back to the steps --- thank goodness for the steps, because if we were not walking and climbing those steps every day, we would all have to pay for extra luggage (for our bottoms) on the flight home!

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