18 August 2008

Thanks America!

Med Moored at Ece Marina
Lycian Coast

We are back on Sandpiper from our whirlwind tour of America. Firstly, we want to give a HUGE thanks to our good friend Sam who lives in Utah and hooked us up with his Delta Buddy Passes. Sam works for Delta as a first rate jet mechanic fixing all the broken things that get broken on airplanes. Without these passes we would have not been able to come home. Thanks Sam. We owe you BIG TIME!!

Secondly, a thanks to everyone back home for all that you did for us by putting us up in your homes and feeding us tons of food. Especially Mom Pat. You are the best. It was truly wonderful to have everyone come and visit us in Indiana!

Lastly, a big thanks to brother Ron, the ‘blogmaster’ who hooked us up with this very sweet laptop I am typing on. Thanks Ron!

Welcome aboard ‘Current in Carmel’ readers in Carmel, Indiana where ‘Team Sandpiper’ is on the cover of the 19 Aug edition. If you are not living in Carmel, Indiana then you can check it out online for just this week only! I jumped the gun a bit on my last entry about being featured in Latitudes and Attitudes magazine hoping for our red carpet fame. But Sandpiper will be featured in the October edition that you can check out on line for free. We may not be featured this month but I do have a short article entitled ‘Storm Madness’ published.

After overstaying our visit by two weeks at Pat’s house, enjoying a home filled with cold air and all the ice we could use, we packed up our overloaded luggage full of boat parts and headed out to Indianapolis Airport to get 2 standby seats to JFK Airport. With the help from the travel gods and the ‘power of the secret’ we made it to JFK no problem. Delta has only one flight a day to Istanbul from JFK, so we were sweating it a bit hoping that there were 2 seats open as we really did not want to spend 24hrs in JFK airport. Lucky for us 2 were open in business class!! Once again we got to lounge fully reclined sipping champagne as we took off heading back to Turkey.

It was another 11 hours of wine drinking, shrimp cocktails, ice cream sundaes, and as many movies as we would fit in. I think we lived a little too large as just before we landed Amy and I looked at each other and said “I don’t feel so well.” Shortly after that that airsick bags were broken out and the vomiting began in earnest. I think we probably should have not been eating shrimp at 30,000 feet.

We are not sure what we ate, but we were both feeling deathly ill by the time we landed in Istanbul. This is hard to describe unless you have experienced this, but to have to wait in line with hundreds of people in an un air-conditioned part of the airport where everyone is waiting to clear through customs while you want to vomit is a less than positive experience. Amy and I took turns pushing our bags forward in line while we took turns running to the bathroom to puke. I was sweating profusely and I was sure that I would get strip searched as I looked very guilty of something being so sweat covered by the time I got to the customs officer. Amy had just returned from the bathroom in time to join me and we figured we had just enough time to get our passports stamped and make it to the next bathroom before we puked.

But when we stood before the customs officer he said there was a problem with our passports. I think he got confused when he saw that we had flown out of turkey and returned, and everyone else in line was a tourist being in Turkey for the first time. We were close to vomiting on the guy which I think may have been bad as we might have been held in quarantine forever or until they figured out what was wrong with us. He had a moment of indecision and looked at the line behind us and said “Whatever” while waving us through.

From there it was a run to the nearest bathroom for more vomiting and to claim our bags. We felt so bad that we decided there was no rush to leave the airport so just laid on the floor next to our bags for about an hour trying to figure our next move. We had planned on taking a bus to Fethiye. But since we were so sick we decided that we were going to stay in Istanbul for the night and leave the next day. Once we felt we could maybe sit in a car without puking we grabbed our bags and jumped into a cab for a ride to Hotel Mola where we had stayed on our trip out to the U.S.

If you ever find yourself in Istanbul and need a cheap hotel near everything, then Hotel Mola is a great place to stay with very friendly helpful staff. After checking in we ran to our room and threw ourselves on our beds hoping to feel better. We felt a little better by sunset and was able to make it out for dinner. But even that was a bit much and we came right back to our room to watch really bad Turkish TV for the rest of the night.

The next morning feeling better I ran into our neighbor across the hall that I had met the day before, when we had checked in. He asked what we were planning on doing. I told him that we needed to make bus reservations to get back to Fethiye and was not quite sure how to do this. "No problem." he says. "I will take care of everything." He is from Iran, but ran away when he was 14 to Turkey. He then immigrated to Canada where he went to school getting a job as an interpreter with the U.N working all over the world. He even did a stint in Iraq helping people that needed to leave the country. He called the bus line and took my credit card making the reservation. At the time I was thinking "How safe is it that I just met him and now he is on the phone speaking Turkish giving out my credit card number?" Turns out he was a great guy and totally hooked us up with reservations for an overnight bus ride to Fethiye. This would have been very difficult to make without speaking Turkish and not knowing what bus line to call as there are 100’s of them here in Turkey.

We then decided that since our bus was leaving at 10pm to check out of our hotel while they kept our bags and we toured around Istanbul. We went back to the Grand Bazaar that we had been to before on our trip out. But this time we were not going to get lost. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 58 streets and 6,000 shops. It is well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather coats, gold jewelry and the like. The bazaar contains two bedestens (domed masonry structures built for storage and safe keeping), the first of which was constructed between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.

The last time we were in Istanbul we got hopelessly lost walking around all the shops. This time we had a map and wandered around for hours till it was time to head back to Hotel Mola to get our bags. From the hotel we jumped on a shuttle van that took us to our bus. Turkey’s bus lines have the Dirty Dog (Greyhound) beat! Actually we have not been to a county in the last 3 years that have buses worse than greyhoun. We scored a first class bus that showed movies (in Turkish) and had an attendant that delivered snacks and drinks all along the way.

Twelve hours later we arrived in Fethie to a very dirty Sandpiper moored in Ecce Marina. The temperature upon our arrival was 105 degrees and 98 down below Sandpiper.

The last couple of days have been spent moping around in the heat while we try to get the 'Piper ready to head out on the 22nd. There are many projects to complete as we have brought back loads of boat parts with us. Here’s a short list:

  • Recharge our refrigeration that has been low on coolant
  • Replace fuel injectors
  • Change oil
  • Change seals in raw water pump
  • Swim on the boat to clean the growth off the prop
  • Replace stereo speakers
  • Polish cockpit windows
  • Fix sea water wash down pump
  • Re-install 2 cabin lights that were sent in for repairs
  • Clean Sandpiper's outsides and insides
  • and finally buy enough groceries for several months and stow
Stay tuned as we are planning on leaving Fethiye on the 22nd, then heading up the Turkish Coast before heading west to the Greek Islands.

More very soon,
Tom and Amy

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