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World on a Shoestring A beginnger's guide to traveling around the world...as written by beginners...

Mad Dash

TURKEY | Wednesday, 1 August 2007 | Views [1446] | Comments [1]

OK, so we just finished up two weeks living on someone else's dime, and let me tell you, it sure warps the sense of reality and jumping back into the big pool of poor backpackers after spending even a small amount of time in the little pool of indulgent tourism sure comes as a shock. But for all the free money and time in the world I wouldn't trade any of it.

Quite a bit has happened since the events of the last post. Like I said, we just wrapped up two weeks living the high life; my parents and brother came to visit us in Greece and relieve us (temporarily) from the bonds of backpacking poverty. But, I made a silly mistake and all you avid readers are going to suffer because of it...all you occassional readers probably won't know any better, so shame on you for not reading more. I was silly enough to hand over all of my picture CDs to my mother for safe keeping in a more stable environment, and so you will note that the last few and the next couple of posts contain no pictures...I realize that transitioning from books with pictures to books with no pictures is a big step, but I'm only here to help, and this is only temporary.

If you read the last post, then you know where last we spotted Carmen San Diego. If you didn't read the last post (or don't know who Carmen San Diego is) then you might be a bit confused, but bare with me nonethenless.

We last left our heroes in Budapest, Hungary, home of the Buda and Pest, the Danube, Turkish baths, and maniacal vengeful drivers. From the conjoined twins of Europe that is BudaPest we made our way South East deeper into Eastern Europe where all your dreams, fantasies and stereotypes of "Eastern Europe" come true...But, as we found out, all is not what it appears...

If you've made this far (and by "this far" I mean to the point of literacy) and don't know who Count Dracula is, then stop reading. Otherwise, continue as I briefly recount to you our trip through his home town.

Bram Stoker's character, Count Dracula, is based on a real person who lived several, several hundred years ago in the same area of Romania as the eponymous real life personage, Trannsylvania. This is where the similarities between the two stop, although it is rumored that the real Count Dracula, Vlad Tepes, drank the blood of his vicitms to give him vitality...but that's just what I heard. The real Dracula was, however, known for his rather uncomfortable method of torture which consisted of a spear planted in the ground and an unlucky sphincter...any more and I would be placing this website on the government's "watch list". But, unlike the region's once creatively torturous ruler, the countryside is a rather nice visit. We found some of the best views, castles, camping, people, and prices here. Specifically, we stopped and spent three days in a little town called Sighisora, which is actually where Tepes was born. Our campsite was an off season school yard, our food of choice was 2 euro doner kebabs, and our drink of choice was 1 euro beers at the local pub. A wonderful place if you are looking for somewhere without too many tourists, but with plenty of atmosphere. Oh, and I highly recommend the hand-made socks sold by the one-eyed woman; they're cheap, warm and make great gifts!

From here we made our way through Romania, stopping first in Brasov, the town where Tepes supposedly imparted his clever torture methods to the people. We found Brasov to be not quite what we were looking for in a relaxing little town, and so quickly departed for Bucarest, the capital of Romania, only to find that it, too, was not what we were expecting, and so left the next morning for Istanbul.

Having visited the conjoined twins of Europe (remember Budapest?) we thought it would be best to continue our anatomical tour of Europe and visit the unibrow of Europe that connects Europe and Asia. Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits on two continents (those mentioned previously), and so connects two worlds and cultures...but the real reason we've dubbed Istanbul "the unibrow of Europe" is because there's an apparent lack of tweezers and male brow grooming going on over there...perhaps its a fad that just hasn't hit the states yet, who knows with these crazy kids these days, right?

But other than that, Istanbul is an amazing city. We spent our days walking around the 1000 year old mosques architecture and absorbing a culture that is so different from ours as to be alien (I wish you all could see the picture of the local "doktor" who was selling leaches out of a plastic barrel on the side of the street), but still warm and welcoming. We spent plenty of hours in the two largest markets of their kind, the outdoor market with over 5000 shops, and the famous Turkish Spice Market, whose odoriferous scent makes the mouth water. And when we weren't shopping, we were eating. You have never had a kebab until you have had a kebab from the home of kebabs. I could cry right now just thinking about how good that meat was (that's what she said)(sorry, that had to be said). But seriously, this country is home to some of the best food these two travellers have ever eaten. What's more, if you're in the mood for a drink and a smoke, there are enough huka bars to entice even the most vehement anti-smokers and even a few bars on the bridge between the two continents so one can say they had drinks on no continent, no where.

From Turkey we made our way to Greece, home of the beautiful sunset and sunrise.  Before we met my parents in Athens, Gen and I found an out of the way campingplatz about two hours south of Thessaloniki called Asporvalta and set up camp for a few days so that we could catch up on our Zs and our tans.  Then it was off to Athens and Patras, where we spent a week being spoiled by my parents and taking a vacation from our own prolonged vacation.  It was nice to not have to sleep on the ground for a bit, and get to watch a little bit of TV, as well as be able to actually eat to capacity.  The one thing we find astonishing about Greece was that dinner typically starts around 10 pm and ends somewhere in the vicinity of 1 am...not anything we were accustomed to, but still delicious.  And of course we did all the requisite sight seeing, taking in the Parthenon, Acropolis, etc, etc, etc. 

So, at this point, you should be pretty much caught up (for the most part), though it might be a bit much to get through without the pictures.  We promise that beyond this and maybe the next post, we'll be putting pics back in the mix...word.

Tags: On the Road

 

Comments

1

Jake,

Please come home, Jake jr. is almost a year old and misses you. Why have you not responded to my last 24 emails? You told me you loved me.

Your Secret Lover.

  If you dont know i am not going to tell Aug 6, 2007 11:18 PM

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