A Travellerspoint blog

The Return of the Wanderer

Athens part II


The completed map

It's dumping rain here in Athens, but it just let up for me enough to make another trek back up to the Acropolis. The second time I was able to take it all in and reflect about the last two months of travel. It has been an amazing time of self-discovery, historical education and good partying.

I feel at home in Athens now. It's nice to come back to a city for a second time and know the way around, know people working at the hostel, and be the guy who's been here before to the other fresh faced travellers. It's kind of fun to have two months full of stories of cities I've been to, people I've met and things I've seen.

There are things that have changed the way I see cultures, life and my faith. I no longer value some things and value other things much more. Hospitality, friendship, and love for the spontaneous are a few of the qualities I would like to foster more back in America.

I'm ready to go back home, and I'm grateful for the miles behind me and the many more ahead.

Thanks for journeying with me...

Posted by iaremia 08:48 Comments (3)

Istanbul

the Turkish bath

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Haghia Sophia, church of the Holy Wisdom behind me. Notice the Turkish flags. They are literally everywhere right now because of the political situation.

The four of us got in the yellow taxi and took a nightmarish ride through twists and turns and back alleys until we were told we had arrived. The Istanbul bath house, a hole in the wall with cracking ceiling tiles and old oriental furniture. As we got out of the taxi, honking cars began to scream at our taxi driver as the taxi driver demanded money from us. We told him we had already paid a package deal and we did not have the money. He followed us into the bath house, yelling and screaming in Turkish. The bath house owner yelled back and for the next 5 minutes there was all kinds of chaos.

We finally made it into the sauna where we heard deep and cavernous cries from the baths outside. Grunts, yells, splashings and some strange pounding noises brought nervous smiles to our faces. We were in for the infamous turkish bath.

20 minutes later, an overweight, toothless, middleaged Turkish man came in half naked pointing at me. He smiled and had me squat near the marble floor. What followed was a serious of varying temperature buckets, hot water, cold water, warm water dumped all over my head, followed by his vigorous scrubbing of all parts of my body. I was then placed flat on my back on a 20x20 marble slab. The Turk laughed hysterically and said good massage. He took my legs and bent them over the back of my head and slapped my thighs. Then he crossed my arms over my chest and put enough pressure on them to crack my back. He then turned me over and pummeled me with his elbows, lifting my legs upward and pushing the middle of my back downward, all while smiling and laughing with a toothless grin. This was the real thing.

Posted by iaremia 15:18 Comments (4)

Turkish Delight

more tales

Walking the streets in Bucharest, Romania can quickly become a game of Frogger gone bad. There are way too many cars and way too many people for this big city.

I just took a 22 hour metal grinding, shrieking, sewage smelling, 10 stop visa, passport ticket all night long festival of train madness from Bucharest to Istanbul.

Ah, istanbul! what a beautiful city. The once proud city of Constantinople is lapped by the waters of the Marmara to the South, the Golden Horn to the North and the Bosphorus to the East. The old three layered Theodosian Walls sit decrepitly in the west, a reminder of the past glory.

I met Alex, a bloke from Munich, Germany in Brasov Romania and we travelled here together with Daniel from Australia and David from Atlanta. Today we went to the Haghia Sophia (where they still had the scaffolding blocking the central dome of the church), the Blue Mosque, Constantine`s Hippodrome and the underground cisterns.

Haghia Sophia (the church of Holy Wisdom built by Justinian in the 530s) was amazing as i expected it to be and it was even more fun to explain some of the history to David and Alex. They were really interested in the icons and mosaics.

Later on today, Alex, Eric (another bloke I met from LA working in London) had a dinner of kebabs outside the Haghia Sophia to the sounds of the call to prayer.

The political atmosphere is tense. With supporters of the modern secular state and a presidential nominee who is in favor of more fundamental sharia law, Turkey is facing possible political crisis. I took pictures of reporters and cops carrying full riot gear. Nothing to be too alarmed about though.

Alex, Eric and I are going to check out the North side of the Golden Horn tomorrow, from the Galata tower to the Castle (throat cutter) Sultan Mehmet II built in 1450s. The Galata tower is all that is left of the Genoese trading colony that lived here in Constantinople hundreds of years ago. The Genoese (who were Latin speaking) were told to move across the Golden Horn because they were considered crass by the more sophisticated Byzantine Greeks.

On Sunday night, I am taking a night bus along the Asian side of Turkey down to the ancient Roman city of Ephesus...

Posted by iaremia 08:44 Comments (1)

Pics!! II

Your monthly dose of pics...

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my friend mike from canada. we enjoyed a beer in the Alps.

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The first night in Munich, I saw an amazing quartet, the violin player had many passionate poses.

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i steered clear of this one.

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California cruising in Munich

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I even saw surfers in the English Gardens, Munich

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Lenny, my talented Munich bike tourguide. He swore he wasn't an alcoholic...

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the Hofbrau house was full of toasts, beers and good German songs. this guy toasted me about 5 times

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Kate was a great Czech tour guide, all smiles in the Prague walk

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The Charles Bridge, much like the bridge of Angels in Rome, is full of Christian symbolism.

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In Vienna, they love their generals. Austria has not fared well in battle since 1914 though.

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Budapest bridge at night

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Budapest castle

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streetlight in budapest

Posted by iaremia 11:40 Comments (3)

Belching

right before a concert

I was sitting in a famous concert hall in the old Hofburg Palace in Vienna minding my own business. I had just bought a ticket to see a Johann Strauss concert, famous for songs such as the Danube Waltz, and I was anticipating the action ahead when a middle aged tourist sitting right in my ear let out the biggest frothy belch followed by a quick apology.

It took all I had in me for the next five minutes not to burst out laughing.

Im in Budapest now. I was just at a supermarket, (here in Europe we all have to pack our own bags), and I grabbed a plastic bag to start bagging my groceries. The hungarian woman clerk starting shouting at me in hungarian and charged me 25 HUF...the equivalent of about 15 cents.

I spent 4 hours yesterday in the thermal baths of Budapest. There were dozens of 100+ degree pools, 40 degree pools, steam rooms, saunas, indoor and outdoor giant hot tubs! I had a massage and got back in for a while...really rough day. I then went to the National Museum where I was in my hayday learning about the Barbarians, Romans, Byzanztines and Ottomans, all of which settled this area at some point. They had much of the artifacts and jewelry on display from the people groups I read about in "The Fall of the Roman Empire" by Peter Heather.

I have to say, the majority of europeans are incredibly well dressed, especially the women. its like they all just walked out of a fashion shoot. insane.

the next destination is Trannsylvania in Romania. Ill keep you posted on more quirky adventures...

Posted by iaremia 11:22 Archived in Hungary Comments (1)

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