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Tea, Sugar, A Dream.

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I’m back home from Turkey. Let me be honest with you, I stuffed my face this trip. I particularly love eating lots of different things in one sitting, so this was a setup from the beginning. I ate it all. Then ate more. I only exercised 6 times in 10 days.

 

I just stepped off the scale. I’ve lost 3 pounds. WHAT??!! How can this be? If you’ve been reading the latest research about nutrition, you’ve heard that the Mediterranean Diet is considered the best by far when it comes to weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, general health. I had no choice but to eat THE Mediterranean diet on this trip, it’s simply how they cook and eat here; simple, fresh food, often grilled (hold the tomatoes, please), lots of variety. Nothing pre-packaged or processed. I’m going to talk about this way of eating when we start marketing this trip.

 

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(HP – I know ladies, we all want to yell at Hopper, perhaps even throw something at him, and assert that because he’s a man he can eat and lose weight. Let me tell you that I too ate – probably too much – the amazing, fresh and varied dishes that Turkey brings to the table. This morning, I closed my eyes when I stepped on the scale. I was surprised that I weighed less than the morning I left. Which prompted me to have yogurt for breakfast, lunch and dinner today.)

 

Back to our departure from Gocek: a 25 minute cab ride got us to Dalaman Airport. Medium sized place. Well organized. No lines. Another important factor for future trips. Uneventful flight to Istanbul.

 

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Let me repeat that I LOVE Turkish Airlines. The best I’ve ever flown. Here’s the short version of what happened in Istanbul: Earlier in the week, we had forgotten to cancel one of the legs of our initial itinerary when we switched our in country travel schedule. When you don’t show up for a flight, most (all?) airlines cancel the rest of your flights on that itinerary. In the back of my head, I think I knew this. Anyway, we had to purchase two one-way tickets from Istanbul to Boston. Ouch. I was livid at myself and everyone around me. But this is travel, and this is owning a travel company. I’m trying to get at least a partial refund. We’ll see.

 

(Yes, he was livid. At. Everyone.)

 

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Like a girlfriend who had wronged me, the airline was almost back in my good graces after a few hours of fine dining, mint lemonade, turkish delight, fresh flowers in the bathroom, a package of socks, slippers, toothbrush, toothpaste and lip balm, hot moist towels, free movies (we watched 3), and friendly flight attendants. For those of you who have flown Air Sunshine (aka Air Sometime)  for one of our BVI trips, the contrast is laughable.

 

(Dear Turkey, Fly me to the moon. Love, Heather)

 

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22 hours after we hopped in the cab in Gocek, Heather drops me off at what now looks like my brand new house built in just 1859.

 

 

 

This trip was amazing on a personal and a professional level for me. Turkey is a nation filled with hospitable, fascinating people who have a mind boggling history. They carry pride from their past, but are looking forward – open and flexible to the potential of the future. They are perhaps concerned that the rest of us don’t really know who they are. And before this trip, I can’t say that I did.

 

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To say we felt safe everywhere we went wouldn’t really do justice: we were taken care of. With compassion and kindness that went beyond mere hosting.

 

 

 

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We saw Syrian refugees. Their plight is tragic. The hopelessness I think we all feel about their situation is taxing. I’m glad I was a witness. It makes me realize what a buffer we in the U.S. have in the Atlantic Ocean, shielding us from the realities of Europe, Africa and Asia. We develop ideas mostly from what we see on TV and read in the papers.

 

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Travel is an antidote for misunderstanding. As you climb aboard a boat with a captain and his family, or travel by car through a rural valley (with LOTS of tomatoes) and see tables and chairs set up beneath a shade tree, when you look into the faces of people who speak a different language as they try to help you find your way, it becomes clear that we are all more similar than different. Funny how traveling TO a foreign country can allow you to back up far enough to gain a common perspective.

 

 

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We have decided to move ahead with this trip, and add the Turkish Coast to our roster. We’re still working on a name for it. We don’t take things like that lightly. Our first trip will be early October of 2016. We have some numbers to crunch and some details to fill in, but we have the framework built; a great boat (to be announced), assets on the ground, a partner company in Istanbul, an amazing airline, perfect swimming locations along an ancient route.

 

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Travel and swimming in Turkey is a trip into the rich history we all share. Learn a little bit about this part of the world. Read about thousands of years of technology. Everything we do today branches from there. Architecture, art, literature, cuisine, spirituality, humanity. The Turks of today recognize that like the rest of us, they are only here for a short time, in a living, breathing, vivid place that has a life of its own. Even after 3 major empires have come and gone, no one “owns” Turkey. It’s closer to truth to say it owns all of us. It’s where we all began. You probably can’t say you’re not at least a little Turkish. Why not jump in and go for a swim in your home pool?

 

 

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We’ll leave you with this comedy routine we worked on throughout the trip:   

 

Dear Turkey,

Look into seedless grapes.

 

Dear Turkey,

Thanks for driving on the right.

 

Dear Turkey,

Hold the cooked tomatoes.

 

Dear Turkey,

Thank you for turquoise.

 

Dear Turkey,   

Nice branding job with that flag.

 

Dear Turkey,

My gosh those are skinny little cigarettes.

 

Dear Turkey,

Please have your airline teach our airlines how to be an airline.

 

Dear Turkey,

Where are you hiding all the olives?

 

Dear Turkey,

This could be a tough one: consider a name change. It’s our problem not yours. But please consider.

 

Dear Turkey,

Could we have some of your amphorae?

 

Dear Turkey,

Thanks for the delight.

 

Dear Turkey,

Wanna know how We deal with stray cats?

 

Dear Turkey,

I know you have a huge surplus of marble. And really, it looks great. Please consider something less slippery for pedestrian surfaces.

 

Dear Turkey,

You rock the lamb.

 

Dear Turkey,

What did you put in my hookah?

 

Dear Turkey,

Nice getting to know you. We’ll be back.

 

Love,

Hopper and Heather

SwimVacation

(Tesekkür edriem)

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Gerry says:

    I was so happy to come across your website. I am in an open water group (Sea Monkeys) in Long Beach, CA. I just returned from a trip in Turkey about two months ago. I did my best to take a great swim everywhere we went. My girlfriend doesn’t swim and certainly wasn’t interested in waking early to watch me swim at sunrise. But, as you mention, the people were very accommodating. Our concierge and rest of the staff became excited when I asked how I could arrange transportation to the Black Sea from Istanbul. I paid the cab driver to keep the meter running. I didn’t want to chance leaving my clothes/money on shore. That was my first Swim in Turkey. We proceeded down to Ismir, Cesme and Bodrum which all offered amazing waters to swim. I wanted to swim to Greece very badly, but knew I’d get in major trouble and possibly run over. (Again, I was on my own doing this). We then made our way to Spain, Barcelona, Ibiza and Formentera. Formentera was incredible for swimming, BTW. But Turkey blew my mind. Just as you had no idea who they were, either did we. I had no clue they had such amazing waters. That trip will be such a great one for others when you finalize it.
    This idea of swimming all over the world started for me when I went to Asia about six months ago. My swim group told me to send photos of the oceans and stuff. But, I seized an opportunity that I will never forget. I swam the moat at Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia. Found out afterwards that it’s not allowed, and I figured it wasn’t beforehand, so I slipped in without them seeing me but did cause a stir with all the other tourist. So they were anxious for my return and just told me to get out. Not sure if they’d entertain an organized group swim for a small fee. But worth a look!

    • Heather says:

      Hey Gerry! Thanks for this comment! Your experiences sound incredible. We hope you’ll join us on the southern coast next year…much warmer than Bodrum!

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