UK in Summer Holidays

Hey folks how you all been doing.Well I am now in UK enjoying my summer holidays, away from the searing heat in Turkey. However the rain here is driving me nuts.I came back and bought a second-hand car for moving around. I recently went to London. I love this city. It has everything – right from modern things to tradition.

London Bridge

I have my family here in London. My nephew who is a gaming freak. He forces me to play for full four hours daily, and always defeats me. I have never been gracious in defeat and like to win. My days are going by quite nicely. My husband did not get the number of days off I got so he has to go back tomorrow and I am right now packing his bags. I will enjoy my holidays here for the moment and also watch some live cricket. I have missed it so much while in Italy. The Ashes fourth Test starts soon and I will be there at Trent bridge on August 6th. I will also go to my half brother’s place in Bristol. I love the small town which is a peaceful place unlike London. Of course it does not have the shopping malls but is just like my house besides the beach back in Turkey. I am loving it here in UK!

Scuba diving in Mexico, excellent experience!

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is a fun water sport where you can see a world unexplored. What better way to do it than in Mexico which has both Atlantic and Pacific Ocean as its coastline. Experienced guides are present everywhere to guide you to dive to depths and watch marine life at its best. The experience of scuba diving has all flavors, warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and the cold uninviting waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Atlantic Coastline

  • Riviera Maya and Costa Maya – This is supposedly the best place for a great scuba diving experience. At the meeting point of the Caribbean Sea with the Yucatan peninsula it offers warm and clear blue water. It is good for both beginners and professionals if they want to go diving.
  • Banco Chinchorro – The secluded and protected area is the best place if you want to see the amazing colors of the coral in coastal waters. The coral is the last stage of the coral reef formation, and atoll which is circular formation around an island. Wide range of fish and other marine animals can be seen here.
  • Cancun – It is the ultimate tourist spot with all its fun and adventure activities. Scuba diving is one of the popular sport among the visiting tourists. Isla Mujeres a six kilometer island off the coast offers a wide range of fun activities including scuba diving. You can also take a trek on the long white sand beaches here.
  • Isla Cozumel – An island off the coast of Mexico is a popular spot for scuba divers. The lagoon offers the perfect spot for beginners and people who want to enjoy the sport. You can see the underwater sculptures at Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park. Also you can swim with turtles and dolphins at Chankanaab which is an Eco-park surrounded by pristine waters of a lagoon.
  • Puerto Morelos – The port city offers a great experience of scuba diving. You will have access to world-class instructors who will make the sport easy and enjoyable. You can see the natural and artificial reefs and also the coral covered gunboat.
  • Gulf of Mexico – If you want to go away from the crowd and enjoy solitude, Anton Lizardo a small town in the Gulf is the perfect spot. You can relax on the pristine beaches and go scuba diving as per your convenience. You can also explore the Veracruz reef here. It is a different ecosystem altogether untouched by heavy tourist activities.

Pacific Coast

  • Islas Marias – An island off the pacific coastline of Mexico, it is a popular place to experience scuba diving. The deep and clear waters of the Pacific give a great view of the life under water. But beware the waters are cold and unlike the warm Caribbean Sea.
  • Baja peninsula – The town of Coba is the paradise for experienced scuba divers. The water is cold and requires wet suits and body warming dry suit sometimes. Coba is situated at the tip of the Baja peninsula and offers a wide range of diving options. The sting ray can be found in the shallow coastal waters. You need to be careful, they are beautiful but dangerous marine animals.
  • Puerto Vallarta – Another popular tourist spot for scuba diving along the pacific coastline. International scuba diving experts prefer the spot due to its clear waters and scattered reef system which attract the biggest animal on the planet – The blue whale.
  • Acapulco – The low temperature of water here offer a different kind of challenge for scuba diving. If you are a beginner you always would want an expert diver escorting you.

A Time Machine – The Turkish Hamam

Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam Sultanahmet Istanbul built at the request of Hurrem Suleyman The Magnificent's wife.

Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam Sultanahmet Istanbul

What a great time I had with my sister, absolutely exhausted and so sad to see her go home. Thank goodness for Skype, really helps to keep in touch far better than a phone or email. I was placed on a shelf last week for one of my friend’s birthday. It was great could see what was going on and different folk there come to chat with me. With the time difference it can be hard sometimes but I would not be without it.
We did so many things while she was here that I am not sure which was the best, the night out when we drank raki and had a go at Turkish dancing, our visit to Topkapi Palace, amazing place. I mentioned last time she would come with a list and she did, took it straight off with wiki travel site, did the job! The hamam visit thought was so much fun. We were scrubbed, soaped and massaged till we were too relaxed to move.

Enjoying the relaxation of a Turkish hamam in Istanbul
On the list was choices for hamams, there were two in Sultanahmet she fancied so after a bit of sisterly negotiation (she won) we went to the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam. This was built by request of Hurrem ( Roxelana) wife of Suleyman The Magnificent, in 1556 – 1557, designed by Mimar Sinan a famous Ottoman architect with many of the historic Istanbul buildings to his credit. After a little bit of bargaining as not busy at the moment we got a good price, they appreciated my efforts to converse in Turkish, they told me in perfect English after I had floundered for 5 minutess, but done in such a friendly way. The whole experience was awesome. So easy to imagine we had taken a step back in time to the exotic Ottoman times. First we relaxed on a heated marble slab big enoughfor 20 people. Then one of the ladies (we opted for female only hamam) came and proceeded to scrub out warmed skin with a special cloth, could not believe what came off my skin ugh! Then she covered us from head to toe in soap –the method of how they do this is fascinating. They bring in a bucket full of soapy water, olive oil soap, and then they submerge a pillowcase in it. This they then swirl around trapping air in it and soap foam, this is then massaged all over. Then you get rinses off. We had also opted for an oil massage that was so relaxing. Thoroughly recommended and certainly something I will do again. We were there for about 3 hours, could have been quicker but we sat a while chatting with the staff and drinking the ubiquitous apple tea. More about Turkish tea next time.

Beautiful interiors in marble with the luxury you would expect of a hamam for the Sultan and his wife.

Fabulous Interiors that transport you back in time

Sultanahmet and me.

Well what did you think of my little trip to Belgium? Totally unexpected treat from a new friend but it’s too soon to start writing about them on here yet. For now I am waiting for my sister to arrive in the next couple of days. I am dog sitting in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul which is perfect. The German couple whose dogs I am looking after already agreed for sis to stay with me at their apartment, really getting excited now.

The fabulous Blue Mosque in Istanbul

The Blue Mosque

Sultanahmet is the Old city of Istanbul, sometimes called the walled city. It is amazing to walk around. You are surrounded by history and feel transported back into the past. There will be enough here to see for 10 visits not just one but if I know my sis she will already have an itinerary of where she wants to go. Obviously the Blue Mosque will be one of them. I love going there; the Sultan Ahmet Camii got the name Blue Mosque from the blue tiles decorating the outside walls. It was built from 1609 to 1616. It feels as if anywhere you walk it is watching over you. Beautiful building and one of the most recognized mosques in the world I would think. One of the first things you notice when you enter the mosque is the lights or chandeliers, originally they where covered in gold and gems, sadly that is not so today but can be found in various museums. It is an overwhelming space and walking around it you can feel the history. It is a functioning mosque so best not to visit on a Friday and reminder to self, dress appropriately – although as its winter I expect we will be adequately dressed. Not sure my sis will appreciated having to take her shoes off but she, like me, has been brought up to respect other cultures. One of the events I have planned is to take her for her first Haman. Tell you all about it next time. It’s time to go and take the doggies out for their walk and explore a bit more of this area while I do. Definitely the best way to see a place is to live there for a time.

Travelling to Belgium for a quick beer tour

So I decided to take a trip after my trips in Istanbul to Belgium as I always wanted to go there. I ended up doing some brewery tours and taking some time in some of the major cities and I used some of these guides as a way for me to get around and have a good time since I went by myself. I figured I could just make friends while there and it wasn’t really a largely planned trip it was sort of spur of the moment since I felt like taking some time off from my pursuits in Turkey. So that being said I’ll talk about a few things I did. Best thing about it is it is very easy to get to if you are travelling in Europe currently.

So I checked out some breweries like the Westvleteren brewery and some other ones in the area and rented a car to get around, it wasn’t so expensive for a couple days that I was there. It was an easy trip to make and the beer is renowned all over the world from Belgium so I thought I would make it part of my trip there. Has anyone else been to Belgium? Where did you go when you were there? Did you run into any others from home while there?

westvleteren visitors center is really nice and quiet

Whoa, lots happening….

So much happening since I last wrote on here. Don’t know where to start. I am going to be working, got a job of sorts, from middle of next month and it comes with accommodation of a sort… To clarify, I am going to be a house/pet sitter. I told you I had been in Istanbul before ,well one of the people I had kept in touch with was in a fix. She had to go back to Germany for family emergency and couldn’t find kenneling she was happy with for her dog. Knowing I love animals she asked if I would help out. I jumped at the chance. Well that was 10 days ago and she is now back and because of her recommendations I now have a further 5 to do. Yea go me. So until January I have a job and home in various places around Istanbul – what a perfect way to explore the city.

Pets walker, Pet sitter, looking after your pet in your own home.

Luckily I will only be looking after 1 pet at a time.

Second piece of good news my sister, Lucy, is coming over for Xmas!! She has been keeping her eyes on flights  for a while now and apparently a sale came up that had such cheap flight tickets. Then there was a catch, wanted me to loan her the money, till her payday. Me I ask you!! Fortunately friends told her about a company who could provide instant cash, she applied and now she is all set to come to me for Christmaas.. What a time we will have.

Third thing, I have fallen in love…NO! Not with a fella, a drink. It is called Sahlep, it is an aromatic milky drink that hits the tongue like silk and goes down like a taste of heaven. You can buy this I now know all over Turkey but I drank it first on a ferry boat crossing the Bosphorus and have been drinking it every day since. Wait until you have tried it with ice cream..Such a delight. I am going to find out more about this delectable drink and I will share it next time.

 

Sahlep, Delectable Turkish drink, Milky Sahlep, topped with cinnamon

All three for me!!

Episode one in trying to not get hit by a car!

So, I am hoping I can make this last all my time here. Drivers here are crazy! I know that people say that about a lot of cities. But seriously! Last night when I was out for dinner 5 out of the 7 people there had been hit by a car! Five! That’s madness. And most as pedestrians! Ok, so people don’t wait for the lights and have almost no hesitation about stepping out onto a four lane highway but sheesshhh. Don’t worry mum I’ve got travel insurance…

It’s been a week now since I landed (where did the week go!?). I think I make a new list everyday of stuff I need to do. Bank account. Visa. Job. Flat. Navigating myself around. If only the government officials worked at even half of the speed that people drive here. I would probably be sorted by now. But I guess I just have to adapt. I have been told something different by every official I’ve asked here about my situation. Efficiency really isn’t high on the list of priorities here. Drinking 50 cups of tea a day? Definitely!

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Off to look at more apartments! Once I find something suitably awesome I will invite you all over to visit! Someone needs to help me get through this list! Actually this too!