27 June 2009

Getting high

Today was such a high that I have decided not to follow the holiday chronologically. We are in Goreme staying at the Shoe String Cave Hotel - yes we are living as cave dwellers but the highlight was the ballon trip this morning.

Up at 4:30 am and off to the launch. Sue is standing in front of the balloon as it is inflated.

A view of Goreme village just after take off. The place is renowned for cave dwellings, which I will write about later

There were at least twenty balloons in the sky.

I felt cheated when we started dropping into the valley - I wanted to soar with the eagles, but that was soon to change as our pilot Mustafah gave us a closer view of the rock formations.\
Other pilots had the same idea as we entered Love Valley at tree top level. These rock formations are unique in the world.

"Mummy why is it called Love Valley?" I did not hear mummy's reply. I'm still trying to figure it out myself.
A Cappadocian tapestry - from being at tree top level we are soon high up in the sky. Nothing could have prepared us for the experience. It was absolutely amazing floating up there in a big basket out in the open air.
All too soon we are back on terra firma - our pilot very skillfully put the basket onto the back of the trailer saving the guys some heavy work.

It cost an arm and a leg but was really worth every Lira.

22 June 2009

Istanbul Transport

What Suzi-k and I have learnt about Istanbul, is that having a car is not quite the asset here as it is at home. From what I have seen though, is that one does not so much drive as negotiate your way through the traffic. You don't want to be behind the wheel in these streets.

Fortunately the public transport system is amazing, whether you take the tram train, seen here in front of the University.........................

......or this delightful old tram we travelled on this morning.

Today we went to the Galata Tower, which gives a 360 degree view of the city. Where do I start the views are just awesome. I think I will devote a separate post to that trip.

I ended the night taking shots in the main street at Sultanahmet. I managed to find a camera shop in the Galata where I bought a tripod for TL15. I have missed out on some awesome shots by not having found it sooner.

21 June 2009


So my side bar does say that I am celebrating the beauty of the Eastern Cape, but that is about to change as Suzi-k and I are in Istanbul. After a nine and a half hour journey we arrived yesterday morning. Wow, were those seats uncomfortable! But I wont go there - let me just accept taht as part of the pain of getting here.

We have arrived and love the place. The Mavi Guest House, in the Sultanamet is home for now. The sense of history is amazing. We are within a stones throw of the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, and the Roman Cistern built in the sixth century to name a few. Across the road is what remains of the old city wall.

The Blue Mosque, viewed from across a park in the Sultanamet.

The streets are narrow and cobbled and wherever you go there are people plying their wares. Cars seem to travel in both directions, making liberal use of their horns. This narrow street, running down from the Topkapi Palace, like so many from around the world has not been immune from the graffiti artists.

Yesterday evening we strolled down to the Bosphorus and bought our evening meal from the street vendors. Good food at reasonable prices and Max friendly (for those who don't know I am fanatical about having heart friendly food) - but best of all was the experience.

A view of the Bosphorus Bridge taken by Suzi-k. To the left is Europe and the right Asia

The Galata Bridge crosses the Golden Horn. Beneath it you can take your choice of restaurants. If you look carefully, you will see the fishermen crowding the top of the bridge. All they pull out are little fish that would feel at home in a sardine tin, but there seems to be no restriction on size, as none get thrown back. I could not help wondering how many unsuspecting folk on the lower deck have had a fish hook through the ear.

What would one of my posts be without a sunset. This view is looking up the Golden Horn - quite appropriate

We travelled back to Sultanamet by tram as we did not relish the long walk back. For one Turkish Lira we felt the price was reasonable.

10 June 2009

Aloes in profusion

It does not matter what time of the year it is, but there is always something flowering in the Eastern Cape. It is now aloe season and they are putting on a spectacular show of colour.

I took these pictures of what I think are the aloe ferox near Cookhouse earlier today.

05 June 2009

Sky Watch Friday and other things

Where there's a statue there's a pigeon, or two or three, or................let's just say lots more.

Oom Paul does not look amused and nor would I, if I was in his position. But then I guess that goes with the territory, if you happen to be a statue.

We had to go to Pretoria this week to apply for Bulgarian visas in person . What a mission. It cannot be done from a distance, because you have to go through an interview. So we flew to Johannesburg, hired a car and drove to Pretoria, for what amounted to a few questions. I felt quite cheated - I would have liked more of a grilling, for the expense and time it took to get there.

So we had a day to spare and took time out to drive around Pretoria and walk around Church Square where the statue of Paul Kruger is situated. We also stopped off at the Union Buildings, where I took this rather hazy shot with the statue of Louis Botha in the foreground.

Not too long now and we will be spending some time in Turkey and from there we will be going to Bulgaria, for some quality time with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
Check out the Sky Watch site for more pictures from around the world.