Irregular Posts; Istanbul, Nov 2014

Sunday November 9,2014 Good Morning from Istanbul. In the summer, Meg came across a “realdeal”; $600 round trip direct Boston to Istanbul on Turkish Air.  How can you go wrong? Book it and plan later.  So here we are over the long Veteran’s Day weekend plus a couple more days.  So far So good.  The flight was the last red eye out of Logan, after 11P.  We did order special meals (Hindu vegetarian for me and Asian veg for her.)  and they were delivered at 1AM!!  So dinner LATE and then try to sleep at 2:30A.  OK, it kind of worked. And breakfast was served at 7A.  We landed an hour after breakfast…but add seven hours for the time zones crossed.  No problem with passport as Meg had gotten the e-visas on line.  We were in hotel at 5P. So, what after unpack?  Easy; walk up hill past the Blue Mosque, through the park with the dancing multicolored lit fountain with a backdrop of the lit AyaSophia Church/Mosque/museum, to the Sultanahmet district PACKED with friday evening locals and tourists.  Dueling minarete call to prayers echoed around.  Greeters at restaurants “Hello-ed” for your attention; some had inventive tag lines.  Food looked good and relatively inexpensive.  A bowl of soup costs 5 TurkishLira (2.25 TL = $1)  A pint of local beer is 9TL.  A filling dinner of kabap and soup and drink was under 40 TL and that included 100 gams of roasted chestnuts as well. Back at the hotel, a small, very nice local place recommended by friends, has a roof terrace where we went for a nightcap.  At...

Irregular Posts; HeyBackHome JiggiltyJig

Saturday Sept 13, 2014 “Jiggilty! Not Jiggity?” “Yupe just a bit tubby I am.” Not that I gained much jellybelly but what I had kind of redis-tributed what I had. I MUST get back to fitness walking. Tough retaining fitness on the road.  Food was never an issue.  It was good but sometimes quite expensive. Flying on Sept 11th was thought provoking but no real problem. The four hour time zone dif-ference left me jetlagged for a few days and up around 5A and “working” at the desk. The hardest part of returning from the road is getting back into the cooking your own meals again. That also requires going shopping for food. That also requires going to the bank ATM for $$. Thursday we ate at 99 Restaurant, and Friday we ordered pizza. Ah, the joys of coming...

Irregular Posts; Iceland

Sunday, September 7, 2014 Gud Dagnin, 17 years and I still remember the land and the landmarks and when/where the next should be. We landed in Keflavik on Friday, got some Iceland kruna ($1 US = 113 Ikr!! the most is 20,000 at once), picked up the small manual Hyundai i10 and set out for the city of Vik some three hours to the east. Nothing looks like Icland! The closest might be Labrador/Newfoundland perhaps some parts of Alaska near Denali Highway, or Churchill Manitoba. But the combo of lava plains and flows, ansd glaciers and volcanoes, and sheep and horses: nope no where else is like this. In July of 97, I was at Skaftafll (about 2 hrs east of Vik) with Earthwatch doing a hydrology study of the Skeidrajokul and the catastrophic jokulhaup of Nov 1996. The catastrophic eruption and glacial flood washed away a long one lane bridge on the only road . A temporary black sand road was built that had quicksand on each side. Signs warned you not to walk there. We did because we were doing survey work of the outflow plain and river channels. You would usually sink in amkle deep or up to your knees at worst. The first person to step on the sand quickened it and the second one sank in. OhYeah! I remember. The land still looks the same but there is a modern 2 lane bridge and dike work that our survey probably contributed data for. There are great sea stacks off Vik that now attract tour buses with people from far away. Many English, Japanese, and...

Irregular Posts; Oslo and Bergen, NO

Friday September 5 Hej, Norway! What a beautiful country, and yes it is expensive. A pint of beer could cost you $13.!!. It is good beer but it is $! Forget it, just do what you need to do. Last leg in Norway was the Wednesday Oslo to Bergen run. We got into Oslo from Andenes about 9P Tuesday, found our hotel near the train station, dropped bags and had a Turkish dinner at 10P!! What! Why Turkish? Well, it was just ariund the corner along with a Thai, a Chinese, an Indian, a few kabab joints, a “gentlemen’s”’ club AND we’ll be heading to Istanbul in November. Not bad and not too expensive, only about $40 for a “light” evening meal. Up at 6A, lift the packs and walk the 5 minutes to the train station. The first part of the “Norway in a Nutshell” tour was the 06:43 to Myrdal train.. It takes a bit over 4 hours to get there, and then a 1 hour Flam railway ride DOWN from 3000 ft of alpine countryside to sea level on the fjord, then a few hours on the fjord ferry to Gunvegan, and then a 1 hour bus over hairypin-onelane mountain roads to Voss, and then a train ride to Bergen; total time for the run is over 15 hours. It is expensive but it IS worth the cost. The scenery is MAGNIFICANT! Foggy fields and lakes near sea level in the early morning sun, alpine scenery at 3000 ft; tunnels through mountain flanks bring you out to a possibly new microclimate. Shooting from the train can...

Irregular Posts; Andenes, NO

Thursday August 28 Hej, First day on the water and a great day it was; sperm whales at 50 meters! There are six of us Earthwatch volunteers and two staff. We travel on the local whale watch boat. We have spotting sites on the “bridge” beside the Captain. Three of us were assigned to the whale watch boat for sperm whales and three assigned to ride the ferry spotting Harbor Porpoises. At the last minute the ferry run was cancelled! so all went out on the whale watch boat. Very busy! An hour out of the harbor, we were over DEEP water where the sperm whales dive to feed. Captain with the earphones was hearing the sonar clicks for whale feeding. Blows and surfacings. There were many whales in the neighborhood. When one surfaces with a bigger blow the boat approaches slowly from behind the whale so as not to “scare” it. Slowly, the approach is to about 50 meters. It will rest and re-oxygenate for about 8 – 10 minutes. We sit idling until the sperm whale, refreshed, arches his back and begins the deep dive. The dive concludes with the tail vertical and the flukes disappearing beneath the surface. The whale dive vertical. All of the males are young enough to be on their own but not large enough to attract a mate (in the Azores). So, they eat and grow here in the low Arctic off Andenes, Norway; here the feeding is great with abundant fish and large squid. Tomorrow we head back out to the open sea to watch for more whales. Perhaps the ferry...