Showing posts with label Traveling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Traveling. Show all posts

Sunday, July 12, 2015

White Water Rafting in Colorado!

White water rafting has been on my bucket list since I was a teenager and I finally got to go last weekend! My knee has been healing nicely and it did well on the raft (I sat on the left side, since it's my right knee with the issues and it wouldn't be stressed as much on that side of the boat).


Matt and Lori, Jim and I, and another couple (who had the GoPro that recorded the video below that they so graciously sent to us!) paddled the Arkansas River, Numbers section, Class 4+ in Buena Vista, CO. The snowmelt was huge this year so it was running fast (normally a 2.5 hr trip only took us a little over an hour). I didn't buy the CD with pictures, but I was grinning in every single one of them!


Lori and I were the smallest and so the guide put us in the back because he needed the cg further back in the boat to better set up for the rapids, so we hit the biggest rapids back there but Lori wisely requested we move up to the front at the end and we caught some Class 2 action there.

The knee did great, my fingers and toes didn't turn blue from the cold water, and I had some fantastic (really, it was great!) muscle soreness the next day to prove I had paddled hard :). Also, no one fell out of the boat!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Mountain Only As High As My Knee

I thought it would be my hips. Or the malaise and fatigue. Or the fevers.

I didn't think it would be my knee.

I initially started this post out all poetically and fairly dramatic...but then I realized that it would make it seem like this was a really bad thing. And it's not. It's a pain in the butt, er, knee thing, but by the grace of God, it's not a Big Honking Deal. He kept me healthy - I didn't run a fever, my hips didn't act up and I never felt sick...all without my infusion! Praise be to Him! But this is a Thing. A Thing I need to process, to work through, and to release to Him. So, I write...and I kinda wrote a lot... :)

My right knee started hurting our first day of hiking, towards the end after about 9 miles or so. I've never had knee problems and I had trained quite a bit for this with no issues, so I was surprised by it. It got pretty bad before we got back to the campsite after a nice little jaunt to climb Emory Peak. The next morning, it was gone as I made my way around camp and packed up.

Conquered Emory Peak!

About two hills into the second day's hike, it twinged...mostly on the downhill, so it was doable since it was fairly undulating terrain...and then it became mostly downhill and I was hurting. A tasty lunch and boot removal time rested it pretty well and we started off again, all flat land this time and I was on cloud nine, pointing out familiar cacti and creosote bushes, enjoying the sun and breeze and company. We started on the Dodson trail and a few miles in, I was inwardly cringing at each downhill. And then we began "threading saddles" and my stomach squeezed a bit as the knee pain intensified and I finally cried (somewhat literally as a tear or two was shed towards the end) "uncle" and a campsite was found and to my very thankful knee, it came complete with an icy little (and I mean little, like 4 inches wide and maybe 2-3 inches deep) stream of water which soon had my knee completely numb. Ah. Bliss.

It was COLD!

The next morning, my group had made a decision that we were going to cut the last 10 or so miles out from the hike - they were concerned about my limping. I knew I wouldn't be able to do the remaining distance and I heartily agreed with the plan. They were so gracious and kind, I didn't feel bad (well, too bad) about being the reason plans had to change (God's grace again - that was something I had worried about).  I gimped another six or so miles and then we reached the best campsite of the trip. Our shortened mileage also meant we got to have a leisurely afternoon in camp.

The view at our last campsite

I loved everything about backpacking. Except carrying water. Because water is heavy. And it was a GOOD trip. I mean that, knee pain and all.

Ending the trip with a drive to Santa Elena Canyon at the Texas/Mexico border in Big Bend.

After seeing a sports med chiropractor for therapy for a week with no improvement, she ordered a MRI and Xray, and upon reviewing them, sent me to an orthopedic surgeon because they showed a mildly dislocated kneecap, stretched and inflamed ligaments, and some concerning inflammation. She said surgery was a possibility, depending on the surgeon.

I planned to get multiple opinions and saw the first surgeon (a very good one) today. The good news: I am not a surgery candidate right now. Maybe in four months if the pain is still the same. The bad news: "the best thing for you is to rest and wait and see if it gets better." While I double fist-pumped the no surgery news, I'll admit my smile was a bit plastic when he said "wait." Ah, the dreaded word. And of course, he mentioned that the lupus complicates things because my body holds onto inflammation and that would delay the healing and recovery process. "You lupus and RA patients are all difficult, nothing works like it's supposed to when these things happen"...took the words right outta my mouth doc!

So, now, I process. I'm not terribly upset, I am not fearful (write that on the calendar, that's ALL God right there).

I am disappointed.

I was supposed to run (the WHOLE thing) my first 5k in years this Saturday...I'll be on the sidelines again, cheering on my running buddy (albeit wearing the most phenomenal alien costume you've ever seen). I had plans this summer to backpack and hike in Arkansas, Colorado, and finally backpack the Grand Canyon this fall. But those are all on hold. It's waiting time.

Wait and see if my knee settles down on it's own. If not, get a cortisone injection (per the Ortho Doc) and then wait some more and see if my knee settles down. Then, when there is no pain, slowly start being active again. And after a few months, I can see how hills go.

I can't help but think how I still feel The Back almost every day, in some random motion, I feel the inflammation that's still there. Will The Knee be the same? What if I can't backpack? I JUST started doing it for goodness sake, I just got a taste.


I got a taste. I got a taste. Oh how many people don't have the opportunity to say that! And oh how many people with my set of diseases and mile long med list can't even dream of saying it...and I got to do it.

I am thankful that I was able to see what backpacking was all about. I am thankful that I get to wear this awesome knee brace in weather that allows for skirts and dresses (because I can't get pants over or under it). I am thankful for this warm weather that will make water activities like kayaking and canoeing doable, since I can sit and do those. I am thankful for a swimming pool I can go to and do laps, even if it is with a float buoy between my knees for awhile.

I have so much to be thankful for that while I am disappointed that my plans haven't panned out like I thought, I am still hopeful. I have seen the way the Lord works during trials and I have seen how they turn out to be so much MORE than I could imagine, so much richer and deeper, how I wouldn't change a thing for what I have learned. He grows me in Him through them, and shows me so much of Himself. He doesn't change. That hope is from Him. So with the hinds feet He has given me, I'll follow Him up this mountain, because it's only as tall as my knee.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Sunset on our last night in Big Bend

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ice, Ice, Baby...

Yup, I went there. Because it perfectly describes the day we spent out at the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. It was one of those days that just kept getting better and better with each introduction to what we were doing next.
First look at the glacier…and I thought this was cool

Whoa, even cooler! The Perito Moreno glacier is HUGE. It is one of the three glaciers in Patagonia that is still growing. It's 3 miles wide and rises about 240 feet above the water you see (Lake Argentina).

The glacial lakes created from the melting glacier are so blueish green due to the amount of copper (and other minerals) in the water.

You have a good view here of the rocks and dirt the glacier has picked up as it moves

Crampon time! Crampons are the metal spikes being tied to my friend Erin's show here. They are absolutely required to get a good foothold in the hills of ice we were climbing.

Glacier climbing! (done sans pickax, just a prop to make it look even cooler ;-))

Our guide showing us where NOT to step

Looks like these folks are standing on water, doesn't it? Slightly unnerving.

Our guide mentioned that they have to change up the trail/hike they do about twice a week because the face of the glacier changes that quickly. What was once safe, is now dangerous.

Nothing like a glacier inspired kick line to cap off an amazing hike!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Torres del Paine - my favorite Patagonian hike

I figured I'd start telling the story of my Patagonia adventure with the hike that I liked the most and recap the others in another post later. I also plan to post a detailed gear list/review/make betters to help someone in the future who googles "what the heck am I supposed to pack for Patagonia?" -(I may have been that person 6 months ago and was disappointed by the search results :)).

My favorite hike was in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

This was my first view of the towers (lighter gray peaks in the middle). This was taken the day before the hike.

There is a very popular backpacking trail called the "W" (the trail makes a W-ish shape along the base of Torres del Paine). It take 4-5 days to hike the W, and 10-12 days to do the circuit (the W plus going around the back of the towers). Our hike to the base of Torres del Paine was one part of the W, so I am happy to say that I have hiked part of it (and I may have had backpack envy of those doing the full thing, watching these super serious (and also very grungy and tired looking) folks walking around.).

We got to the trailhead at about 10am. The sun was shining and the skies were clear. A huge thrill because the day before had been cold, overcast, and raining. Of course, being I was in Patagonia, my pack still held ALL the layers I would need (we were told that you can experience all four seasons in one day in Patagonia…and we did, multiple times). Out of curiosity, I weighed my pack when I got home - I carried around 13lbs on each of the hikes. Not bad. Water is heavy and I carried 2.5L plus a water bottle.

This leg of the W started out fairly benign for the first mile. And then, bam, uphill city. For over an hour. It was warm and I had too many layers on (layers that were, um, not easy to shed since they were under my pants) and I started overheating on the uphill (like, to the point where I had goosebumps - I hadn't experienced that since my triathlon days). One of the gals was having the same issue and we realized that the pace was just too fast. So we slowed down and that made all the difference! I was super happy to hit the downhill into the refugio (a hostel that backpackers can reserve space at that has showers and bathrooms)…and tried really hard not to think of that downhill being an uphill on the way back (it was an out and back trail).
Ah, downhill, how I love thee (see the trail?)

Smile! You survived that uphill!

My view at the refugio as I crammed a bar and some beef jerky, two hours in and I was already starving!)
After a short rest that was incredibly refreshing, we hit the trail and started through the forest. Our group was fairly quiet. It was chilly now, so the sound of sniffling noses and the clacking of trekking poles was the background music through a dense and beautiful forest. It was at this point, excited that I had been able to muscle through, physically and mentally, a tough beginning, that reality of what I was doing started to hit me. I was in Chile. In Patagonia. On a hike. A hard hike. And I felt good!

My sniffling got a bit louder. I was absolutely overcome with thankfulness that He would allow me this experience. I reflected on how scared and fearful I had been just two years earlier, in so much pain and so scared of what would be in my future. Never did I imagine that God would give me this opportunity.  This was just too big. Too much. Apparently my sniffling had reached such a degree that my friend turned around (we were a bit behind the others) and saw my face and asked if I was okay. And then I totally ugly-cried sob-bawled out "I just can't believe I am here. I was so sick. God is so good to me to allow me to do this." Her response was "well now I am going to cry too!"

It was a good part of that trail, the forest. :)

Coming out of the forest and starting the final uphill to the towers.

I received some wise advice before this hike: "If the uphill starts getting mean, just take a second to pick your head up and look around you again." This was that second…or two ;-). A lovely view of the "awesome" skree field we got to pick our way through and try and avoid being blown over the side.

I was right behind another group and we all cleared the top at the same time and all said the same thing "WOW!"

Group shot - the gal on the left joined our group at the start. Her name is Vivian, she's from Holland, and she was hiking the W in a couple of days BY HERSELF.  It's fun making friends on the trail!

What's a hike without the return of the hiker-surfer-ninja pose?
After hunkering down behind some boulders to shield us from the winds as we ate lunch, we did some photo ops and then headed back down, trying to keep ahead of the storm that was blowing in. The downhill from the base was intense, a lot of focus was required to make sure I had sure footing (because there may or may not have been an almost sheer drop off on one side for a bit…).

By the time we reached the refugio again, the rain layers had been pulled out and we were a quiet bunch again, being tired and starting to get low on water (I drank 3L of water on that hike!). 

Can you see the rainbow? This was during the last 2 miles of the hike. A wonderful reminder of God's faithfulness.
We reached the van that had brought us at about 6:30pm. It was a tired, hungry, and sore group of folks that piled into the van. I can only speak for myself, but besides being tired, hungry, and sore, I felt content, happy, aware of Him, and very much alive. 

It was a good hike.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Drawing from my Eastern European roots...

I made a soup earlier this week that called for cabbage...but only a little bit. I was staring at this head of cabbage sitting in my fridge and wondering what I could make from it before it went bad. I have purple cabbage that I also need to use this week, and I make that with balsamic vinegar, so I wanted something that would have a different flavor. I remembered the amazing cabbage my friend Jana and I had when we took our Eastern European trip ::gulp:: almost 7 years ago. I did some googling and landed on a recipe for haluska (in Hungarian) or haluski (in Czech). It's a cabbage and dumpling dish. Since I've got Hungarian blood in my veins and this is a staple recipe, I figured I should probably try my hand at it :)

It was super easy and quick. And really really tasty. I don't know if mine is traditional haluska, because I didn't have any potatoes, so my dumplings were just flour dumplings, not potato and flour, but ah well, I guess I Melissaized it a bit then ;-).

Cabbage and Dumplings (Melissa's version of haluska)

~1 head cabbage (I used Napa cabbage)
1 small-med onion
3 T butter
1c flour (I used Hodgson Mill gluten free all purpose baking flour and 1/8 tsp xantham gum)
~1/2c water
~2 cups water or chicken broth* (the broth gives the dumplings a better flavor)

Slice the head of cabbage finely (some even put it in a food processor). Dice the onion. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the onions. Sauté for a minute or so and then add the cabbage and stir to combine. Cover and reduce heat to low. Boil the water/chicken broth. In a small bowl, mix the flour and 1/2c water. You may need to add water until it becomes a consistency that you can roll into small balls. I also added some garlic salt to add a bit more flavor. Once the water/broth is boiling, drop the rolled balls of dough (I kept mine to about the diameter of a nickel) into the water/broth and let them boil for about 5 minutes. Stir the cabbage. After 5 minutes, drain the dumplings and add them to the cabbage. Stir to combine and then serve. A simple, yummy dish that takes me back to my travels through the Czech Republic and Hungary.

*I didn't have chicken broth handy, so I used a spice I bought in Turkey that's used for flavoring rice - ends up having just about the same taste as chicken broth. It has herbs in it, so that's why the dumplings have specks in the picture


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Turkey - final post - Hot air balloons and Turkish baths

We hopped on an early flight to Kayseri, which is in central Turkey. Our shuttle bus picked us up and an hour and half later we were in Goreme, our faces pressed against the windows of the bus as it careened up twisty streets that wound their way amongst houses and shops carved into these strange, other-worldy rock formations called "fairy chimneys." Cappadocia (pronounced "cappa-doh-kia") has been on my places to visit list since I read a book about The Silk Road and the traveler writer had wondered through the canyons and valleys filled with these rock formations. After googling images, I was sold. "1000 Places to See Before You Die" introduces Cappadocia as "For those who think they've seen everything, think again."


We stayed in a cave hotel that was recommended by our friend Kelly. The proprietor, Hanife, was super friendly and helpful - she gave us restaurant recommendations, hiking options, and vouchers to the Turkish bath (more on that later :) ). We headed out for a walk to the Goreme Open Air Museum. This area is really hilly, so it was actually a pretty good workout walking up to this place. These dwellings housed Christians who were being persecuted in the 800-1100AD timeframe. Paintings are still vivid on the stone walls and the kitchen room walls are stilled stained black with smoke residue.

Goreme Open Air Museum

After the open air museum, we headed to the Turkish bath. We had both done some research and talked with some fellow travelers to make sure we had the etiquette down for the baths and decided we wanted to experience this thing called the hamaam, or Turkish bath. We opted for the standard bath and added on an oil massage.

We headed down the marble steps, rolling our eyes good-naturedly at the Turkish man who tried to convince us to go down the other set of stairs to the men's section. Two women greeted us, gave us a wrap, and ushered us to the changing rooms. Wrap securely in place and our locker keys fastened on our wrists with a rubber bracelet, we were directed to some cushiony chairs, our faces slathered with a seaweed/mud facial and given a glass of tea. We then were taken to the sauna and baked in there for 15 minutes before heading to the showers and rinsing off. The next stop, and the whole point of this, was the bath room. A white and gray marble domed room with a raised circular platform in the center. Three Turkish women stood smiling, ready for their next victims, bathers. I had to point to my shins, which had gotten a bit sunburned at the beach and told the lady "ouch, soft?" She nodded in understanding.

This is pretty much what the bath room looked like

Bath-lady then proceeded to put two scouring mitts on her hands and scrubbed me down. I had read that some folks thought this was a bit uncomfortable, but it felt just like those sugar/salt scrubs that you can get done at spas. I was rinsed off and then drowned in a bunch of soap bubbles as the next step began. This step was pretty awesome because they massage you as they wash, and my poor feet and calves were super tight from all the hiking/walking we had been doing. Another rinse, I was handed my wrap and directed to the showers to shampoo my hair. There was a swimming pool that we were supposed to relax in. It was really cold, so a quick dip was all we did and then it was off to another steam room and then to the oil massage, where Helga the Torturer proceeded to pummel me for ten minutes. And that folks, is the Turkish bath. Although slightly awkward, it was definitely worth the experience and I would do it again :)

We woke up super early the next morning to catch our van to...our hot air balloon ride! This is the must-do activity in Cappadocia - what better way to see the eerie rock formations than from the sunrise!

We pulled up to the launch site and watched as the balloons were filled. I remembered going to the hot air ballon festivals as a kid and seeing this happen, but this time, I got to go up in one! After some brief safety instructions and a practice run at taking our landing positions, we all climbed into the basket (there are no doors, so it's up and over into your little cubby that holds 4 people, 20 people total in the basket). I had been nervous about this ride because I am not a fan of heights, but as soon as the basket lifted off of the ground, I thought "oh, this is going to be so amazing." Balloon flight is so smooth because you are part of the air. The flight was about an hour and was just awesome. It was so peaceful, just drinking in the beauty of the impossible landscape below. So glad I was able to do this!

In our balloon and ready for our flight!

The sun's rays just beginning to touch the canyons

Pillars of stone

So many balloons - this doesn't capture all of the ones in the air


After our balloon ride, we went on a 7km hike with a guide through the Ilhara Gorge, the deepest gorge in Turkey. Both Erin and I thought it was a really pretty hike, but honestly, it really felt like hiking around in northern Arizona, so I think I would pick a different hike next time with more unusual scenery. Still it was a great (long, tiring :) ) day.

Ilhara Gorge

We flew back to Istanbul the next day and did our souvenir shopping in the bazaars - I have some pretty entertaining stories about our shopping experiences, but they are too long to blog, so you will have to ask me in person. :)

Turkey was all I had hoped it would be.  I felt healthy and strong and had so much fun. Thankful to be able to travel, to have Him allow me to recognize that it is because of His grace that I can, and amazed by the wondrous things that He has created.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Turkey - part 2 - Izmir and Ephesus

So as I stated before in my previous post, Izmir was not what we had expected. For one, somehow we had thought there would be beaches (we had planned to have at least one relax-on-the-beach day). Izmir was all browns and grays, dusty and hot and the water was completely surrounded with a dirty gray concrete wall. No beach. And the water looked odd. I don't know how to describe it, but every time I looked out over the water, I felt unsettled. Even this photo weirds me out...

Creepy water

So about 15 minutes after getting to our hotel, we sat on our beds, munching on trail mix and utilizing the free wi-fi to plan a short day trip to to Chios, a Greek island off the coast of Turkey. The coast was about an hour bus ride away, so we made our plans, looked up a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant, and headed out to eat.

Our best seafood meal - seabass stuffed with a Turkish cheese and grilled prawns. After thinking we had annoyed the owner with our attempts at Turkish, he ended up offering us tea on the house, so maybe his annoyed face was really an amused one?

The next morning, we woke up super early, took a taxi to the bus terminal, managed to find a bus heading to Cesme (where we were supposed to catch the ferry to Chios) and off we went.

Unfortunately the bus made more stops than we realized, and soon, we were glancing at the time every 15 seconds, willing the bus to move faster. We reached the town of Cesme, but not the ferry terminal and since we had about 9 minutes until the ferry left, we hopped off, haggled with another taxi, and zoomed away to the ferry terminal. We literally ran up to the terminal as I was pulling up our reservations on the my phone. A guy told us we had to have actual tickets and pointed us to the ticket desk...which was closed.   Turns out, we had needed to be there 20 minutes prior to the ferry leaving, not 5.

The ferry pulling away from the dock without us :(

Bummed, yet still laughing about our whirlwind trek to the ferry terminal, we walked into the town, which was very cute and stereotypically Mediterranean, got some recommendations on local beaches, haggled for some beach towels, grabbed a minibus, and headed to this beach for the day:

Gorgeous weather! The water was a bit chilly for me, so I mostly camped out on my lawn chair for 6 hours and read a really good book :)

Now pros at the bus system, we headed back to Izmir and awoke for an early morning walk to the train station to catch our train to Selchuk (about 1.5 hour away) to meet our tour guide for...Ephesus!

We booked the Ephesus tour through this really great Australian company called No Frills Tours. When we walked into the tour office, Erin recognized one of the couples there as being from her church, and I recognized a couple I had made friends with in the Izmir airport who were from Dallas. So our group of 6 Texans and 2 Australians was pretty chatty and friendly the whole time, which thrilled our tour guide (who was also chatty and friendly) and made for a great day!

The amphitheater in Ephesus

The library in Ephesus

Gateway from the library to the agora (marketplace/meeting place)

Terrace houses that they are still uncovering - mosaics, painting, and 1500 year old indoor plumbing still intact! Only about 3% of Ephesus has been uncovered...can you imagine what the place will look like 50-100 years if the archaeological efforts continued to be funded!?

Ephesus was incredible and was the place I was most looking forward to seeing on this trip. To think I walked along streets that Paul walked on, in the city he taught So thankful and amazed to have seen part of the Bible come to life.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Turkey! - Part One

Why Turkey?

It's a place that has been on my "to visit" list since at least 2006 (I made it public knowledge with a "5 Places" post in 2008 :)), but how did it get on my list?

It's not what you think.

No, really, it's not.

What caught my attention, what set that bit in my brain of "oh my goodness, I want to go there!"...was a picture Yup, you got it. Shoes. Rows and rows of brightly colored and sequined shoes for sale in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Something like this:

I know, I know, I am incredibly deep. Be amazed.

Insert eyeroll at myself.

I was in Heathrow airport in 2006, trying to stay awake through a long layover before catching my flight to Prague and I went into a bookstore. There was the travel section. There was the book with the picture of the shoes, and the title was "Istanbul."

Thankfully, shoes are not the only reason I went - as my knowledge of Turkey has grown over the years through reading books on the Silk Road and Turkey's history, taking an Ancient Church History class, and studying Ephesians.

This country did not disappoint. Vibrant culture, hospitable people, delicious food, the ability to push me outside of my comfort zone with some interesting travel adventures. It was an absolutely amazing trip and I am so thankful that the Lord has sustained my health both before and during the trip. I felt really good and for the first time in over a year, I felt strong.

Boarding pass to Istanbul, check!

My awesome friend and travel buddy, Erin, and I flew into Istanbul. Passport control was an exercise in patience, as we stood in line for about 3 hours to get our visas and our passports stamped. After catching the metro to the area our hotel was in and then rolling our suitcases around (you'll be proud, I only took a carry-on size suitcase - it weighed 24lbs!) to find the hotel, we only had time to wander down the street, grab some tasty Turkish food for a meal, and then crash for the night.

We only had one full day in Istanbul before our next flight, so we hit the main sights - the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, a boat cruise on the Bospohorus river. Lots of walking around Istanbul and just soaking in the different culture, tasty treats (um, halva, fig, and Turkish Delight munching while strolling through the park around Topkapi Palace? Yes please!)

The Blue Mosque (top) and the Aya Sofya (bottom)

The Bosphorous boat cruise was a bit longer than we planned. The boat ended up stopping at the far end of the cruise, in a little nothing-to-see village for almost 3 hours. We made the best of our time there and hiked up (literally up...not sure what the grade was on this hill, but both our calves were burning by the end!) this massive hill to a castle. The castle wasn't impressive, but the panoramic view of the Bosphorus was. It was pretty hot, so we cooled off with some pistachio ice cream and apple tea and enjoyed the view. The boat cruise ended just at sunset and I made the best attempt I could of capturing the minaret silhouettes.

The next morning, we woke up early, checked out the Spice Bazaar and made mental notes of what to buy (we decided against lugging a bunch of stuff around and planned to come back before our flight home), and headed to the airport to fly to Izmir.

The Izmir leg started out a bit rough for me...despite taking my motion sickness meds, the descent was full of dutch-roll, and I high-tailed it to the bathroom after landed...and now I can add another country to my "places I have yakked"list.  Thankfully, the stomach settled after sipping on a can of Sprite I managed to find in the airport and I handled the bus ride to the hotel just fine.

Izmir was not what I expected. But I will save that for part two...