those dangerous Italian goodbyes and other Easter misadventures

They say there are different seasons in a life, but I think there are also different lives in different seasons.  For about as long as I can remember, the advent of happy weather and longer days always corresponds to a desire to do ALL the things with ALL the people, and this year has been no different.  I’m curious if other people notice similar things at different times of year- plotting social contacts vs. season would be interesting.

ANYWAY, these past few weeks have been a real whirlwind- I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had no after work social event planned, and the weekends have had scarcely a down moment.  As a closet introvert I can’t usually keep up such a pace for long, but I’m riding the sunshine high 🙂  Writing about it all would not fit into the twenty minutes of down time I have between classes, but a short Zusammenfassung (I’m always entertained by the length of the German word for short summary :P):

Easter in Italy: My Italian colleague and her boyfriend invited me along with a couple of other friends to their parent’s home in Torino, in the Piedmont area of Italy.  Man, is visiting Italy with Italians a different experience than doing so as a tourist.

First, an aside: Italy is one of those countries that EVERY time I go I fall a little bit more in love, something I’ve no doubt mentioned before.  Some countries you visit once, get a feel, and think vaguely that it would be nice to go back someday.  Other places just sink into the bone, and drive you to wonder and read and come back over and over again.  Italy falls squarely in the category.  First of all, every region is so infinitely different than the rest that it’s like a different country!  Liguria, the region on the coast where Cinque Terre is, is all hearty potato dishes and delightful seafood, completely different from the perfectly al dente Cacio e pepe pasta and wafer thin pizzas of Rome.  And then there’s the tapas like food in Venice (maybe my least favorite food region so far), and the truffles and world class wines of Piedmont.  Oh, and the Verona Amarone, woof. And that’s just the food & wine differences, which to be honest is a huge part of the draw for me.  The range of history and art to see are incredible.

So, I jump at every return opportunity.  Torino was an amazingly beautiful city, almost Parisian in its feel, with chateaus around every corner.  Not that I actually SAW much of Turin.  I jumped off the train, toured quickly around Batali’s Eataly and the downtown, dropped my bags, and LET THE SOCIALIZING BEGIN.  We stayed at my friend’s parents’ house in the heart of the nightlife area of Turin, and it was a challenge to even walk down a block without stopping at least three times to greet a friend or acquaintance of our hosts.  We started with an Aperol spritz at a little corner bar next to his house and the next thing I knew it was four in the morning and we were dancing wildly in a club by the Po River, after meeting what felt like half of the adult population of the city.  The English levels were wildly variable, but luckily hand gestures are welcome and no language is needed for dancing on top of beer barrels 😉

After stopping for some delightful arancini and (some of us) doublefisting pizza, we arrived back at the apartment at around 6am.  Wow, what a night, you say!  It just gets better from there.  These Italians, they know how to celebrate Easter.

The next morning we struggled out of bed around 10 and piled into the car for a mini roadtrip through wine country.  We stopped and had a decadent lunch in a tiny town called Alba that is the wealthiest per capita in Italy (all those truffles and wines really add up, apparently).  I got to sample some of the typical dishes of Piedmont, which include beef tartar, a beef carpaccio with a yummy sauce, a type of quiche that reminds me of Spanish tortilla, and delightful butter sage ravioli (I can’t remember any of the Italian names….eeek).

Then we drove on past a few more little towns and up to Barolo, which is the CUTEST little castle wine town I ever did see.  After a few more glasses of wine, we headed back to dinner at her parents’ house (homemade pizzas) and a relatively quiet night because the next morning we were up at 7am for what ended up being the most epic day yet.  However, I did manage to record one of my most embarrassing Euro encounters yet-  the Italians give two kisses instead of the three typical in Switzerland (which I already knew), but that they also start on the OTHER SIDE, which ended disastrously for me with my friend’s dad.  I’m sure you can imagine the collisions that are possible.  I still cringe uncontrollably while remembering this moment :X

Back to the good stuff: we were up early for an all day BBQ at my friend’s grandparents’ place in the Italian Alps, along with around 30 of their closest friends and family.  When we were driving up I idly wondered what we would do all day- there’s no cell service or entertainment up there.  Well, who needs that when you’ve got unlimited wine and food + gregarious Italians.  After a beautiful sunset over the mountains and 7 hours of nonstop eating and drinking with the partiest of party folk, we dragged ourselves back home to catch a few hours of sleep before our train back to Zurich back the next morning.  I arrived back at the main station ten minutes before I was due to meet with my supervisor, sunburned and running on no sleep, an epic weekend under my belt.  THANK YOU ITALIAN FRIENDS!

I don’t know what I was thinking, saying I would give a short summary of the last few weeks.  Easter in Italy deserved its own post 🙂

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those dangerous Italian goodbyes and other Easter misadventures

At home.

Zurich is really a beautiful city.  I feel like I don’t talk about that enough- traveling is fun and all, but inhabiting the place you actually live is also fun.  And I love the place I live, even if it’s a bit of a rarity that I’m actually there on a weekend.  It’s a quaint little city perched on the lakeside under the towering shadow of the Alps, filled with cobblestone streets and soaring church spires and ABSOLUTELY NO trash or homeless people.  I still don’t know how they manage this last, but it often leads to the sensation that I am living in a happy little bubble far distant from the problems of the world.  I don’t know if this is good or bad for the psyche.

It’s no great secret that I love the mountains, but there’s a quieter sort of beauty to the rolling countryside around Zurich that I also love.  There’s no end to walking or running or cycling paths, all marked out with the usual Swiss perfectionism.  There are over 65,000km of marked trails in the country, which is more than the distance around the world!  And it’s very diverse- my natural inclination is to make a beeline for the glacier strewn mountains farther south, but the local “mountain” Uetliberg” is wonderful for a midweek hard jog or walk upwards through the woods, a wonderful view over lake Zurich awaiting you.  And it seems no matter where you go, you run into local farmers selling their wares, often by the honor system where they list the prices and leave self-serve homemade cheese and jam out in a little hut next to a bucket where you can drop the cash.

Last weekend was a pretty typical weekend “at home” and I thought for once it might be fun to record what a normal weekend in my doctoral student life in Zurich is like.  At almost three years in, Zurich is truly home for me, and it is so nice to have made a little circle of friends and acquaintances to relax and enjoy the springtime weather with.  One of my favorite parts of living here in Zurich (NOT in Switzerland as a whole, this is definitely not true in the countryside) is how international working life here is.  In just this weekend my friends mentioned here were: German, Swiss, Italian, Australian, Mexican, French, and Spanish.  No Americans at all on this particular weekend, although usually there is a smattering of them.

The blow by blow:

Friday

A normal 9-5 working day, although when the weather is so nice it can get hard to stay alllll the way until 5pm.  Every week a rotating group of PhDs at my institute gathers at 5pm for after work beers, and today a group of 5 or 6 of us go down to the river and have panache (lemonade and beer mixed, also known as Radler in high German) at a little open air bar. My friend has brought her toddler along, so we spend a lot of time blowing bubbles and quacking at ducks in different languages (animal sounds in different languages is one of my favorite conversational topics).

Afterwards a couple of us eat burritos and then head to my friend Dayra’s birthday party.  She has rented out a whole bar in the Langstrasse district, a part of Zurich known for its hard partying and (ahem) ladies of the night.  She has provided open bar, bowls of gummy bears, unicorn balloons, and even a homemade tres leches cake- A+ birthday party.

Saturday

I have a mission today.  That mission includes reviving my bike.  See, I don’t cycle in the winter for various reasons that boil down to the fact that I’m a wimp.  One December day I biked to work and then decided it was just entirely too cold to bike back.  It’s been there ever since.  I haven’t really checked on it, but I suspected that 1) the tires would be flat or even possibly have holes in them, as I already had to patch one last fall, and 2) it is covered with dust from the construction site next door to my office.

It was also a beautiful spring day in the 70s, and I decided to kill two birds with one stone by taking a meandering jog to the office by way of a trail by my house down to the lake. This turns into more of an obstacle course once I reach the lake, as approximately 3/4s of the mobile population of Zurich has decided that this is the place to be and are walking around sunning their pale winter legs.  Nevertheless, I make it to the office, drag my bike to a nearby bike store, and purchase two inner tubes for my tires.  Then I stare at my bike for a while, a little bemused.  I am just not the Fixit Type. Luckily I have friends who are.  I call my friend Heidi and show up at her door, dusty bike in tow, still in my sweaty running outfit and no makeup.  We have an awesome relaxing afternoon on her rooftop with her, her boyfriend, and another friend Anne while we hose down my bike and repair the brakes/tires.  After a full day of relaxing in the sun, I pedal home for the first time in 2017, pondering how nice it is to have friends who accept emergency calls from sweaty runners who need bike first aid.

Sunday

This same friend Heidi has now organized a bike tour for five of us along the Sihl river into the countryside.  I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to kick off biking for the first time with a full day 70ish km hilly tour, especially as I was already a little sore just from 40 minutes of biking home the day before, but overdoing it seems to be a general theme in my life.  Let’s just say, sore bums are the worst.

At home.

stuff i should have figured out by now

I have a nemesis while traveling.  That nemesis is contact lens solution.  I’ve had many a scavenger hunt for contact lens solution while wandering mainland Europe, and my findings are puzzling.  It is truly hard to hunt down those buggers!  Pretty much the only place that always carries it is the pharmacy- which is no CVS.  You’ve gotta go in and talk to the pharmacist, and hit the open hours, which are usually limited and DEFINITELY closed outside of conference working hours, which is when the situation usually becomes dire. 

The worst is Sunday, when almost everything is closed- I spent one memorable Sunday morning wandering around Venice asking café owners for help (literally I will give you money for your contact lens solution, why does no one wear contacts) and finally located a nifty vending machine outside one of the closed pharmacies.  Maybe my favorite experience was in Portugal, where after consuming a slightly too large glass of wine I remembered the usual lack of contact lens solution.  This time I had no problem locating a pharmacy, but the staff were utterly mystified by my usual acting out of the process of putting in a contact to get around the language barrier and I could not stop giggling.

I also routinely forget that Swiss plugs, much like everything else about Switzerland, are not quite compatible with the rest of the EU, but that on the other hand is no problem- almost every hotel has a stock of converters handy.  But contact lens solution?  That is apparently a problem that stumps every concierge, much as I suspect that I am not the only person with this problem.  Are you other vision challenged travelers just much better than me at this?  In my defense, it’s really hard for me to find the travel sized ones even in Switzerland.  Help me fellow Euros.

Huge digression aside, my latest contact lens solution pilgrimage was last week in Belgium, after realizing around 10pm as going to bed that I either needed to locate some under the counter contact lens solution pronto or spend the weekend blindly feeling my way around the conference.  I approached the concierge with trepidation (earlier on handing over my passport he had commented acidly, “Oh, Trumpland,” as has become a normal experience in Europe in the last couple months), and he very kindly took me on an engaging tour of late night stores in Brussels after the usual look of mystification.

Luckily, our tour was successful (and educational!  There are a lot of Middle Eastern owned late night stores in Brussels, just FYI).

The conference was also really successful.  It was the first feedback I’d gotten from the research community outside my institute on the latest paper that I’ve submitted, and it was really outstanding, I thought.  I even ran into the editor in chief of the journal that I submitted the paper to in the elevator, and he not only remembered me but complimented me on the work I’ve done.  It’s hard to convey how satisfying that is to those outside the research community- a normal paper might take more than a year from conception to submission, and the peer review even longer, so long periods of time in a scientist’s life are spent laboring alone with only our ideas.  In addition, this particular study was met with a lot of skepticism in this group when I initially presented the idea and enrollment statistics, so it was great to see how many people we won over with the final result.

And Belgium is beautiful and very interesting in terms of history!  It seems like almost every other country in Europe has conquered Belgium at some point, which leads to an interesting mishmash of language and culture.  At one point the Spanish kicked all the non-Catholics out of Belgium, which is when the Dutch all moved to the Netherlands en masse and still seems to lead to a lot of wink wink jokes about the differences between the 2 cultures. Unlike Switzerland, which is like a patchwork quilt of regions with different languages, Belgium is just one big swirl of everything everywhere.  Brussels is not my favorite, although the Grand Place is one of the most impressive squares I’ve seen in Europe, but both Antwerp and Bruges are beautiful, manageable little canal cities on the water with gorgeous gothic architecture.  How’s that for a 4 sentence summary of a country?  Please do not inspect my history claims too closely :X

And with that I think I’ve tracked all of western Europe except for the microcountries! Woot woot travel.

stuff i should have figured out by now

in which i (mostly) solve my problem by the end of the post

Gahhhh. Last weekend, whizzing down mountains. Today, tying shoes an impossibility. This week has been an annoying reminder that sometimes life gets in the way of best laid plans. And also how for granted I take my active life!

Grumbling aside, we have entered prime spring skiing here in Switzerland, and I spent three days zooming around a lovely local resort in one of my favorite alps regions this past weekend. Val d’Anniviers is in Wallis (Valais in French), a half German speaking, half French speaking canton in the south of Switzerland that is prime chalet & yodeling Heidi lookalikes territory. Literally in my case, since my friend Heidi was one of my skiing buddies. I have actually been here once before, during my two week hike from Chamonix to Zermatt, so it was really fun to compare summer vs. winter views (harder to spot the glaciers!)  I even managed to find the same swing that we had been monkeying around on two years ago.  Our friend Rafael is the pro-iest of skiers, like most of the Swiss I know, and is also formally trained as a teacher, and he managed to give us amazing tips!  Seriously, it was better than the last lesson I paid good money for.

Unfortunately, I was also gifted with a gnarly raccoon tan and a pulled shoulder/neck, thanks to a momentary slip in ski boots.  It seemed like just a twinge at first, and I skied a full day afterward with no problems and then went on a 12km/7mi run a day later. To which my body said, HAHA YOU FOOL.

Anyway, I’m walking around like Frankenstein and desperately trying to figure out a way I can still ski Zermatt this weekend while not bending over or turning my head.

I’m writing this on the tram on the way to physio partly because I am thinking of a silver lining- my German really seems to have turned a corner. After waking up and immediately yelling an expletive this morning, I lurched my way down to the pharmacy to ask for advice, bought various gelly things with long names, then called up the uni physio to get more advice and schedule an emergency appointment, all in German. Which isn’t really a big deal, don’t get me wrong- I’ve been able to have a basic conversation in German for quite some time. But describing detailed information about a fall and the level and location of the problem while in some degree of distress felt somewhat effortless, which is definitely a new feeling.

Probably to an outsider the difference is not very noticeable, as I’m still making oodles of mistakes, but to me it feels like a switch suddenly flipped in my brain and I no longer have to plan out my sentences in German, they just come. And I have gotten a little external validation as well- a few weeks ago in Davos we did a “German day” on the pistes, and at one point my friend looked at me and said, you can really make that chhhhhh sound now! To which I pointed out there are really three different chhhhh sounds in German, and what I have really learned is to differentiate between the three. It felt real good though, not gonna lie.  Normally, illness and injury are some of the most difficult things to navigate in a foreign country, and the ease of managing this minor crisis reminds me more than ever that Switzerland increasingly is just home.

POST PHYSIO: what a miracle worker!!!! I now have almost full range of motion back after some physical therapy and cupping and she even gave me guarded permission to ski if I’m still better tomorrow. She understands my pain as an Austrian who lived in St. Moritz for 6 years. I will forever be a massage and physio evangelist.

The amazing quality of healthcare here in Switzerland makes me a little sad when I think of the mess that is the healthcare system I grew up in.  It doesn’t have to be that way, guys!  Join the rest of the developed world in regarding access to healthcare as a human right.  But that is another post for another day.

in which i (mostly) solve my problem by the end of the post

How to celebrate a birthday in Switzerland

Last night I stayed out rather later than planned at a friend’s 30th birthday party, and in a spontaneous (perhaps prosecco fueled) decision, decided to walk all the way home rather than waiting for the night train.  It’s funny how our brains work sometimes- it ended up being a pretty interesting thinking session about this new decade that I have apparently entered.  Sometimes I think that I need to let myself slow down and become bored more often.

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I celebrated my own birthday last weekend with another friend in just about the Swissest possible way.  We rented out a hut about an hour away from Zürich, which was a process in and of itself.  The rental contract was 4 pages longer than my last apartment lease in NYC, and the key pickup process was set up such that for every 15 minutes we were late, we were charged 20CHF.  Of course, given that my co-organizer was also Swiss, we were over 30 minutes early.  No late charges here 😉

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It was really a lot of fun.  We hosted over 25 of our friends, and Sarah’s whole family drove up from Appenzell to do things like bake 3 types of fresh bread and help us with cooking and clean up.  On Saturday we organized a nice apero, a HUGE dinner, and then played party games and Scandinavian (?) lawn games.  We stayed overnight at the hut, with the braver among us taking a midnight dip in the frigid lake.  We even had the obligatory gate crashers, two party loving guys from the Netherlands who ended up being very nice and also brought us stroopwaffels, which is always a win in my book.

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It also made me feel good about the improvement in my German of late, even if I did have one of my more embarrassing phonetic mistakes.  I was talking with Sarah’s mother about her grandson’s recent adventures in the outdoors, and she was telling me about his group that was going “night fishing” that evening.  Now, the German word for “night” is Nacht, which requires that back of your throat KKKKKK noise that is difficult for me on the fly and I can be quite lazy about.  So I am nattering on about night fishing with her mom, and another friend comes up, listens, and then bursts into laughter.  I wasn’t exactly saying “night fishing”, but instead “naked fishing” (Nacktfischen).  Uhhhh, yeah.  The most embarrassing part was her mom just listening to me without even a glimmer of a smile on her face.

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It is funny to think about the whole party a bit- I could absolutely never have predicted even a couple years ago that I would be celebrating my 30th in a hut in the Swiss Alps, speaking German and talking about night fishing.  But that is the beauty of life, really.  In my introspective walk last night I asked myself the big question- am I happy with my life on the eave of a new decade?  Have I lived my 20s the way I wanted to?  Have I remembered the important things?

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On the whole, I found that I answered yes.  My 20s were really all about the adventure, and looking back I can say with honesty that I always chose the risk over what was “safe,” and luckily it has worked out for me so far.  I think the thing I am most proud of is that I have lived my life with an open heart, and have been always open to connections to new situations, people, and places.  Sometimes you get hurt occasionally living life that way, but on the whole I think there is no other way to live.  My regrets, the ones that there are, are mostly related to being inauthentic to who I am, or being afraid in the moment to express how I really feel.  Something to work on for the future 🙂

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Well, anyway, I need to get back to boxing up my entire life and forking over 3700CHF of my hard earned money for the deposit on my new apartment.

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…just kidding, I’m going to go rock climbing.  Choose the adventure, right?

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How to celebrate a birthday in Switzerland

The Joys of the Revisit

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Slapping myself in the face with my hair in Piazza Navona
This past weekend I returned from Rome, the eternal city.  It fit with a theme of my past few trips- I actually haven’t visited a new country for a while, now that I think about it!  But recently I’m loving plotting returns to places I’ve been before.  Just don’t tell my travel-greedy 21 year old self, please.

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this Colosseum shot is stolen from Max and his supernice camera, apologies for mild duckface
Part of it is just the freedom to delve deep into whatever aspect of the city took your fancy the first time.  The first time you go to a city, you have to hit up the big tourist destinations and check off the same itinerary as every other person with a Lonely Planet in tow.  And of course!  If you go to Rome and miss the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and St. Peter’s, you’re kinda a dummy.

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I made him smile like that, it’s true
BUT on the second visit, you don’t have to do any of those things.  So what did I want to focus on during my second visit???  Hints below:

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Delicious delicious burrata with sundried tomatoes at Roscioli
For whatever reason, I don’t really remember having great Italian food in Rome the first go-around, although I definitely did elsewhere in Italy.  The tourist trap restaurants along the main drags abound in lukewarm microwave pizza.  I just knew there were some delicious meals awaiting me, though, so this time I decided to do a little research beforehand.  That research paid off in one of the most amazing food weekends of my life.

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this was our view as we strolled home to our nice airBnB each night
By FAR my best research find was this app by a local food blogger: Katie Parla’s Rome.  So nifty.  She created a curated list of her favorite authentic places for delicious food in Rome, and they’re all on a handy little map that you can use offline.  Great for spontaneous food finding when trudging through the Vatican museums, simply perishing for a good slice.

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we also trudged up to the top of St. Peter’s dome.  We earned that pizza!  PS did you know that obelisk came from Egypt and prior to the whole church thing was the center for a racing track for gladiators?  It’s seen a whole lotta things.
Speaking of, that good slice that we found was probably the BEST SLICE of pizza I’ve had in my whole life, although “slab where you tell them how much you want” seems to be the more common way to go in Rome.  It was so good that we went for one round, and then went back for more, prompting some amused eyebrow raising from the man behind the counter.  Check out Pizzarium for heaven on a plate.  They also have some pretty sweet boxed wine for 1 euro.

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First round, except I already ate one piece (eeeek)
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Second round, pizza with suppli, fried noodle mozzarella balls
Also on the most incredible list: the cappuccino we had in another place she steered us to…the name now escapes me.  I’ve had my share of cappuccinos in my life, but this one rocketed up to number 1 immediately, no joke.  You typically pay for the drink first and then take the receipt up to the barista and drink your coffee standing up in these Italian morning joints.  Max and I embarrassed ourselves by taking about 1,000 photos of the creamy delightfulness that was this cappuccino.  They add a quick shot of dark chocolate to the bottom for extra richness.

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We’re not standing, and we’re taking photos.  Also Max’s hair is wet #localblendinfail
But for me the big kahuna of meals was at the incredible Roscioli.  I didn’t realize this until afterwards, but Rome is really a reservation town.  We just happened to stumble in here at lunchtime and get a seat, but I highly recommend going out of your way to eat here.  The carbonara, the home baked bread, the Cacio e Pepe, the ricotta starter, the biscotti to finish….yeah.  I’ve been thinking of that meal a lot.

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admiring the cheese selection
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see that happy face?
And that last photo brings me to another aspect of traveling that I love.  Re-experiencing places you’ve been with awesome people.  Especially awesome little brothers that haven’t traveled outside the US before.  (“Wait, that’s a plug??  That’s what they look like here??”)

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deep thoughts with Julius Caesar
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He sure is one cool kid, even if he does need a haircut.

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To many more return visits.

P.S. Can I use your photos in this post, Max??  😀

The Joys of the Revisit

A Lycian Wander

We stared at the view of the endless blue Mediterranean over our plates of olives, tomatoes, and feta, the sun already beating a relentless march at our backs. I was on my second cup of coffee. Why couldn’t I plan a relaxing vacation for once, one where I sleep till noon and lie about on the beach with a book?

 

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I suppose some people can complain about anything, even alarm clocks on vacation

Twenty minutes after these ponderings we were all sleepily piled into the rental car and speeding around the curves that wound over the cliffs, watching the waves lap the coastline below.

Today's little piece of heaven!! #turkey #nofilter #turquoisecoast

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“See that island? That belongs to Greece.” Said island was maybe 2 miles off shore, looking no different than the islands around it. It was apparently a relic of the pre-WWII era, populated with Greek retirees, younger generations long since fled elsewhere. So intriguing, an island lost outside time.

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boats on boats

We arrived in the tiny, dusty fishing town of Üçağız about an hour after setting out from Kas. The sky was cloudless and the water in the harbor completely clear and and placid. The boats were lined side to side in an impossible jumble that seemed impossible in numbers to relate to the handful of buildings dotting the shoreline. Later we would be told that there were indeed more boats than houses in this unique village.

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I have no pictures of the town, but here is a photo of where we ate another day.  We did a lot of eating.

Suddenly a flurry of activity seemed to surround us. Our Turkish friend and guide had spent years coming back to this stretch of coastline, and it was clear that she was well beloved. There had been a tragedy the night before, I gathered, a death in the family, and a stream of heartfelt Turkish condolences and long hugs followed.

 

We were sheparded up to a terrace at the top of the hotel that was part of the family business. As always in Turkey, food, tea, and leisurely conversation followed as we watched the boats bob on gentle Mediterranean swells and admired the ancient Lycian ruins dotting the hillsides around the town. After I made the mistake of praising their garden, a dozen apples from their garden mysteriously appeared on the table, along with a beautiful fresh pomegranate that was so ripe it was splitting open.

Guys, southern #turkey is blowing me away #turquoisecoast

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As was the general theme of the trip, mysterious exchanges and negotiations in Turkish took place for a longish period of time, at the end of which we were ushered onto our very own chartered boat. What followed was the most incredible daylong tour of the Turquoise Coast, as the tourism agents have dubbed it.

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A man, a dog, a sea

It was just the four of us, the boat captain, and the endless blue water.  And a few other boats that had the same idea, but all in all I felt alone on one of the most beautiful expanses of ocean I’d ever seen.  We stopped in a few places to snorkel and admire sea caves.

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Luckily we had this dashing fellow to keep us on course

At midday we put down anchor and were cooked up yet another sumptuous Turkish feast.  The food in Turkey is incredible and wonderfully diverse!  A typical meal starts with several mezzes, or smaller dishes, which usually involves some wonderful vegetables and delicious cheese, and then moves onto a main course that usually involved fresh fish in this part of the world.

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The happiest girl cruising the open seas with the handsomest captain ⛵️💙#turquoisecoast #turkey

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The really incredible thing about this part of the world is that are seemingly endless ancient ruins- cities, even!- lying unmolested and free to visit, with the march of civilization continuing around them.  It was hard to believe we could just sail or snorkel right up to them, without a museum guard kicking us out or an alarm setting off.

 

Our final stop of the day was at the most special of these, a tiny bay tucked away in a beautifully preserved little outpost, seemingly a trading post, but there were no touristy placards to guide the way.  The day was on the wane, and I thought twice before jumping into the water in the gathering dusk, but the broken Roman arches were too beguiling and atmospheric.  I couldn’t pass up a chance to wander ancient ruins at the sunset hour, wondering at old fire pits and imagining the long past lives of those who spent their days here.

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source: hikeast.com.  My handy iphone did not go swimming with me.
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A photo from the boat, some of the ruins in the gathering dusk
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Ancient Roman arch entering the city/trading post

I flopped ashore and poked around the remnants of ancient lives barefoot and in my bathing suit, alone with the whistle of the wind in the tiny inlet.  I think the right word to use for the atmosphere is haunting.

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Truthfully, when I spontaneously booked this trip to Turkey, I had no idea that sunken cities, such generous and giving people, delicious food, and incredible views galore would be awaiting, and I am so grateful to have been invited on this special adventure. This day was just one of many, but this post is quite long enough now, I believe.

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And I am so glad that none of my vacations turn out to be relaxing.

 

(Below: a few bonus shots from other days of the trip)

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A Lycian Wander