India – Exploring Udaipur

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From Ahmedabad to Udaipur — 12:30:00 PM Start for Udaipur, 2:15:00 stopped for lunch -a thali with excellent paneer w red sauce, pickle, sabzi, dal, rice roti 50R.

Major roadwork underway as part of a ‘Dream Project for the Golden Quadrilateral’
signs triumphantly declare. Often these are just 10-20 km sections of toll road, a brief track of 4 lane, divided highway seemingly at random. But the larger plan is to connect the traditional Delhi-Agra-Jaipur triangle and Udaipur with a network of modern highways. Bypassing towns and villages isn’t considered though, so long stretches run thru villages where one side of buildings has been completely razed. Some places, one side has been finished, or nearly so, and both lanes of one side support two-way traffic which then jumps to the other side after several kilometers. Looks like the entire project is under construction at the same time. Often where the roadbed has been widened, the track is now lightly asphalted or even dirt. Massive concrete bridges span rivers and wadis and provide choke points. On the open sections we speed along at 80 km then down to 20-30 when both directions share. It’s interesting to dream about how this could change this area -transit times will be cut in half or better, so transport costs should drop, and it’ll be possible to expand day markets much farther. That’s if these faster roads don’t become deathtraps -with speeds doubling, even though the highways are divided, there will still be those who go the wrong way, and the herds of cows, buffalo and sheep will still be encountered. [In theory they won’t be allowed on some of these roads, but that will be difficult to enforce] Cross into Rajasthan -and the roadside stands proclaim ‘chilled beer’! Well after dark, we arrive about 7:30 in Udaipur. Udaipur is the jewel of MEWAR -a kingdom ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for 1200 Years. We stay at another ‘Heritage’ hotel Jagat Niwa, but not an original building. In the twisty streets of old city, a small façade opens to a large interior court with 3 stories of lovely rooms — tall ceilings, divans in alcoves.We have a leisurely breakfast on the cool veranda overlooking Lake Pichola and the Floating Palace. We’re back in tourist country now -more
westerners, lots more smokers. Our new driver, Riyaz shows up, but the rest of our tour crew are late


Walked over to the city palace for a tour, then took a boat out to the Jag Mandir, a complex of palaces and mosques.

12/2 /09 Early morning, drove up to catch light on fort walls, Then drove to Udaipur -just under 2 hrs -people carrying water, forage; bullocks turning well pump and waterwheel. We’ve finally graduated beyond simple tourists -today we drove over 5 km on the wrong side of a divided highway, keeping a moderate pace in the rightmost lane [the actual passing lane for the proper traffic]. No one seemed bothered. Tried to avoid city palace which we had already visited, but driver kept insisting
-finally ended up there, but did not go in -visited Vishnu temple nearby -singing and dance service ending just then. Several photogenic holy men strategically placed. Did some shopping and bought some miniature paintings from several local artists

Driver told us not to buy from shops outside [we suspect because they don’t give commission ] then he took us to 2 ‘better places’ – one was the overpriced cottage industries, the other equally uninteresting; visited cenotaphs of majarajahs. Then back to shops for more paintings.

This was the height of marriage season and we saw at least 12 marriages underway – groom on white horse followed by women of his family brightly dressed. A push cart looking like a popcorn stand holds drums & audio for band to link to and blast away

On way out saw a sign pointing, reading ‘child’; couldn’t figure it out til we returned, and then we the other side it said ‘beer child’

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India – Darshan in Nathdwara

Nathdwara Krishna Temple

In the 17th century outside Nathdwara, a chariot carrying an image of Krishna became stuck in the mud 26km north of Eklingji. The idol was being carried from Krishna’s birthplace Mathura to Udaipur to hide it Aurangzeb’s destruction.  Its
bearers interpreted the event as a divine sign and established a new temple where it had stopped. [In Venice there’s a parallel story, illustrated by a painting in the Academia, about a religious procession being stopped by unknown forces, then released, and a miracle declared]

 From our base at Khumbalgarh Fort, we drove about 65 km to Nathdwara the site of a temple dedicated to Krishna. Nath is another name of Krishna, a favorite avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, hence NATHDWARA means “Gateway to God” It’s the 2nd richest temple in India after Tirupati (in Andhra Pradesh). Nathdwara is a small town, and its narrow streets are filled with stalls and shops selling, beads, perfumes and small Krishna statues. In the centre of town the Shri Nathji temple awaits pilgrims. Each day, the image is awakened, dressed, washed, fed then later put to bed. The most elaborate session, aarti, takes place between 5pm and 6pm. .

There were only a few western tourists at this site. I had a guide for special darshan, which eliminates some of the queuing [500R inc guide, about $10]. He took me through a cluttered courtyard to a back entrance where I sat on some stairs, alone, in what looked to be a a warehouse as 2 men unloaded pumpkins from burlap sacks, some covered with mold, already in stored in a corner. After a short wait, my guide re-appears, from the inside and ushers me into a courtyard where a small crowd builds. The opposing doors open and everyone rushes ahead to get in line for next phase. Now we’re sitting in front of elaborate silver bas-relief doors. Again, the crowd builds. When doors open this time we run across yet another courtyard, where men & women gather in separate sections, divided by a large fence. The guide has me sit off to the side, at the back of the room, and then disappears for ½ hr (Remember – this is the express line!). When he returns he takes me to sit behind an elephant statue on the women’s side. When the next doors open and the women pass through, we become the head of the men’s line. The dividing barrier gate swings out and almost crushes my foot as the men surge forward into a small, narrow theatre, with terraces so everyone can see the sanctum at the end of the hall. A richly dressed statue of Krishna, served by 2 priests appears amid incense, candelabras, and other offerings as crowd chants. The darshan lasts much longer than our experience at Tirupati . Then we exit to halls where donations are collected; we get holy water, tikkal, Prasad, and charmed necklaces.

 

Maharana Pratap

Haldighati [turmeric valley] is a deep cut in red sandstone, just outside the town, with narrow 1 lane road about ¼ mile long; obviously long a strategic choke point for military operations.

Museum commemorates Maharana Pratap’s victory over Akbars’ General Man Singh at Haldigharti . When he attacked, Man Singh’s elephant wielded a sword which cut off one of Maharana Pratap’s horse’s legs, but the horse carried him another 20 km to get reinforcements and eventually win the battle. Small groups of tourists are ushered thru series of rooms – first with 3D map of the campaign; next with weapons and figures of various leaders, then a short movie recapping what we learned in first 2 rooms; then a dark passage, lit to reveal various dioramas – Maharana Pratap fighting tiger, Maharana Pratap’s consoling his dying horse, Maharana Pratap’s and army as guerrillas in forest camp.

Outside, several displays showed village life today with life sized dioramas showing water wheels, markets, etc that we had been seeing in real life on our trip. Indian tourists, probably urban, were fascinated by these displays.

A good lunch is served on site with several dals, gobi, chappatis, and rice, for a few rupees.

More India

Travel – Ferries of Europe

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  • Journal entry: 7 Sep, 2001 Thursday Athens to Santorini Ferry Up at 5:30, hotel let us into the dining room early for cakes, simit and coffee. 6:15 Transfer to Piraeus and the 7:30 ferry to Santorini. The docks make WA state
    ferry system seem puny. Ferries docked for a mile or more, large multidecked, fast catamarans, and slower hulking ones. Taxis everywhere letting out passengers. We board, and take our assigned seats. Nice interior, comfortable seats. Polished wood floors. Snack bars, reasonably priced. Once boat is underway, no one is allowed to stand outside, though (too much spray). Leave on time; come into Signos harbor about 10:15, just time to get a coupla pictures, then on to
    Santorini. First views of Santorini look like the caldera is snow capped, then the white resolves into houses and hotels cascading down the brown volcanic slopes. Unload about 11:45, met by Fantasy Travel and bussed up the switchbacking road to Volcano View Villas/Hotel. Beautifully sited, all rooms look out into the caldera and spread across the hill with swimming pools spaced among them.Journal entry: 9 Sep, 2001 Thursday  Santorini – Crete Ferry
    Had time for a refreshing swim before transfer to the port. Driver just backed into a parking place at the end of the dock, unloaded our luggage & bid us goodbye. Chaos – people everywhere, lining up for multiple ferry arrivals, dozens of others filling the local cafes while waiting. Cars & taxis spitting out more people at random, trucks maneuvering, with a few police pretending to direct traffic. Had to ask several times to find, then confirm where to go for the Crete ferry; no signs or other details anywhere. Crowd grew impatient when a first ferry docked, disgorged, then immediately backed water and took off without loading anyone. But our boat, the Minoan Lines, El Greco, was just waiting its turn, and backed into the dock, tossed its mooring lines and dropped the ramp. Might as well have cried ‘Havoc’, ’cause the dogs were loose – any attempt at lines ceased to exist as everyone surged forward and up the bumpy ramps, wheeled luggage only a slight advantage.

    Once entering the maw of the ferry, the real journey began. I was directed up and onwards, and then down a long narrow corridor with cabins, all with closed doors. Emerging at the other end, there was no one to direct traffic, and I looked briefly into several smoke filled salons, already jammed with people, many sitting on the floors. (Turned out these were only for those with cabins). When I tried to go further I was turned back, since I had dared to press into first class territory; but no signs to indicate that. Told to go up, but no immediate way to do that, other than return the way I’d come. Finally found stairs up to another deck, only to find packed video game rooms and yet another ‘pullman’ salon just as crowded as the others. After asking several uninterested and unhelpful workers, I finally made my way out to the deck, to find Audrey, Marv & Rosemary who’d fought their way up from below without the trek thru cabin land. They’d checked their bags, hoping it would be possible to recover them in the crush of the anticipated disembarking procedure. All still a hurried jumble around us.

    Finally found a place on the top deck, under cover, and commandeered several movable plastic chairs, more comfortable than those bolted to the deck in sections. Things finally started to sort themselves out, we managed to have chosen a place with few smokers, and the boat pulled out just in time to enjoy a spectacular sunset over Therissa and the volcano islands. Ferries let you settle down to read and doze for the 4 hour trip to Crete. Leaving about 7:30, we docked at Heraclion at 11:30 or so. We’d decided to wait for the first wave to cram its way thru the gates before moving down. From the upper decks I was able to use my zoom lens to find the agency agent holding a card with my name on it. When we finally emerged and regrouped about 30′ later, he took us over to the parking lot, in the dark, went thru the paperwork formalities, and gave us instructions to find the hotel “go out that road, and follow it until you see the hotel, it’s not too far”.

  • On 9/11/2001  we were on Crete
  • Rhodes, Greece to Marmaris, Turkey: Sep 16, 2001 Sunday – Rhodes to Bodrum Up around 6, allowed in early for breakfast,then picked up by taxi around 7 and down to the ferry terminal.   On board, it’s an easy ride – comfortable airplane type chairs and tables, 3 decks, with adequate air.  Luggage on ferries is stored in a central area, under cover.  Good early morning views of the harbor and fortifications, with yachts sailing past.  8:10 sailing, supposedly 50 minute catamaran ride, but took nearer 1 1/2 Probably 2/3 or more of ferry’s passengers were just heading across for the day.   So there was no big line for visas, though a bit of a wait to get thru passport control.

India – Tips for Travel

After more than 2500 years, much of the indigenous culture of India remains same in temples and much of daily life outside the cities. You see it with the casual religiosity of the guides, ganesha on dashboards of rickshaws, drivers stopping in early morning to leave marigolds at a small shrine.

The age of statues and shrines are often hard to estimate; they may be centuries old, or installed last year. Personal the reactions are similar – people halt their 21st century lives and enter the religious stream that has coursed for millennia. Nowhere else on earth do you find this profound snse of an ancient heritage, and spiritual confidence, combined with daily patterns of life. It’s as if Socrates still wandered thru Athens asking awkward questions.

Exploring India in small groups gives us the flexibility larger groups are denied. Some differences are obvious – large buses can’t go to as many places, especially the narrow roads of the hill countries. With small groups we can quickly change the itinerary and changes to fit the group, or to take advantage of opportunities for photo ops and other interactions with local people.

A valid visa is required for India and can be obrained from Indian embassy or consulate in your home country. Easier is to also get your Indian visa online. With valid visa you can visit Darjeeling & Kalimpong; but for SIKKIM a SPECIAL INNER LINE PERMIT is required but is easily available at no extra cost.

On arrival, pick up your luggage and head for the green ‘nothing to declare’ exit.  One advantage of arranging at least the initial transfer is that someone will meet you as you come out, and they’ll take you to our hotel. This is a welcome treat after the long flight to India

 

Clothing

o The weather will likely be warm wherever you go, except for the hill stations in fall and winter. The monsoons will determine how much rain you should expect. A skirt or long pants are suggested, as shorts are still not a common sight.. Take swimsuits for the hotel pools or ocean. Bring a small towel.
If trekking, low, hiking or walking shoes are sufficient, no need for heavy boots.

o A small, flat rubber stopper is helpful for washing clothes in the hotel sinks.

 

Daily Activity

o As a rule,  drink bottled water; it’s cheap and easily available. Other drinks include soft drinks, beer, juices and lassi (a yogurt drink). Be careful on the latter two items if you’d can’t confirm their provenance.

o Hotels: Air conditioning is usually available where it’s needed and along the coast.  Hair dryers are usually present. Be sure to carry adapters for electrical items like battery chargers.  Modern equipment rarely needs transformers.

o A typical day will start with breakfast at the hotel between 7 and 8. We leave the hotel between 8 and 10, depending on the itinerary. There’ll be a break for lunch, usually at a local restaurant around noon; in more isolated areas this will be a dhaba or local truck stop with mud floors and oven, and usually very tasty, food and freshly baked breads. We’ll be back or arrive at the hotel between 3 and 6 on most days, and supper will be around 7-7:30.

Traffic in India is a unique experience. It can be nerve wracking, but it seems to work – our driver’s motto: “good horn, good brakes, good luck”. We generally used chauffeured cars or vans for distance travel, and local transport like taxis and auto rickshaws in cities. The new metro in Delhi is excellent and expanding rapidly.

Hindu Sadhu At any shrine or major tourist stop there will be sadhus or other holymen. Most of these are people who have entered the 4th stage of Hindu life and have renounced worldly possessions. Usually, you’re approached and the itinerant offers a blessing – he wraps a colored thread around your wrist, says the blessing and dabs some kumkum paste on your forehead. While always denying there is any expectation of money, a small baksheesh of 10-20R is usual. Hindu Sadhu


Money

o ATM are common and you can easily get Indian rupees with a debit or cash advance card. Changing money at the airport ATM is fine; we’ve found the rate there to be reasonable

o Credit Cards are commonly accepted for large items, such as carpets and jewelry, but be careful that a reasonable rate of exchange is listed, and be prepared  to bargain.

o Now that ATM are so common, we no longer carry Travelers Checks, but you may wish to have them for security. They can be more of a hassle to cash, but in some cases (again, carpet sellers) they are preferred since it becomes a cash transaction.

o Cash – US one dollar bills are easily accepted and often preferred because of inflation. Bazaars, markets, street vendors readily accept dollars, and dollars can be handy for a quick tip if you’re on your own, for taxi fare, etc.

I try to start each day with a pocketful of carefully hoarded 10 and 20R notes. During the day, I try never to pay the exact amount for anything, always trying to break a 100 [$2] or 500 rupee bill. Yet by day’s end, most of it’s gone – given to Sadhus, random guides, altar attendants or for puja.

 

Elephants miniature painting on silk

Food

Indian food is wonderfully varied, and tasty. It ranges across the spectrum of hotness and spiciness. The south is mostly vegetarian with a lot of seafood. The north, especially Rajasthan and Punjab are more meat oriented, due to the Moghul influences. In hotel restaurants, hotness is usually toned down for westerners, but you can still find authentic dishes. In urban restaurants the food can be spicier, but you can let the waiter know. If you like hot food, it’s a pleasure, for the many different varieties of heat and spice that can be created.

 

 

Planning your trip to India

I designed a 6 week itinerary that gave us time to explore, but also to relax. We hired a car and driver/guide for the tribal areas of Orissa, since there is little public transportation there. This gave us the freedom to visit local weekly markets and small isolated villages. We selected Puri as our base, since it is right on the coast, but Bubaneshwar is another reasonable starting point, with easy air connections from Delhi or Chennai. Email let me design precisely the itinerary we wanted, with a local agent based in Agra to make most of our hotel reservations, and thus we had the added security of a local contact for the unexpected.

Our costs ran about $250 per day for the 2 of us, including 5 domestic flights. A large portion of the cost was for a private car and English speaking driver, petrol [the Indian version of gasoline], & tourist travel permits.

You can spend less and travel rougher using all local transportation.  Local transportation is good between major cities, but can be infrequent off the main tourist routes, so you’ll spend much of your time waiting for buses and trains. Good quality hotels run from $30-100 / night, and it’s often difficult to spend $25 on dinner for 2. At roadside dhabas [truckstops] a filling lunch, with unlimited freshly made breads costs about $1. Entry fees for major landmarks are reasonable, and many temples are free. We hired local guides on the spot for $5-20 depending on the length of the tour.

 

Miscellaneous

o Check your health insurance plan so you will know what will be covered in case of need. Carry phone numbers and other information with you.

o Make a copy of your passport and keep it separate from your traveling papers. It’s also handy to have copies of your credit cards, airline tickets, etc.

o Theft isn’t a major problem; just be careful as you would in any major city. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are the biggest problem, especially in the markets or on public transportation. Just be alert

 

The Glass Palace Amitav Ghosh Like his previous book, In an Antique Land, The Glass Palace is about Indians living in other countries. It starts with the British invasion of Burma in the 1880’s and follows a young Indian boy, Rajkumar…

The Calcutta Chromosome – Science Fiction with a Bite… When a patient has syphilis, cure them by infecting them with malaria. This amazing piece of medical trivia drives the plot of one of Ghosh’s
first books.

Iraq, Afghanistan & the Taliban – a Review of Recent Books America’s longest wars are being fought in faraway countries that until recently were little known to
most Americans. Here are a number of recent books that help fill these gaps
.

More India travel resources

 

Travel – Mountains of the World

Travel in Turkey – Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, or Ayasofya, is one of the most impressive landmarks of the world, and a major stop on any visit to Istanbul.  Over 1500 years old, it combines art & architecture of Byzantine and Islamic artists.

Download royalty free images of Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia at night
Hagia Sophia at night

Santa Sophia possesses the power essential to any of the man-made Wonders of the World that I have seen, which is the power to sweep aside all preparations made in your mind, and to hit you amidships with an original force which makes you stop and stare.  Venice’s Grand Canal does that, and the Taj Mahal and the skyline of Manhattan seen from Central Park; and so does Santa Sophia.  First there is the hint of vast internal space glimpsed between massy columns, the effect of its magnitude broadening upon you as you advance under shadows in the half-domes like clouds, under gilt like dingy sunlight, until you are far from shore in the midst of the place, exposed to the total blow it deals you.  Reverberant, multitudinous , the crowds with their many-echoing voices pay homage to the building itself, prayers of Muslim and Christian alike arising into those dim muttering domes lie the smoke of incense mounting into the cranium of an indifferent god. Thereafter the building’s presence up there on the skyline dominating the city – knowledge of what those domes contain every time I look up and see them there – has made me feel that I have identified the genius of the place, much as you feel that Vesuvius brooding above Naples is that city’s genius loci.

Journey to Kars – Philip Glazebrook

Travel in Turkey – Istanbul

When we visit Istanbul, we try to stay in the Sultanahmet area since it’s in easy walking distance of many major attractions, including the Grand Bazaar. And  Hagia Sophia is a short walk towards the Golden Horn, while nearby is the sprawling complex of the Topkapi palace which takes a day in itself.  Topkapi host everything from the sultan’s harem, Mohammed’s sword, jeweled clothing of the sultans,to the famous Topkapi jewels and the kitchens that fed thousands of Janissaries.  And that doesn’t include time for the separate museums on its ground such as the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Middle Eastern Countries. Splendid imperial mosques include the Blue Mosque, the Suleymanie, and Hagia Sophia. Vivaldi played in the background as we toured the enormous Basilica cisterns.

Sultan Ahmet Camii ( Blue Mosque ) glows in early evening light
Sultan Ahmet Camii ( Blue Mosque ) glows in early evening light
Galata Tower originally built as a fire watchtower in Istanbul, Turkey
Galata Tower originally built as a fire watchtower in Istanbul, Turkey
Head of Medusa as column decoration
Head of Medusa as column decoration
Ancient columns in water

Ancient columns in water

Sometimes magnificent works of art are preserved by a quirk of fate. An Ottoman pasha had the mosaics of St. Saviour whitewashed, and they were only recovered in the 20th century. These mosaics and frescoes of the Chorae  Church form one of the visual highlights of any tour. If you’re interested in calligraphy, you’ll want to visit the small museum devoted to this artform near Bayezit.

In addition to the imperial mosques, many exquisite, smaller mosques are scattered thru the city, and display incredible Iznik tiles and other decoration.

In the Taksim area, Gezi Park was quiet on our most recent visit. There was a small protest near Galatasaray, but the police presence was much larger. Several dozen police and a water cannonvehicle nearby. A hundred yards up the road, a similar detachment of riot police; repeated several times all the way back to Taksim Square itself where there were more police and tanker trucks to re-supply the water cannon. Luckily the day ended peacefully.

Experience Mexico Through its Food

The variety of Mexican cuisine

We’ve visited Mexico multiple times, and a large part of our memories revolve around food. My first visit was on spring break from the East coast in 1970 when we camped on the baja beaches and bought local seafood and shrimp to cook over a campfire. Each morning we’d walk into town for a breakfast of chilaquiles.Later visits took us to Mexico city and the Yucatan peninsula, where again, in addition to famous landmarks, we wandered the markets and sampled the food.  One unique evening I dined at a small restaurant that opened at 7:30.  No menu, instead, the waiter arrived with a tray of the evening’s fresh offerings.  I chose ‘the’ fish. Next I was asked how I’d like it cooked.  The waiter proceeded to the other 3 tables, took our orders to the kitchen, then set the ‘closed’ sign on the door.  An excellent, multicourse meal  leisurely followed.

Here are some typical Mexican dishes I created based on our experiences. (Note, Mexican markets provide numerous types of dried chilies and moles. If you can’t find these in your area, chili powder and paprika make an adequate substitute)

 

 

Pollo con cuatro pimientas (4 pepper chicken)

  • 1 T ancho chile powder
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into stirps, 1/2″ wide by 3″ long
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 t fresh black pepper
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 3 med tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Dredge chicken in flour, then heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or
skillet , and sauté chicken for 5’ on each side, letting it brown.

2. Remove chicken, then in same pan sauté red pepper and garlic for 10’.
Sprinkle with ancho chile powder, paprika and fresh black pepper, then add
tomatoes.

3. Return chicken to the pan, mix. Place the sliced onions on top of the
chicken mixture, cover and simmer 30’.

4. Remove from heat, mix onions into chicken.

Mexican Winter Chicken

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 3-4 jalapeno or serrano peppers (canned or fresh)
  • 3-4 dried ancho chiles, prepared (optional), or substitute 1 T chile
    powder and 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 turnips, diced
  • 1 large parsnip, diced
  • 1 quart chicken stock

Saute the chicken pieces in 2 T olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the peppers
and chiles and other ingredients except for the stock. Saute 5 minutes.
Remove to casserole dish. Add 1 quart stock. Cover and bake for 1 hour at
350 deg.

At end mix in 1/4 cup of water with 3 T flour.

Pollo con Pina – Chicken with Pineapple

  • 1 chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, diced
  • 2 zucchini, cut in thick slices
  • 2 cinnamin sticks or 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 can green chiles
  • 1 T fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 t ground, dry)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced

1. Brown the chicken pieces in a skillet 5-10 min. (optionally, remove
kin). Add the onion, garlic and cinnamon and saute for 5-10 min.

2. Add zucchini, wine, chilies and oregano. Lower heat to simmer for 30′.

3. Add pineapple and simmer another 20′ or until chicken is done.

 

 

  • Famous Landmarks in Mexico City – Zocalo Despite its reputation as huge smoggy sprawl, Mexico City is well worth a visit of several days – exploring some of best museums in world, outdoor markets, great walking, easy access to outskirts by metro.
  • Images of Mexico’s famous landmark – Xochimilco Escape the big city crush and confusion by spending a day drifting the canals of Xochimilco and viewing the art of Diego Rivera.
  • Famous Landmarks in Mexico In Mexico City, alone, you’ll find numerous landmarks Chapultepec Castle and
    Park is famous from the US – Mexican War of 1846 and now hosts many museums, including the excellent Anthropology museum

More recipes & cooking

How to Bargain When Traveling

American travelers are often hesitant to plunge into a foreign bazaar and haggle with sellers. But this is the natural and expected way of doing business in much of the world, so a little preparation can help you enjoy your trip more, and maybe bring back a story with your souvenirs.

Bargaining

The following are some general rules and advice for travelers in foreign markets and bazaars gleaned from experiences of bargaining in Turkey, Nepal, India, South America, China and North Africa.  In most of these countries US$ are accepted in additional to the local currency, so it’s a good idea to bring $1 and other small bills. Few countries have any currency black markets any more, so there is rarely any legal problem with using US currency.  English is often spoken,
but in countries like Morocco, French may be the common language; but many bazaaris speak multiple languages.   These suggestions reflect my experiences and preferences, which are highly personal.  There are many other approaches.

o
Have fun – don’t take this too seriously.  Negotiating a sale should be of benefit to both sides, not adversarial. Approach the process with a sense of adventure.  You probably can’t insult the vendor, and
nothing they say to you should be taken personally.  Treat it as a game of charades.  Even if you share few words in common, you can use gestures. Many vendors have calculators to make your offer.  Others write on their hands if paper isn’t available.  Write your counter offer if the seller doesn’t understand

o Pay what it’s worth to you – ask what something is made of, but especially in markets, covered bazaars and souks,  be wary of claims that sound exceptional.  Don’t expect to “buy a camel for donkey prices.” Ask questions before making any offer.  Look at several items.  You’re not likely to find antiques or high quality jewelry on a tabletop, but be alert since it can happen.  Better quality metals should have a hallmark (eg, sterling silver often has a 925 mark).  Usually, choose items because of their value to you, not because it’s claimed to be sterling silver or pure jade.  In many countries, silver, gold and semi precious stones in shops are sold by weight, with no consideration of the work involved.  So look for hand crafted items.  Here you’ll be bargaining not for the item, but for the price per gram of silver, etc.

o  Sellers never lose – don’t worry about offering too little.  If you do, they’ll probably just laugh and ask you to give a little more.  On rare occasions, a vendor might just say it’s too low and give up, so you have the option of raising your price or trying somewhere else. Walking away will usually let you know if your price is too low.  If it’s within range the vendor won’t let you walk out without making a counteroffer.

o  Making low offers at the start of a trip is an excellent way to  gauge the marketplace, since there are no rules for pricing and it will vary from city to city and even market to market.  Some guidebooks tell you to offer 1/3 or 1/2 the asking price, but astute vendors will have read these guide books too! This general rule can cost you money if the vendors are asking 5 or even 10 times what the item costs.  On a trip to China I saw the same item in different cities being offered for 250, 150 and 80 yuan. In all cases, the price I finally paid was between 15 and 30 yuan.   Items in tourist areas are likely to be inflated much more.  And if it’s a quick stop, such as a tourist bus or boat stop or outside a museum or other attraction, be ready to bargain quickly and sharply (I’ve closed some deals through the window as the bus drove away).  These can be places to get very good prices, since the vendors sell high volumes, but they’ll also start very high.  But don’t make a low offer if you’re not interested in the item at all – the buyer may take your offer, and the only real insult is to make an offer and then not honor it.  Once you name a price, you should be willing to pay that price if the seller agrees.  But you’re never obligated to come to an agreement.

o Quantity discounts – you’ll usually do  better by combining several items.  You might start bargaining for one item, then offer to buy 2 for a lower price.  Or, if the bargaining is stalled, add another item to the pile and accept the buyer’s last offer.  Changing currencies can be useful if you can do the math quickly in your head (sellers will always be able to do these calculations faster than you can).  Eg, after bargaining in the local currency, offer dollars instead.  Locals will often be able to get a better rate of exchange than you can, or dollars might be a hedge against inflation in some countries, so US$ can sometimes command a 10-20% premium.  If you pay by credit card, expect to pay a few percent more.  Be a bit careful if you agree on a price in dollars and then use a credit card — the amount has to be entered in the local currency, so check that the exchange rate used is a reasonable one.

o  Using your local guides – This varies both in the country, and how long your guide will be with you.  If the guide is just with you for the day or if you’re with a large, organized tour, it’s rarely useful to have them bargain for you.  Some local guides don’t like to let their groups free in bazaars or souks, when they can earn a commission by taking them on a ‘factory’ tour. (Other times the reason is just the hassle of keeping track of everyone, and then having the entire group wait when someone gets lost in the souk. If you’re on a large group tour like this, courtesy demands you stay with the group, and find time to return later on your own.)  If a guide is with you for a longer time, they may be able to find special prices or items for you.  Many guides have connections that can get you discounted prices.  Sometimes this can result in a good value, sometimes not – much depends on your skills and appetite for bargaining.   For example, in Egypt, a young man became my guide for the day and took me to several shops making inlaid boxes and other crafts.  The prices were 50-75% lower than what I had been able to bargain for in the bazaars.  The ‘guide’ of course expected (and got) a good tip, but everyone still benefits and these experiences are part of the fun of traveling.  Another problem with using a go-between is that you’ll need to tell them your actual price at some point, and how interested you are in an item.  It’s also more difficult to use the walk-away ploy when a guide does your bargaining.

o  Factory tours – Some years ago, organized tours changed from having stops at established shops, to having ‘educational’ stops at factories which just happened to have extensive showrooms.   If you educate
yourself beforehand, these can be excellent places to buy.  The factory tours range from extremely informative to thinly disguised selling.  You’ll often be told your group has a special discount (15-20% is common), but additional bargaining is usually expected.  These places usually have higher quality items than what you’ll see on the street, especially if they do a lot of overseas shipping or other wholesale selling.   And there will be a wider range of items to choose from.  Just remember that your local guide usually gets a commission on these purchases.  That said, you can profit from these tours too — quiz the presenter, asking them how to tell their high grade jade from what you just saw on the street for 1/10 the price, or what makes a difference in weaving techniques, etc.   Since these shops usually ARE selling a higher quality, the answers will usually be informative and accurate.

Where to shop in Turkey

Turkey offers many opportunities.

o Bargaining is expected.

o The Covered Bazaar in Istanbul is a great place to explore and purchase gifts. Do bargain. Gold is a good buy, and the best baklava shop is just across the street on the way back to Sultanahmet hotels

o Cappadocia is the best place for carpets, and try to go as a group for at least one carpet factory tour. Good bargains are also available in Istanbul.

o Leather goods, jewelry, lace, antiques and other crafts

o Cash — US one dollar bills are often accepted and sometimes preferred because of inflation. Bazaars and markets usually accept dollars, and dollars can be handy for a quick tip if you’re on your own, for taxi fare, etc.

o Make a copy of your passport and keep it separate from your traveling papers. It’s also handy to have copies of your credit cards, airline tickets, etc.

o While Theft isn’t a major problem –  just be careful as you would in any major city. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are the biggest problem, especially in the markets or on public transportation. Just be alert


Shopping in India
A Jodhpur experience

Best Way to See Seattle …. Is to Leave It

After boarding, go to what will be the aft of the boat – the end attached to the dock – and go out on the viewing deck. As you leave Seattle, there are great views back to the city skyline, showing the sprawling city from Seattle Center and Queen Anne hill on the left (north), then south to the  stadiums and dockyards. On a clear day, you can even see
Mt. Rainier, over 50 miles away.

Seattle ferry, leaving waterfront
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One of the best ways to see and explore Seattle is to leave it! Take one of the Washington State ferries. The boats run frequently.. There may be waits for cars on weekends and holidays, but bikes and walkers always get on.The ferries bound for Bremerton and for Poulsbo leave from the same dock in downtown Seattle. In 2017, adult fares are about $8 for adults, half that for seniors. There’s a $1 charge for bicycles, and about $12 for a car and driver. On the return, passengers and bicycles are free.When we bicycle, we load our bikes in the car and park on the street either to the north or south of the ferry terminals where parking is free, then bike the mile or so to the ferry. Otherwise you can park across the highway from the ferries and walk on or, if you plan to explore beyond the ferries, drive on.
When you tire of these views, grab a coffee in the snack bar, and then walk the length of the ferry to the forward viewing decks.  Now you’ll get views of the many Puget Sound islands, and the Olympic mountain range in the distance.  The ferry is likely to be followed closely by seagulls, and cormorants can usually be seen on the pilings drying their wings. Other shorebirds, coots, ducks are frequently seen. There are whales in the area, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll see one. Sunset panorama, Seattle skyline, sailboats

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Once you reach the terminus, you have several choices. You can stay on the ferry and return right away, or  you can walk or bicycle in the small towns nearby, returning for the ferry. There’s usually a short steep hill to get away from the dock, but it flattens out after that. You can drive to visit nearby cities of Port Gamble, Port Orchard or Port Townsend. The latter has several music festivals during the year and  many antique shops. It also has a ferry that goes to Whidbey Island so you can drive a loop trip. On Whidbey you can go north over Deception Pass bridge [the pass is the narrow bit of water under the bridge]. Or drive south to pick up another small ferry to Mukilteo, just north of Seattle. Port Gamble also hosts an annual Civil War re-enactment that offers a fun weekend, with 2 battles scheduled every day, and the soldiers’ camps to visit in between. These towns are also famous for their many Victorian houses. Many of them are now open as Bed & Breakfasts

Yet another option is to drive to nearby Olympic National Park for hikes. There are trailheads near the Hood Canal bridge link up to Highway 101. The park headquarters is atop aptly named Hurricane Ridge, with the best views of this wilderness park. But, since there are no roads into the main parts of the park, unlike Yellowstone or Yosemite, you really need to hike to appreciate everything the park offers. You can hike in the rainforest to the glaciated volcano, Mt. Olympus and then explore the Pacific Ocean beaches in just a few miles, without leaving the park. If you’re going to the Olympics, you’ll probably want to stay overnight. There are many campgrounds, and inexpensive motels in towns like Sequim, Port Angeles and Forks.

With a little forethought, you can come back into Seattle at sunset, or view the city lights at night.

Spices Markets of the World

Spices make excellent souvenirs for many trips – for yourself or your friends. They’re light, reasonably priced and literally import the exotic flavors of your trip. Of course, it helps if you know how to use them, but even if you don’t, you’ll find but even if you don’t, you probably know someone who does, and spices make a great gift.

There’re rarely any problems with customs. The main hassles are raw food items like unroasted coffee beans (ie, only buy roasted coffee beans) or many air dried meat products like prosciutto. Educate yourself before your trip;
learn what the common spices look like in various forms. During the trip, ask the waiter about the flavors in dishes you particularly enjoy. You may even be invited by the chef to explore the kitchen.

Spices can be found in many tourist souvenir shops, but avoid these prepackaged bits, often 5 or 6 spices on a foldout card . They tend to be both old and expensive. Instead, find a local market, where business is more frequent. In Istanbul, the Egyptian Market on the Golden Horn waterfront is the exemplar. Some bargaining is expected, with minimal changes of 10% or so are common. Do ask for prices before buying though. Some spices, like sumak or cardamon are several times more expensive than more common ones. Familiarize yourself with the metric equivalents if you’re used to ounces. 50- 100g should be enough for most purposes (about 2-4 oz).

 

Turkey – Recipes

    • My favorite spices from Turkey are its many peppers — everything from mild paprika, to hot red peppers. Usually powdered, they’re also found in paste form, and if well packaged, these travel and keep well.
    • Saffron is available in several forms.  It’s not as good as Iranian orMoroccan, but much cheaper, and for simple rice dishes, or soups, you just use a bit more.   Watch out for ‘Indian Saffron’ — it’s just turmeric.
    • And there are now many different forms of Turkish Viagra — from powdered ginger to walnut stuffed figs.

India – Recipes

India was the source of the original spice trade, making the fortunes of many successful voyagers.
Today anyone can bring back a Prince’s ransom in delectable spices.

  • Cardamom is the fruit of Elettaria cardamomum, a member of the ginger family, which grows in the moist, tropical regions of Southern Asia
  • Vanilla beans
  • Cocoa pods
  • Tamarind
  • Nutmeg & Mace are derived from the apricot-like fruit of the evergreen tree Myristica fragrans. When the fruit is ripe, it splits in half revealing a deep red, net-like membrane that covers a brittle shell. The membrane is mace, the shell nutmeg.
  • Turmeric is a rhizome of the tropical herb Curcuma longa. It’s used in powdered form.
  • Coriander
  • Ginger is a light-brown rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale
  • Cayenne is made from the dried red skins of chili peppers
  • Cinnamon is the dried bark of an evergreen tree of the laurel family, Cinnamomum
    zeylanicum
    is native to India and Sri Lanka.
  • Asafoetida is the sap from the roots and stem of a giant fennel-like plant which grows wild in Central Asia. The sap dries into a hard, smelly resin and is usually used ground

Morocco

Cumin is the national condiment, found with salt & pepper on tables everywhere. Use either the seeds of this small
annual herb from the parsley family Cuminum cyminum, or the ground powder form. Popular in tagines.

Saffron – various qualities of saffron are widely available, prices vary accordingly.

Mexico Recipes

Dried peppers of all sorts are cheaply available everywhere. There’s no problem in bringing them back to the US, even with their seeds. In Mexico, both fresh and dried peppers are abundant, and the names change when a pepper is dried — anchos are just the dried form of poblanos. Chipotles are the smoky, dried form of jalapenos.

In many markets you can find moles – mixtures of up to 20 or more spices. These are excellent bases for sauces, soup flavorings, or marinades and I always buy several kilos – they’ll keep for months in the refrigerator.

Huitlacoche  is a fungus that grows on corn ears, producing big, swollen, deformed kernels, black inside with a silvery gray skin. It’s easily compared to truffles, with a delicious, inky mushroomy flavor, but it’s rarely available commercially. Sometimes you can find it in restaurants as Huitlacoche para Quesadilla.

China – Recipes

        • Ginger
        • Anise

Specific Spices:

  • Saffron  Absurdly priced in the US, saffron is affordable in many countries.   You do need to know a little about the differences. True saffron is made from the are the stigma (female organ) of the autumn
    crocus, or Crocus sativus, but other ‘saffrons’ are made from different flowers, sometimes even leaves.  Mexican saffron is one of these, it’s very cheap, but gives a completely different flavor (though quite good).   Turkish saffron is very good, but you need to use a loose teaspoon of threads where a recipe calls for a few threads of Spanish saffron.   In Morocco, several grades of saffron are available, in both thread and powdered form.  All are good value and reasonably priced.  Iranian saffron is some of the best I’ve found, but priced accordingly. In Turkey, you’ll also find ‘Indian Saffron’, but this is really Turmeric, a different spice entirely
  • Sumak Mostly unknown in the US, this is a common spice in the Mideast.  Use it to flavor grilled chicken or fish, or just sprinkle lightly on a salad of tomatoes and sliced onions.PepperDozens of choices, so try tasting them and choosing what you like best.  In Turkey, commonly red pepper, with some browns.
  • Pepper pastes (moles) also widely available.   In Mexico, both fresh and dried peppers are abundant, and the names change when a pepper is dried — anchos are just the dried form of poblanos.  Chipotles are the dried form of jalapenos.
  • Paprika  Good paprikas are widely available, with tastes varying from sweet to moderately spicy.
  • Cumin–The national spice of Morocco — found on most tables withthe salt and pepper.  Used in many dishes here and in India, Mexico, and the Middle East.  Available in both powdered and seed form. Roast the seeds to get a wonderful flavor
  • Coriander  The powdered form (made from the dried seeds)  very different from the fresh leaves and stems (also known as cilantro). Used in cultures throughout the world.   Use the fresh form in
    dishes that call for parsley!
  • Turmeric— The ‘poor man’s saffron’, this spice is basic to many dishes in the Indian subcontinent, up through China. It provides a beautiful saffron color, and a distinctive taste. In the US it’s most
    commonly found as a coloring agent in chicken soup.
  • Cardamom Another expensive spice in the US.  You can find green or black forms, or seeds.
  • Discover recipes using these spices

    More on markets, souks and bazaars

Book – Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

I find it hard to imagine two more fascinating cities than Venice and Varanasi. While  New York, Paris, Prague, Mexico City all have their attractions, if I had quickly to choose one place to spend a week it would likely be a choice between the Vs.  So when I happened on Geoff Dyer’s new book I knew he was writing for me.  Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is a pair of novellas, intricately linked, yet totally separate.  In the first Jeff Atman [sanskrit for one’s true self ] is in Venice to write about the Biennale  for a British journal.  Venice and the art world form the backdrop to a week of Bellinis and cocaine, quick trysts with famous art and an alluring stranger.  A vaparetto map of Venice is useful in keeping track of their watery peregrinations, hitting all the highlights of Venice, and many of the more subtle aspects such as the cemetery island of Ste. Michelle.  They constantly cross over cultural hotspots, what will be known in hindusim as tirthas.  Varanasi being one of the most powerful of all tirthas.

The first half of the book is bright, fast, funny, sexy- always moving, day and night barely recognized. Yet he realizes that he is missing something. The San Rocco school and its Veronese painting of the crucifixion present him with a
curious puzzle.

everybody in the painting he was looking at was looking at the crucified Christ, even the two thieves who were getting crucified alongside him, even people like the guy on the horse, who was looking at something else. Atman didn’t know how long he sat there, staring at this painting, not having any thoughts about it, willing on an epiphany that never came, never happened, just seeing it, looking at. Perhaps that was the epiphany, surrounding himself to
what he was seeing.

The second novella is contemplative, thoughtful, and sexless, with repetitive movements space through a spiritual landscape. He wanders down to the cremation ghats:

the whole operation at Manikarnika was really labor-intensive, like one of those Salgano photographs of peasants toiling on the mountainside – a mountainside, in this case that had been so thoroughly worked over that it was
no longer a mountain . There were great stacks of wood, higher than houses, forever getting added to and denuded as logs were weighed out to fuel the never ending need for fires. Barges arrived, crammed with logs that were carried to
the shore, so big that only one or two could be carried at a time, slung like animals, stiff and heavy, over the shoulders of the men carrying them. The wood was stacked, chopped, weighed and carried down to the water again, probably
weighed again. Each cremation required a ton of wood.: Ton in the sense of a lot, not a specific unit of measurement. Smoke smudged the sky, blackening the temples and buildings crowded around the fires. Cows chewed on soggy marigolds, picking picking through the ash that the rivers dark edge. The water was sooty and dark, burned. Some dogs were there too. Half a dozen fires were burning, tended by the men who worked ther. People were standing around talking while, all the time, wood was lugged back and forth and fires were prodded with branches. It was like watching the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, as it might have occurred if Berenice no industry and a vast surplus manpower, all employed in the service of death.

He had planned to spend only a few days in Varanasi, and though he tried to wander alone he he realized that was impossible: By the time you have shown the first flicker of interest in doing, seeing or buying anything in India,
someone will have read the signs and acted on that, will be trying to turn this wish – for interest is a wish, desire, and, as such, constitutes demand – into a reality, to his or her financial benefits. I only learned this later

while during the tourist itinerary starts to slip outward cover the city and as advising. He ends up staying for weeks stretching to months:

I bought a couple of the little candle coracles, lit them and watched them wobble and float away . They were lovely, and it was lovely, at first, being on the crowded water in the faded light, waiting for things to begin. Almost as soon as it began, though, the ceremony became disappointing. You didn’t have to be a particularly discerning tourist to see that this was an exhausted pageant, drummed up for tourists, a son et lumiere with a cast of hundreds. Any significance it was supposed to have had been drained, possibly a long time ago or maybe just yesterday, or even now, right before our eyes. The event had bled itself white, but each night it had to bleed afresh, which only
made it seem more stale and bloodless. It was like trying to glimpse, in a performance of The Mousetrap, the ravaged majesty of Macbeth. The air was frantic with others, dense with harshly amplified chanting, the sound of conches
and the clamor of bells. I left before the and, before it had even got going

· Varanasi is filled with small temples at every turning

shortly after this I found myself outside Temple – I didn’t know which one, but that was not the big one Vishwanath, with all the airport security: metal detectors circuits. That’s why there are so many soldiers around: because
Vishwanath the Golden Temple, and the mosque were practically on top of each other goading the faithful, inciting them to live in peace. It was the old neighbors from hell scenario, raised to the level of intense theological
principle and proximity. There is no God but God, says that one place there are millions of them says the other. The fact that were able to get along for years did not mean that, at the drop of a hat, they would not be at one another’s
throats
.

As he observes the manner in which definition becomes obscured , a similar process affects his life:

I noticed a small blue shrine, the size of an emergency phone on the side of the motorway. in the middle of the shrine, where the phone would’ve been there was an orange blob, a worn shape.. Within the general roundness, it was
possible to make out the lump of the body and the smaller lump ofa head, but more rounded, less defined than a Henry Moore version of any God. Who was it ? Ganesh? It could’ve been any of them. There was not even residue of definition, but this did not suggest that its power had diminished or been shrunk; the sense was that its essence had become more concentrated. The feeling was not of erosion or diminution, but of withdrawal. The God, whoever it was, had retreated into itself. By reducing it self almost space to nothing, by coming so close to that which could not be identified as,, it had become more nakedly itself. I felt sure of this, even though I did not know who is what I was seeing.

The two parts of the book are completely separate yet it’s impossible to read
without making connections at every turning of a page

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Tips for Travel in Turkey

Arrival & customs – You need to purchase a Turkish visa when you arrive in Istanbul. You’ll need $65 US, in cash. The visa line forms just before you go thru immigration, and is easy to spot. You need the visa before you get in the other line to go through and collect your luggage.
Once you have your luggage, follow the exit signs. Customs is simple, there’s a list of non-allowed items, but you’re not likely to have them, so just use the green gate. If you’re part of a group, this is where someone will meet you as you come out, and they’ll take you to our hotel. Otherwise just go to the ground transportation area to find a taxi into town.
Most meters don’t work so agree on a price beforehand. From airport to Istanbul, either
Sultanahmed or Taksim should cost about $15-25 depending on your bargaining skillsDaily Travelo As a rule, we drink bottled water; it’s cheap and easily available. Other drinks include soft drinks, beer, juices and ayran (a yogurt drink).o We use a van and driver / guide to allow easier access and scheduling when we have small groups. We’ve also driven in rental cars and with Turkish friends,. Turkish buses are clean, modern, air conditioned and very comfortable. The caravansaries of old are now truck & bus stops along the major highways. A group van is handy, so you can carry things you may not want to take hiking, and leave some things in the van. The driver will always be there to watch it.

o Our hotels should be good and complete. Air conditioning is standard in Istanbul and along the coast (it’s not needed in Cappadocia). Hair dryers are usually present. Be sure to carry adapters and transformers if you bring electrical items like battery chargers. An extension cord is useful and can be found in hardware stores in Istanbul

o A typical day will start with breakfast at the hotel between 7 and 8. We’ll start from the hotel between 8 and 10, depending on the itinerary. There’ll be a break for lunch, usually at a local restaurant around noon; sometimes a picnic of local fresh foods and specialties. We’ll be back or arrive at the hotel between 3 and 6 on most days, and supper will be around 7-7:30.

Money

o ATM are common and you can easily get Turkish lira with a debit or cash advance card. Changing money at the airport ATM is fine; we’ve found the rate there to be reasonable. even with the fees, the exchange rate is better than using foreign banks, and MUCH better than getting cash at US banks before your trip

o Credit Cards are commonly accepted for large items, such as carpets, but be careful that a reasonable rate of exchange is listed, and be prepared to bargain.

o Now that ATM are so common, we no longer carry Travelers Checks, but you may wish to have them for security. They can be more of a hassle to cash, but in some cases (again, carpet sellers) they are preferred since it becomes a cash transaction. Since they cost the seller more, you usually get a poor rate of exchange.

o Cash – US one dollar bills are easily accepted and often preferred because of inflation. Bazaars, markets, street vendors readily accept dollars, and dollars can be handy for a quick tip if you’re on your own, for taxi fare, etc.

o Make a copy of your passport and keep it separate from your other traveling papers. It’s also handy to have copies of your credit cards, airline tickets, etc.

o Theft isn’t a major problem; just be careful as you would in any major city. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are the biggest problem, especially in the markets or on public transportation. Just be alert. I usually carry my walkin’ around money loose in a front pocket; some more is in my wallet, and the rest stored in locked luggage or a moneybelt. Nothing’s more attractive to pickpockets than seeing a tourist partially disrobe to get a few dollars out of a concealed moneybelt!

Clothing

In spring and early fall, the weather should be warm and getting warmer as we move down the coast. We can hike in shorts, but skirt or long pants are suggested in Istanbul. Take swimsuits, although the ocean is going to be cool. Bring a small towel. Some of the hotels have pools, but we’ve found these are usually cool, too.

o Low, hiking or walking shoes are sufficient, no need for heavy boots.

o A small, flat rubber stopper is helpful for washing clothes in the hotel sinks.

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