Hello, and welcome to the next step in my post-military globe-trotting. Many of you followed my first blog (tonyrides.com) as I traveled the United States on my Motorcycle, riding over 18,000 miles and reaching 49 states and three countries.

In this next installment, my friend Jerod and I will be going abroad for an open-ended jaunt. We will start in the Middle-East at the end of February and see where the roads and the winds take us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Eastbound and Down

Today was spent primarily with a visit to the supermarket where we picked up what Tony and I think will be enough food for several days on the trail.  Largely dry goods like rice, lentils, trail mix ingredients, etc.  We were able to find most of what we were looking for but as my Dad likes to say, "What we don't have we'll just have to do without."  Looking at the map, water should be widely available and is supposed to be safe to drink (primarily spring fed)--we are carrying a couple different ways to sanitize the water just in case and can each hold about 3.5 liters.  We also filled up fuel bottles for our backpacking stove at one of the local gas stations--fortunately our stove runs on several different types of gas.  It's also good news that we should only need about a liter of gas for about a week or more on the trail (supplemented with campfires as available), as regular unleaded here runs about ten dollars to the gallon.

For those familiar with the term "carbo-loading", we attempted our own version of it this evening with a trip to Burger King (yes, even ın Fethiye, Turkey).  We figured we had earned ourselves this breakdown for American fast food since we're about to venture into the wilderness for a while.

At this point we feel we're about as prepared as we're ever going to be, and are just looking forward to starting the trail bright and early tomorrow.  Thanks to everyone keeping up with the blog and we'll be sure to update as the Lycian Way allows.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Soaring Above Turkey

Greetings from sea level.  Jerod and I started our day wıth a jeep ride to the top of Babadag mountain in Ölü Deniz, Turkey.  Babadag, or Father Mountain, peaks at about 6,500 feet.  Unfortunately we had only bought one-way tickets up the mountain.  Our route down was to strap to the front of an expert para-glider and run off of a cliff.  Though less exhilerating than skydiving, the 25 minutes of soaring over the beautiful Mediteranean coast was a pretty good trade-off.  Here is what our view looked like:
   After being enticed by the aerial view, we spent a good chunk of the afternoon lounging on the white sands and swimming in the Med.  It's been a tough day.  Tomorrow we will wrap up preps before starting our 300-mile trek.  Blogs may get sporadic after tomorrow.  Thanks for your patience.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hijacked in Pamukkale

Greetings from Pamukkale, Turkey.  We are supposed to be in Fethiye today but got swept away at the bus station.  We were originally just supposed to change busses here, but they guy at the station offered us such a good deal on a room that we decided to stay the night and check out the sights.
As you can see from the picture (just a stock google photo), it is quite a spot.  In addition to the hot springs, there are also some pretty extensive Roman ruins, including one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the world.  We are both pretty happy we made the call to stop.  We will continue on to Fethiye tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fairy Chimneys and Flying Carpets

After several days in Istanbul, we booked tickets for an overnight bus to Goreme, Turkey, the heart of an area known as Cappadocia.  Cappadocia is something of a surreal landscape where for centuries the locals have lived inside caves and assorted rock formations that basically look like something out of a dream.  The popular term for the formations is "Fairy Chimneys" but if you're interested your best bet would be to google Cappadocia for an idea of the geography--I don't think the term does it justice.  Tony and I booked a two day tour and had a chance to visit all the most popular spots.  Personally I wasn't crazy about visiting the sites as part of a guided tour but I will say that the guide added something to the history of the area and we also had a chance to see handmade ceramics and carpet weaving, right down to the fibers of the silkworm being spun on the wheel.  A very interesting experience, and the intricacy that goes into a handmade carpet is astounding--for example, a silk carpet at about 2.5 x 4 feet, takes one hardworking Turkish woman (the men sell the carpets and the women make them here) about one year to complete.  Cost: $10,000.  Ouch.  But they were beautiful.

Yesterday we also signed up for "Turkish Nights", a popular evening program consisting of some authentic Turk cusine, as well as several other aspects of Turkish Culture--we watched Whirling Dervishes (a Mystical sect of Sufi Islam, founded in Turkey), traditional Central Asian dancing popular throughout the 'Stans (as well as Bulgaria, Hungary and Russia so I'm told), and some belly dancing to top the night off.  Crowd participation was highly encouraged, and since Tony and I found ourselves essentially ringside we were dragged onto the dance floor on numerous occasions...Throw in a tour bus of Chinese tourists and with booze included as part of the set price--it made for an interesting evening.  I can attest that both the red and white wine made locally aren't bad...haha.

We've thoroughly enjoyed our time here in Cappadocia but it's time to move on.  We've booked another overnight bus to Fethiye, down on the Meditteranean Coast where the weather's warmer and we'll get prepared for Lycian Way, a 500 kilometer trek on what's known as the Turquoise Coast.  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Turkey Pot Pie

Attentıon:  The normal i button on the Turkısh Keyboard has no dot.  i.e. ı.  So I wıll not be usıng the real i.  Hope that ıs clear.

Anyway. It has been a breath of fresh aır to be ın Istanbul.  Even flyıng ın from Caıro and seeıng grass on the ground and not beıng hassled to get ınto EVERY taxı at the aırport was a huge relıef.  We are stayıng at a hostel ın the Sultanhamet regıon whıch ıs very nıce and located wıthın the former walled cıty of Constantınople.  We are only a few mınutes walk from the famous Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofıa.  We also spent some tıme walkıng around the great bazaar and the spıce bazaar.  I  may break down and buy a counterfeıt Belstaff motorcycle jacket.  Everythıng ıs screamıng no but my heart says yes.

Today we spent three hours at the Hammam, or Turkısh Bath.  The one we went to was buılt about 400 years ago.  It ıs essentıally a sauna but ıncludes an exfolıatıng scrub and a soapy massage and some good old steam.  Very refreshıng. 

Tomorrow we are off to Cappadocıa.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Photos Photos Photos!!!!

Check out my Facebook gallery.  It ıs open to the publıc so you shouldn`t even need a profıle.  Check the lınk:
Photo Gallery 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Deserts and Desserts

 Well hello again from Cairo.  I know you are getting bombarded with entries recently, so either sorry, or you're welcome, depending on your thoughts on that.

The day after the pyramids we took a tour of the white and black deserts near the Oasis named Baharia, about five hours West of Cairo by bus.  We were met at the bus stop and escorted to a Bedouin's house for lunch, where we also got to meet our two tour-mates, a very nice brother and sister from Quebec City, Canada.  I also got to practice my French with them.  After lunch we hopped in a Toyota Landcruiser and started out into the desert.  Our first few stops in the black desert were a little disappointing and we started to question coming on the tour at all.  However, so fun off-road driving into the white desert quickly proved us wrong.  Amazing chalk-white rock formations jutted out of the desert floor resembling everything from mushrooms to rabbits to giant male genitalia.  We spent the night out in the desert enjoying food cooked over the open fire by our driver, and sleeping under the stars.

Tomorrow we are making one last attempt to retrieve our package from the US before heading to the airport for our flight to Istanbul.  We are both excited for a slight change of pace from the Middle-East, but are nervous about the rise in prices.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saddle sore in Cairo

Tony and I had a marathon day yesterday encompassing several different major ancient Egyptian sites around the Giza area.  We had organized the trip the night before, a story in itself...so here goes: On Saturday we sat down for after-dinner tea and communal sheesha with two fellow hostellers (both Aussies) at a local shop not far from the hostel.  As four Westerners you certainly draw a fair amount of attention from seemingly every Egyptian on the street, attempting to sell you on just about anything under the sun, but usually some guided tour around the Cairo area.  One Egyptian next to us started chatting about how he understands how we get sick of getting touted at every possible moment, and his command of English was also substantially better than most.  Cliche as it sounds, his name was Aladdin.  As it turns out, he's an Arabic teacher back in the States (Marquette University in Wisconsin), is part owner of the sheesha bar we were sitting at, and is home for his daughter's wedding.  Aladdin was also a pretty damn good salesman, because by the end of a long conversation with lots of laughs and some free rounds of tea, we had committed to his friend as our taxi for our Sunday.  Just how things work here in Egypt. 

The day started at the relatively obscure pyramids of Dashur, which for my part was one of the hihglights of the trip.  A bit off the beaten path (hired taxi or tour is really the only way to get there), we were able to enjoy these two pyramids with less than 20 other people around, quite amazing compared to the thousands that descend upon the more well-known Giza complex daily about 15 miles away.  Also while deep inside the Dashur pyramids the lighting system decided to fail for several minutes--quite an eerie feeling and fortunately Tony's trusty lighter showed the way.  The ruins of Memphis and Saqqara were also impressive in their own right, but the Giza plateau earned it's reputation and stole the show.  I rode a camel and Tony a horse for some amazing views of the Pyramids and spent an hour or two sipping tea in the desert at a Bedouin camp.  We then made our way back into Giza and watched the sunset over a local rooftop. We also caught the beginning of the sound and light show conducted every night with the Sphinx himself as the MC.

Today has been a relatively relaxing day, with a second failed attempt at acquiring the package at the post office.  We're a bit saddle sore from our time at Giza (and as someone who has ridden horses a few times before, I can assure you a camel ride is substantially less pleasant) but looking forward to a short foray into the white and black deserts of the Western Oases tomorrow for an overnight trip.  We plan to be back in the Cario area Wednesday afternoon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Football in the Alley

Our overnight train ride was far superior to our overnight bus ride.  In fact, we arrived in Cairo with enough energy to actually head out and see some sites.  We decided to take it slow and go to the Egyptian Museum, only a ten minute walk from the hostel.  The museum is huge and loaded with artifacts.  Unfortunately, the information provided on the placards is less than adequate.  The Tutankamun exhibit was stunning, though, and the extra $20 to see the mummies was worth it.  The animal mummy exhibit was interesting too.  Who knew they  would mummify their favorite dogs and cats too.

Today we went to the post office to retrieve our laptop.  Whammy!  No laptop.  I'm disappointed, but can't say I'm surprised.  Things actually seemed pretty efficient in there, though, so it wasn't totally disheartening.  Alas, though, pictures will have to wait.  Afterwards we braved the excellent Cairo metro system to check out the Coptic (ancient Christian) section Cairo.  Eh, it was ok.  Then we went to Khan El Khalili, the giant warren of alleys that makes the market of Cairo.  We explored the vendors selling bunnies, watched a chicken get slaughtered, and tried not to buy too many t-shirts.  When one man started a conversation with us we asked him if he could point us in the direction of a felaffel stand.  He grabbed us by the arm and led us down a few alleyways to a little cart where we got foul and frenchfry sandwiches for less than a dollar.  Next, when he asked if we were thirsty he took us down another series of allies to a drink stand.  While watching some young kids playing Playstation2 on an old TV in the alley he asked if we wanted to play.  Without further ado they dug out more controllers and fired up another TV.  Ahmed and I played a hard-fought game and ended regulation time tied at one point each.  Shortly, a large crowd of youth was watching and rousing cheers of USA and Egypt erupted at each big play.  Unfortunately I was bested in overtime, succumbing to the superior skills of Ahmed and lost three to one.

In the next few days we will visit the Giza complex, encompassing the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and Saqqara, and we will also take an overnight tour to visit the white and black deserts and their oases.  

Thursday, April 8, 2010

End of an Era

I wanted to dedicate a blog to thank all of our faithful readers and ad clickers.  As of today, when our "AdSense" account was terminated due to suspicious activity we had already made $60.  I don't think we will get to keep any of that unless my appeal is successful.  Thanks again, though, for all of your hard work.  I will let you know if our account is reinstated. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crocodiles and Bananas

Hello back home, and around the world.  I hear the weather in New England is starting to feel like spring.  Congratulations.  I am writing from Luxor, Egypt.  Today we visited some of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, the Funary Temple of Queen Hatshopset, and the Collossi of Memnon.  In the afternoon we spent a liesurely three hours cruising the Nile on a Felluca.  Napping on the leeward side of a Felluca is probably the best therapy in the world, besides riding a Harley.  It was almost enough for us to scrap our plans for the Great Pyramids and do a multi-day trip to Aswan by boat.  Alas, our prudence got the better of us and we booked a ticket on the overnight train tomorrow to Cairo.  Before we depart we will visit Karnak and Luxor temples.  In Cairo we are hoping to pick up our waiting netbook, and we will be able to upload some long-awaited photos.  I have only taken about 900 so far, so it should be a pretty quick process.  I think we are both looking forward to punching the tourist tickets in Cairo and leaving the Middle-East behind.  It has been great, but there is so much to see, and we had a limited time.  It has felt more like a tour than a leisurely globe-trotting backpacking trip.  Hopefully Turkey, and the rest of Europe will let us ease into things a little more, and have a little more relaxation and living in the moment.  

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Who wants a busride?

Well, another quickie from Dahab.  We've been here for some time now, and we are ready to move on.  Tomorrow we are taking a bus from Dahab to Luxor.  Apparently it takes 15 to 20 hours.  Should be exciting.  On a personal note, I had my first near-miss with "mummy tummy", the name given to GI maladies contracted in Egypt.  Luckily, I think my self-proclaimed iron stomach was able to fight it off before it became much of a show-stopper.  So that's it for now.  Our next entry should be from Luxor, after visitng Karnak and or the Valley of the Kings.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Summit of Sinai

We were greeted with an amazing sunrise at the top of Mt. Sinai this morning.  This site occupies a holy place for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as it is believed to be the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.  The hike started at about 1 am, and with a couple breaks for Bedouin tea along the way, we made the summit by about 4:30 am and had plenty of time to enjoy the view.  A waning but still bright moon helped light the way and allowed us to dodge the dozens of camels lining the path.  At the base of the climb sits St. Catherine's Monastery, we could walk the exterior grounds but unfortunately the interior is closed until Tuesday since it is Easter weekend.  But after a basically sleepless light, we were just as happy to return to Dahab around 10:30 am and take it easy.  It's been a long night so we'll probably get back to Dahab's main attraction, loafing on the Red Sea.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Free and Easy

That's the way of life here in Dahab, Egypt.  Maybe not free, exactly, but pretty darn cheap.  We got here Wednesday evening after a five hour busride from Jerusalem to Eilat, a border crossing, and a 165kph taxi ride to Dahab (about 100mph for those who need it).  Since then we have been doing some hanging out, some snorkeling, and some sunning.  Pretty tough life.  Tonight we are making an after-dark ascent of Mt. Sinai to watch the sun rise.  In the morning we will climb down and visit St. Catherine's monastery, home of the burning bush.  Not much happening, so not much to report.  Next stop will most likely be Luxor and Karnak and the Valley of the Kings (and Queens I suppose).

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