Saturday, May 10, 2014


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After our boat ride on the Bosporus River, we retreated to our hotel for a half hour to get ready for our first dinner together. Usla chose an Historic Restaurant that could feed 200 people during the reign of the sultans. He emphasized it wasn’t for the food, but for the historic atmosphere. The picture above shows the courtyard.DSC04678 (Copy)
You are looking at a huge scales in this huge restaurant.
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And the well from which they drew their water.
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A painting of a dinner in this restaurant with the Sultan and his guests.  People sat on the floor around round tables and ate from a common bowl.
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I was impressed with the chairs because the multiple holes in the back are to slip your fingers into the holes and pull the chair away from the table with ease. I loved them.
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On past trips I liked to take a picture of all of my travel mates and send them a copy. But, alas, I had reading glasses on a beaded string around my neck that whipped away never to be seen again while I was loading or unloading from the bus. My camera setting was not on automatic focus and unfortunately, most of the pictures are out of focus. Just like my eyes when I checked them. This is Joyce Jacobs, a fiesty 80 or 82 year old who let’s no moss grow between her feet. A world traveler, Owen was fascinated by her passport stamps.  (shhh. You can’t say the word short around her. )
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Judith Feldman, a Public Health Administrator, and MD. She carries her medical bag everywhere and came to the rescue of anyone in need of anything. She is very knowledgeable about medical politics.
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Is there a doctor on board?  This actually happens, and Michael Cutaia and his wife Judith have answered the call on an airplane once.  Pardon the blur, Mike. This picture lies because you cannot see the twinkle of impish humor in his eyes. A very enjoyable personality.
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Blurry, (I ask forgiveness,)  Joel Montion, a barber with the most gorgeous hair, a flirty French accent who claims he no longer speaks French because he has been in the U.S. too long. An inquisitive mind and the loving husband of Maria who he refers to as “My Cherie’”.
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Maria Shea is from Germany and swims like an olympian despite having had recent back surgery. Friendly and always sweet and smiling. “Joel is the best,” she says.
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Barbara Shubert, a teacher who entertained us by singing fun kids songs. And a hiking dynamo, also having had recent surgery. She travels with her long time friend Joyce Jacobs and the two are great ambassadors for OAT.
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Norman Segel, a pleasant, gentle giant with an inquiring mind for history and archaeology and home with any subject. He is paired with beautiful Joan Zucker whose picture is absent because she’d kill me if I published it. She was so blurred…well, my humblest apologies, Joan. She is a cellist for a symphony orchestra in Albuquerque, where they live. I’ll publish a photo of her down the line.
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Joyce Brody is an effervescent, unstoppable, helpful, do anything and everything personality who never met a person she didn’t like. She set the example of ultra friendliness and inspired all of us.
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Leonard Brody, kept in touch with sports while on the trip. He and his daughter are avid baseball fans and followed the game while in Turkey. We worried he’d go into a depression if his team lost. It is that serious, folks. He had us to distract him. He is quiet and sharing and... (men don’t like to be called sweet.)
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Georgina Smyer is a relocated Brit with a medium strong accent who recently retired from the Teamsters Union. An unlikely looking truck driver but she loved her job delivering asphalt to the spreading crews building highways. She was the leader of the Happy Hour on our trip, very friendly and outgoing.
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Usla, our unflappable leader, solver of all problems, who is very forthright about his political views, willing to discuss any controversial subject with us, educated beyond belief, speaker of perfect Kurdish, Turkish,  English and who knows what else. He made our trip flow smoothly,seemingly without effort,  and like the Mafia, he has connections in every part of the country. A cousin, an uncle, a friend…endless. Also, newly married and expecting his first child. (Just kidding about the Mafia comparison, Usla.) What did he learn from us?  Happy Hour!  Yay!
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Owen Puleston, who I have it on account from our mates, was well liked. He was appreciated for his ability to relate with adults and be conversational and able to comfortably mix with the group.
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And, myself, I guess I’d have to qualify one such as me as the camera addict. I tried to sing a child’s song, like Barbara, and muffed it. When asked to talk about myself for the homestay hostess, my tongue got twisted and I couldn’t remember my kids ages…Hopefully I’m a better writer than a speaker. And now, my photo skills are in question, too. (I’m laughing.) This was such a wonderfully, fun group of people to share a trip. We laughingly pointed out we had a frog, a limey, a kraut, some jews, a moslem, an atheist, and a boy who aspired to be a Pope. And, we all got along.
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From the pictures, you’d think we had nothing to eat but bread and water and flowers. The food was good and the drink was selap a milk and honey drink and a cinnamon and yoghurt drink, both good. I took this picture out the restaurant window of the Blue Mosque in the distance. I’m hoping I remembered the name of the restaurant correctly as Suliname.
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We walked back to our hotel with the spires of the minarets from a nearby Mosque lighting up the night.
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