Monday, July 27, 2009

So much driving...

So we left Corfu. Lost our people & got new ones. The new ones seem to be pretty cool & are quite comfortable with the rest of us that had already gotten to know one another. As we were leaving Greece we stopped in Thermopoli, saw Mt. Olympus & slept as much as we could on the bus. We drove thru to Kavala, got there pretty late & set up camp. Dinner, a wander, and then I went to bed. There are a few people who are drinking & up late most every night, but I am trying to get rid of this darn cough. The rest of the cold is pretty much gone, but the cough is very persistent! So fairly early to bed & then early to rise.

Packed up camp & hit the road. Headed out to Cannakele. We crossed through the border into Turkey & it was fairly uneventful, but Canadians had to pay the most for our visas, and that sucked. We rode on a Feribot & had some Turkish Tea. Stopped & saw the city of Troy & got photos inside of a wooden horse. Pretty cool, had a great guide for the tour. Then onto Cannakele - and our first hotel during our camping tour. There are a few countries here in eastern europe where camping isn't the best idea, so all in all we get 5 days in hotels. At the hotel we went for a swim in the pool, a walk along the ocean, had dinner & then some conversation until bed in a BED!

The next morning we packed up again & went to Gallipoli. Very cool place that I knew nothing about. But it was a pretty historic place for the Aussies & Kiwis in our group. And a very beautiful place for such horrible fighting to have occured, but the monuments & cemetaries they have are beautiful & definitely do the fallen proud. Then we headed into Istanbul. Beautiful & amazing, I cannot wait to spend more time in that city!!! The first night I did laundry & then we all headed to this little bar type place where we lay in the street on pillows & drank our drinks & smoked Shisha. It was pretty amazing & fun. Didn't help my cough, but I had to do it anyway :) I still called it a pretty early night, bed in the hotel by 12:00ish.

Next morning was a full day in Istanbul. We started with a walking tour, saw the Blue Mosque and hippodrome- pretty cool. The Grand Bazaar - which was  disappointing & insane. Mostly shops, not very market-like. And then we went on a hunt for the turkish bath with the most bang for your buck. We found one, 4 of us girls & 1 guy that tagged along. WOW! This was so amazing! We paid the money & went to a room to get undressed & put on our towel/sheets. Then we were led into the Women's area & told to undress & sit on our towels while soaking ourselves with warm water in a marble sauna environment. So cool. So bizarre. Very relaxing. Very funny for a North American to be lounging around naked with a bunch of women. After about 20min they came to get us & they lay you down on your towel on a marble slab & rinse you, scrub your whole body & then soap you up. They give you a soap massage, flip you over & repeat. You get fully groped by a largish turkish woman in a bathing suit & it's hilarious, strange & so amazing at the same time. Then they sit you up & wash your hair. A final rinsing & back to the sauna area for more relax time. And then the 2nd bit was they dry you off with towels & bring you back out into the main area. And then into a massage room for a full body massage with essential oils. It leaves you feeling slightly violated & very rubbery. It was amazing & I would do it again in a second!!!! After the baths we headed back to the hotel. A bunch of people went out to a dinner thingy & I did not. I went to a place that sold turkish delight & baclava & I bought some from the guy - Mr. Delicious. :) And then another woman from our group & I went out to try & do some late night shopping. It was unsuccessful, but nice to see Istanbul at night. Another fairly early night for me.

The next morning we packed up & loaded up the bus & then we had a 2 hour delay, so we wandered the Spice Markets. It was very fortuitous because I found a dress & have been feeling sorely lacking in the summery clothes department & was very excited to find a sundress!!! Then back on the road And into Bulgaria. No issues with this border either. It's been excellent! Arrived in Sofia in a gorgeous hotel, had dinner & then some people went out clubbing & some of us just went into the city to see a bit of it & then to bed. Still have a cough. Trying to kick it in the butt before Croatia!!!

Yesterday we were back on the road bright & early. Another driving day! I haven't gotten any flag patches or postcards because we're seeing some of the country, but mostly just there to sleep. That part sucks, but it's very cool to see them! We left Bulgaria & moved into Macedonia. It is SO beautiful in Macedonia. Stopped in Skopje for lunch, and had huge portions & it was a pretty neat city. And then onto Ohrid & our campsite. The campsite was such a sh*t show. That is literally the only way to describe it. So insanely busy & so many people & so little organization, and so dirty. We were very happy it was a one night experience. But Lake Ohrid was pretty cool. This was again a pretty mellow night for me. Dinner & then relaxing with friends. There have been a few people that have gotten a stomache bug on top of the regular cold that has been going around & so I sat with a pukey friend until she felt well enough to head to bed. It's pretty unfortunate, but I think it's good timing during our little hotel stretch for everyone to get it out of their systems. LOL I'm trying to hit the bed early & stay germ free so that I don't get it.

Today we were back on the bus, out of Macedonia & into Albania. It's pretty gorgeous here too! And we are now in Tirana. It's the capital. it's an interesting city as well, very colourful - but again, dirty. And tonight is our last night in hotels.

I thought that I would have so many comments on my last blog.. :( Thank you Brenda for making me feel loved ! hahaha

Hope everyone is well - I am doing great & loving this trip. Though I dont' think I'll be going thru withdrawal like Luke was. ;)

Shelle