We hiked the Kaibab Trail in one day. At the bottom of the trail, the temperature in the Canyon was reportedly 103 F. It took us a total of 16 hours & 37 minutes (minus 3 hours of laying in the Colorado River cooling off). Why so long? Just a few reasons: we went slow to prevent heat exhaustion and extreme fatigue. The last thing you want is to pass out in the middle of the Grand Canyon. The fact that the rescue helicopter is $ 1000 is the least of ones worries: it's contacting a rescue team in time to save a life! We also dealt with a "blown out knee" , another cramped knee issue & general fatigue. Oh! Did I mention? The sun set making the trip in the dark and then the advent of a mountain lion, pushed us along at a slow pace. On the plus side, walking the next day was a bit uncomfortable however no lasting soreness or injuries. Take it super slow and lots of water breaks. Some tips to help your adventure:
Another version of Turkish fast food is the kebab. Found in Turkey and across France, this specialty is hearty and delicious. Donner Kebab received a bad rap some years ago because of "hygiene standards" however, in general, it's a safe and healthy choice. Street kebabs like in this photograph, generally offer chicken and/or beef. They can be served as a sandwich in a thick bun with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and a variety of sauces.
The second type of kebab place is a sit down restaurant, where lamb is offered (my favorite). There are several different plate varieties in the kebab restaurants and for dinner I prefer an " assisette (in France)" or plate, to a sandwich.
Post Script. Don't be afraid to try kebab, whether in Turkey or France. Simply review the vender/restaurant, and make a judgement if it looks clean. Another tip is to see if and who is eating there. If customers are scarce - usually signifies quality. In Turkey, watch out for super cheap kebabs. Generally, kebab in Turkey is cheaper than in France, but a meal at 2 LIRA - I would avoid.
Gevrek simit are pretzels freshly baked. Perfect for breakfast on-the-go or for a snack.
Ciğ Köfte is ground beef and spices mixed together, served chilled with fresh lettuce. It's eaten like a wrap.
Freshly grilled corn. Talk about healthy!
Antalya is on the very southern tip of western Turkey. It's a beautiful coastal town, with the same glowing body of water that enchants tourists to Western Europe. The Mediterranean is just as blue and pristine with the added bonus of the Taurus Mountains. Go See: Harian's Gate, Hıdırlık Tower, Düden Falls & Kaleici.
Post Script. If you want to reach Antalya from Istanbul, go to Atlasjet for great airfare prices! If you can believe it, I had to change my return ticket to Istanbul a day earlier, and not only did Atlasjet not charge a change fee - they refunded the difference in price because the new flight I wanted was cheaper than my original. US airlines could learn a lot about customer service from the Turkish!
Flip through the photo album and see what awaits you in Antalya! Copyright2012
Remember Trains, Planes & Automobiles with John Candy? That pretty much sums up getting to Bursa from Istanbul. Luckily for most travelers, you'll be staying so close to the city and the port, that you'll miss the 15 minute taxi ride, the 45 minute train ride and 10 minute bus ride from Çekmece. That's part of the adventure, right? I think so too.
Bursa is inland. Getting to Bursa requires taking a ferry boat which lands outside of Guzelyali. The best part of this journey is traveling across the Sea of Marmara. As I looked out onto the water, I remembered reading about the siege on Constantinople and the importance this piece of water has played in the history of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.
Once you hit land, the next step involves taking a coach bus to Bursa. From that next bus station, you must find the city bus that will take you into the city.
Why would you want to go to Bursa? There are two things I want to tell you about: Ulu Cami -the Grand Mosque of Bursa and Iskender.
Ulu Cami -The Grand Mosque has a significant religious meaning in Turkey. Before making a hajj to Mecca, many Turks come here to pray in this mosque. Ulu Cami is legendary and considered divine.
Iskender - what is that, you might be wondering. I will tell you. It is a delicious plate of lamb, marinated and seared to tender perfection. Served on top of a sort of Turkish pita bread and adorned with peppers, tomatoes and the famous white yogurt. My favorite part is when the waiter comes by and drizzles oil from the frying pan right on your plate at the table.
ULUDAG - is an incredible soda pop from Bursa, that you can not find out side of Bursa. It fizzes but differently than sparklingly water. It tastes close to lemonade with less sugar and a hint of mint - although I am still not sure what that hidden flavor is.... I will travel again the long voyager of buses, taxis, ferry boats and coach buses simply for the Iskender and Uludag.
I usually go straight for chocolate ice cream or even tiramisu ice cream. Chocolate just needs to be involved. Then one day in Grasse, I happened upon an ice cream vender who sold violet ice cream - made with flower petals. Copyright 2012 Cimarron Voyager
The flavors are even more exotic with actual lavender ice cream. Copyright 2012 Cimarron Voyager
The first time I tried Ritter SPORT chocolate, I had no idea what I was about to stumble upon. Let's be honest: I am obsessive about chocolate. It's been developing for a longtime: first nothing could beat Cadbury bars with raisons and nuts - who can forget their flake bars- of course your Hershey Hugs and kisses, then your Dove chocolate Promises,and the advanced taste of Lindt- this list could go on for a while. I never thought these could be topped. I have tried hundreds of brands of chocolate. I will tell you, Ritter SPORT takes the cake, they are the game changer. The only problem is finding it in the US.
I discovered this gem outside of Strasbourg, France. I became an avid biker and one day with nothing to do, I biked across Strasbourg, following the tram lines to the Bridge of Europe. This bridge connects France and Germany crossing over the Rhine. There is a secondary bridge for walkers and cyclists and once crossing into Kehl, it lead me to a residential area. I used the Winnie the Pooh method of navigation and wound up at shopping center. Walking into the grocery store, I perused and found many items beloved in American kitchens that were no where to be seen in France, when my new love starred right at me. An entire display dedicated to the many flavors of Ritter SPORT. At 1.5 euro a bar, I took home 20 euros worth. ( Give me a break, I was biking 20 minutes to get there and 20 minutes to get back) The milk chocolate bar, neopolitan wafer, praline, whole almond, expresso, butter biscuit, strawberry yogurt...it just goes on and on. I thought I had hit chocolate bliss. A few months later I moved to Munich for summer classes. That's when I learned - it only gets better. They have summer flavors that are extraordinary: wild berry yogurt, strawberry, red berry, stracciatella, peach/passion fruit... You might be wondering, what does a Ritter SPORT look like? Well, this is the best part. The bar is made of 4 x 4 rows with individual squares that are easily separated. The entire bar is covered (generally) with milk chocolate. In the inside is the various filling. I have never liked jam like, gooey like fillings. Ritter SPORT doesn't do that: the filling is mixed and solidified. You get the real taste and flavor perfectly formed inside the first layer of thick chocolate. If I could accomplish one thing in life, it would be to have Ritter SPORT's full line available in the United States. One can only dream. While we are sitting in this field of dreams, I found a website that some of the chocolate can be ordered from: http://www.germandeli.com/rittersport.html
For the official website: http://www.ritter-sport.com/#/en_GB/home/gateway/
**Note: if you want to see their full European product line, look at the site in German or Italian. Copyright 2012 Cimarron Voyager
So, you have decided to take your vacation in France and you want luxury however you don't want to break the bank. I have some golden tips that are virtually unknown outside of France. Hotel bills will cost you a fortune. Even two and three star hotels will cost you at least the amount of your plane ticket for a week vacation. Considering a month long get away? A hotel will cost you three times as much. What's my golden advice? Rent an apartment or villa by the week or month (s). Going through traditional travel agencies and "immobilier" agencies are not only super expensive, they demand a non refundable fee equal to the amount of your entire stay. The French rarely even bother with that. They use leboncoin.fr. It's a site that let's you find "locations" and "locations de vacance" through mainly private renters in every region of France. The prices are usually spot on reasonable and will put your hotel bills to shame. I do have two notes of warning: Firstly, when you make the reservation and arrive at said destination, you will meet up with the renter and have a walk through. In my experience , I have always had renters who followed the law and drew up contracts that detailed the cost, your refundable deposit ( to be given at the end of your stay) and the state of the apartment or villa. These documents are signed in duplicate and ensure your rights as well as those of the renter. If you come across a situation where the renter does not offer this contract - walk away and decline. If for some reason you do not receive your refundable fee, with that contract you have legal rights to it. With out this contract you open yourself up to a host of problems. Secondly, try and find renters who are not going through an "immobilier" or agency. Skip their non refundable fees. You want to find private owners. Both are advertised on the site. **Use your camera to take photographs of the apartment as proof that no damage occurred during your stay. In the unfortunate case your deposit is refused for a false claim of "damage", you'll have the photographs as proof.
Keep in mind this is a French website and most of these renters will be conducting business in French. Don't worry - it's not a state of the union address in French i.e. you can use an online translator to get your point across. We're talking basic words and verbs for renting that can be easily googled. The renters will understand you. Trust me, I didn't speak French when I moved to France and this method worked. For the actual meet and greet, if your French skills are zero, go ahead and use an online translator. Type what you want them to know in English and print out the translation. Keep your English translations brief, to the point and avoid long sentences. This never translates well. You might have to arrange a rendez-vous by phone and if they don't speak English and you don't speak French and you have no common language, use a text message or "sms" in France or keep correspondence to email. It is possible to find English speaking renters, so go ahead and try to confirm this in the initial email process.
If this seems a little too adventurous for you, make a hotel reservation in said destination and arrange the meet and greet the following day or so after arrival, feel it out and then decide. I have used this site on several occasions and with great success. One time I did get the short stick and the apartment had roaches ! Ick. I received a refund and vacated to a hotel for two days before finding a new apartment. I could tell the problem was not the cleanliness of the studio but more an issue of cleanliness in the building. The landlord was genuinely shocked. Moral of the story: have a back up plan. Copyright 2012 Cimarron Voyager