Tuesday, November 30, 2010

35,000 feet somewhere over mid-America

I will be diverted for a few days from my Greek, Black Sea and yet to be discussed, Amsterdam as we are hurtling across the United States on Alaska Air heading to Savannah, Georgia. . .that's the land of Paula Dean and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil . . .and of course, Riverwalks, Historic Districts and much more.

A conference there prompts this trip so explorations will be squeezed in among learning new things - but Joel will be researching while I sit in sessions and then we will hit that southern deck runnin'.  To come along with us, check the blog periodically as I will be posting.

I find technology fascinating, like where do my tweets go, and who are the readers of this blog and how do we do all this without wires and cords connecting us to something?  But here I am 35,000 feet, flying faster than I would care to think of  and with a computer connected to nothing solid but when I push the button the post will appear, the subscribers will receive emails and others will find it as the most recent post. 

If any of you have recommendations for places to go, see, do and eat in Savannah, please send them or make a suggestion in the comments below. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Greek Island Hopping: A Pansion Paradise

So many choices and not enough time to try them all.

That was the only dilemma we had in traveling in Greece without making advance reservations in October. As we got to the end of the month we did find a few places closing for winter, but still we had no difficulty in finding inexpensive -- and always, charming -- accommodations while traveling without set destination or itinerary.

The only place we booked in advance was the Hotel Manessi on this island of Poros because it was our first stop some 24 hours after leaving Seattle. Spontaneity has its place but not after a combo marathon plane, train, bus and ferry trip.  (The four nights we spent here at the end of the trip were booked when we walked up to their front desk.)

While we don't usually make reservations, we do our research by reading books, articles or the Internet (we enjoy the reviews on www.tripadvisor.com) or by simply talking to fellow travelers prior to arriving in a place. Even though we had an idea of what might be available. . .

Selection: A Matter of Serendipity:

Spetses: We'd planned to stay a night or two; we liked the website of a boutique hotel here.  As the ferry approached, we decided the waterfront hotels would be fine. After disembarkation Joel set out towards them, with me at my normal, ten paces behind him.

So I was the one, a man approached, offering a brochure saying, "If you are looking for a place, try mine - Villa Christina - it is only 500 meters up the road."  Although the waterfront hotels were fine, the brochure photos tempted and we set out to take a look at Villa Christina. It was so doggone charming (made more so by a courtyard filled with orange and lemon trees and brilliant bougainvillea blossoms) that we ended up staying there four nights at 35E, or about $50, per night. (We would never have found it on our own.)

Our Hydra hotel was a phone call away . This was our taxi across the channel.
Hydra - We had absolutely no plans to go there. Then we'd driven a narrow road through an olive grove late on a Sunday afternoon and ended up at a teeny dock where a small water taxi service operates between the Peloponnese and Hydra. The temptation was too great; we decided on the spot to go there so we certainly had no idea of where we would stay. This was spontaneous travel - even for us!  We asked the lady who'd sold us the taxi ticket for a recommendation. She made a quick call, (in the photo above) reporting that there was a nice place, no water view, available for 35E a night. 

When we asked how to find it, she replied, "He will meet you at the dock."  Sure enough, George, the manager, was at the dock to lead us to his Pension Erofili.  The rooms were spacious - we were tempted to stay longer but had a rental car to return so had to put this place on our 'return to' list!

We found our hotel in Aegina several blocks from the ferry dock
Aegina:  We again had a pension in mind when we arrived but scrapped that idea when  two local men explained that the place we were looking for was on the other side of the island, 45 minutes away by taxi.  So we walked the streets, bags in tow, until we passed a colorful building with the word "Hotel" on its front.  We spent two nights in this renovated neoclassical building built in the 1700's,  and now called  Aeginiti Koarchontiko.  Our rate here was 50E a night which included breakfast - fresh made cakes, cookies, pastries and a hot egg dish made by our hostess.

We've now spent four months of the last two years vagabonding through Greece, successfully using this 'go and find a place' system and will likely continue to do so until we are too old to haul bags around.   And this is what we do:

1.  Travel only in the low or shoulder seasons (early spring or late fall) -- we wouldn't try it in the middle of high season or at Easter or other holiday times when rooms are in demand (rates are also higher then). 
2.  Schedule our arrival for weekdays, as there is sometimes less availability on weekends.
3.  Ask to see a room or two (guidebooks recommend this as well) and if we aren't sure about a place we tell them we will give it some thought and may return. This isn't an attempt to get a lower price; sometimes we really don't know if we want Place A until we see Place B.
4. Pack lightly, using small carry-on-sized roller bags and smaller shoulder bags; this wouldn't work with lots of luggage.
5. Ask locals or other travelers to recommend places. We've had some of our best experiences following the advice of others.

Do you travel without reservations? Have you stumbled across a place that we should know about? Use the comment section and let us know.

Photos on this post are the property of Jackie Smith and can be used - only with prior permission.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Bosphorus Strait - Fact and Fantasy

Our journey through the Bosphorus Strait from a practical standpoint took us to and from the Black Sea.  But it seemed as though this waterway was leading us on a magical journey into the land of myths and fables.

Rumeli Fortress in the morning mist
We'd left Istanbul in the middle of the night (by our standards) at 11 p.m. For that reason, I was alone on our balcony watching the lights of the Asian shore as the Westerdam, our 82,348-ton cruise ship, glided toward the Black Sea on a rather chilly night in early October. (Joel, a bit more sensible, opted to sight see on our early morning return trip.)

It took just a bit more than a half hour to traverse the 20-mile long Bosphorus, the waterway connecting the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. This narrow channel, the fabled waterway of Jason and the Argonauts, varies from a half mile to 1.5 miles in width, bisecting two continents, Europe and Asia. 

Leaving Istanbul's busy harbor, we began our journey by sailing under the Bosphorus Bridge; so grand a structure that it seems more an elaborate sculpture sweeping across the waterway than a major highway between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.

At night it is as brightly lit as a theatre marquee.  Just as we passed under the bridge, a light show began above, magically, it seemed. The clear lights illuminating the cable spans chased back and forth, off-and-on like tumbling dominoes between the towering bridge pillars outlined in blue lights. (It probably happens every hour, but I'd like to believe it was done for our benefit - setting the scene for our magical, mythical journey.)

Allowing that myth and magic to guide my imagination, I envisioned the kings and queens and mythical beings who lived in the grand buildings lining the Asian shore; some of which were outlined with lights and others mere shadows against the dark sky. Tourist maps show that they were, in fact, -  hotels, the Beylerbeyi Palace, a school, a pavilion, and numerous unknown structures. Those buildings gave way to expanses of darkness,  then the few lights in a small fishing community and we were entering the Black Sea.

We need to return to towns along the Bosphorus
Our return trip was on a misty-almost-rainy early morning (before 7 a.m.) which again lent itself to a magical wrap that softened the views of villages and structures along the shore.  The ship's topmost deck was our viewing platform where, with a handful of fellow cruisers, we'd race from side to side so as not to miss anything along the way.

It was all too soon over and we were passing Istanbul's Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace en route to Athens.  But this short stretch of waterway will draw us back one day. Next time, though, we'll use local ferries from Istanbul's harbor.  Guide books say ferries can take from 5.5 to 7 hours depending on the stops made along the way. . .now that will be a cruise!

Note: Photos in this post are the property of Jackie Smith, permission required prior to re-use.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Booking it with Argonauts and Turkish Tales

We still bring a paperback or two on trips and save room in the suitcases for any that we might purchase along the way. (Eat your heart out Kindle, you're not yet invited.)
Searching for books is a highlight of our travels, but one place we didn't expect to find a fun read was in Vikos Marine Supply store in Poros, Greece.  

Ferry arrival on the island of Spetses
Julian Blatchley's Adjacent to the Argonauts, a voyage of discovery in Greece (Matador, 2010) caught our attention because we'd learned about the Argonauts when our cruise ship had stopped  in Volos, Greece, the place from where Jason and his Argonauts are said to have set out from on their ancient world adventure to find the Golden Fleece. The modern town has built a replica of the mythical Argo ship. (Click the 'things to do' link on Volos for full story

And we'd also cruised the Bosphorus to and from the Black Sea, which is thought to have been Jason's routing. But the book sale was a done deal simply because the store owner said, 'It's a good book. Julian is a friend of mine."

Actually the book has nothing to do with Jason and his crew; it's a comic travel memoir about Julian's misadventures on a sailing holiday through Greece's Saronic and Argolic islands in the late 1980's with his friends Malcolm and Rex.

Blatchley's First Law of Nautical Recreation:  "The brilliance of the manoeuver is in inverse proportion to the number of people watching it."

It's an engaging, entertaining yarn that I still suspect prompted our visits to the islands of Spetses and Hydra, as neither were on the radar screen when we had headed to Poros. We also went to Perdika, a harbor town, the motley crew had sailed to on the island of Aegina. Amid the chuckles, the book provided great insights into sailing -- it isn't as easy as it looks.

A post script:  I scribbled, on the back of a business card, a note telling Julian (who doesn't live full time in Poros) how much we'd enjoyed the book and left it at the marine supply store.  Julian emailed this week - he'd received the note.

A harbor cafe in Perdika, Aegina Island
The book we'd brought along for cruise ship reading was Turkish Reflections, A Biography of a Place by Mary Lee Settle (Simon and Schuster, 1991).  Settle's detailed writing led us through Turkey, its customs and beauty of its cities and countryside (far more than we saw on the cruise) as she wove a tale of her past life in Turkey in the early 70's with her nostalgic return in 1989.  A sample of her observations:

"Turkey is more than ruins, or armies, or great-fawn-colored spaces of central Turkey, the mountains, the wild shades of green in the northeast.  It is a cared-for plant in a window, a geranium as tall as a small tree and covered with red bloom against a white wall, the controlled tumble of a grapevine, the economics of food and shade together on a trellis above a tabled in a hidden courtyard, a pot of basil in the captain's cabin on a fishing boat."
Another book we wish we'd read before the cruise, but learned of from fellow cruisers was, Black Sea - The Birthplace of Civilisation and Barbarism by Neal Ascherson (Vintage, 2007).  This this non-fiction paperback about the culture, history and politics of the Black Sea countries their people came highly recommended.

Note: These three books can be found on our Amazon.com carousel on the left-hand side of the blog home page.  They are also available from  Book DepositoryPhotos are the property of Jackie Smith and can't be used without permission.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cruising: A Matter of Dollars and "Sense"

Our cabin on the Westerdam
 "I'd say this view is worth the $8,000 we paid for the cruise!" the guy next door told his roommate the morning we were docked in Istanbul. "But 12 days will be enough, I'll be ready to get off."
Note: I am not an  eavesdropper. I was in the midst of my ritual 'morning-coffee-on-the-balcony' when I overheard the pronouncement.  Our cruise neighbor, we were learning, liked making proclamations and other bodily noises while on his deck, perhaps not realizing -- or caring about -- how sound carries.   

I am certain his bodily noises would have intensified had I leaned around the partition and told him that his view cost  more than double what ours had on this "Black Sea Medley "cruise.

On my balcony I'd also learned: He'd nearly missed the ship because of a delay at the airport.  No problem, he'd said, because ". . .some sweet talkin' to Holland America and they would have rented a chopper to get us to the next destination."   (Hmmmm. . .. don't think so, read on. . .)

A few days later. . .

While chatting with another (U.S.) West Coast couple;  our conversation followed a typical pattern of "cruiser talk":
Enjoying the cruise?
This your first cruise?
(Then,clearing the throat) . . .and so, what did it cost you?
Their response to the price we had paid was: "That was per person, right?!" 
When learning that it was the total cost, the lady blurted, "We paid $12,000!!!"

They were new to cruising and had sought the advice of a travel agent. Her husband said they'd only wanted a 'place to sleep' as it was the ports of call - not the cruise ship luxuries - that had appealed. The agent convinced them to book a mini-suite.

And then. . .

Over sail-away drinks, (those libations consumed while watching the ship leave a port) a man told us his cruise woes began when an East Coast storm caused flight delays. He'd missed the ship and spent his first 'cruise night' in an Athens hotel. The next day he had to fly from Athens to Kusadesi, Turkey to catch up with our ship.

"I missed an entire stop" he lamented, adding that next time he will allow an extra day to get to his port of embarkation. (Note: HAL didn't hire a helicopter for him.)

We had a spacious deck - well used on sunny days
 Even with 'good deals', cruising is a chunk of change when you consider all costs associated with it; but there are ways to save "Dollars and Sense". Here are our suggestions for doing so:

1.  Web surf - it is free and easy. Check out various cruise lines and itineraries.

2.  Decide what's most important: the routing and ports of call or the cruise ship amenities.

3.  Do a bit more research: * Read on-line reviews such as those on Cruise Critic.
* Check out the shipthat interests you on the cruise line's web site - look at floor plans and on-board amenities; read the links to the ports of call on the itinerary.

4.  Get price quotes - even for the same cruise. We use CruiseCompete.com. When comparing prices make sure the price quotes are for the same category cabin. (size of room and location on ship). (We are researching a 2011 fall cruise for which we've seen three different prices already)

5. Ask about on board credits or other booking incentives.

6.Talk to others who have cruised; consider their opinions and recommendations.

7.  Use a travel agent if you aren't comfortable making cruise arrangements over the Internet. But use one that knows cruising first hand. Note: some now charge for advising you on options but usually apply the fee to your travel purchase. (It's okay to ask: If they've cruised in the part of the world in which you are interested? How much cruising have they done? Which lines have they cruised on?)

8. Think over the options they give you; you don't need to book on the spot. We've often had a cruise on hold for a few hours or overnight to give us time to check out airfare (using frequent flier miles requires some flexibility in travel dates, for instance).

9. Consider logistics and costs of getting to and from the cruise. (We've passed up some great cruise deals because of difficulty or cost of getting to the ship.)

10. Plan your travel to arrive a day or at least an evening before your cruise, especially if crossing time zones You'll have a cushion against delays (and costs associated with them) and you'll get a jump on curing jet-lag.

HAL's Westerdam in Piraeus, Greece
I invite those travel professionals and cruise enthusiasts out there to add your recommendations for saving dollars and 'sense' by using the comment section below.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sevastopol: We're not in Kansas,Toto!

In  Sevastopol, Ukraine, I knew how Dorothy felt after she and her dog, Toto, arrived in the Land of Oz

We generally consider cruise ports of call to be 'appetizers', giving us enough taste of a place to prompt a return someday. But, this stop -- of less than three hours, in our case -- took Sevastopol off our 'future's' list.

Admittedly, we had but a snapshot of a city on a  rainy, gray day; a setting that gave a spy-movie feel to the place, but that wasn't the only thing. . .  

First, on the positive side -- unlike the guarded welcome at Sochi, Russia --we were allowed off the ship here to wander the streets on our own. So we had a chance to explore the town - unlike fellow cruisers who saw  Romanov's Summer Palaces and the Best of the Crimean Riviera on ship-organized tours. 

                        Strolling through the park
Tourism websites describe a Sevastopol that is vastly different from our 'snapshots' which include:
* Sodden streets, empty, but for an occasional pedestrian or two.
* Empty parks - music playing from high mounted speakers in one gave a haunting feel to the empty surroundings.
* Closed stores.
* A handful of elderly women standing on a street corner near the padlocked sprawling market area selling produce from small plastic bags.

Weather conditions and timing of a visit can affect first impressions, but it is the interaction -- or lack of -- with people, that leave lasting impressions  Here, I wondered, were people's souls as empty as the streets? 
Although there were people, we had no verbal or non-verbal contact with them. It was if we were invisible. Or maybe they wanted to be invisible?

Our travel fall-back greeting, 'smile-and-nod-if-you-can't-speak-the-language' didn't work.  You have to have eye contact for that. There was no eye contact. There were no smiles.

I tested my invisible theory on those we did encounter:  a family at an espresso machine in the park, a few lone pedestrians, a trio outside a church, a clerk in a deli. . .each time their gaze -- (and in each case they had watched us approach) was quickly averted to someplace off in the horizon just beyond our shoulders. 

An elaborate fence reminds one of Sevastopol's history
A War Torn History
When one considers the history here, these folks, and generations before them, really haven't had much to smile about. The Crimean War and its Siege of Sevastopol in the mid-1800's and World War II are local history.  With all the memorials and monuments they've erected, those battles won't soon be forgotten. We saw war memorials (guns are prominent in the designs), statues of war hero's and Lenin, elaborate ironwork fences with designs incorporating the dates: 1941 - 1944. Even the facade of the stately Vladimirsky Cathedral was pockmarked with what appeared to be bullet holes.

 Gun Metal Gray
Even today there is a strong military presence. Our ship anchored in such a manner that our balcony was a viewing stand from which we could watch a passing gunmetal gray military ships . . .we weren't sure if they were Ukrainian or Russian ships.

With the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, both Russia and the Ukraine claimed the Black Sea fleet stationed there. By 1995 they had agreed to divide the fleet between the two countries.  The ownership of Sevastopol continued to be a point of contention and in 1997 Russia dropped any claim to Sevastopol but got 80% of the fleet.

A cruise stop is but a snap-shot of a place - the one we put in our memory book of Sevastopol is gray-toned, well, in fairness with just a splash of color:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sochi Russia: A Narrow Welcome Mat

                                    My View of Russia
One of the reasons I liked the itinerary of our Black Sea cruise was that it would allow me to set foot in Russia, the land from where my mother's parents left in the early 1900's for America's promise. 

And because Sochi -- stretching along the Black Sea with a backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains, some 90 miles beyond it -- is the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, it promised to be one of our most interesting ports of call.

                Our cruise routing took us to Russia 

Weeks before the cruise began we were notified of Russia's visa (and that's not the credit card)  requirements:  get one on your own, sign up for a group tour, or stay on the ship.  Visitors are not welcome to simply go explore the town as with the other ports of call on this trip. 

Using a link on HAL's website, we signed up for a tour before leaving home.  The response:  we were 'wait-listed' for the 4.5 hour highlights tour that we had selected ( $59USD per person). 

The night before arriving in Sochi, having heard nothing about our outing, I joined a line of fellow cruisers at the oft-crowded tour desk to check our status, only to be told, "Sorry, you don't show up on the waitlist. Hmmm," she added,  "we will have to make note of this."

It didn't matter really as others were told there was still a wait-list for two of the tours -including the one we had wanted.

We  opted not to take any of the three yet-to-be-filled remaining tours, priced at $89, $94, and $224, per person, with outings including tea at Dagomys tea plantation, visiting Sochi's Friendship Tree and seeing 'the best of Sochi'.

So we stayed on the ship. No visit to the 'homeland' for me this tme.

Using our binoculars, we admired the snow-topped mountain peaks that drew the Olympics here; without binoculars we watched the two boats (pictured above) that never left our side while we were anchored.   Their presence on the gray, dreary day, added to the mystique of the visit, but didn't give a particularly warm and fuzzy welcoming feel to it.

Those who did go ashore told tales of narrow roads, lack of tourist facilities (dirty bathrooms, no souvenirs) and a traffic jam that caused at least one bus to go no further than a mile in an hour's time (several buses were delayed in returning to the ship). 

"How will this place ever be ready for the crowds the Olympics generate?" was the common question they asked. 

One thing is for sure, they need to enlarge their welcome mat or they won't have crowds with which to deal.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Turkey: Bazaar, simply. . .Bazaar!

Bazaars for thousands of years have served as commercial hubs and meeting places in Turkish cities.  Some, such as Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, have become popular tourist destinations and others operate without fanfare, serving as both market and meeting place for locals - wonderful places to be 'discovered' by tourists such as ourselves.

Our HAL cruise allowed us 'snapshot stops' in Turkey's Istanbul, Kusadesi and Trabzon. And at each place we explored at least one bazaar. Each was a different size and shape; the common denominator being that they are refreshing alternatives to the uniformity of our U.S. 'big box' malls.

I must admit that we skipped, (for a second time), Istanbul's enormous Grand Bazaar, today a tourist shopping mecca of sorts, that got its start back in Byzantine times. The place grew to be the trade center for the entire Ottoman empire. This colorful, maize of a market place continues to be on our 'next time' list, but with limited on shore time and many other places to see, (not to mention four other cruise ships in town - each with bus loads of cruisers heading to the Bazaar) we decided to save that experience for a future trip. After all, with 4,000 vendors  I might need more time there than a cruise stop would allow.
           A Different  Spice at the Spice Bazaar
Instead, we headed over the Galata Bridge to Istanbul's mid-17th century Spice Bazaar.  After all, our Pacific Northwest travel guru Rick Steves' "Istanbul" guidebook had described it as a place where "the air is heavy with the aroma of exotic spices." 

Okay, so I did find some displays with small canisters of open spice and if I stood close and breathed deep, I could smell them, but this market, like the Grand Bazaar, has  'gone tourist.' The first two shops we passed sold knock-off designer sun-glasses and postcards . . .and little packets of spice  - convenient for tourists to tuck into a suitcase. There were samples of Turkish Delight candies and offers of all sorts of items, but we weren't enveloped in the exotic, heavy air ambiance for which I had hoped.

Of course, if adding spice to your life instead of your food was your goal, you could pick up a nice belly-dancing outfit.

Just a short walk from where the ship docked, we made it through a gauntlet of vendors who lined a narrow passage way, once a cobbled street in the old city (now covered with green carpet to keep tourists focused on product and not footing).  Here, even the slightest pause to look at a display, resulted in vendors calling out,  “Hey, Lady! What you want?" “Hey Mister, from America? Come and write a check, I need money."  "May I ask you a question? Where you from?" They were a good-natured, but persistent, bunch. And, I might add, the shops were stocked with tourist items.

                  A street in Trabzon's bazaar district
We found our favorite bazaar here.  The bazaar (Carsi) district's streets were teeming with shoppers on the Saturday morning we visited. And real shops sold real things to real people: hardware, pottery, clothing, foods, dry goods and linens, scarves and (of course there were plenty of gold jewelry shop for the tourists who made it to the area, as well).  We would go back to Trabzon for many reasons and the town's bazaar area is definitely among them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Turkish Tea and Toilets

We don't take the land tours offered by cruise lines because we prefer to explore on our own.  Sometimes we have a destination in mind and other times we don't. 

And often times the most ordinary of experiences make for our most memorable travel treasures.  Such was the case with the Turkish tea and toilets in Trabzon.

                                                      A Trabzon street scene
We realized that on this, our third stop in Turkey during our Black Sea cruise, we had not yet sipped Turkish tea from those fragile looking cups that look like miniature drinking glasses served on  tiny saucers with tiny spoons.  We chose a place that for decades had been selling tea and offering a vast array of those walnut-honey pastries, baklava.

The one thing it didn't offer was a toilet.

Toilets, our waiter said, were across the street about a half block away. And then he led us to them: Down a long hallway and some steps at the back of a banquet hall. He directed Joel to the "Bey" room and then ceremoniously opened and held the bead curtains at the entrance of the "Beyan" room for me.

What happened next makes me laugh now; but at the time it was quite perplexing: 
The ladies room was modern with motion-activated lighting in stalls equipped with an eastern-style toilet (think toilet in the floor, a 'squat-pot') which was fine until . . .
I squatted and the light went off. 
I stood up, the light came on.
I squatted and the light went off.
I did this three times thinking,"Is this "Candid Camera"?
Finally, I took aim and did what I had to do - in total darkness.

When I came out, our gracious waiter was still there  and again opened the curtains for me.  He escorted us back to the street, shook our hands, thanked us again for having tea. 

He returned to his shop while we tucked away another travel treasure.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Open. . .Sesame! Those Street Treats

The temptations, it seemed, were on every street corner, at every ferry dock, bus or tram stop in Turkey and Greece. They were stacked high on tables in the open air or in glass enclosed colorful carts.

                              Lunch in Sinop, Turkey
We called them, 'those sesame circles' but the proper name in Turkish is simit and in Greek koulouria. By whatever name, they are some of the tastiest, cheapest street food we have ever eaten. I sometimes ordered by smiling at the vendor then drawing a circle in the air, pointing to the stacks, holding up two fingers for the quantity - I call it the 'point-and-smile' method of ordering in a foreign language.

It took a bit of time to convince ourselves to try them as they looked somewhat plain. I mean, there was nothing fattening to add to them or dunk them in - a practice to which we Americans have become far too accustomed.  Think large bread stick or small loaf of bread twisted into a circle and topped with sesame seeds.

But once we did sample them, we were hooked.  Some were sweet and others more like a cracker with the sesame seed topping providing all the flavor needed.  They made for several inexpensive lunches as we never paid more than .75E or TL (that's euro or Turkish Lira), often paying much less than that. The one I am eating in the photo above was still warm from the oven, as we purchased it at a bakery in Sinop, Turkey during our cruise stop there.

We eat on shore every opportunity we get when on a cruise (we welcome a break from ship's cuisine no matter how good it is).  And half the fun of exploring a new city is trying the new flavors and foods it has to offer even if it means ordering by my 'point and smile' method.


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