Ye (ancient) gods…

How would you travel if you had more time than money?

That is the question we chew on now that we are retired. Even with very reasonable retirement incomes, we make less money than we did while working – but must maintain our travel habit!

First up? Couch surfing with my daughter in Turkey! She camped under my roof for a couple of decades, so it’s time for her to repay the favor!

Given the political climate* between the U.S. and Turkey, getting the visa to stay for a month wasn’t trivial. In November, i had been stalking some travel websites, and learned that there was still a process allowing to obtain walk-up visas in the Istanbul airport – but only if you spent a few days in another country. This became Plan A.

Plan A, however, was scuttled somewhere around November 20th, as this work around was shut down – but both embassies announced that a limited number of visas would be processed. This became Plan B – we decided that we’d burn up some frequent flier miles, and hotel points, and plan to spend some time in Athens. Worst case? The Girl could hop over and visit with us, even if we were not given the opportunity to visit Turkey.

The application process was messy, requiring a metric ton of documentation – including pay statements from my son-in-law, a copy of the deed to their home. We had to provide proof of income as well.

We hired a service to expedite visa processing in Washington to hand carry our passports to the Turkish consulate. That was right before we took off for our Christmas holiday in mid-December. Much to my complete and total amazement, we were notified that the visas were granted just a few days later!

As excited as we were to have the visas, there was this bit of news. The US and Turkey came to an agreement to stand down, and return to normal visa processing about a week after we got our pretty stamps in the passports. Because of course they did…

We decided to proceed with a short stay in Athens on our way to Izmir. The Girl joined us, as neither she or Studley had been there before.  Thanks to my 20+ years as a business road warrior, the hotel gave us a room on the executive floor, providing free breakfast, and a happy hour with snacks! These served as two of our daily meals!

i’ll let some photos do the rest of the talking…

6 brealfast

Breakfast on the hotel terrace. That is the Acropolis in the distance. Truly a cradle of civilization, wandering the temples, gardens and facades scattered through the modern city provides a powerful perspective on “old”…

2 Evamgalismos

One of my favorite things about the old section of Athens is riding the Metro! As the Greeks prepared for the 2004 Olympics, they wanted to improve public transportation through the addition of a subway – but when you’re digging in Greece, every hole is full of treasures! Rather than remove them all, many were incorporated into displays at the Metro stops!

Street critters were generally well fed and cared for by some combination of residents and the city government. Many were tagged, giving some evidence of the “Trap, Neuter, Release” program. How very civilized. The U.S. could take a serious lesson here… Did i mention that they seem quite well fed? The three fat pups welcomed us to the Agora, near Monastiraki Square.

Street art abounds! i’m a fan of high quality graffiti, and Athens was not lacking.

10 late lunch

No visit to Europe is complete without time spent in sidewalk cafes. A bit chilly in January, we still managed to find several nice stops – for coffee in the morning, and beer in the afternoon.

We’re both embracing the gray hairs. Life is much simpler since i shaved my head. Studley still isn’t sure about the beard…



Being devoted “booze travelers”, we visited Brettos – a bar and tasting room operating since 1909. Ouzo, brandy and wine are available for tasting. Being in Greece, we chose the ouzo tasting!

i’ve had better ideas. The equivalent of one serious glass of ouzo got me pretty lit!  Stumbling Walking a few doors further, we stopped for a late lunch.  A giant plate of grilled meat helped me stabilize enough to hop the Metro back to the hotel! Perhaps the wine tasting is a better option?

Three days was enough! In general, i can highly recommend a few days in Athens – and January is perfect for missing the crowds (if you don’t mind a little chill in the air). Five suitcases and three backpacks into a taxi, and off to the airport for the next round…


* Two nominally adult men waging battle over the size of their weiners…

34 thoughts on “Ye (ancient) gods…

  1. so liberating embracing the greys plus no one questions giving me a discount! you both look great, liking the beard Studley and short is a good look on you girl!

    • We are not fond of the view from a tourbus window, but there is definitely a time and place for that. My first visit alone to Vietnam, i found it helpful to have a day with a tour first to get myself oriented…

      Ouzo? Once is more than enough. Now i have to resist those who are suggesting i try the Turkish version, Raki…

    • The thing that was strange? It was the size of a commuter terminal in Athens! Those flights are all pretty damn close (a few were long haul). Flying to Istanbul from Athens is like flying from Louisville to Chicago!

  2. You must visit us in the UK – my daughter is working at a very well known UK chain of coffee shops. She is fed up lugging the tables out at 6:30am and back at 7:30pm. You get the superb vista across the traffic back up from the lights on the A2 and count how many ignore the no right turn into the street opposite. Pah Athens – what’s that got? …. 😉

    • Ha! i often wonder why some cafes have outdoor seating when the view is of automobiles stuck in traffic, and the aroma is fumes! But you can turn anything into a game – and counting those who ignore the right turn prohibition could easily become a betting game!

  3. I have never had to negotiate a Visa process in all my years of traveling. Now that our administration is busy making friends every where, I am sure that I will learn what that is like.

    Your travels are amazing! I have never been to Turkey or Greece. I would love to spend some time in Greece but so far I have not heard anything that made me need to go to Turkey. And everything is going to wait until I have seen Machu Picchu. South America will be the next continent we go to. And the way things are going I am starting to wonder if we will be able to make long extended trips anywhere once the prostate cancer treatments start up again.

    Perhaps our next trip will be to Colorado to purchase the necessary ingredient for Rick Simpson oil. I am thinking that may be the real answer to Jim’s situation…

    I tasted ouzo once. Just lovely if you really like paint thinner…

    • i’ve had to get formal ‘sticker’ visas for work related travel in the past, so i was at least familiar with it. when i went to Cambodia and Vietnam, the visas were handled by the tour company hosting our visit, so that was easy. i was about to give up on going to see The Girl when the ‘walk up’ process ended in November, but Studley’s daughter used to work in DC, and handled such things, and gave us the name of the visa/passport expediter service that she had used – and they were stellar. Very anxious putting my passport in a FedEx envelope and shipping it away, but it all worked very well. If you ever need to do this, let me know and i’ll help navigate!

      One of the reasons to visit Istanbul? The layers of ancient and modern. So many different regimes – remnants of Rome, Egypt, Byzantine, Ottoman all bundled together and thriving. You can sit under the Galata Bridge, have a beer, and watch the sunset behind a thriving city that has been up and running for 5000 years. The Grand Bazaar opened in 1420. And is still open. Roman cistern under all of this is open for touring…

      Then there’s Ephesus – a train ride away from Izmir (or accessible from the port of Kusiadasa). The largest intact Roman ruins in the world. Absolutely stunning! We visited the center of the country, too, and did a hot air balloon ride over the Hittite villages, and fairy cliffs in Cappadoccia. Lots of reasons to come here…

      But Machu Picchu is also worthy of a trip – and on our list. i was able to visit a few years ago, and the plan is for us to go back and hike in through the Sun Gate. i hope that the treatments are gentle and effective, and that you are able to travel. Go to Colorado. It is so reasonable and functional there…

      • Okay. I guess I will have to add Turkey to my list. You make it sound very inviting.

        The raw ingredients for the Rick Simpson pheonix tears oil will probably cost us about $4000. It requires high quality herb to be really effective and a course of treatment necessitates purchase of about a pound of raw material. Alternatively we may go to California and just buy the oil since that state does not require you to be a resident to get the medicinal oil.

        When Jim had radiation he had to travel to Rolla (60 miles one way) 5 days a week for 7 weeks. Afterwards, he had terrible diarrhea for about two months. Don’t want to be travelling with THAT.

        • i think you would enjoy it – the history, the layering of cultures. given that you like a good quality cruise, i think you might find one that stops in Ephesus some day!

          agree that you’d be better off going to California. Ohio is supposed to legalize medical, but i can guarantee they’ll screw it up. Suburban whitepeople are already grabbing pitchforks and demanding that the dispensaries stay out of their “nice” neighborhoods (i went to a local meeting. i was stunned at the fear and stupidity).

          i hope you can find something that works for the diarrhea after this round of treatment…

  4. Hah. Grey hair. I have had it coming on for years. So far, I am about half and half. I have never really understood why we as a society have knuckled under to the cosmetic industry on that one. Especially since the ingredients in many hair dyes are carcinogenic. I never did understand why you would want to put them on your head… Just me, though.

    • i was nearly all white when i was about 35 – runs on my mothers side, i think. i kept some of the gray, and a gray stripe in the front, until i turned 40 then colored all of it. And for the life of me, i really can’t remember why… How much did i spend, and how many chemicals leached into my brain? For now, i’m going to get some fun wax/chalk colors and stripe it up if i am in a mood to do something with my hair. Or just bust out one of a dozen wigs i have in the costume collection!

      • Oooh, wigs! I don’t have any of those. Mostly I don’t really care what happens with my hair as long as it isn’t in my face. I have had short hair for a while and the convenience is great. Also, I like being able to see my earrings.

        • The wigs are mostly from decades of costuming and theater gigs, but it’s nice to have them around in case i’m looking to switch it up. The ears being visible has been fun – i’m likely to get a few more lobe piercings, and have already started playing with clips and things!

  5. Dear Daisy, do you remember YourZenMine blog from a few years ago? Mark and I gave up blogging but are still happily listening to and making (he is) music Down Under. If your budgets ever stretch to a visit, we guarantee you a place to stay here, and with relatives in our nation’s capital, Canberra. I will even take time off, given notice, to show you around. Mail me! Cheers

    • YES! Hello again! i will forever be grateful for the Augie March CD you sent — it’s been on regular rotation in my car for many years, and i’ve shared their songs with others here! We are hoping to put together a month or so visiting Australia, NZ, Tas in a couple of years, and will definitely try to find you.

      As an aside, we just received an Australian built camper – the Gidget. Although the company is momentarily in a restructuring mode, that little teardrop is the sweetest, most beautifully built bit of roadtrip heaven i’ve ever seen! They built about 100 of them, so you may see them out and about…

    • Very cool that you were USAF! i’m not much better at the wine tasting – if i don’t know what to say, i just say “It’s approachable”, and like you have never refused a bottle. But gotta say, i’ve never done a spit take! 🙂

      Turkey is a fairly large country – the eastern side, and Syrian border is a mess. But Izmir is in the south, on the coast of the Marmara Sea (Aegean). Modern, clean, beautiful city. It’s strange to me that you’d never realize a war is happening on the other side without media…

      • You are right about the media reporting. Also years ago we visited Ireland and the IRA was still fighting in Northern Ireland (UK). We visited the republic of Ireland (south) but friends and relatives questioned the trip because of the news of the IRA problem. People often don’t pay attention to important details like Northern Ireland being part of the UK.

        • When there was an earthquake in eastern Turkey a few years ago, friends and family asked if my daughter was OK. i built a map overlay – it showed the distance from where my daughter lives to where the epicenter was. Compared it to her living in San Diego, and there being an earthquake in Albuquerque. I think it helps when i put the distances into terms/locations that are more familiar.

  6. Oh, I could do with a bit of sun and wine out here. So glad you’re using your time wisely! The Greek stray animals look a lot better fed than the ones that wandered around Funchal when I lived on Madeira. I wonder how the cats survive here — minus 35 last Thursday.

    I’ve got to go to Kyrgystan this weekend. No idea what to expect there!

    • You’ve reminded me that there’s another great way to travel if you’ve got more time than money — teach English in another country! My daughter got her certificate to teach from a school in London, then had two job offers. One in Moscow and one in Izmir. She looked at a map and said “Moscow would be interesting, but it’s too cold. i’m going where there are beaches.” A wise choice it seems. MINUS 35C?!?!? Holy shit.

      Looking forward to reading about your adventures in Kyrgystan. i had a friend who visited 5 of the ‘ – stans’ and he raved about the beauty of the countryside. He didn’t go in winter, though.

  7. I love your hair, both the cut and the color! Mine is taking its time going gray and I actually wish it would hurry up. (My mother was almost 80 before hers was totally silver.) I have some gym acquaintances who color their hair, and spend a lot of money doing that. I dunno, when you’re over 65 you’re not really fooling anybody. One of the ladies, though, has gorgeous snow white hair that she wears in a short bob. She looks fantastic, as do you!

    • i remember hating the white when i was younger… i kept it long, too. after i had a medical situation where all of my hair fell out, it never was quite the same, and has been thin and weird. keeping it long was a struggle, so i usually ended up wearing hats, even after spending an hour trying to make it look presentable. With the travel we’re doing, camping, hiking as well as living abroad a bit, hair is a liability! My daughter assures me that we could find someone here to do cut and color if i needed it, but i had it shaved down extra short before i left.

      To each his or her own. But i’m delighted with the change!

    • Thank you so very much for sharing the link to your interview! Nico is an inspiration! We are but toddlers on that path – but our goal is to move from tourist to traveler. His description of learning a new language gives me hope – we are feeling so very inadequate as we go about our daily experiences, but are finding that we get great encouragement from people who are both happy that we are trying, and wanting to practice a little English…

      We met a gentleman from Glasgow tonight – a friend of my daughter, married to a local woman! They are part of a beautiful community of Turks and ex-pats that come together as part of a global community.

      Thank you again for the link – going to share it with Studley. We have neither the skills nor the commitment to take things to the level that Nico has, but he is indeed an inspiration!

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