Chapter Forty Three    Winter, 2008

 

Did we say we were getting ready to get to work? After all, that’s what cruisers do. Play in the summer and maintain their home in the winter. We decided we needed some more play.

 

We took a day trip to a place called Sultaniye. Here they have a wonderful hot spring and mud bath. Of course one is expected to jump into the fresh lake after bubbling away in the sulphur but it was too cold to take on the challenge. En route was an unusual garden sculpture.

                       

The girls took a late fall sailing adventure. There were three comedians and Sharon. She kept everyone in check. Days were spent hiking and chasing the dog. It was five days of stellar weather in a lovely bay about fifty miles away. The journey was spent on a friend’s 2008 fully electrified boat where everything is push-button. Our friend Banu is a single hander and loves it but it was a real experience for Sharon. So much so that she often forgot to wrap the line around the winch before she pushed the button. Fortunately, she didn’t come home and say she wanted to upgrade.

                                                    

Here you can understand why we can’t seem to leave Turkey. The hundreds of untouched bays are the most beautiful we’ve seen.

                                             

Add to the beauty Cleopatra’s Baths. Irresistible. The story told here is that her beloved imported the pure white sand from Egypt to be soft under his lover’s toes. It’s the only white sand in Turkey. It must be true!

                                                                                   

The girls even caught a fish on the return trip. Sharon was instrumental in the project, as you can see.

                           

She did participate in the feast and a wonderful memory was carved.

                                                                                        

Now you would think we’d be thinking about work. But it’s November and Thanksgiving had to be planned. So we celebrated in style with our American/Turkish friends who live nearby but don’t happen to live on a boat. Sibel prepared the chicken and stuffing while Sharon, of course, opted for dessert fixings. The day began at 2 PM and we clearly had a wonderful time since it ended at 2 AM. Now isn’t this your exact idea of Thanksgiving in Turkey!!??

                           

Well, you know what comes next. Not too much work. A little varnishing here and there. A little polishing and some minor repairs. But that wasn’t so appealing so we delved into Christmas.

 

Christmas was spent in Landstuhl, Germany with our niece and nephew and their two children. We were also joined by our niece’s sister and family and their parents (John’s sister Madeleine).  Here we all are.

                                                                                                    

The week was picture perfect. The town we stayed in is called Deidesheim, dated 1149.

 

If you can imagine the quintessential German village with Christmas bells, candlelit and smothered in wrought iron lanterns and glittery shops with bustling pubs, green feathered caps, carousels and cobble stoned walks that would be it. It was straight out of a Dickens scene. There was the local Christmas Fair which we attended the night of our arrival. There were hand-carved mangers, hand-made toys for children’s stockings and hand-painted nesting dolls. Marionettes galore. And Christmas Carolers everywhere. Gastronomic stands beckon you to a friendly feast and the local restaurants turn this little village into a culinary wonderland of mulled wine, bratwurst on rolls, roasted chestnuts, sugared waffles, potato fritters, crepes and flan. We won’t forget the ‘Bethmannchen”, small cakes made with marzipan and ground almonds, icing sugar and rosewater. All of it was magic.

 

The tradition of “Christmas Fair” originated in Frankfurt in 1393. They were begun for practical reasons, to provide citizens the chance to stockpile necessities before the harsh winter set in. But for today the romanticism of the fair offers a spirit not seen elsewhere.

                                

If that wasn’t good enough, we traveled about 100 km over the French border to Metz just to see how the French do it at Christmas. It was a tough contest.

                                                

The cold got us in the Christmas spirit.

                                                                  

The kids liked the food the most.

                  

The magic continued when the youngest got her “wish list” answered on Christmas morning. A guinea pig!

                                                                                                                              

We even found time to take a few photos of Heidelberg Castle which John visited many years ago. The day was perfect. Misty and frigid. It set the scene and we did lots of exploring on the grounds of this magnificent and extensive castle.

                                                              (sorry there aren't more) 

New Years Eve.  Roasted lamb, glazed carrots. French cheese imported from where else but Metz? Saucisson, Turkish olives and key lime pie. We didn’t go international; we went global. How better to spend the day than with friends in an exquisite bay?

 

The economic crisis is exhausting. But we are healthy and thrilled with this fulfilling lifestyle we have chosen for ourselves. So we just continue to count our blessings.

 

And our New Year’s resolution is to get to work!

 

Kolai Gelsun.