Day 2. Perfect Day Perfect Swims

We’re getting into routine. Up, dressed, sunscreen on, breakfast – which includes fruit, yoghurt and lots of vegetables and cheeses – we would consider lunch but here it’s breakfast. And delicious.

Then the walk down through the town to the boat. It’s a very different atmosphere in the morning. Very sleepy. All the party people are still asleep.

US swim buddies Zippy Bazza and the Silver Speedo, now B1& B2 keep up the banter of jokes and everyone is starting to relax and get to know each other. They are an interesting talented bunch of people. And some seriously good swimmers.

Taking advantage of our swim instruction from last night we all worked on our stroke as we swim along the coast. Especially Rachel! She has improved so much already. Ali, our fish lady, is a keen fish spotter and keeps us informed.

But it’s the bat cave that gives a thrill. In we go with the wave behind us. It’s a deep cave with enough light to spot the bats flying around above us. I don’t think they enjoyed being disturbed.

The 2.5km swim finishes in a perfect bay. While lunch is prepared we scatter around the boat, chatting or reading or taking an extra dip.

Today – yet another delicious selection of salads this time with little beef patties. It’s such a treat.

More rest on the sunlounges. Mustafa points out a turtle which gets a few back into the water. John gives Rachel another swim lesson. Effie plays around with Eoin. Altogether we very restful.

We tackle a 3km Swim in the afternoon but it’s easy swimming, especially compared to yesterdays 7 island crossings – which are always a little tougher to swim. Check out the map of the crossings.

By 4pm we are back at the Marina and into the restaurant to order ‘takeaway’ Turkish style. (We’re going to pick it up later on our way to the amphitheater ) Of course that involved a beer and lots of chat.

Tonight John, our guide, suggested a visit to the amphitheater, right on dusk to enjoy the view It dates back to 1st century BC. It is magnificent right by the sea. It’s hard to imagine enough people living in the area to fill it.

We climbed to the top, the cheap seats and enjoyed the view and the food – though B1& B2 went off for their own dinner. A boys date? We wondered. Swim Tactic talk? Planning their song for the concert perhaps ?

Yes, John wanted us all to perform. As night fell the stars came out. And I’m not talking in the sky. John first. He performed a Ballad followed by Irish Eoin who sang a traditional song and was quickly joined by Noirin who has a strong lilting voice. Next the Aussies. Not shy, but unsure what to sing. After waltzing Matilda we offered up Kookaburra Sits in an Old Gum Tree. For those who don’t know- that is a fun Aussie song about our famous bird. It comes with a strange second verse.

The concert continued with the UAS’s B1& B2 who sang up a storm along with Betty who provided the real talent. She followed up with a ‘hand on heart’ performance of America the Beautiful.

Others sitting in the amphitheater either left or decided to join in. A trio of Young Turks got going with a traditional song followed by a hip swivel song and dance and dragged Betty in to join them.

The English were hesitant but warmly encouraged and the South Africans had us drumming.

The night was in full swing. What the locals thought ? We didn’t care. We were having fun.

Day 1 Swim Trek Kas.

An early 6am start for an orientation swim set us up for a great Turkish breakfast.

We scrambled down some rocky stairs to pebble beach it’s a narrow cove with pebbles of all sizes. And three tents set up with sleeping bodies. We were way too early for them.

We waded in and set off at a comfortable pace. It’s hard to tell who the fast swimmers are at this stage! Except for College boys!

After breakfast under the purple bougainvillea our swimming party headed off for for our first swim.

The boat is amazing. Do big and comfortable. The best we’ve had.

It takes awhile to settle down and find a rhythm. My orange cap group of 6 swimmers kept together often led by crocodile eye George or my wing woman Betty.

Video session time came around and although I don’t think there’s much hope for change I did the swim for the camera.

Lunch was prepared by Zeynap while husband Mustafa barbecued the chicken. Delicious. Best swim trek food ever. About 6 different salads and grilled chicken.

Following lunch it’s rest time and there’s plenty of room on deck to stretch out. Comfortable blue mattresses.

We are very well looked after by Zeynap, our Captain’ s wife and their son Effie. He’s 15 and obviously loves playing around with Eoin our guide.

We swam along the gorgeous coast line around 2.5km in the morning and a 7 Island series of crossings in the afternoon. Quite a challenge for the first day. Around 6 km!

We had a drink in the evening to prepare our selves for the video analysis! It’s scary seeing yourself on the big screen. My video followed the two College boys, Zippy Barry and the Silver Speedo. They were zippy with perfect strokes and I was ……. well not so zippy and not so perfect. But John the guide was kind and others didn’t laugh. So all is good and I’ll try to take the comments on board when I swim tomorrow.

So a good dinner in the village and off to bed!

Kas Turkey. Let the swim Begin

Getting to bed at 2.30am doesn’t make it easy to get going in a new place – but we were up and enjoying breakfast on the terrace of the Linda Hotel by 9am.

Most of our fellow swimmers had arrived. It’s always exciting to meet the people we’ll be sharing our swimming week with. There’s 16 all up and two guides.

John we met in Montenegro a few years ago and he’s great and the other is lovely Irish Eoin who is on his fourth season. He has the biggest smile and a beautiful accent!

These guides move from location to location over the summer season. They have to love it because it’s very full on for them. They look after all aspects of the trip including us. But on this trek they don’t do the lunch! Lucky them.

We were a little apprehensive meeting some of the others. There are 7 who went to Milos Greece last year and got on so well they are repeating it.

Swimming attracts a certain kind of person. The love of swimming is the first thing – being relaxed and happy is another and this group looks great.

It’s a bit like a new class at school. There are the jokers, the shy, the quiet, the caring, the mothers, and encouragers but no complainers thank goodness.

Betty, our friend from our Galapagos trek let it be known I write a blog! So people are worried about how I describe them. I promise to be kind!

We had ‘instruction’ time followed by a ‘ get to know you ‘. It’s interesting hearing a little about each person. There are some who are taking up a challenge, those who are pushing themselves after health issues, some getting away from busy jobs, reenergising after relationship problems or simply choosing a holiday involving exercise.

There are two guys from the US who are great friends, great stirrers and fabulous swimmers. They swam for College in America. Currently getting medals at Masters swimming. Enough said!

Zippy Barry and the Silver Speedo are going up keep us on our toes both in the swimming and the stirring department. Then there’s Alison, the fish, Noirin a surfer girl from Ireland, Lesley a swim teacher from England, New Yorkers Vanessa and George, South Africans Pam and Adrian, English Diana, Helen and Rachel, another Australian Janty but no Germans this time.

Dinner in the village was absolutely awash with holiday makers. It had a great atmosphere, restaurants packed with tourists both local and from afar. Seafood featured on the menu. We ate well and cheaply and made our way home up hill!

Tomorrow the swims begin.

Scenes from Kas! Not bad at all.

Sunday in London

We woke to grey skies. Well hello London! Where is the blue sky of yesterday.

The man on the door assured me that there was just going to be a sprinkle.

I took his advice and left without an umbrella just a light jacket. Mmm

We walked to Hyde Park and strolled whilst others cycled and ran.

We passed the new Queens Gates.

We passed the Australian memorial and walked toward a Buckingham Palace. The crowds were out and so were the umbrellas! But not for us!

It started to rain. There were only trees to shelter under so on I went getting wet.

We headed for Guards Chapel for the Sunday morning service. It has beautiful singing and a band who look as good as they sound. Beautiful red uniforms!

I sat and dried out and shivered. Steve kindly gave me his jacket to warm me up.

By the time we left the sun was out so we made our way across to St James Park and wandered along in the sun looking left toward Buckingham Palace and right towards Horse Guards.

Coffee at the cafe in the park warmed us and gave plenty of opportunity to people watch. There are many tourists from all over the world all strolling peacefully through the beautiful gardens.

We then zigzagged our way back to the hotel passing some familiar sights.

The sun was out but it was time to catch a train to the airport for our next adventure. A swim trek in Kas Turkey.

The train was fine, the airport busy but our flight was something else.

I have never been on such a noisy flight. English families going on a beach holiday. Steve likened it to a school excursion! The noise!

Two rows in front of us were two big guys with more tattoos than teeth. They and another mate and children the odd wife and newly made friends stood in the aisles or knelt on their seats facing the rows behind telling jokes that only they thought were funny.

It went on and on for four hours. There was a wedding announcement which everyone applauded. There were multiple drinks and crisps purchased, a baby being passed around like a parcel and constant loud chatting! It was funny and awful all at once.

Four hours later we arrived in Dalaman and one of the men – Mr Yellow t shirt, gets up while the plane is still taxiing in and starts handing out luggage from the lockers. The hostess asked him over the loudspeaker to sit down and put his belt on so he joked around and sat in the aisle!

When we finally were allowed off, he pushed and ran to immigration and then called all 12 members of the group to jump the queue to be with him. What happened next was just and fair!

He went up to the immigration window. Next thing the officer is on the phone. The last we saw he was standing on the side waiting for someone to let him into Turkey! . Hopefully they sent him home!

We met up with Lesley another swimmer and Betty our friend and found our driver and made it down the coast to Kas by 2am!

A big sleep in is called for before swimming starts!

Lovely London

The first day of any holiday is exciting. Things to discover, sights to see.

We had a good nights sleep on the 8th floor of the Victory Service Club off Edgeware Rd near Hyde Park.

It’s a big old club, quite grand from the exterior with good sized rooms and a very good breakfast for about 150 pound – quite a bargain in expensive London.

Steve headed off early to find a laundry to wash our travel clothes and I went walking. We are staying near Connaught Place and the little village nearby had some beautiful shops and fortunately the summer flowers still remain.

After breakfast we crossed Edgeware Rd and explored Marylebone and Fitzrovia before heading toward Regent St and popping into Liberty.

This is always a must when visiting London. We found the coffee shop on lv 2 and thoroughly enjoyed our $15Aus cup of coffee each!

London is looking good. It’s clean and despite the woes of Brexit and the cricket not going well, it seems happy. Lots of tourists.

At midday we made our way to Rovi.

https://ottolenghi.co.uk/rovi

Check it out.

It’s an Ottolenghi restaurant- one I’ve been keen to try.

Back in 2012 we were in London staying with friends in Islington. We went to dinner at their ‘local’ restaurant I hadn’t heard too much about Yotam Ottolenghi then. But I loved the restaurant, the food, the atmosphere and have been a fan every since. He’s from Israel and does fresh Mediterranean style of cooking.

He now has several restaurants in London and ROVI is in Fitzrovia. It’s very stylish. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and the food is designed to be shared.

Today we were sharing with Nick and Yumi Young. We’ve known Nick since he was a little boy – he’s the son of good friends. He and his lovely wife are living in London after a few years working in banking in Oman.

We started with a cocktail- for me a Rovi with Pink Gin and a few lovely ingredients. Then it was onto the shared plates. Mussels with chilli , beef carpaccio and burrata – all done well and so tasty.

Next it was a lovely Pinot to accompany a shared beef and a salmon dish. All delicious.

The afternoon slipped by until it was time to walk! And we did ……down to Covent Garden, which was hopping. I checked out The Petersham a superb garden shop and cafe. Beautiful things everywhere.

https://petershamnurseries.com

We wandered across the Enbankment Bridge to the Archduke and met up with swim trek friends Bill Murie, Lexie and Betty, my swim buddy from LA who is coming to Turkey with us for a week of swimming.

Here we shared some wine and lots of stories and felt pleased that our swimming adventure in Galapagos, a few years ago, has given us such wonderful friendships.

By now quite late we felt we’d had a great first day of our holiday. No time for jet lag. My advice……Just hit the ground running. Preferably taking in a little sun!

First Stop Doha

We landed 🛬 in Doha at around 6am after a 15 hr flight. We were pretty comfortable in business class and Qatar Airlines was very good. I’ve decided it’s probably better to get the long haul over with first and then do the shorter haul second. But it will still be a long day.

We made our way to the lounge and it is huge. After a shower and a cup of tea we went searching for the Qatar City Tour desk. It had been recommended as a good way to fill in the hours of waiting.

It meant leaving the airport and joining a group to explore this big, new looking city.

Like Dubai it’s full of big shiny buildings, lots of palm trees, oversized public buildings, sand coloured public buildings and a distinct lack of people. They are all inside out of the cruel heat.

We arrived on a Friday which is like a Sunday over here. Everything in the city seemed to be closed. We didn’t get to go inside the Islamic Art Museum or the big mosque. We did get to the bazaar but it was mostly closed and had no atmosphere. And the heat!

Us in the heat with the Islamic Art Museum behind.

It was 40 degrees plus! Way too hot to do anything much. Our air conditioned coach took us to various landmarks and we wandered in the heat trying to be interested. I failed I think. I walked around with a scarf over my head to provide shade.

Doha was renowned for its pearls.

A small mosque in the cultural part.

The massive amphitheatre in the cultural village. Seats thousands. In the sun!

I don’t know how the city will cope with the Soccer World Cup here next year. It’s going to be at this time of the year. Our guide said they were going to roof and air condition six stadiums! There is plenty of money around, thanks to oil and natural gas. So it will happen, but the poor tourists getting out and about in the heat will be a challenge.

We continued onto the the souk. Very interesting but as it’s their holiday very little atmosphere and people and nothing much open.

We arrived back at the airport by lunch time and only have another two hours up wait until our London flight.

We’re looking forward to meeting up with friends and enjoying our few days there before the Turkey swim trek.

First stop Sydney

Welcome back to my travel tales.

We’re off again!

This time London , Turkey and back to London.

But first a mini stay in Sydney as Steve has a board meeting before our flight tonight.

Last night we met up with my sister Catherine and David, nephew George and niece Helen.

Today a gorgeous ferry ride to Double Bay to visit my sister at her school, Double Bay Primary, where she works as a teacher librarian. So no lunch with her!

Then lunch with nieces Pip and Clare and little Max. We were so busy talking I forgot to take a photo.

But the ferry ride was wonderful so lots of photos. It’s a world beater ride. The views in the sunshine are breathtaking.

I haven’t been to Double Bay in years. It’s still has it’s Village feel but there are as many Beauty bars as espresso bars.

The little beach next to the ferry wharf is a beautiful place to chill.

The public Library is another place to spend time. It’s so inviting. Libraries are not dead!

I’m waiting on the ferry back to Circular Quay , meet up with Steve then out the airport. A Qatar flight to London.

So follow along for the next few weeks as we rediscover London and swim along the coastline of Turkey. Another swim trek based in Kas.

Sight & Sounds of NYC.

Finally made it to The Whitney Museum. It’s at the start of the High Line walk in West Village.

Unfortunately 3 floors were closed due to installation of the Biennial due to open on May 16. Get there if you can.

Having limited floors to cover actually allowed us to take our time and really enjoy the exhibitions.

So what we saw were 2 great exhibitions:

I love the work of Edward Hopper and Georgie O’Keeffe and they both featured in the ‘Where We Are’ Exhibition.

Leaving the Gallery we headed uptown to Mykonos Blue in 29Street. We met friends Lynn Sherr and Lois Dubin from our Galapagos swim trek two years ago.

Such great ladies who have become great friends. Both still involved in their professions – Journalism and Landscaping. Lois did the landscaping on Roosevelt Island several years ago. It’s worth a visit.

Walking down 29 street we noticed many trees and flower shops. Turn out it’s one of the main wholesale place for larger trees and planets. The hydrangeas the lillies and the orchids were fantastic. There was also every accessory imaginable for arrangements. Ribbons, vases, coloured sands. Etc etc.

NYC is great for walking if you have the stamina. It’s set out in a grid system so easy to follow and you just count how many blocks you have to walk. We decided to walk back along to the High Line. It’s like a spine running along the east side of the city for about 20 blocks. The sun was out and so were the walkers. It was crowded.

We started at the Hudson Yards. It’s newly finished with it’s new sculpture feature. The Vessel.

It an amazing honeycomb type gold copper type material. It has steps going up and down like a maze. It reflects what is going on around it.

We didn’t climb it. 2.500 steps if completed it. That would be too many! So we viewed it from the new shopping centre. It’s all shiny and filled with big brand names.

We enjoyed the walk in the sunshine and couldn’t help but comment on the building projects and street works going on.

We are staying right near Chelsea Market so got off there and explored the markets. Lots of great eating places and great little shops. It’s an interesting area to stay if you’re wondering where to base yourself in NY. It adjoins West Village another terrific area to stay. If you watched the TV series Friends then this is where the apartment is set. And Magnolia Bakery is here. It’s smells delicious!

In the evening we made our way to Time Square. We all had tickets for the The Temptations. We collected the tickets and had a drink nearby. We got back to the theatre and found like all the theatres here, there is no real foyer area so the line forms outside on the footpath. Somehow everyone gets into their seat on time.

We had great seats in the balcony but so close there was no room for legs!

The show told the story of how the Temptations formed with all their ups and downs. There were something like 42 guys making up the Temptations over a 25 year period!

Interval came and we decided on a quick trip to the restroom and boy did we get a laugh out of that. The queue went zig zagging up and down stairs with at least 100 in it.

Elizabeth and I decided we were chatting anyone so we’d try our luck. The lady who we christened the ‘toilet monitor ‘ was directing with all the energy and authority of a NY Police officer. Perhaps more because you wouldn’t want to cross her!

Sure enough they managed to get everyone through when the bells rang. Perhaps it works the other way round. They don’t ring the bell to return to your seat until all the ladies have been through the restroom!

The night finished with us all dancing and singing all the way home.

Staten Island, Brooklyn and the East River

You need to plan your days in NY. There are so many things to do and see.

Today we made our way down to Battery Park. The Lady Liberty looks small from the park so we decided to get the infamous Staten Island ferry for a closer look.

If you are wanting to take this ferry you’re in luck. It’s free! And it only takes 30 minutes over and 30 back. You have to get off the ferry at Staten Is and then re board it. It’s a good way to rest the feet!

We arrived back and walked along Water Street then Fulton’s Wharf area towards the Brooklyn Bridge. there’s some great street art.

We walked through Dumbo and stopped at the little beach near the children’s playground . It’s an oasis.

Wandering around this area is always interesting but we thought seeing it from the river would add a new perspective.

The East River commuter ferry came along so we jumped on and continued up the river towards Williamsburg.

We had 5 stops before getting off just near the United Nations at 34th St.

And then we walked. Through mid town and across town past Union Square and into Chelsea. We only just made it ready to go out for dinner!

Jordan has booked Buddakan. https://buddakannyc.com

If you’ve watched Sex and the City, it’s the restaurant that Carries and Big celebrate their engagement.

We had a beautiful dinner. It’s Asian fusion style and our group of 6 had the $75 pp banquet. It was delicious.

It’s big and showy and very dark!

There’s a big stairs where you can make a dramatic entrance- and hopefully not fall down it and really make an impact.

Elizabeth & Peter McGregor and Pippa

Three of the desserts!

A little Shopping and Sights to Behold!

As were were close to some shopping (how can you not be in NY?) we thought it was a good chance to do some whilst checking out of one hotel and into the next.

So off we went. Headed for Macy’s as they have a huge selection and always discounted. Steve has a thing for shopping. He does it maybe once a year and just goes crazy! I don’t. I tend to take too long and feel I’m wasting time.

So we separated and decided to meet up back at the hotel.

I walked to the New York Public Library. I’ve been to NY several times but never to the Library.

It’s magnificent.

The inside is massive and marble and so welcoming. Take a peek.

The reading room has gold lights where Boston had green.

Spring is finally coming to NYC! And the plantings are everywhere.

We met up and moved to our new hotel in the Meatpacking area. The Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel. It’s great. Just near Chelsea Markets and the High Line walk.

We have a great room overlooking 14th Street. It’s a pretty trendy place! And they upgraded our room as I said how disappointed Steve was to hear the pool was closed for maintenance.

We got settled and waited for our friends to arrive. Elizabeth and Peter McGregor from waterpolo days are here with two other couples staying in an apartment a block away.

We met for a drink on our rooftop and then we made our way down Bleeker St for dinner with Rob & Jordan. We were joining in their traditional “West Village Wednesday” dinner. They eat somewhere new every Wednesday!

Tonight it was Loring Place.

https://www.loringplacenyc.com

The food was great , particularly in the small plates section. Gorgeous asparagus, charred spiced cauliflower, ricotta with greens. So many lovely veggie dishes.

It was so good for Rob to meet up with his waterpolo mate Sam’s parents again. He shared a flat with Sam back in Sydney Uni playing days and played together for about ten years all over the world.