Well, it’s over. After one year of traveling, my family and I are adjusting to life back in suburban Georgia. As I get ready to go back into school tomorrow, I can’t help but think how lucky I was to have had such an experience as this at a young age. I can’t help but…
But these experiences (experiences like when grandma pushed me down the hill on the bike that was far too big, or when I tried to go off a curb and popped a tire on my friend’s bike) only strengthened my resolve to not ride a bike…. After a short ride (more like falling to the floor repeatedly and shaking my fist in the air) I noticed the gears didn’t work and the bike was far too big…. I had learned to balance, turn and even stop properly (Mac has still not taken to stopping in the conventional manner, he prefers to simply jump of the bike and pick it up off the floor)…. Another quickly followed behind it, I pulled up to the curb and rode very slowly but whoever was driving the car must have something against me because the driver swerved the car in. I looked in horror and tried to jump off my bike onto the curb.
Our mere three days there were not enough to make a real analysis of the city but we did manage to get some feel of what Krakow was like…. Looking at buildings that were once the homes of hundreds when the ghettos were established, or the famous tower where the lone trumpeter warned his countrymen of the coming Tartars, you couldn’t help but feel like you were walking amongst living history…. When I opened the door to leave the room there was always a secret service at the end of the hall.When we finally left the Sheraton to go and see what Krakow had to offer we were amazed…. While some of the old Soviet bloc countries had retained an almost entirely foreign atmosphere, Poland had jumped right into a western European mind set. We continued our adventure around Krakow by going into the old Jewish ghettos established by the Nazis during their occupation of Poland.
On this trip we would be in the homeland of the ‘real’ Dracula (the one who inspired Bram Stoker to write his book), a medieval prince named Vlad from Translyvania who impaled thousands of his enemies at a time, and rumor has it, drank their blood (hence his name, Vlad the Impaler)…. You could see the castle through the trees, but only partially.We bought some drinks and hiked a short ways up to the entrance of the castle…. We read the information sign which told you that this castle was built as a buffer against the Ottomans, and it had changed hands many times during history and was currently owned by the people of Romania…. We made our way through the rest of the rather dry and boring castle and were on our way out when we were called over by the guard woman.
We had many fun experiences including visiting a cemetery and having competitions to find the oldest grave, playing the alphabet game in the car, watching in amusement as Grandpa stopped the car abruptly and jumped out hopping up and down grabbing his legs because of a cramp, and visiting the interactive Mark Twain museum in Hannibal, Missouri (which isn’t so interactive unless you count sitting on a fake river raft and watching a 60’s Huckleberry Finn movie interactive). We were all excited to temporarily become ‘Eight in the World’ and waited at the airport in Izmir with great anticipation.When they finally arrived, we immediately had some new memories added to our repertoire…. For Asher there were some much needed new clothes, for Kieran new shoes (his Indian ones were falling apart and he lost his American ones in New Zealand seven months ago)…. The first few days of our experience with Grandma and Grandpa went something like that with the exception of seeing some of the world’s biggest and best preserved classical ruins at Ephesus.But soon it was time for us to leave the comfort of our hotel in Selcuk and head out to see some of the other things Turkey has to offer.
In a depressed state we leaned as far back as we could and watched in horror as a Turkish movie from the 60’s came on. Terrible acting, terrible story, terrible camera work (although it would make a good Mystery Science Theater 3000)…. The lights finally went off as the movie started it’s second half and we all tried to sleep…. Everyone was cramped like nobody’s business, row partners McKane and mom seemed as if they were in a pretzel, Asher had ended up on dad’s lap, Kieran was half on the floor, and my head was rug burned from the coarse chair fabric…. These chairs didn’t even go back as far as the others and the were considerably less comfortable, it made the other ones seem first class, and the Thai bus, seem like what a king would ride.
We require Dax and McKane to write one blog post per week as part of their schoolwork (and you thought they were voluntary!). Dax wasn’t happy with any of the possible topics this past week, so I told him to do a creative writing exercise based on a picture I took in the square outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul…. Then one entirely unlike the others came.”Dear Mustafa, I would like all the lira you stole from me back and I’d like it now or I’m going to have to take it from your flesh…”… ‘Dear Mustafa, I would like all the lira you stole from me…”