2014 Through the Lens

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end… where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

Of course, the trudge up wasn't always easy...

Of course, the trudge up wasn’t always easy…

I started out the New Year in Nepal, excited to see what adventures 2014 would hold.

Continue Reading…

Lost and Found

“When I get old I don’t want people thinking “What a sweet little old lady”… I want them saying oh crap! What’s she up to now?”

After a bit of research the four of us decided that we would stay at a small Eco farm for a few nights, and so, with a phone number and directions in hand, we caught our first bus of the day. After a five hour ride we arrived in Bodrum, and from there, we caught a small local mini bus which brought us farther inland. Once we arrived we called the number we had written down (from the Internet) as the owner had told us to call him when we arrived so that he could pick us up. I asked a shop owner to use his phone, but to my dismay, the person who picked up was not our guy but rather a confused old man wondering why I was telling him we had arrived. Since we obviously had the wrong number we decided to take one more mini bus and then walk since we had taken a photo of the directions on our iPads and figured that once we were close, we could find our way. The bus driver dropped us off where he thought we needed to go, and after asking for directions, we started to climb a hill. Three kilometers later we arrived to Bodrum Eco farm, thought to our dismay, instead of a guest house or a farm, we found a whole bunch of small houses for rent.

Continue Reading…

545 Days and Counting

“From an early age on, I was one of the Pippi Longstockings of this planet, no barrier too high and no way too far.”

180 days after I set out on this adventure I wrote about how my tent had turned into my home, my bike into my best friend, and the world into my playground. I discussed how my identity had changed from who I use to be, into the “girl cycling around the world,” and what I had learned about myself along the way. I talked about what surprised me most about this lifestyle, what didn’t surprise me at all, and concluded by reaffirming the fact that I’m still just a simple curious girl with a dream and a sense of wonder. After 365 days I spoke about how the inequality I experienced so acutely in India had made me a feminist, a young women intent on showing the world that us gals can do anything. I wrote about the hardships of traveling as a couple, something that now six month later I’m still trying to get better at, and I talked about the fact that the last year had enabled me to find and develop my growing interest in writing. And so now, 545 days (that’s a year and a half) after I pedaled away from home, I’m here to show you how I’m going to put the lessons I have learned throughout this past year and a half into practice during the final leg of this particular adventure as we cycle through the Andes.

Continue Reading…

Tips for Budget Backpacking

“If not now, when?”

So you all know that traveling by bike can be cheap – you live out of your tent, you cook on your stove, and you rely on yourself for transportation – but it’s also possible to backpack and bus for reasonably cheap as well. In Turkey you can expect to pay 10$-15$ dollars a night (each) for a room, 2$-6$ a meal if you eat out at local places (and only a dollar or so if you cook yourself), and 6$ for a three hour train ride, or 20$ for a five hour bus ride. We each expect to spend about 600$ for this month of travel and sightseeing and though it’s more more than the 200$/month we spent as we were cycling across the country, it’s still a lot lower than many people realize is possible. Here are a few general tips for budget backpacking no matter where you happen to be.

Continue Reading…

The Cotton Castle: The Most Exquisite Hotsprings

“People always ask me when I am going to come down from the clouds. Never. I like this view.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/21a/49090824/files/2014/12/img_0724.jpg

This white mountain of hot springs and calcium deposits is extremely rare and unique, and as you can see from the photos, breathtakingly beautiful. The name “Pamukkale” literally means “Cotton Castle,” and these cloud like travertines (white calcareous rock deposited from mineral springs) truly look like they belong to another world.

Continue Reading…

Ephesus: Ruins and Camping

“What good is a Bill of Rights that doesn’t include the right to play, to wander, to explore, the right to stillness and solitude, to discovery and physical freedom?”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/21a/49090824/files/2014/12/img_0691.jpg

Ephesus, which has taken 150 years to excavate, is Europe’s most complete classical metropolis even though less than twenty percent of the city has been unearthed. At one time Ephesus boasted a population of 250,000 inhabitants (though many historians believe this to be an exaggeration because back then people didn’t live in such dense cities, and there isn’t enough room in the surrounding area to expand), though between the traders, sailors, and pilgrims (to the Temple of Artemis) visiting the area, this diverse city could have hosted even more. Due to Ephesus’ wealth and importance, it’s Temple of Artemis (which is now little more than one single column) was at one point the biggest on earth, and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Continue Reading…

Christmas On The Road

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

image

I know, I know, it’s only December 23rd and I’m already posting about Christmas, but you will have to forgive us since we decided to move Christmas up a few days in order to fit it into our schedule. A few weeks ago Kevin and I stayed at an absolutely beautiful pension in the small town of Bergama (on the coast in Turkey) and we knew straight away that we would be back for the holidays since there was a full size kitchen we could cook in, a beautiful courtyard, and a very friendly owner who we had become friends with.

Continue Reading…

Welcome to Istanbul

“I have never been attached to just one place. I don’t feel like that my home is the city where I was born.”

20141215-141124.jpg

As the sixth largest city in the world – with over 15 million inhabitants and over 150km of straight city – it’s sort of impossible to comprehend how big Istanbul really is. Founded as Byzantium (an Ancient Greek city) in the seventh century B.C., this famous stronghold then became Constantinople in 330 AD when it was rebuilt by Constantine the Great, and served as the capital for four different empires (Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman) during which time it played a role in the advancement of Christianity, before transforming into an Islamic state and the center of the last caliphate. Now, under the name of Istanbul, it’s the worlds fifth most popular tourist destination which explains the thousands upon thousands of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and bars which make up the perpetually crowded downtown.

Continue Reading…

Olives

“A hundred years from now it won’t matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove . . . but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”

20141215-112858.jpg

Did you know that you can’t eat olives straight off the tree? I mean I’m sure those of you from Turkey, Israel, or other olive growing regions found this one out long ago, but if you are like me and have never seen an olive tree before, you may not have ever thought about it. As we were cycling along the coast we noticed orchards of trees with many people hitting them with long wooden poles while others were collecting the small round things from the ground. After visiting a local market where they were selling olives by the bucket, we realized that that’s what they must have been harvesting. Sure enough, we were passing through a famously rich olive growing region in south western Turkey.

Continue Reading…

Ruins, Pensions, and Our Last Days Of Cycling

“One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.”

20141215-110913.jpg

It’s been a busy few weeks, so it’s time for a quick recap in order for you guys to join us here in Istanbul. After frantically escaping the snow in Konya (by taking a bus) we arrived on the warm and rainy coast and proceeded straight away to Bergama, a quaint yet not too touristic town famous for its ruins. A friend had set us up with a room (free!) in a pension, and from the second we arrived, we were in heaven. It was a truly amazing place with cute comfortable rooms, a large courtyard, a full kitchen in its own little house, and a “hang-out/breakfast” house with a fire and books. Everything was perfect; the shower was hot, the bed had a down comforter, and the light switch was conveniently located right above the bed.

20141215-111014.jpg

20141215-111023.jpg

Pergamum (the old name for Bergama) was known for its cotton and fine carpets and was the ancient Roman and Greek cultural center. It seemed to have been a town set on education, which boasted a library with over 200,000 books. When the king died without an heir, he gave the city to the Roman Empire who happily accepted and the city soon flourished with over 150,000 citizens (now 50,000). Pergamum then collapsed as it was constantly invaded by the Goths, and so the town disappeared from history until excavation started in the 1800’s.

20141215-111057.jpg

20141215-111104.jpg

Asklepion is a famous ancient medical center, and was the worlds first psychiatric hospital. Though a sacred site at that location is said to exist as far back as the 4th century B.C., it really gained prominence under the Romans in the second century A.D. In some ways it was like a spa, employing mud baths, music concerts, and messages into their therapy. The other famous ruins in the town are atop a hill, where there is a huge stadium which use to fit 10,000 people.

20141215-111206.jpg

20141215-111212.jpg

20141215-111220.jpg

20141215-111226.jpg

Though we quickly visited the ruins, for the most part, we hid from the rain by cooking, reading, and relaxing in the haven of a pension. We even learned how to make “maniti,” Turkish raviolis.

20141215-111305.jpg

20141215-111315.jpg

20141215-111322.jpg

20141215-111329.jpg

20141215-111338.jpg

We cycled for three days before arriving at our next destination, a homestay (also set up by a friend) with an absolutely wonderful family in a smaller Turkish town. We stayed for two nights before continuing on our way to Canakkale (a coastal town which is famous from World War One), where we stayed with an Australian expat who we had met in Georgia. On our way there we found these cute little puppies at the side of the road. They had obviously never seen humans and had no idea what to think of us, but after a bit of bribing (food) we were able to pet a few of them after we found them all sleeping right next to our tent in the morning.

20141215-111420.jpg

20141215-111429.jpg

20141215-111513.jpg

Now that we have arrived in Istanbul, we are ready to trade our bikes out for our backpacks in order to vacation around with my brother and best friend who have just arrived!

20141215-111541.jpg

20141215-111549.jpg

20141215-111558.jpg

20141215-111604.jpg

For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!