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Mon Cher, Japon

More than a year ago, found Yuichi and Bita at a Meet-Up in Westwood; promising a lesson on how to live a life of joy and happiness. At the time, I was angry and singing the blues.

Since then, these lovely, dedicated, teachers of Buddhism have become my dear friends;  sharing insights about creating a more harmonious world for ourselves on a day-to-day basis.

Over the years, as an Angelino, I’ve been exposed to meditation and Zen Buddhism and I’m still not sure if any are  Hindu, Tibetan or Chinese.

During a chat on an extended bus trip in Thailand, another writer surmised that my beliefs were aligned most with the Tao. Maybe so, but I’ve never conscientiously been exposed to the Tao, so how would I know to follow it?

In Thailand, it’s hard to miss large and small incense burning shrines in the city and countryside. Ceremonial Buddhist offerings play an essential part in the fabric of daily life. Thai Buddhist celebrations take place all year, like the day to honor their elders, vegetarian month, and my favorite, Songkran the wet Buddhist New Year There are Lantern celebrations, where your dreams and disappointments sail away into the night sky. I’ve never learned much more about Thai Buddism beyond their celebrations or chanting in temples.

Buddhism in Bali, Indonesia, is a very special blend of Hindu and scary living spirits that travel from one dimension to another… and regularly appear on stage. https://youtu.be/WEsfevRfjCI

At Angkor Wat in Siam Reap, Cambodia, I chose a rest stop in the shade before a temple wall, where I felt truly enlightened after reading a detailed story of Buddha. Cambodia has shrines, temples, monks, offerings – and beggars everywhere, chanting,”Dolla, Dolla, Dolla!” which years later, still rings in my ears if I give it some thought.

Not so in Japan. Japanese Buddhism is completely different from any other.  Not to be confused with Shinto, which is not Buddhism but a religion based on a belief in nature, evidenced in the natural surroundings of beauty in Japan. Shinto existed before Buddhism came to Japan from China, by way of India, and Shinto is still practiced by some Japanese today.

Japan’s exquisite temples and historic castles have no monks in saffron robes, begging alms in the morning, or evening.  There’s hardly a statue in sight. The only one I spotted was a very special tall, white, standing Buddha perched on top of a hill.

Japanese, Shin Buddhism, aka, Pureland Buddhism, follows Amida’s promise is to rescue all living creatures everywhere from their suffering by helping them obtain true, everlasting happiness that does not fade away.

Since forever, I have been curious about Japan, so when Bita and Yuichi invited me to a celebration of life at the Pureland Temple, I jumped at the chance. The program lasted for three days.

Imagine, 10,000 tatami mats filled with people sitting on the floor listening to lectures, watching presentations and eating from bento boxes.

This was the real deal and a wonderful respite from an unexplainable Trump world.  Japan was a unique experience, that began with accepting the mindset of a collective culture where people actually care about each other.

An example is the ticket taker on the train. As he enters each compartment, he stops, closes the door behind him, and lowers his head for a few seconds. I thought it was a Buddhist custom, but no, I was told he is showing respect and gratitude to the passengers he was about to serve.

Get this, you don’t tip in Japanese restaurants because everyone earns an actual living wage. Imagine. I didn’t encounter a single beggar or homeless person in Japan, but then, I was in the countryside, not Tokyo or Kyoto.

The result of visiting Japan turned out to be not only an insight into this aspect of Buddhism, and exposure to the unique Japanese culture, it turned out to be an unexpected healing holiday.

Sights and sounds in the lush and lovely forests and mountains of Toyama Japanese Forest Bathing

Onsen Bathing is practiced every day all over Japan – Suggest you begin your exploration at the Narita Hotel, which is near the airport but hours from Tokyo. Here’s my trip advisor review: https://bit.ly/2xbZCWv 

I’m not a convert or a travel agent, just the messenger, inviting you to visit Japan, and suggesting you stay at a Buddhist temple for a healing, “wellness vacation”. You’ll be better for it.

It’s worth penny-pinching most of the time, to enjoy travel and some of life’s luxuries, like the time I spend getting daily massages in Thailand.

Less than. $10. for an hour long foot massage in Thailand.

Foot massage in Thailand

Breakfast Buffet at Park Plaza in Bangkok, Thailand

Park Plaza Soi 18, Bangkok, Thailand

In Thailand, I can afford to stay in wonderful hotels, (bbablog.com). In Bangkok, I’m especially fond of the rooftop pool and the views at the Park Plazas in Sukhumvit (tourist area). Daily breakfast buffets include a variety of yogurts with traditional fruits, and often exotics like mangosteen, known only in this part of the world. The coffee is individually brewed and regularly topped off. Bacon is camera ready, (more…)

Outside Havana at a Community Center, we watched a ballet class, run by a Prima Ballerina and her artist husband. Two of his “Ladies of the Night” came home with me.

The MedicalTourismLite take on Cuba was long overdue, mostly because all my time has been devoted to the interactive, although intermittent communication between the U.S. and Cuba for sister site: www.CME-Abroad.com Actually, this piece was written quite a while ago, but somehow it wound up a page, instead of a post. (Self-imposed editorial deadlines include the same guilt a wedding gift you meant to send that become priority.) (more…)

Arrived late afternoon expecting a few comfortable days to myself in Bodrum. Thanks again to Enver Anczak, who arranged my stay at the Maja Hotel and made contact for me to meet and greet a popular, new Turkish culinay expert.

The room was nice and had a fridge. Unfortunately, the internet connection only worked well in the lobby, but the hotel was on a rather quiet, residential road, about a block away from all the action. The pool sparkled for my morning laps. It was comfortable. I met many people who returned yearly. Someday, I will find the photos I took.

Today, I offer you a link to a slide show on their very nice website. You can open in Chrome/Bing to translate immediately. Confirming that English is spoken at this family inn, so feel free to call and send Emails.
www.bodrummaja.com

It was here, at the Maja, after a nice Turkish breakfast that I experienced the magical healing powers of pomegranate juice. Within less than an hour, I could feel the fruit’s detoxification on my kidneys. Pomegranate trees are everywhere in Turkey, and the juice can be found at the simplest markets – sometimes paired with anti-inflamatory cherry juice, for about $1.00. In Cesme, Masut Saygi, my sainted tour guide at AKTIF Travel told me that his grandmother always claimed, “Pomegranates are the cure for “42” different diseases”. You will meet him in my next post.

The Harbor was filled with people enjoying the sunset. It was a perfect time to map-out the magnificent castle and its brand new, equally magnificent Maritime Museum, nestled within. The harbor is filled with beautiful boats available for charter.

At dusk, I decided on a small restaurant on the main street, past the town square, next to a farmers market. My own photos, still missing, luckily I’ve found, and become a new fan of “Marius” who posted this video. It’s a visual discription of exactly what I saw my first night in Bodrum. I’ve requested permission to share it with us. Enjoy!

http://youtu.be/-yHoqYMsljQ

The next day, I made sure I walked the entire town, startinig with the castle that sits out onto the water. It has a colorful history of the invasion of many nations. The forts from each country were built to offer a stretigic vantage point facing in the direction of probable maurauders.

Before I began the climb up, I stopped in one of the most unique art galleries ever visited, right there on the property.

The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology is located in the Bodrum Castle of The Knights of St.John. It is not just a rusty collection of lifeless relics, it’s a treat for anyone interested in what treasures lie beneath the deep blue sea. Well done! For more info:

http://www.bodrum-museum.com/

Managed to connect with Enver’s contacts Selen and Pelin for tea in the Bodrum “Marina”. I didn’t know the Marina was was on the other side of the Bodrum Harbor. There was no way of letting them know I was running because I had outlived the two week limit on my sim card. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and they had faith that I would show. Thank goodness! It was meant to be. Aren’t these food godesses both adorable? And, that’s not all!

They’ve established a cooking school in Bodrum. Their walking/sailing – culinary tours are trez unique! Trust me on this, take the time to check out their very cool, very inviting website for more, and get back to me: www.culinarybodrum.com

It was a long day, but also my last night, so I stopped in a popular spot on the strip. I never imagined I’d be listening to a group of musicians, directly from Cuba: Here’s the clip:

EDITED Clip:

Kusadasi – Euphesus was to be my next stop, but it was not to be. Euphesus is at the top of my list when I return to Turkey. If you’d like to know more about what we missed: http://youtu.be/w96kNceE3n4

Rain wasn’t the only reason I asked the Myan Hotel owner to order a taxi for me. It sounded like a great idea to have help with purchasing the ticket and ensure that I was standing at the right corner for the right bus. Bodrum has a very big, busy bus station. On my way into Bodrum, the bus driver dropped a few of us on the side of the highway, instead of the bus station in town. Looking back, it may have been because the overpass was packed with goats… Sometimes that happens in Turkey. I had planned to make my voyage as stress free as possible.

When my taxi driver/helper, asked my final destination, not knowing the difference, I told him Alacate, in Izmir, instead of Ephesus. Alacate is which is where my bus finally unloaded me – in the town square – more than seven hours later.

Four hours into the journey, I knew something was lost in the translation, when the bus stopped in busy Euphuses, the bus driver shook his head, “no”. If I wasn’t unloading, I could only hope we weren’t far from my destination. We were. It was up hill and down again, hours away.

ROAD PIX

I wouldn’t want to repeat it, but I’m not sorry. This 71/2 bus trip was a great opportunity to experience more of Turkey’s beautiful, rich countryside up close: mountains of marble, ancient ruins, great roads and transportation by land and by sea, Unesco sites and natural wonders. And, many, many newly built mosques, along with their familiar and by now, welcome call to prayer.

This could have been planned better with a proper internet connection in my room and a cell phone that worked. Communication in Turkey is complicated. Visitors are granted cell phone use for two weeks. Any longer, there’s bunch of fees and registration with the gov… I know better now and try to remember it’s all part of the journey.

About six hours in, we took a road a fair distance off the beaten path to drop off a local, closer to home.

7 1/2 hours later, arriving in charming Alacate…

A shifting wind altered my route from Ankara to Izmir, on the Turkish Coast… Instead, Ahmet Ozer Basoglan, the charming owner of the Umut Thermal Spa & Hotel in Denizli, invited me inland for a few days of – “Soaking With The Natives”.

Here’s a decent YouTube slide-show of the place. Enjoy, but don’t forget to come back… http://youtu.be/8ITouE7ZfVk

Personal Notes:

Every summer, waves of starlings arrive to feed on the overabundant, ever thirsty, mosquito population in the area. Amazingly, the starlings return to the eaves, to re-feather the same tiny nest they left behind. Essentially, they take over the entire property which becomes a giant birdsnest – so to speak.

Mornings began with the urgent chirping of mobs of starlings going about their daily business. Once, I opened the window and the birds attempted to crash through the screen. Hoping to avoid future mishaps and confusion, I kept the windows shut and the drapes drawn – until late afternoon/sunset.

Consequently, my own nest for the next few days was a nicely cooled, air conditioned suite, cut-off from fresh air – and outside noise. No complaints. The slit in the drapes created a “bird’s eye” view of the tiny starlings working their nest. Inspiring? Maybe the coffee helped…

The birds, the bees, the steaming, hot thermal waters, daily, fresh honey elixors, vegetables reaching for the morning sun, and beautiful sunsets on open fields. After a touring the property with Ahmet, it was easy to see what makes the Umut Hotel & Spa, a natural destination for a wellness vacation in Turkey.

Healing hands and minds dedicated to your health. In addition to a healthy environment, The Umut not only grows organic foods to nurish the inside of your body, they also produce a skincare line made of natural homegrown ingredients.

Bee Propolis

A gorgeous assortment of morning honeys and elixors, along with more traditional items on a gourmet Turkish breakfast buffet was definitely one of the many highlights of my visit.

And they had a American coffee maker! Turkish coffee is an acquired taste and I counted on tea breaks throughout the day everywhere I went in Turkey, but I cherished my moments over at least two daily cups of perfectly brewed cappuccinos – with a push of a button. Woo-hoo!

Afterwards, I made my way to the cool pool for laps, then to the spa treatment center, for lovely hot, thermal soaks, a couple of massages and a mineral mud wrap.

I learned so much during my stay and I am terribly grateful for all the attention I received from everyone. It didn’t take long to figure out why there weren’t more guests on the property; June is just the start of Turkey’s high summer season for tourists. Inland areas like this with 120 degree centigrade thermal spas, are more likely to draw a cold winter crowd, when people want to warm their bones, rather than during hot summer months, when they could be cooling off at the beach.

Depending on where you are in Turkey, the weather varies. Like California, you can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon – if you want to. But generally, in the summer, the locals head to the seashore for a couple of weeks by the sea.

The Mediterranean Coast, the Aegean Sea, (where I was headed) the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, and Istanbul’s Golden Horn and Bosphorus-are all connecting water routes leading to the markets on the ancient Silk and Spice Trails.

Today, Turkey’s roads and infrastructure are A+ and and their international waterways ways are a steady flow of container ships. No donkeys…
I just wanted to make you you’re reading my posts from start to finish…

Thanks to everyone, especially proprieter Ahmet, who’s got quite a legendary story of his own, to every single one of the cheerful, attentive staff for taking such good care of me during my visit.

For my “on location” report, visit my post on Trip Advisor: www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g297991-d1232740-r211019453-Umut_Thermal_Hotel_Clinic_Spa-Denizli.html#UR211019453″

A delegation of handsome, local Medical Tourism politicos arrived for early lunch on my second day. They came to educate me about Pamukkale, a very popular, ancient bathing and healing center – recently re-born in Denizli Provence.

A heart filled with gratitude to the numerous folks who opened their schedules to meet with me. In particular: Dr. Mahmut Tekin, Denizli Heal Manager, Dr. Bilgehan Sert, Rehab Specialist, both with the Turkish Ministry of Health, Dr. Turgay Sehil, Health&Tourism Care, and Emin Cakmak, Turkish Healthcare Development Council. Forgive me if I’ve omitted someone. Everyone was very gracious and hospitable.

Before I left Santa Monica, I highlighted Pamukkale as a “must do”. The mosaic of nature’s thermal pools exposed to the elements, over such a large terrain was so perfect – almost Disneyesque. Disheartening to hear that only a few years ago, trucks and tourist busses were allowed up on these fragile ancient terraces.

Although I did read about Pammukkale before I left, I had no knowledge of Hierapolis, who’s history I was thrilled to discover with expert guidance from my new friend, Tyfus Gumus. His agency has been bringing German Tourists to Turkey for water cures for almost twenty-five years.
Here’s a proper historical view of the area: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/hierapolis-pamukkale

After a long, wonderful day surrounded by ancient history, I felt I was also introduced to the future of healthcare in Turkey.

We waved goodbye, as the driver pulled off the gravel onto a local countryside road that would take me back to Umut for my last night in the nest, where dinner awaited – as well as the mosquitoes. In the morning, I spied on the starlings from my slit in the curtains, before I checked out and said goodbye to the staff.

The general manager volunteered to drop me off at an unmarked bus stop in town. It was his day off, but he was making sure I was at the right stop and safely on my way to the coast and legendary Bodrum. Another luxurious Mercedes Benz Bus ride.

I trimmed my sails for the Turkish Coast. Finally, back on the water, and time to reach for an Efes, one of their fabulous local beers.

The first few days and nights before the Convention were mine to enjoy. The sites and sounds of three different neighborhoods in Istanbul added a variety of flavors to my time in old Constantinople.

A nondescript, local BnB in a residential neighborhood of touristy Sultanahmet provided a good night’s sleep…and a choice of three single beds to choose from. It had a kitchen area, a fridge and a mostly operating window that provided the smell and sounds of Turkish life in the city. It was my introduction to Turkish breakfasts, including the dreaded instant Nescafe I already had in my suitcase for emergencies. The meal was fresh. Meager but sufficient; watermelon, hard boiled eggs, store bought cheese and bread from the baker down the street. Best of all, it was served mercifully early, around 8:00AM – which isn’t always the case in Turkey.

On my second day, I met my new friends, Jessica TamTurk and her daughter, Johanna, for lunch. Loved the ferry ride to Kadicoy on the Asian side of Turkey. Haven’t run across those pictures yet…

We ate at the very popular CIYA, an award winning restaurant owned by one of the master chefs of Turkey, Elif Batuman; http://www.ciya.com.tr/index_en.php

Jessica, wrote the book on, “Istanbul & The Turkish Coast” for Moon Books. She was introduced to me by my dear friend and travel inspiration, Toni Andrews. Always lovely to receive a warm invite to break bread from delightful, distant family or friends in a foreign country.

It was also a perfect opportunity to learn inside scoops on where to go and what to do on the ancient Turkish Coast, http://www.amazon.com/Moon-Istanbul-Turkish-Coast-Handbooks/dp/1598801759

I followed them around the local market while they shopped for the best and freshest in Turkish fish and fare.

We walked a bit, until it was time for a sunset tea in Modoc. She then negotiated a price with a taxi driver to get me back to Istanbul safely. I fell in love with them both, and hated to leave. I wished that we could have spent more time together, and that my hotel was located in this elegant, little, seaside community that seems to have everything going for it – including from what I learned later, great healthcare.

The next day was spent on a Bosporus Ferry to the Black Sea. My newest traveling companions were a couple of environmental scientists on an around-the-world journey. We met on the boat when I spotted a couple with proper hats.

They spotted me too. Smiling, I worked my way over. They seemed to welcome my approach. “Do you speak anything resembling English?” “Sort of…” they said with a grin and an Aussie accent. “Me to!” I volleyed back. After lots more banter, these lovely Australian educators invited me to join them once we reach port, for a rewarding fish lunch. The restaurant was near an ancient fort, at the top of a mountain. I wasn’t planning on trekking that day, meaning I was wearing the wrong shoes, but we only live once, and there I was…

After our meal we climbed up a bit more to see the view.

Rather than hop the ferry back, I joined them for a local bus ride home. They had planned a stop along the way for special, Turkish yogurt treast. Yes, that is powdered sugar and home made fruit preserves.

These were dedicated Foodies! They were spending a month in Turkey with a local, gourmet they researched on the internet He was guiding them through his hand-picked culinary delights across land and sea. They talked about the sailboat they were chartering in Bodrum, and opening up a wine tasting pub back in Australia. I’d love to hear them sing that Aussie “Boomer” song again…LINK to boomer Song

They were delightful, as Aussie’s are. Hope they keep in touch.

Thanks to the amazing Air BnB, I lucked into an apartment for around $25.00 a night!! At this price, a plan B, but the pictures on the website were great. The “Balat Palace” turned out to be a sparkling, freshly renovated, charming apartment that I had all to myself for three days.

In the Golden Horn area, Balat is in process of being gentrified; no other tourists in sight. The current population is still mostly homegrown Turks, who don’t speak much English.

I got lost one day, but found a nice little wine store with organic Turkish wines. The direction of my daily comings and goings were often aided by my neighbors who would point the way – after after agareeing to speak Turkish on my cellphone to whomever my contact was that day. Although I would attempt to be entertaining, I was always genuinely grateful for their participation. It was fun to have all the interaction because I was a stranger in the hood. For whatever reason, I felt safe navigating public transportation and coming home alone after dark.

The Convention Center is near the famous Taksim Square. The hotel I booked online is within walking distance from both. I took public transportation to my new nest during the Medical Tourism Convention.

The “nameless” hotel, looked a lot better from outside than in, and even better in Booking.com’s photo. In real life; mini fridge ran hot, safe was in-operable, one outlet, burned out bulb, closet doors wouldn’t stay shut. Some issues were resolved, some weren’t.

They threw in breakfast, which was served with the best of intentions, and offered a roof-top view. Fantastic way to start the day, overlooking a big city! I used the prayer rugs to cover the ratty night stands. There was a local grocery store nearby for cold pomegranate juice and Efas, a delightful Turkish beer. At night, I’d brave the mobs of people in Taksim, hunting for dinner.

In the evening, the view from my window in one direction, looked out at the neon lights of Istanbul. The other was open to rooftops. This wasn’t exactly, “Read Window”. At 5:00PM I watched my neighbor feeding his pigeons, while others prepared late meals outside, hung laundry, or went about their lives, with me an obvious voyeur, whom they ignored. It was only three days. I was out more than I was in, and of course the staff was eternally charming. The neighborhood was convenient to everything, as well as a good number of hair salons, where blow-outs were about $6.00. Btw- Everywhere I traveled in Turkey, everyone had great hair. The men were as well groomed as the women.

The endless choices of touristy things to see and do in Istanbul can be overwhelming. To fully appreciate the daily choices I did make, I promised myself to return to Turkey again for more – more of Turkey’s history, its endless antiquities, and more of their lovely food.

I wasn’t about to leave Istanbul without trying a Hammam for my first Turkish Bath experience.

Now a museum, the awesome Hagia Sophia, not so long ago was one of the world’s oldest working cathedrals/mosques. There I was, setting my foot on the same stones as some of the world’s legendary cultural and religious leaders. The Blue Mosque, my initial choice, was next door but when I arrived, a prayer service was in session. At this hour I was told, it was closed to tourists. Maybe I went to the wrong door…me a woman? It didn’t matter, the history of Hagia Sophia is fascinating and combines the Catholic and Muslim faiths. The Blue Mosque will still be there when I return, as well as new discoveries. There wasn’t enough time to enjoy the Grand Bazaar properly, so I stopped before I began. It’s at the top of my list for next time

May became June, and instead of Havana, I was on my way to Istanbul. I had no expectations. It didn’t matter if the custom was to pick-up 1st-timers at the airport with a donkey and cart, as long as I got to my destination.
I was surprised to find a man holding a sign with my name on it, from a local hospital. Outside was a luxury, air-conditioned SUV waiting for me. A fine, “How-do-you-do?” – indeed!

Not enough time to maneuver from my late morning United/London arrival to Istanbul on Turkish Air from one terminal to another. I’ve learned my lesson before – avoid the curiously abusive ground security system, as well as the archaic terminal connections by bus. Imagine a big RED X through the pix.

Arrived Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, late evening instead or early afternoon to find my checked bag missing. This required the driver to wait outside even longer while we searched around corners and filled out paperwork. Thanks to Enver Arcak, my charming Turkish speaking ground angel, the driver was kept up-to-date with my sporadic emails from Heathrow. My bag was delivered to my hotel the day after it was found, totaling around three days. I had already moved hotels. The new one was only only a few stops away on the underground. All’s well that ends well. Instead of wasting a few hours retrieving it, I could easily have been on the road to another part of Turkey. Consequently, I’d be attending the Medical Tourism Convention in casual attire.

From now on, I’m flying Turkish Air whenever possible. Had no idea they have such an extensive route, as well as one of the finest flying experiences in the air today. http://www.turkishairlines.com/

GROUND TRAVEL TIP: http://www.wittistanbul.com/magazine/how-to-get-from-the-istanbul-ataturk-airport-to-your-hotel/

The Medical Tourism Exhibition in Istanbul was an eye opener. It was a well run, well staffed, beautiful exhibition, in both the Dental and Medical fields.

My sincerest thanks to Sonar, at www.GetHealthyinTurkey.com who navigated us through the many clinics and hospitals on both sides of Istanbul and Ankara, for example, the Liv, Florence Nightengale, and the Johns Hopkins affiliate, Anadolu Hospital.

The Guven, founded by the Kucukel family in 1974, was one of the first private hospitals in Turkey and caters to the American Embassy in Ankara, as well as the majority of others. This would be my hospital of choice.

We walked up and down stairs with the staff. We had a lovely lunch and an afternoon touring different departments. I had a running hallway consult with a plastic surgeon on his way out. We met with the female CEO. We toured the grounds and once all was said and done, found a table for another petite glass of tea and tasty sandwich or Turkish Delight, before we wrapped up and were on our way. It was Saturday, a day with enough time to forge quick friendships and express leisurely good-byes to warmhearted hosts and associates.

I Linkedin months before leaving, so it was lovely to meet up with Enver Arcak, my new actor friend in Ankara, for tea and a tour of their very impressive Museum of Modern Art.

Not only was he my airport angel, Ever and his family provided a bed for me for the night, followed by breakfast in the morning, prepared by his super cool, archaeologist wife, Kina Yurdayol Arcak. Entertainment provided by their enchanting daughter, Likya.

Newlyweds, Sonar Kavlak, and his darling wife, Aylen, are both enthusiastic, gifted cooks, so I lucked out. Although she clocks in serious hours, it’s very apparent that Aylen enjoys her position as a supervisory nurse in the obstetrics wing of a local, government run, Turkish hospital. It must be terribly rewarding to spend your day around the love of newborns.

They opened doors and arranged interviews. They fed me, took me home to rest my head and treated me to baklava, in a serene, country setting on a private (research lab) lake. I found the capital of Ankara a wonderful mixture of modern and traditional. Although I was told there wasn’t much to see in Ankara, I’m thankful I didn’t miss it – or them, during my journey exploring mineral springs along the Roman Trail.

Imagine being invited to share in meals like this as well as proper Turkish Coffees and hard taffy like, Turkish Delights

My new Turkish guy pals drove me to the healing mineral pool at the Midas Hotel & Spa:

http://midashaymana.com/about_eng.html

The Midas Hotel and Spa we visited was about an hour’s drive out of Ankara, through some of the most beautiful, rolling countryside I’ve ever seen. It’s too bad my photos don’t show that the road was littered with Archaeological sites along the way.

I had a wonderful afternoon, “Soaking with the Natives”.

Now that I’ve been, I clearly understand my female friends response, “I would revisit Turkey in a heartbeat”. Like me, they’ve been enchanted by generous Turkish hospitality and the easy charm of Turkish men, in particular. What ever it is, and wowever it’s cultivated, I sure wish there was more of it in the world.

I left Ankara on a Mecedes Bus (w/wifi) continuing inland to Denizili and Palmulkala for a few magical days before I got back on the Roman Coastal Route for a weekend in legendary Bodrum.

The next episode of my magical working vacation wouldn’t have happened without the direction of Dr. Ayse Turan, a highly respected eye surgeon in the Turkish Ministry in Ankara. We joined her and a few others on her team to a delicious, cafeteria lunch in the Ministry building.
With Enver’s help, she graciously arranged to bring me to the seashore and the tourquoise waters of Cesme and Alacate; a unique area of Turkey on the warm, shallow waters of the Aegean Sea. More about that in episode, (Pt.5) Till next time…