A 22-year-old recent college grad recounts her hike through Turkey with her 62-year-old father.


Antioch and all that!

As ever...new pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/
Beginning of post...began two days ago...

Well dear friends, it is the 25 of May and...we're here. Antioch. Yup, the epic hike we toiled to plan and enact is, well, over. I feel like I may have missed something. Why aren't we still hiking? My legs are still itching to go, my clothes are still made of breathable light-weight material and I'm still getting confused stares from the locals. Yet the grand purpose and adventure that brought us half way across the world has come to a close. And now we're just regular old tourists again. Poo.

But baby we're going out with a bang.

After spending an evening with a fisherman and his family, chatting with a German expat named Helmut and crossing Lake Eğirdir in a hole-ridden boat, dad and I wandered up from the buggy shoreline to our encampment just outside the town of Eyüpler.

We woke up the next morning to a single, resonating "woof" (and no it was not dad trying to wake up in the morning). I jerked up from my sleeping bag in the middle of a field to find two enormous dogs staring back at me with spiked collars encircling their necks. They were somewhat taken aback by the tousle-haired creature that emerged from the gortex black heap they had encountered (though I doubt, as dogs, that they really considered the material). But after some initial dubious smelling around they appeared to decide that these strange figures were harmless and proceeded to flop down at our feet as we packed up our gear, carefully resting their heads so the spiked collars didn't penetrate their necks.

Soon dad and I were ambling into a little village called Eyüpler the guide book had described as "unfriendly" and whose locals were to be altogether "unhelpful". By the time we'd taken a picture with a man and his donkey, been nearly trampled by about 20 school children, sipped free chai with three generations of farmers and been given free food and supplies at the local market, we were beginning to suspect that this assessment wasn't quite valid. Full of sugary chais and happy as clams we began to wander out of town--only to be met with a parade of tractors and cars filled to bursting with shouting locals in their finery. Apparently the procession was heading off to a wedding--but of course they made time to stop their journey so the strange man in zip-off pants and the girl with the cowboy hat could take pictures.

It was 10:30 am and already we felt as if we'd had the best day ever...but it was just getting started. As we walked out of town we realized we were completely off course from our trail, having been a bit distracted by the events of the morning. So rather than backtracking (which is not a word in Miller vocabulary) we fired up the Global Positioning System (GPS) and began winding our way through backstreets to cut back up to the trail. After a turn we looked up to see a donkey standing at the end of the lane. Seeing as we never pass up an opportunity to take a picture of an ass, we began snapping away when a group of women wandered by. We asked to take their pictures as well, but they waved us off as they hurried on. Thinking this meant they didn't want to bother with the crazy tourists we started to trek on, only to notice they were beckoning us down another side alley. Somewhat confused but always up for an adventure, we followed them to a door that opened up into a backyard. There beneath a metal awning were about eight women busily rolling out dough into wide flat circles and then placing them on a large curve-topped stove. It was the most delicious and lively line-up imaginable. One woman cut and balled the dough then threw it to two different women who used 3-foot-long sticks to roll them out. They then threw it to the next woman who filled it with a mixture of ingredients ranging from cheese to chives to spinach and then folded it to be thrown on the stove. Another set of women shoveled hay and scraps of paper beneath the oven to keep up a fire roaring below. The last woman used her bare hands to flip the bread from side to side. They welcomed us heartily, laughing as they pulled of my cowboy hat and thrust yogurt drinks into our hands. Soon we were chomping happily on these delicious cheese and chive concoctions as they went about their lively work. There were huge bowls of ingredients laying about and it was amazing to see these women fluidly pass from one position to the next, expertly rolling out the dough and stoking the fire as they passed different treats to the strange foreigners gawking on the fringes.

Then, as per usual, dad decided that I needed to get in on the action. He made a rolling motion with his fingers and then pointed to me. Before I knew it I was seated at a portable, circular table that was about six inches high and four feet in diameter with a newspaper spread across my lap and a ball of dough in front of me.

Let me tell you, the whole stick rolling thing is way harder than it looks.

I began making futile pokes at my ball of dough, much to the amusement of the ladies. The one who had initially waved us on in the street seemed to be heading things up so she took me on as her personal project. She bent over me and physically moved my hands in the proper motion (the process of which I botched up completely). As I slaved over my one piece of lumpy dough a slow trickle of women began to come in the door, each somewhat shocked by the freckly foreigner in the midst of their work. Suddenly an even larger group came in and there dad and I were with about 25 women taking cell phone pictures and giving words of encouragement to my meager attempts at rolling out the dough. Two of them were about my age and spoke a few words of English so we were able to communicate a bit--but soon my dough-roller-warden smacked my hand and pointed at the dough. Apparently I had gotten off task, whoops.

Eventually I had to give up my seat and pass the dough rolling to the experts, but as dad and I pulled on our packs they shoved even more of the delicious concoctions into our hands and smiled and waved as we shouted "Güle güle!" (still our only form of goodbye) and turned back onto our trail.

After a beautiful day walking through immaculately maintained farms, we reached our destination of Antioch at sundown. At the outskirts of town we sat down and tried to figure out where to go to find a hotel and a bite to eat. As we hauled guide books and maps from our bags two women passed and dad asked them for directions to a hotel. Though their English was limited and our Turkish is infantile at best, they motioned us to follow them. Once again, we had no idea of where they were leading us nor if they had even understood our question, but seeing as following people about had worked so well before, we took up our packs and followed.

The one woman, dressed in traditional head scarf and a long jacket, was elegant as a queen. She seemed to know everyone in town, all of whom laughed and pointed curiously at her strange charges. With gracious dips of her head she nodded to the people of Yalvaç (the town just below Antioch) and continued to lead us down a maze of streets.

With one final turn she pointed us to a substantial looking hotel on a main street, but insisted that first we come up to her aparment for chai. Soon we were sipping tea and eating a delicious spread of foods with her husband and three darling little girls. A quick phone call brought the English teacher friend over and soon dad was in deep conversation with them as I played with the girls, drawing them pictures and letting them look at the viewfinder as I filmed them. They then put on my hat and glasses and mugged for the camera...and I have to admit they work that cowboy hat quite well.

So even in an urban city, Turkish hospitality is not lost on strangers.

and now...two days later, May 27...

We're back in Antalya plotting our next move. Though the St. Paul trek is over, we're not quite finished with Turkey and the Mediterranean. The process of filming brought up even more ideas for the direction the documentary will take, and it seems several different films could be made from the footage. So currently we are awaiting responses from potential interview subjects as well as mapping out some more adventures to enact in the next couple weeks. Currently we are thinking of hiking up to Mt. Olympus, journeying to the Syrian Antioch (actually located in south-eastern Turkey) as well as ferrying to Cyprus and Rhodes for some exploration and beach time. I'd love to get my scuba diving license and/or sailing lessons, but no decisions have been finalized. If you have any other ideas for cool adventures we could go on, drop us a line! We're game for just about anything.

And with that I'm off to explore Antalya a bit--dad and I have split up for the day to find our own adventures. On my list of things to do: get a haircut. For some reason this is becoming one of my traditions abroad, to varying degrees of success. The mullet I received in Spain was less than stellar, but the pixie cut in Costa Rica was awesome, so wish me luck!!



Yet more pics... http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/?saved=1

Hey dudes!!!

We've made it to Lake Elğidir, 3 days ahead of schedule. I'm sitting in the nice warm Lale Pension while outside the wind is blowing like crazy. We've been a bit spoiled--beds to sleep in and showers for two nights in a row! Life is good.

Five days ago we climbed up a fairly intact Roman road to the ancient site of Adada. We had the place all to ourselves and so scrambled about these 2000+ year old ruins totally unimpeded.

...later we ran out of water for a few hours and got a bit snippy...okay we nearly impaled one another with our trekking poles, but managed to restrain ourselves long enough to decide to bypass the marked route and head for the road to do a suicide run into the next town...only to find a spring a few meters off the road. Our moods were instantly improved and no one was seriously injured by said trekking equipment.

Three days ago we hiked up and down mountains, through rain, past an enormous well and ended up zigzagging down a cliff to an orchard grove. At the bottom lay a park with a beautiful marble spring I was more than happy to make use of (dad and I seem to have problems with this whole water thing). As I crossed to the spring I noticed six Turkish girls to my left having a wonderful time. They ran over to say hello and before long we were laughing and attempting to converse in our stilted English-Turkish mix (though mostly English, to be perfectly honest). By the end of an hour they'd brought us a full meal, we'd danced to club music emanating from their cell phones and even reviewed our current relationship stats. We wrapped up the leftovers and were off into the orchards as our six new friends tramped off to their little town. I'm not sure there were more than 25 actual words spoken between us, but the language of girl is fairly universal.

As we wandered on it was getting dark and stormy, but the guide book said that the next town held a campsite just at the outskirts. We pushed on in the blackness, hoping to get good night's sleep before our big trek the next day (12 and half hours straight by the book's estimates and mostly straight uphill). Upon entering the unfriendly looking town we peeked our heads into the supposed campsite and were met with wafts of trash and manure. Lovely. As luck would have it a sign that read 'camping' pointed off left. So with no idea how far said 'camping' would be nor if it would give off any better scents than our first option, we trekked off to a strange gated park that had a covered portion that was evidently a tea shop. So we slept there...and it proceeded to dump down rain. We are blessed.

Two days ago we hiked up a mountain. This may seem somewhat repetitive of our other days, but this thing was what some would call formidible. And vertical. But we are the illustrious Turkey Trekkers and we are not afraid...plus I'd had a pain killer and two sugar-filled chais so I was feeling great!

Our accomplishment was somewhat diminished by the fact that several goat herders were bounding up the rocks like Mario bouncing through a level of Super Mario Bros, but it was quite fun to see their huts scattered about the meadows. As we broached the final pass an incredible wind swept around us that nearly bowled me over. It was all quite dramatic. The approaching storm clouds only heightened the mood. So with the swirling air and threatenting clouds we plodded on to an oasis that the was mentioned in our guide book: the ski lodge. Yes, Turkey has a ski resort and we were heading right for it. Unsure if it would be open, but certain that the weather wasn't looking friendly and that our bodies were wearing down fast we moved on...

Long story short: it was open, we were the only guests, there was red wine at dinner, and it was the sharpest contrast possibe to our last week of trekking. Nothing says comfort like a cow-hide covered head board and marble floors. Yowza.

So this morning we woke up in our cushy warm beds and had yet another meal all to ourselves--only this time we actually saw the cook and some other staff slinking in dark corners, perhaps to catch a glimpse of what a guest looked like. It's always a bad sign when a 164 room hotel has to turn on the hot water for you.

We then wandered up and down some hills, past a military base and some goatherds and then to a very windy descent into Eğirdir! We've been looking forward to this place ever since we first began reading about the trek and it definitely is nice to stay in a hostel and chat with other travellers. Dad's a great hiking partner, but it's always good to mix things up a bit.

So that's it from this side of the world. Gule gule!! (that means go with a smile...and is the only form of goodbye I can manage to remember...so whether you like it or not go with a smile, dangit)



Hello hello!

Day 6 of walking and we are certainly rolling along! Two days ahead of schedule, we've spent the midday shmoozing about Sütcüler. Though our guide book warned us that we may be among the only tourists these towns have ever seen, I don't think anything could have prepared me for the reception we've recieved from the Turkish people. When we walked into town this morning to the town center and sat down for a chai, it seemed every person in the place was staring at these to grubby foreigners. Soon we had cups of chai and ten new friends that came over to shake our hands, one even taking a cell phone picture. Two of them turned out to have lived in the US for twenty years and chatted with us for a while.

Perhaps part of the warm greeting in this particular town could have been enhanced by the fact that I had an enormous rip right up the back of my pants...woops. Hellloooo Turkey!

But really, the reception we've receieved from locals throughout our trek has been unbelievable. We've trekked through some extremely mountainous, rural country where the only access seems to be through rough forest roads. Even while hiking on these apparent main roads, we'll go for hours without seeing a soul. So when we finally do get to a village or goat herders' hut, it seems everyone is ready with a warm "merhaba!", a warm cup of chai and a stilted "conversation" of hand gestures and smiles.

A couple days ago we became horribly lost as we made our way to Ören...mostly due to both my dad and my stubborn refusal to backtrack. We were both certain that if we just kept walking we would find ourselves a shortcut back to the trail...two hours later we discovered we were a mountain range over from where we were supposed to be and two hours after that we finally met back up with the trail...about forty minutes ahead of where we had lost our way.

Luckily we made it to a little town called Ören about 7:30 and met a girl who had been climbing about on the roof of her house (mom will understand why we felt a kindred bond). We were nearly out of food so we asked for bread and she came back not only with a pile of yufka--or local, yeastless bread--but four ripe tomatos. After twelve hours of walking, this seemed absolutely decadent. She then led us down a winding trail to the dısused village school house to camp for the night. We got to share the spot with a mule and the discharges of her cow...as a result the first ten minutes was spent searching for a cow pie free spot to sleep. As we set up camp she was happy to just sit back and watch us. Her father kept calling for her from across the little valley, and finally she had to leave. Soon after we heard the call to prayer from the mosque and realized why her exit had been so rushed.

The children are especially excited to follow us around. When we sit down for a break they hunker down and watch our every move. I give them pieces of chocolate and smile and try to piece words together from our Turkish dictionary to speak with them; but it seems they could care less if I spoke to them at all. They're content just to stare. I feel the same way about them.

They are truly a beautiful people and their smiles are so genuine and warm. They lead a life I barely knew still existed in our world. Tending farms and herds of goats, they grow their own food and wear the same garb their people have worn for centuries. True some of the houses now have satellites and the people cell phones, but a spring still flows at the center of town and they gather wheat from the fields to feed the livestock and make their bread. And despite what they may lack in monetary resources, they are quick to offer what they have to two silly, stinky Americans. And though our ability to converse is almost nonexistent, they sit patiently with us as we eat their food and drink their tea and smile like idiots. Seems I'm learning quite a bit about the meaning of hospitality.

Many more adventures have occurred along the way, including a stop at a Bates-like Motel the other night in Çandir, but that'll have to wait for another time. Dad and İ are hungry and need to get walking. Hope you enjoy the pics!


We're off! We got a bit of a late start this morning (as per usual), but soon we'll be trekking past Perge and into the farmlands and hills of the region. Internet access will be dodgy at best, so the next update will probably not be for at least a few days.

Yesterday was insane...but no time to write now. Love you all and hope all is well!


Photo Guide: Read in a fort (note the sheer joy), the best friends I've got in Holland...never mind the only.

Oof, I'm exhausted. I didn't get my 5 hour evening nap and it sure is catching up to me...but our afternoon more than made up for it. After arriving in Antalya dad and I careened with our taxi through impossibly narrow streets to our quirky little hotel...which just so happens to be built into the side of the ancient stone fort that hangs over the Old Bay. Needless to say, the dad comments about the old stones and sheer size of the old walls abounded.

I was dying for a swim so we threw down our bags and a hailed a cab for the beach down the way...just as the torrential downpour started up. So after a twenty minute cab tour down to the beach and back we paid the good man and he sped off just in time for the rain to let up. Lovely.

So instead of the big beach we trekked down to a secluded little cove just as the last sprinkles cleared the way. At first we had the place all to ourselves and I swam about as dad watched the gear. I had a mighty good time; jumping off little rocks and poking at sponges before giving dad a turn. Just then two very nice Dutch men showed up who happened to have recently come off a five day trek...on the St. Paul's Way Trail.

What luck! A few hours, a few beers and some gear advice/swapping later, we were were feeling quite excited about the weeks ahead. Sounds like we have a rural, rugged trail ahead of us with few other hikers if not fewer amenities along the way.

We actually got a bit of a summary of the hike on our flight over the area this afternoon. What took us ten minutes of flying time will take our legs about three weeks to travel. The northern sections looked sparse and dry with expanses of snow; the middle appears craggy and mountainous but then drops into deep forest greenery that rolls out a smattering of farms. My dad commented that the farm landscape looked almost like our hometown of Vista...that is if you don't count the minarets rising up from the neighborhood mosques.

So between a chance encounter with some really lovely gentlemen and a bird's eye view of the terrain; looks like we're off to a good start without really having even started!


Picture guide: Read on the Bosphorus Ferry. Read & Kari hiking up to the Byzantine Fort. Kari at the Spıce Market.

Dad and I are currently at the airport waiting to head out to Antalya.

Istanbul was great--just wish I were awake for more of it. Seems my body has decided that 6:30pm is my Turkish bedtime, so 2 of our 3 nights I laid down for a quick snooze and then woke up at midnight with no recollection of my father's repeated attempts to rouse me. I guess finals must have hit harder than I realized. Now, if Nina were here I'm sure we'd jump up and scout out some Turkish nightlife...but that's a bit weird with one's father in tow. Dad's great fun, don't get me wrong, but travelling with dear old dad is, as some might put it, instant birth control.

Despite losing evening outings, we managed to stuff quite a bit into our 2 ½ days in Istanbul. The Turkish bath and Grand Bazaar the first day; the great mosque/palace tour and traditional dinner the next and then the ferry ride yesterday. The ferry up the Bosphorus bopped about from the Asian to European side. Dad commented several times on how we were at the spot where these two continents "shake hands". Clever dad, very clever. I told dad that, yes, it was awesome to ride along the crack of the continents...

Upon completing the phrase I realızed that perhaps it might be wise to continue with the shaking hands metaphor.

We got to our end stop and they let us loose to scramble up a hill to the amazing ruins of a Byzantine fortress. From the top you could see a beautiful view of the Bosphorus as well as where it opened up into the Black Sea. After all those years of geography lessons it really is incredible to be in these places. Almost as great was the bottle of wine we proceeded to consume with an Australian friend directly following our hike--it was great for two reasons: 1) it's quite tricky finding alcohol in a pervasively Muslim country and 2) it turned out to be forty lira, not fourteen as dad had thought the waiter said. No matter where you go, you can always count on people to rip off ignorant tourists. God bless consistency.

I've just uploaded another series of pics to flickr, so feel free to take a peek... Hope all is well in whatever part of the world you're in.



Pıcture guıde- Kari at Topkapı palace. Süleymaniye Mosque. Read ın front of Süleymaniye Mosque.

Want more pıcs? Check out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/
Yes my account ıs hollywood_2b, and no I am not embarrassed...okay maybe a little.

We're here!!! We've now spent 1 1/2 days poking around İstanbul and let me tell ya, there's nothıng lıke ıt. The convergence of peoples, cultures, languages, the meetıng of east and west, the mıllenıa of hıstory held wıthın these grounds, makes thıs cıty a place unıque unto ıtself.

Just walkıng around the town you can defınıtely see not only the mıxture of cultures but the contrast between Islamıc conservatısm and westernızatıon.

Take the example provided by the lady ın yellow.
As my dad and I chomped on kebabs outsıde the Grand Bazaar people of all sorts passed. Men wıth faux hawks and pointy shoes; costumed chestnut roasters shouting to passers-by; women covered head to toe ın black, flowıng garb, theır noses and eyes just peekıng out ınto the sunshıne; others wıth scarves and long jackets; one wıth flashy purple velvet heels that matched her vivid head scarf... and then, the ultımate contrast, the woman ın yellow. Rıght past the hooded vısıons of Islamic piety walked an Amazon woman wıth a Medusa-lıke tangle of curly haır, heavıly applied make-up, 4-ınch heels and that little yellow dress. That the dress was short was nothıng to the fact that wıth just a touch of backlıghtıng you got to know her and her underwear wearıng habıts (or lackthereof) much more ıntımately than you mıght have anticipated. So there she strutted, ın the mıdst of shrouded ladıes hıdıng theır every curve whıle she let them all out. To me, this was a perfect visual to describe Istanbul. It ıs a city that truly embraces the fact that ıt has a little bit of everything. Though I was shocked by thıs woman's appearance, the conservatıve ladıes she passed dıd not seem to pass judgement on her. Her garb symbolized a very different understanding of the world than that of these ladies, but Istanbul was built on such diversity. It has become what it is today because of an acceptance and convergence of many different beliefs and cultures, and these clothing choices are a symbol of that...though you won't see me struttıng about in nearly translucent garb anytime soon.

Yesterday we met up wıth Murat, our guide, for an ıntroductıon to the city. Murat was cool, he lıkes movies and therefore he liked me okay. The funny thing I've found thus far about attempting to candidly film people is that the moment a person realizes the camera is on them, they either slap on a goofy grin or run to the nearest exit. So I used the tried and true Ryan Hill method of setting up the shot and then looking off in the opposite direction so people don't realize you're filming. It works wonders. Let's just hope I don't end up with a bunch of unıntentıonal crotch and sky shots. It's thrilling to be able to capture these places through the lens of a camera, it makes me appreciate the world in a whole new manner--a much more light-sensitive, cool-angle-concious kind of way.

Today we're off on a ferry to see the Bosphorus and then tomorrow we fly to Antalya! Though I'm enjoying city life, my feet are itching to start hiking. Though I may be singing a different tune after a few weeks of tramping through the hills, right now I'm dreaming of the slow pace of life and quiet of the outdoors.


...we haven't even left yet...

Wow, I feel like it's the Oregon Trail, we already lost one. Yup, Nina's out. Luckily there was no bout with malaria or drowning in the river or anything, just good old fashioned real world smacking you in the face. Let's just say life of a starving artist may afford you a lot of time, but not the means to do anything with it.

So my dad and I are off on our own. First thing on the to do list: I hear the Turkish baths in Istanbul are pretty dandy. I'm thinking a post-flight scrub down will be just the ticket.

Countdown...2 days

After months of planning, we're coming up on the big day! Friday at 8am our flight sets off for JFK, then Istanbul. My dad and I have all our gear pretty well packed and squared away...
Then along came Nina.
Well not really "along came Nina", she happens to be one of my closest friends and we've been discussing Turkey for as long as I've been planning it with my dad. So I guess it's more like, "then along came Saturday"...
Here we are at my graduation last Saturday...also the day she decided to come to Turkey with us. Quick? Yes. Last minute? Of course. But that's why Nina is my best bud and a great asset to the trek--she's flexible, crazy and has a heart to travel.
So we're throwing her together some gear and praying for someone to sublet her LA apartment for the summer. Interested? Lemme know!