Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Balkans and Turkey

Hi guys,
Its finally not raining,  but I am inside on my computer writing a blog post... go figure.. The past months  have been great as I made a small loop around the Balkan region,  as far west as the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. It started in Bulgaria where I travelled clockwise, first south west in Greece to Macedonia, then north east to Turkey .. Some countries are small ( like Kosovo ) and it seems I just entered a few days and leaving again... others like Croatia have a way of keeping you from leaving with a  beautiful sea coast.  The coast  draws people to it from central Europe all summer looking for a vacation in the sun.
Lots of mountain roads and passes,  all awesome places to be on a motorcycle. Some days were very wet, and cold ... taking a toll on me... and bringing on my first cold in years..
My" must have" items now includes baby powder to tame the smell of my riding boots,  they have had better days.. Things should dry out soon in Turkey and I hope to not be called smelly biker as I head east..
The visa process is going slow , but its going.. The Pakistan consulate did a phone interview , Friday I interview with India, and I expect to know more about Iran soon..
In the past number of weeks I have seen a lot of churches, monastery's , Mosques, temples , and fascinating museums.. A camera cannot capture the feeling inside some of these places. Nor do I  have the words to describe a dome soaring inside over 100 feet in diameter of the Blue Mosque. The domes dominate the skyline of the city of Istanbul. Dating back over 5000 years there is lots to see , that returning again and again is common for many visitors.
fresh squeezed juice is always a way to stay healthy on the road. I wish Seattle had more places like this.

 This photo is on a Sunday afternoon in Istanbul. People love to walk, shop and just be outside. Park benches are everywhere.. cafes , candy shops, locals love to spend afternoons playing backgammon , an
endless sea of people...
Businesses have contracts with private companies that collect their employees in small buses and bring them to work. 10s of thousands of people are all pooled to work every day in an effort to ease traffic, and keep the city humming along.. Trains are everywhere, as well as ships,  taking people from the Asian side of the city to the European side..
The government frowns upon drinking , so high taxes move people to other social activities besides backgammon and drinking tea all day.. As men wash there feet to enter Mosques its very social , as well as smoking water pipes , and fishing in one of the worlds busiest waterways. Health clubs are also everywhere !!,  as the culture of old Turkish baths shifts to younger interests. Health clubs have annual dues starting at about 1000 ( dollars )

I dropped my lens cap in the water here.. ( Europe ) across the larger bridge is Asia.
Countries such as France and Switzerland ceased billions of Arab dollars in the Arab spring, moving Arab investment money to countries like Turkey.
 Russian investors, as well as Europeans are all moving investments in the new world system to Asia and away from the American dollar.
Turkey is hosting world conferences with people in the thousands coming to visit. Waits to visit famous museums are long,  forcing some to stay open 24 hours a day. An owner of a hotel told me we are building ghost cities. Most people own two homes, and have moved investments out of the banks. Its common to see small cities of condo towers that look completely empty. Home owners love to have a place along the coast they visit a few weeks a year, as well as a place in the city.  Some cities are almost all Irish, or Brits, or Russian, or ... newspapers are in local languages for these new cities. as well as radio and TV. As the shift away from dollars continues to Asia it will no longer be as cheap as it used to be to visit, but for now,  I love it all, as I travel east.