Welcome to my New Website!

Debbys Departures Tea

I say “Sweet Travels!” at the end of all my blogs because of learning the phrase “Tea, Sugar, a Dream” when I was in Turkey in 2004. That phrase taught me how to pronounce “thank you” in Turkish, teşekkür ederim. I really liked the phrase “Tea, Sugar, a Dream” when I first heard it – I thought it sounded sweet.

Debbys Departures Tea

Tea seems to be a universal drink. Many countries have their own version of tea, and have special rituals surrounding tea. Usually when one visits a home, tea is offered to drink. People get together over drinking tea. Tea is often sweetened with sugar. And it has always been my dream to travel. From all this, I transformed “Tea, Sugar, a Dream” into “Sweet Travels!” to sum up the universality of travel, the sweetness of dreams, and to say Thank You to all my readers.

Debbys Departures Tea

After over 8 years, and more that 260 blogs on Wanderlust and Lipstick, I am now departing on new adventures – this new website! I have traveled to at least 35 countries since 2002. I have walked, trekked, hiked, and backpacked well over 1,000 miles. And I have created stories with information and pictures on my travels. All my previous blogs are on this new website, and I will continue to write about my travels here.

Debbys Departures Tea

Some of my upcoming blogs include beaches along the Olympic Coast in Washington, completing my bucket list of visiting all lighthouses in the state of Washington, and some lighthouses in the state of Michigan.

Debbys Departures Tea

Welcome, Thank You, please pour yourself some tea, and
Sweet Travels!

Cappadocia, Turkey: Land of the Beautiful Horses

Deep in the middle of the country of Turkey, a 14-hour bus ride from Istanbul, exists a landscape unlike any other. Strangely unique and bizarrely beautiful. A consequence of a volcanic eruption from three to nine million years ago, along with erosion over tens of thousands of years. Resulting in pillar and minaret-like formations. A landscape unlike any other.

It is an area known as Cappadocia, the translation of which is “Land of the Beautiful Horses.” I spent two days exploring there. I was in awe at rock formations called Fairy Chimneys; at the geology of basalt and a variety of limestone called tufa; at underground cities; at rock-carved homes, chapels, churches, and monasteries; at frescoes inside dating from the 9th to the 11th centuries. This is land with historical, cultural, and religious significance.

Here are some photos of the area, starting with Fairy Chimneys and other rock formations.

Fairy Chimneys Cappadocia Turkey Fairy Chimneys Cappadocia Turkey

Fairy Chimneys Cappadocia Turkey Fairy Chimneys Cappadocia Turkey

An area called Monk’s Village included homes of monks and churches. Pictures are of a home, where you can see a window in the middle of the triangular-shaped rock formation, a sleeping area inside the home, and a frescoe from inside a church.

Monks Village Cappadocia Turkey

Inside Monks Village Home Cappadocia Turkey Inside Monks Village Church Cappadocia Turkey

I walked several hours through an area called Rose Valley. There were even small wild flowers growing around. More religious frescoes that were inside another church, called Hacli Church.

Rose Valley Cappadocia Turkey Rose Valley Cappadocia Turkey

Rose Valley Hacli Church Cappadocia Turkey Rose Valley Hacli Church Cappadocia Turkey

Stopping for view, see the people taking a snack break below, and a trail in the distance.

Cappadocia Turkey

Kaymakli is one of several underground cities. I was able to walk through six of the nine floors of this city. People lived here thousands of years ago and would hide here to escape the enemy (from religious persecution, I believe). They had everything in there: bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, wine cellars, food storage areas, etc. It is said that they may have spent a month in these cities at a time. The photo is of me inside one of the rooms.

Underground City Cappadocia Turkey

Another view point where you can see many, many homes built in the rocks of the landscape. And pottery for sale. (And me.)

View Point Cappadocia Turkey View Point Cappadocia Turkey

Other areas visited during my time in Cappadocia included the Goreme Open Air Museum, a town called Avanos, Uchisar Castle, and Cavusin Mosque.

Strangely unique and bizarrely beautiful indeed, this Land of the Beautiful Horses!

Sweet Travels!

Links to other blogs that I have written about Turkey:

A Bus Station in Turkey

Gifts Between Strangers

Excerpts from Europe: “A Bus Station in Turkey”

This blog won’t have any pictures taken by me. Not because I couldn’t take them. But because I didn’t want to take them. I wanted to witness what I was seeing through my own eyes, not through the lens of a camera. I also wanted to respect what was happening.

I was on an overnight bus ride from Cappadocia, Turkey to Istanbul. At a bus station, I do not know exactly where, I saw this from the window of the bus…

Friday, May 21, 2004

I boarded another one of those very fancy, luxury Mercedes buses in Cappadocia for my all-night journey to Istanbul. For the first hour of the ride, not many people were on the bus. But then we pulled into a bus station, where the bus was soon to become more crowded. It was here where I experienced something amazing, something I had never seen before, and that perhaps many tourists do not see.

When we pulled into the bus station I immediately noticed a huge crowd of people. They were everywhere in the parking lot of the station, completely surrounding all the other buses that were there at that moment. My first reaction to this gathering was that since it was Friday night, I figured that perhaps a lot of locals were just traveling for the weekend. I was wrong.

After further observation, I noticed that this huge crowd not just one large gathering of some sort, but it was actually separated into a collection of smaller groups.

After watching each group, I realized that everyone in each group was surrounding and hugging and kissing one particular person. I began to hear some drumming music, and even saw people dancing. And surprisingly, that one particular person in each group, who was being hugged and kissed, was also being tossed up in the air. I figured that something was being celebrated.

However, in addition to all these acts of merriment, tears were also being shed by many, men and women alike. A strong outpouring of emotion. It seemed as if there was happiness and sorrow at the same time.

I had found out what this was all about. It is a requirement that all men in Turkey from 20 to 41 years of age are to join the military. They are to serve for 6, 12, or 15 months, depending on their level of education. This is something that every Turkish man must do, with a few exceptions.

And once a month, communities send off these men to the military. So what I was seeing, this mix of joy and sadness, was this month’s send off of the nation’s sons, brothers, nephews, friends.

It was just amazing to see this that I got caught up in the emotion, and began to dance, cheer, and cry in my bus seat. All these feelings being expressed in a bus station of all places. I felt this sense of pride that these citizens must have for their country. And I felt how much love the people have for each other, for their sons, brothers, nephews, friends.

It was breathtaking to see such a gathering of people in their local style of dress as well, especially the women. Heads covered with a variety of colorful headscarves. Long vibrant dresses, blouses, and pantaloons adorned with beautiful patterns. Yes, I would have liked to take photos of this, but I chose not to.

Here is how I was personally affected by all this. The bus I was on was to be full with these men that were so emotionally being sent off to join the military. I knew that it is generally not the custom for a man and a woman, unless married, to sit next to each other on a bus in Turkey. Let alone a Turkish man and a non-Turkish woman, me.

There happened to be one other non-Turkish person on this bus, a gentleman from London. Out of respect of the Turkish, I asked the Londoner if he would sit by me, and explained why. He agreed.

The Londoner and I were the only foreigners on this bus during this occasion. I felt very honored and special to share in this, even just through observation, and even though I was not invited. Most people on the bus didn’t really know or care that I was there. I was just there, and to me, that was wonderful!

250px-Moonstar (400 x 269)

And just when I thought I witnessed the only special event of the evening, one final incredible thing happened. I looked further outside the window of the bus and saw in the sky beyond, the moon with a star. It amazingly looked like the Turkish flag. The moon was in a crescent shape, and even though the star I saw was on the outside of the crescent moon, rather than the inside, it was a great symbolic closure to this patriotic day at a bus station in Turkey.

158px-Flag_of_Turkey.svg

Sweet Travels!

Flag of Turkey and “Moonstar” photo from Wikipedia.

Little Artists in Europe

The Louvre; The National Gallery; The British Museum. Renaissance; Baroque; Impressionism. Michelangelo; Rembrandt; Monet. During my travels, I usually go to the large art museums to see paintings, sculptures and other art forms that have survived over the centuries. My experiences in these museums have included the infamous artists and major art movements that have shaped the history of art. Over the years, I have really come to appreciate the various art forms, artists, and art movements.

But somehow in my travels, I happen to stumble upon art that is not made by the infamous artists, nor the typical art found in the in large art museums, nor part of a major art movement, and not the art that has survived over the centuries. I have come across this other art form in places such as churches, mosques, and even palaces. But, like the infamous art, I have come to really appreciate these artists, their art forms, and this “art movement” as well.

The “art movement” that I am referring to is art that has been created by children. Everyday children of the cities that I am visiting. Children who are in school, perhaps on a field trip, and then are perhaps given an assignment to draw or to color or to paint or to somehow form their impressions of their experiences in the churches, mosques, or palaces. I actually consider this to be the most special art that I have come across during my travels, as it warms my heart to see these little artists participating in the creation of art, using their imaginations and their talent.

I would like to share with you some photos that I have taken of the children’s art. What is unfortunate is that while I have recorded the location of where I saw the art, I did not write down the names of the children, nor their ages, or even the name of the school that the children may have been on a field trip from. But, nonetheless I hope you enjoy the art from these little artists…

stained-glass-children-art200.jpgprincess-and-palace-children-art200.jpg

The first photo is of colorful stained glass windows done by children coloring inside the pre-drawn outlines of a window. These were displayed in the Oleviste Church in Tallinn, Estonia. The second photo, also from Tallinn, Estonia, is children’s drawings of princesses and the palace grounds of Kadriorg Palace.

monks-children-art200.jpgmosaic-of-mosque200.jpg

The third photo was taken in the Church of the Assumption in Vilnius, Lithuania, showing children’s pictures of monks. And the final photo shows a mosaic of the Hagia Sophia Museum (formerly mosque), where it was displayed, in Istanbul, Turkey. This mosaic was probably done by a teenager.

And who knows, maybe someday some of these little artists will become an infamous artist of a major art movement, and have their art displayed in places such as The Louvre.

Sweet Travels!

Cappadocia, Turkey: Gifts Between Strangers

Some of my best travel stories are how I made a connection with someone from another country; someone who I may never see again. My favorite story of this kind is when I was taking a tour in Cappadocia, Turkey. At the beginning of the day, the tour guide taught us that the Turkish word “Cappadocia” means “Land of the Beautiful Horses.” Later that day, the tour guide took us to an onyx jewelry store, where he gave us a “quiz” to see who could remember what the word Cappadocia meant. I remembered the meaning, and so I won a prize, an egg-shaped onyx stone.

On this tour there was a Turkish family traveling together. There were the grandparents, three out of four of their daughters, with their husbands, and two of the daughters had four small children between them. I decided that I wanted to give the onyx stone that I had just won to the children as a gift. I had the tour guide be my translator, telling the one of the mothers of my intention. Out of kindness, though, the mother wanted to make sure that maybe I would want to keep the stone as a memory of my trip to Turkey. I had the tour guide tell the mother for me that it would be more memorable to me if I knew that I gave this stone as a gift to the children. And, so she accepted my gift for the children, and I felt good.

The Necklace
The Necklace

But, the story did not end there. Less than a minute later, the mother gives me a necklace. What?! For me?! I did not quite understand. I did not expect any gift in return for the gift I gave to her children. But the tour guide explained to me that she wanted me to have this beautiful piece of jewelry. I was amazed. I just about cried. The mother did not have to do that. But she wanted to give it to me! I must have thanked her a thousand times, saying “te sekur ederim,” each time putting my hand on my heart, as a symbol of my gratitude for the gift the mother gave to me.

What I really think about this necklace was that the mother had just bought this necklace for herself at the onyx jewelry store, because had I noticed a matching ring on her finger. The necklace she gave me was round with a larger red stone in the center and several smaller stones on the edges. Her ring looked like it had nine of the same smaller stones, in a three by three pattern. So I feel that now, even though we will probably never see each other again, and even though we are worlds away, we will forever be connected. Especially if we both happen to be wearing our jewelry at the same time.

Sweet Travels!