Sunday, September 14, 2014

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

...and balloons, and boats, and camels, and many other means of transport. That's what this summer was about--MOVEMENT. My fiance and I covered so much ground, I think we must've broken some sort of record. Check this out: Shanghai to Istanbul; Istanbul to Izmir; Izmir to Istanbul; Istanbul to Cappadocia; Cappadocia to Antalya; Antalya to Istanbul; Istanbul to Casablanca; Casablanca to Tangier; Tangier to Tarifa, Spain and back (x 2); Tangier to Chefchaouen; Chefchaouen to Fez; Fez to Marrakech; Marrakech to Essaouira; Essaouira to Casablanca; Casablanca to Istanbul; Istanbul to Shanghai; Shanghai to Tokyo; Tokyo to Kyoto; Kyoto to Osaka; Osaka to Shanghai. Whew! We did all that in less than two months! Talk about covering some ground, eh? And, all this in-and-out of Istanbul tells me something: The city's strategic location may be a factor in future employment considerations (but that's a topic for another day).

In spite of all the movement this summer (or, perhaps because of it), my creative juices were flowing, and I was able to take many incredible photos, and I also came back with a poetry notebook full of drafts. At each turn, something or other sparked my imagination, and that, I believe, is another reward of travel. Gerry and I saw and experienced some amazing things--some highlights were: Feasting on the culinary delights in Istanbul; the little mountain village of Sirince, Turkey; an anti-government protest that turned violent in Izmir; Ephesus; a sunrise cruise over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon; sailing the waters off Antalya in a schooner, plus the Umbrella Street, and the International Sand Sculpture Festival; train journeys through Morocco; wandering the medina on the trail of Beat writers in Tangier; the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain; the Blue City of Chefchaouen; the ancient leather tanneries of Fez; the wild main square of Marrakech; a camel trek down the beach of Essaouira; Tokyo's Harajuku district; a Japanese love hotel stay; the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto; and the bowing deer of Nara, Japan. The whole summer was a dream! The Flickr albums are going to take a long time to upload and organize, but I'll post the links once I finish. In the meantime, here are some photos and videos:

Charming Sirince Village, nestled in the mountains, and surrounded by vineyards, orange groves, and peach orchards. Sirince is famous for its wine--we even stayed in the "Dionysos Pension".

Taking a break at Ephesus, in my trusty red kicks.

VIDEO: Sunrise cruise over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon. Absolutely fantastic! A must do!

Deflating the balloon after the cruise.

Pretty Antalya Harbor, home of sailors, pirates, and salty dogs!

Beautiful skies over Tangier

One of the locals, Tangier

Cafe Tingis, Burroughs' old haunt in the Petit Socco. Spent a couple of afternoons sipping coffee here, watching the world go by. I also visited the Librarie des Colonnes, an expat bookstore, and scored a copy of Naked Lunch. Found Hotel el Muniria, too, where he wrote the famous novel.

Southernmost tip of Europe, in Tarifa, Spain, taken after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from Tangier.

Blue doors of Chefchaouen

Bohemian wanderings, Chefchaouen

VIDEO: Early morning through the streets of Chefchaouen

VIDEO: Chefchaouen waking up for the day

Light filtering through the streets of Chefchaouen

Ancient tanneries of Fez

VIDEO: Jemaa El Fnaa, main square of Marrakech. Gets downright WILD here at night, with organ grinders, snake charmers, henna artists, acrobats, musicians, even hypnotists!

Camel trek along the beach in Essaouira, a funky little town made famous by a visit from Jimi Hendrix back in the day.

VIDEO: Camel ride on a windy beach!

VIDEO: Gorgeous Essaouira Harbor

Moroccan train travel, premiere classe

Somewhere over Tunisia, waxing moon to the left

Istanbul, we meet again! 

And on to Japan. This is the insane Tokyo subway map. God help you.

Helloooooo Kitty, ha ha. Tokyo.

Pachinko parlor in Kamata.

Tokyo: Anime Capitol of the Universe

Murakamiland. Got my copy of his latest work in this Shinjuku bookstore.

Our wish, added to the sacred camphor tree at Meiji Shrine. Shinto priests will collect and pray over all the plaques--there were hundreds of thousands of them.

VIDEO: Shibuya Crossing, busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. You may remember a scene of this in the film, Lost in Translation.

Bullet train, Tokyo to Kyoto. Just like teleportation, baby!

Umbrella lights in the alleys of Pontocho, Kyoto

Fire eater in Pontocho, Kyoto

Cutenss! Pontocho, Kyoto

Sun setting through the torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. After dark, lanterns come on, adding a whole other layer of magic to the place. 

VIDEO: Fushimi Inari casts its spell. Torii gates, babbling brooks, moss-covered stones, trilling birds, and kitsune (fox messenger) statues at dusk.

Bamboo Forest, Arashiyama (just outside Kyoto).

Curious little guy! One of the bowing deer of Nara, Japan.

So sweet. The residents of Nara adore the deer, which are allowed to wander at will, into shops, restaurants, etc. They are well-cared for and well-fed.

VIDEO: The bowing deer of Nara, Japan. Native sika deer, considered to be the messengers of Shinto gods, have been frequenting this park for the last thousand years or so. They're protected, and much loved by locals and visitors alike. Somewhere along the way, they learned to bow for their food. We spent an amazing day with them!

Well, sorry for such a long post. There were so many other things that happened along the way, so many other places visited, so many new friends made (both two-legged and four-legged!), but there's no way to relay all of these experiences here. I know I'll be busy for months, editing and organizing photos, revising poems, and just processing everything. I'm so grateful for these opportunities to travel, for what my life has become, and yes, I'm still completely in love with the world. Cheers, Lauren.

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