• October 30, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    Here’s a link to my on-line picture gallery where I have posted a sampling of 174 pictures.  These pictures are from both Deniz and myself.  I took around 900 and Deniz around 650.  Far too many post all but this is a good sampling.  

    http://gallery.mac.com/mcasao#100109

    I can’t seem to get the above to be a link so look on the sidebar to the right and the same thing can be found there under ‘Links’.

  • October 28, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    We are finally back!  

    We arrived at London Heathrow at 7am this morning for our 9am flight.  Fortunately, there were no line ups in London as there were in Paris so we went through fairly quickly.  The airport staff including Security were a lot more friendly and helpful.  The one thing different with this location was the separate shoe scan.  After going through the normal security gate, there was another where we all had to remove our shoes and place it on the belt for an x-ray scan.  After that it placed us right in the middle of all the shops for duty free shopping.  Very nice airport once inside.  We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then boarded for our 9am flight.

    Our Air Canada flight arrived in at around 1:45pm this afternoon.  We were welcomed home by our usual happy-go-lucky, warm receiving customs officers <sarcasm>.   They sure like to make you feel like dirt for no reason.  They greet people like we’re all scum of the earth.  Five of them greeted us at the exit of the plane.  Then, we had to line up to greet the next happy bunch.  Anyhow, I didn’t have any issues going through.

    Nice to be home now.  We’re exhausted and it’s back to the grind tomorrow morning for work after missing 2 days.  Despite the unfortunate events of coming home, it was an amazing trip!!
  • October 28, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    Just a quick note to let everyone know we’re home now. I’ll update more later…just settling in now… :)

  • October 27, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    Well….after another disappointing morning missing out on the Toronto flight and early afternoon flight we got lucky and found a connection flight through London.  We caught at 4pm flight to London, Heathrow and will fly via Air Canada to Toronto in the morning at 9am.  We are expected to arrive in Toronto at 1:20pm.

    After arriving we researched and selected a place to stay for the night.  We just got back from enjoying a nice dinner at a local pub, “The Three Magpies”.  Of course we had to get fish and chips :) ….and some beer to wash it all down to go with the atmosphere.  It was a good meal.

    Everyone so far has been really friendly, which is more than what I can say for the treatment we got in Paris.  I think I’ve seen enough of Paris but would definitely like to return here to the UK at a future time for a proper vacation.  The area looked amazing from the air.  England has also helped bridge the gap towards home.  First, we are now hearing english spoken.  Secondly, all the “brown” folks make me feel like I was back home in Brampton :) .  Seriously though….there is a real mixture of cultures here just like back home in Canada.

    Anyhow, we’re both exhausted and my eyes can’t stay open much longer.  Nite nite and we’ll see you soon….cuz…WE’RE COMING HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • October 26, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    Hey Everyone,

    No luck again today.  We spent the day at the check in counters for 3 flights and could not get on any of them.  The first one was early this morning and the second and third were for Montreal but could not get on that one either.  The aiport is crazy and all the flights are over-booked.  For the first Montreal flight there were about 25 of us stand by passengers.  For the second Montreal flight, there were about 22 of us.  One lady was pretty upset as this is the 5th day that she’s tried to leave here unsuccessfully.  It’s pretty bad.  They only considered the actual employees but companions like Deniz and I were turned down.  We spent from 7:30am to about 4pm lining up and then waiting by the desk….trying desperately to get on a flight.  What upsets us both is that yesterday they mentioned giving us jump seats and sent us to the gate.  It was there that they rejected the idea saying it was not allowed.  Today’s Toronto flight took 2 passengers via the jump seats.  They just assigned them at the check in counter.  So why was this not allowed for us yesterday??  We both feel that if the people working yesterday knew something we may have been home already instead of stuck here.   So, tomorrow is the same routine.  There is one flight to Toronto and two to Montreal.  We have already been told the picture does not look good as the Toronto flight has been overbooked by 21 seats and the 2 Montreal flights are much the same.  We were told though that Tuesday, everything drops off and is light.  So while we will try again for all 3 flights tomorrow, there’s a chance we may not get home until Tuesday.  It is incredible how booked up everything is.  We cannot even go to another country and then fly from there home.  Everything out of here is over-booked.  If the Toronto flight falls through again, then hopefully we can get on a Montreal flight.  Being in Montreal will present many more options to us than being here in Paris.  We can look at the train or bus too.

    Well….we certainly had a couple of ill-timed events on this trip.  The other was the visit by a member of parliament to Istanbul while we were there that clogged up the roads.  Because of this persons visit it closed many roads and made every taxi ride a long and expensive one.  Now this.  But i’m still not going to let it ruin all the good stuff on this trip as i mentioned in my previous blog.

    But boy….I WANNA GO HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What i’d give to have a Tim’s coffee right now…..

    I was supposed to return to work tomorrow….i guess I’ll have to write in now…..

    Wish us luck tomorrow…..

  • October 25, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    Well…after a day of speaking to people, exploring options and taking a cat nap here and there we are lined up to try again tomorrow.  We are listed for tomorrow’s flight back departing Paris at 10:15am.  Fortunately, we are staying in the airport hotel so getting there in the morning will be easier.   The problem is, Paris is heading into holidays where parts of the city will rotate on being unavailable.   The students in Paris are also beginning a 14 day school break.  So that explains the mad rush out of Paris and why so many flights are booked right up.  There are some options but most of them involve price tags of around $7000 and cutting through the US.  So, we’ll chalk this up as another learning experience…..”check the local events calendar to find out what’s going on that could affect our plans”.  Flying stand-by/companion has certainly saved us a lot of expenses and we are both very appreciative of that.  But this is the price to be paid for saving on the other end.  It’s all still very worth it though.  It can certainly be frustrating and the multiple times we have to line up and then race through passport check and customs is not fun.

    BUT….the situation made it possible to travel to so many places, even if we were just passing through to see a lot.  While tiring, this trip was educational, informational and very enjoyable.  For someone like me who has never left North America, this trip really opened my eyes to other cultures and places making this one heck of an experience.  The ruins in Athens and Turkey were really neat to see.  Experiencing traffic congestion in other countries makes me look at our own GTA congestion a little differently.  I find it very interesting how the ediquette and mannerisms on the roads in Greece, Turkey and Paris are.  So, while I am ready to come home, this challenge we find ourselves in today is worth the trouble.  I would not want to give back my experiences over the past couple of weeks for anything.  And I have Deniz and her parents to thank immensily for all of this – thank you!

    I’ll try to update you all as soon as I can tomorrow on our success of catching a flight back.  If there’s an update, chances are the news isn’t good.  But if there isn’t one for a while then hopefully when an update appears it will say we’re home.

  • October 25, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    Hey everyone!  It’s been a couple of days i think without any access to the internet.  So, let me catch you all up on what’s happened. ….

    We took a 1 hour car ride to the airport in Bodrum from the place we were staying to catch our flight back to Istanbul.  We arrived late Thursday evening and stayed at an airport area hotel.  We woke up early the next morning to catch our next flight to Paris, France.  Since we are now back flying this and the last leg on Air France we are back to companion/stand-by tickets.  It was a nail biter but we got seats (not together) about 25mins before departure so we really had to make a run for it.  We made in time and boarded for the 3hr and 40min flight to Paris. 

    We arrived in Paris made our way via airport shuttle bus to our hotel.  After freshening up a bit we headed back to the airport to catch the train to go see the famous Eiffel Tower.  We finally arrived after the 1hr and 10min train ride into city.  Upon climbing the stairs to the streetside the first building I saw was the Japanese Cultural Centre….LOL.  We took some area pictures and made our way towards the tower.  It then started to rain.  Oh yeah….MUCH cooler here than what we were used to in Turkey and Greece!  Temperature was 7 degrees with rain but we made the best of it.  We also took a river tour that lasted an hour and gave us a good quick view of some of the major sites.  Paris is full of wonderful architecture.  I am now somewhere around the 700 picture total for this trip. 

    That bring us to today. ….we woke up early for the routine of shuttling to the airport, checking in….and then waiting by for our seats.  At about 30mins before departure, we were given instructions and led through fast track security where we then approached the boarding gate to find out if we can get any seats or at best, a jumper seat.  After what looked like millions of people boarded, we were given that horrible piece of news…”sorry, no more for this flight”.  We then made our way to the ticketing office and were told that there is only 1 flight per day to Toronto and tomorrow’s flight is already fully booked as well.  We are currently seeking some assistance from Deniz’ parents on some options on how we can get home.  We ended up staying at the airport Sheraton so we would not have to lug our luggage back on a shuttle bus etc ..   There does not seem to be any options for a direct flight but perhaps …and hopefully…..we can catch one of the flights through Montreal.  Hopefully, we can come home soon…..

  • October 22, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    Today was a relaxing day. We were both lacking energy today so just stayed here and enjoyed the peacefulness and nice scenery. During our breakfast outside one of many neighborhood stray cats came by and turned out to be a real beggar. Deniz who loves all living creatures naturally took a real liking to this meowing furry friend. Here in Turkey as well as in Greece there are many stray cats and dogs wandering all over. We said goodbye to the little fellow and later left for another small town about 20 mins away to meet a family friend of hers for dinner. We arrived at her amazing summer home and was treated to a fantastic dinner at this restaurant just minutes from her place. Upon arriving back we found our little friend under the table … :)

    Tomorrow is our final day here. Our original flight back to Istanbul was cancelled so we got bumped to the later flight in the evening. I believe our flight back is at 9pm. We then will stay over night at the Istanbul airport hotel and catch our flight the next morning at 10am to Paris for our first leg towards home.

  • October 21, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    Here’s a few pics I just took with the iPhone off the middle patio.

  • October 21, 2008 /  Vacation Oct 2008

    We finally arrived in Bodrum last night and after spending so much time on a bus it was great to arrive. While it is tough to stay on a bus for so many hours, it’s also quite interesting seeing all the different towns. We were met by a fellow from the car agency. He helped us find Deniz’ cousins summer house. It was not easy as it was dark and we were exhausted. After finding the place and unloading, we had to get the car rental agent back to his shop on the other side of town. It was a long evening of driving. We had arrived at around 7:45pm. By the time we had found the summer home, dropped off the rental agent and returned it was almost 11pm. It’s not really far from where we are to the city core but becomes a long commute because of the windy twistings roads through the mountains.

    Bodrum is beautiful! For us Canadians, it equates to any kind of major cottage country town. Beaches, summer home communities and little old style towns make up the area. Most have returned home so the area is quiet. The home we are staying at is amazing! This home has 3 bedrooms, wood burning fireplace and patios on the ground, second floor and roof. The roof patio also has an outdoor fireplace and double sink. All patios are mostly covered as well with nice touches of dark wood. Very nice home and we’re very appreciative for being able to stay here.