Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sailing the Turkish Seas

Kyle and I had an amazing opportunity for an adventure somewhat outside of our usual realm.  I came across a company that does sailing trips off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea.  One of their trips just happened to line up with Kyle's days off, and as an added bonus, it was also during our eighth wedding anniversary!  We decided to go for it!

The company we sailed with is a Dutch company called Flaka Cruising, and we had such a great experience with them!  Our week long sailing trip began in Bodrum, Turkey.  We flew into Bodrum the evening before we set sail.  Bodrum is a beautiful little town that definitely had a Greek Isle feel to it.  We stayed at the Su Hotel, a very charming little place that we wished we could have enjoyed for longer!  We spent that evening and the next morning checking out the pretty little harbor town.  

The Su Hotel

These talismans are seen everywhere, thought to protect against the evil eye.

We were welcomed on our ship, the Musandira II, with a great spread of snacks.  We were greeted and briefed by the owners before taking off.  There were seven passengers on board, including the two of us.  There were also three crew members that took great care of us, treating us like we were something special.  The other passengers were all Dutch (which makes sense since Flaka is a Dutch company).  They were all extremely friendly, and a lot of fun to be with! 

Welcome aboard!

Our ship was absolutely beautiful and very well maintained.  The cabin was very small, but every single nook and cranny was used wisely.  Each cabin even had it's own bathroom.  There was hot water when the generator was running, and also when the engine was running.  We all learned quickly how to time our showers!  

One thing we didn't expect was such amazing food!  The kitchen is so tiny, it's unbelievable that they can feed so many people three full meals a day!  Every morning we had a full spread for breakfast; yogurt, fruit, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cold cuts, bread, jams, cheese and eggs.  We would have a lighter lunch and a full and fabulous dinner, and both were different every single day.

A lovely breakfast

Lunch; I loved the fresh dill in the salad!

Happy hour!


This is how you grill on a sailboat!

We would spend our days relaxing on sunbeds on the front of the ship, reading, talking, playing games (Uno was our favorite!) and enjoying the gorgeous scenery.  When the ship was anchored we could go for a swim in the gorgeous blue waters.  Believe it or not, I only swam once.  In May, the water is still really cold!!  Our Dutch friends also taught us some funny words and sayings from their language.  Kyle and I still use a couple of sayings they taught us!

Captain Mustafa and his ship

One evening we were anchored by some random ruins...pretty amazing!

After breakfast one morning, we went to shore to go for a little hike.  After being on a boat for a few days, it feels really weird to be back on land!  We also visited a bazaar, or market, in a little town just off of the coast.  Other bazaars we've seen in Turkey were in Istanbul and rather touristy, so it was really neat to see a real market where real people do their real shopping.  Unfortunately, we can't seem to locate the real pictures from the bazaar, but there are a couple of iPhone pics.

We walked by a little farm, definitely in the middle of nowhere!

We had a little bit of bad weather while we were out.  Luckily, none of our days were complete washouts.  It was really neat to see a couple of storms from the water, and none of them were close enough to be really scary.  The one evening with the most rain happened to be May 12th, our anniversary!  The crew surprised us with a really delicious cake.  It was so nice!

Our daily itinerary was not set in stone, it was dictated by the wind and weather.  It's hard to imagine crossing the ocean hundreds of years ago by sail boat, with very few tools to help with navigation. We had a couple of afternoons with really strong winds, and the ship was really listing to one side. No one on the ship got sea sick, but Kyle's swim trunks (which were hanging out to dry) flew off into the sea!

Here are a couple of videos taken when the waters were a little bit rough, followed by a few more of Kyle's beautiful pictures.

We spent our last evening ported back in Bodrum.  We went out with the owners of the sailing company to a really nice tapas bar and enjoyed their stories of sailing through dangerous waters in the middle east and southeast Asia.

Once we were back on land, it took a couple of days to get rid of our sea legs.  We would randomly feel like were rocking back and forth for quite a while once we got home.  We really enjoyed our sailing experience, and would highly recommend it to those who enjoy relaxing in the sun and being on the water.  We were very lucky to have had such nice, fun people as our shipmates.  It made our time on the ship very memorable.  We would love to do another sailing trip, maybe around the Greek Islands? 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spring Time Fun in Germany

It's been a hectic couple of months around here, full of visitors, travelling and a move into a new house!  I figured this stretch of days with high temperatures reaching up to 100 would be a good time to try and get caught up on the blog.  We have a lot to catch up on dating back to the spring!

Spring is such a gorgeous time on Germany.  I think it might be when Germany is at it's prettiest. The patchwork fields are bright green with patches of brilliant yellow, spring flowers are blooming, and all of the orchards are full of blossoms.  Early this spring, Kyle's brother, his wife and our niece came to visit from London for Easter.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't wonderful, but we still had a great time together.  On their first day here, it was cold and rainy, so we went to visit Stuttgart's Schwein Museum, or Pig Museum.  We ate a delicious and porky lunch with pigs flying on the ceiling overhead before checking out everything pig in the museum.  It's a fun and quirky place, great for a rainy day! (I stole a lot of Lynn's pics from Facebook.  Thanks, Lynn :-)

Dinner later that evening at the Neckarmüller

On Easter day it was still cold.  It even flurried a bit!  We enjoyed the day at home, relaxing and eating a big brunch and dinner.  It was nice just taking it easy!

She wasn't too thrilled with the ears!

Someone's peaking at me!

Kyle and Cory spent most of the day in this exact spot.

Skyping with Grandma and Grandpa (Mom and Dad) Guynn while we open Easter surprises they sent!

The next day we headed to Rhine Falls, Switzerland.  We had lunch and checked out the adorable town of Schaffhausen before heading to the falls.  Rhine Falls on the Rhine river is Europe's biggest waterfall in terms of volume of water.  It's a very impressive site.  

A medieval fortress we climbed up to for a nice view of the town

We finally had nice, sunny weather on the day they headed back to London.  Luckily, they had a late flight so we were able to enjoy the day at the lovely Killesberg park before they left.  It was so nice having them here, and we will hopefully be able to meet up with them soon.  Being far away from family is hard, especially when little ones are involved!

This spring we had a couple of friends, Laura and Aaron, move to Wiesbaden, just a couple of hours north of Stuttgart.  Shortly after they arrived, Aaron was away on business for a week, so we got together with Laura to do some site seeing.  Kyle and I drove up to Wiesbaden to meet up with Laura, then the three of us headed to the picturesque town of Rüdesheim am Rhein where we hopped on a ferry on the Rhine river just seconds before it left.  We enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the terraced vineyards, quaint towns and castles along the river for a couple of hours before hopping off the ferry and taking a train back to Rüdesheim.  It was a great way to spend a sunny spring afternoon!

Laura came back to Stuttgart with Kyle and I to spend a couple of days.  The next day the three of us, along with a friend of Laura's that was visiting Germany from the States, went to visit the Insel Mainau (also known as the Flower Island) on Lake Konstanz.  It's a beautiful location, right on the border of Switzerland and Germany.  The island had amazing displays of spring flowers which reminded me a bit of the tulips at the Keukenhof gardens in Holland.  The island has a wide variety of plants so that it's always full of color.  

Laura was supposed to take a train back to Wiesbaden the next day, but a train strike prevented that from happening.  (There have been a ton of train strikes the past several months...I'm sure they've lost millions of euros.)  That gave us time to check out the Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest, or Spring Fest.  The Frühlingsfest is pretty much like Oktoberfest in the spring time.  It's a huge event that lasts three weeks.  They set up rides, shops, food stands and most importantly, beer tents.  We were there on a weekday afternoon, so it was very tame, but we still had a liter of beer and half of a roasted chicken in the beer tent as we watched people in their dirndls and lederhosen start to trickle in for their evening reservations. We walked around the fest grounds and enjoyed another sunny spring day!  Laura was able to catch a train home the next day since the strike was over.  We've all been busy lately, but we're looking forward to seeing Laura and Aaron hopefully sometime before too long!

Kyle and I went back to Frühlingsfest that weekend with a big group from Kyle's work.  We had so much fun enjoying our chicken and beer listening and swaying arm and arm with good friends to cheesy music!  

Old traditions meet new selfie technology...

We usually just post about our trips and travels, but there is so much to see and do locally!  We had a wonderful spring enjoying our local area with friends and family.  Now, with these 100 degree Fahrenheit days, I'm wishing for some of those cool (but sunny) spring time days!