One month to set sail

We’re getting into the last bits of our stretch at Marmaris.  We have taken 4 trips since being here (2 weeks around Turkey in October/November, another week around Turkey with Ruth and Dave, a 5 week ski and touring trip across central Europe/France, and a 4 day weekend in Istanbul for a boatshow).  With a full 2 months of our total of 5 in Marmaris, it funny how much time it feels that we have spent here.  Now we are looking at the last 4 weeks and there is much to do.  We are going to try to sell the boat here in Europe for a number of reasons: we don’t necessarily want to spend a whole month at sea given the ‘limited’ time left, we think we’ll get a better price here, and we would like to invest the money in another boat at some point.

We are working hard to repair, buff, and shine the boat.  New stack pack for the sail, new sprayhood, fixing broken lights and some minor wiring, replacing a mirror, varnishing the woodwork - mostly little things, but they sure add up to fill up our days.  Aethan makes 2 TL (about $1) to polish each chrome station…it is about minimum wage. We give him an ‘adult’ rage for an adult job.  It is great for him and great for us.  These last weeks are filled with odd jobs on the boat, and the days go by fast, but it is far more mundane than trekking around Europe.

Aethan is busy selling lanyards.  He makes keychains, shackle and zipper pulls- even dog collars-out of various colored nylon twine.  They actually look quite smart.  He has made a business plan, marketing plans, and done a whole analysis (part of school) on profits and revenues.  He does ‘custom’ jobs and ‘installations’ on boats. He is quite proud of it all and is always scheming ways to drum up more business, including giving spiels at skippers meetings and riding around on his bike announcing ‘lanyards for sale’… 

We’re dog sitting again for that little black toy poodle that appears in the video back in the fall.   I am not a tiny dog person, but Gemma is really cute…and Aethan is definitely in love!  There is nothing like watching a boy bond with a dog.  I think there might be some animals in our future when we get home.  Graeme, on the other hand, wants a bird.  Preferably a parrot, but since they are extremely long lived, he might have to settle for a canary or a finch.  


Back in Marmaris after Tour d' Europe 2012

We arrived back on the boat last night around midnight.  I have to admit that I was not excited to go back to boat life.  We usually fenegeled stays in really nice, 4-starish hotels (thanks to Priceline) that were amazingly comfortable:  a couple of Marriotts, the Mercure, our unbelievable Parisian garden cottage (, a number of boutique hotels (the Jacquemart in Dijon( especially nice), great rental apartments (thanks to , and a few unlucky nights in a dive or two (we don’t recommend ‘Mr. Bed’!!)).  We were able to find some amazing deals on line.  Thanks, Captain Kirk.   We usually ate out on the cheap, but in France, you can still eat well.  When we were in apartments, we always ate in – but again – going to the grocery is fun Europe as they all reflect the palates of the people.  I put on 4 pounds thanks to croissants, crepes, baguettes, pates, and wine.  Austria wasn’t much better for the waistline with beer, sausages, and schnitzel everywhere.

So, I wasn’t looking forward to coming back to cramped quarters, no personal space, the constant feeling of fighting disorder (put one thing out of place and the whole boat looks messy).  We flew all day, with a layover in Istanbul.  We got to the boat and it was cold and chilly.  We made our beds, did some basic unpacking, flipped on the switch for the electric blanket to dry off the dampness of ever-present condensation.  We crawled into crampy little beds and I have to say: I had the best sleep of my life.  Certainly, the best sleep in the last 5 ½ weeks. 

After all said and done, I guess there is really nothing like sleeping on the boat for a good nights rest.  Maybe it is the comfort of being in our familiar surroundings, even if it is in Turkey, that allows such a good rest.  It is also nice to have our stuff put away (in relative terms) on the boat.  Not having to lug them around in backpacks, unpacking and packing every day or so.  It is also great to be back to warm weather.  It was COLD (in the teens and below) in France and Austria, and while I was there, I loved it.  Now that we’re back in Marmaris, I have to say, warm is nice!  It is about 60F and we all have warm weather clothes on.  It is good to be back in sweatshirt weather.  Apparently, though, every 3-4 days a storm blows in as it feels like it is starting to bluster now and rain is expected from tonight through Wednesday night, but then it is back to 60 and sunny on Thursday. 

I keep thinking that if boat home is nice, then our real home will be nirvana.  What will it be like to have all that room?  I can hardly imagine.

If you break our trip down into segments, we are now 2/3 finished.  The first 4 months were sailing, then next 4 have been here in Turkey and will end mid-March, and then the last 4 will be sailing again.  It is looking like a little more of the Turkish coast, the Northern Aegean, then down around the Pellopanese through the Ionian, up the Adriatic coast along Croatia, then ending in Venice.   Then home.  Hard to believe that it is in our sights already!


One of those misconstrued phrases...

I just keep thinking about this funny thing that Graeme said when we were in Budapest.  We were on the metro and trying to figure out how to get to the West Trainstation, the 'Nyugati pályaudvar' (pronounced like: new-gotti  pi-lot-var).  

Graeme says: So, when do we go to the "New Pilot Party Bar?"  I can only imagine his 6 year old imagination, a party at a bar, filled with new jet plane pilots.  The trainstation was probably pretty disappointing.




Grocery shopping: a cultural excursion

Ruth laughed at me when I told her that grocery stores are one of my favorite places to explore a new country.  It is true, though.  Where else tells more about a country, the culture and what they enjoy, than what its people bring into their homes for their families?  I am not sure which country has my favorite grocery stores, because they are all so different.

Just as you might imagine, go into a grocer in Italy, the aisles are full of pasta; in Austria they are full of beer, meats - especially sausage.  In France, I see the grocers are full of wine and cheese, meats, breads. The thing that is so striking is the balance (or lack of balance?) relative to other goods and the variety.  I can look for hours at the varieties of pastas and sauces (which are NEVER found in those jumbo sized spaghetti sauce jars, rather in 10-12 ounce jars) in Italy, or the wine labels in France.  More so, how the pates are packaged so beautifully, how the cheeses are just completely different from even those found in boutique cremeries in the states. Probably most fascinating are the products that are produced en masse - not just the special specialities like the one cheese variety, a chevre, was a wrikled moldy looking log. (maybe it tasted great, but I had to pass).  But the more 'everyday' cheeses,like the chevre pack that had 15 or so bite-sized chevres vacuum packed but each having a unique garnish - a few peppercorns, a sprig of rosemary, a teeny flower petal.  Fifteen garnishes for fifteen bites.  The pate en croute selection-an item that doesnt even have a presence in the usual Safeway- stacked like we're used to seeing ordinary cold cuts. Also notable are the absence of things, like prepackaged salads, of the aisle-long selection of cereals that we have at home. In Austria the cereal section had 6-7 varieties of the usual cornflakes or kid-pops, but this was alongside at least 2 dozen kinds of Muesli (chocolate, low fat, with fruit, with nuts, with seeds, hot, cold, lowfat chocolate,...etc).  On that note, I dont think I noticed any Muesli here in France.  Who wants Muesli when you can have a chocolate-almond croissant, anyway? 

You know those nasty looking square seed breads you sometimes see aging near the cheese section at Whole Foods?  You see tons of them in Austria.  They love it.  

The mustard section, even in Carrefour (the Safeway of France), in Dijon is unlike any other.  Ground mustards, seed mustards, mustards with herbs, wines, fruits...those are the usual ones.  I cant remember them all except for the one I ended up purchasing: crushed seed mustard with hazelnut and vanilla.  Let me just say, it was great with simple cheese on a baguette.

Rich, vanilla, and buttery madelines are everywhere-just prepacked and factory sealed like Pepperidge Farm.  The Bon Maman brand jelly people also make Bon Maman madelines, as do several other manufacturers packaged to go.  Chocolate covered (I prefer plain), traditional madeline shaped or mini-cupcake shaped.  Less of a fancy treat than an ordinary snack.



From mayonnaise in Mayhon, to mustard in Dijon

We are on our way from Paris to Notre Dame De Bellecombe to ski (decided to stay in France rather than Austria to ski).  We thought on a whim to stay in Dijon, literally the arguement being that we had been to Mayhon, Spain where mayonaise was invented, so why not go to the city of mustard, Dijon?

Paris was great, as expected.  We literally saw it from the top of the Eiffel Tower to the bowels of the sewers (yes...we had a sewer tour, it was a fascinating and very different perpective of Paris!).  In between we took the gringo trail through the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa (crowded) and Venus de Milo, which has an interesting history as well as its artistic merits.  My favorite museum was the D'Orsay, with its bevy of french impressionist paintings.  We found the Parisians to be quite nice as any big city's population.  Some people were hustling to get to their next meeting or catch the next train and practically run you over in the station, but others were quite willing to snap a picture for us or converse in our pigeon french.

Code's french is more passible than mine as he has the accent down.  For me, I am resigned to the fact that I probably sound like I have a Texas accent, and there isnt much I can do.  Believe me, I try! Between the two of us, we have enough vocabulary to get around and I believe that the French are truely more willing to try their English once they see that our French is worse!

We also made it a point to go out for a nice dinner without the kids.  They are now capable of staying alone in hotels for a couple of hours if we want to go out.  We had a fabulous night!!  Just for the record, Code had the escargot followed by duck (served very rare).  Delicious.  For me, I had to try the Tete au Veau (you might guess it...calf brains) and Coquilles St. Jacques.   Both awesome.  I am not usually one to go unusual foods, but when it France, everything they make is good...or I should say, they can make anything taste good.

We're off to grab some dinner now in old Dijon.  The kids are watching Spongebob and we'll probably just bring them some crepes or pizza.  Everybody is happy.