xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' World Toddler: February 2016



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

On Honeymoons and Medieval Torture (Part II)

After having been dragged through the dirt of Goreme, Turkey, by an out-of-control moped, I finally let go of the handlebars and collapsed in a dirty, bloody heap on the side of the street.  I looked up to find a sidewalk cafe filled with men who had all peeked up from their card games to watch me trail through the dirt.  Before either embarrassment or Nolan could catch up to me, I saw a stocky man, with some grey streaks in his beard, put down his hookah, and jog over.  

As this kind man helped me from the ground, I caught the glimpse of something neon green: could it be, just next to the cafe of spectators, a pharmacy? I wiped some dirt out of the corners of my eyes and blinked.  Yes, that was indeed a pharmacy, the town's only one, just a few yards ahead of me. As Nolan arrived and began assessing the damage to the bike, I hobbled to the pharmacy; the card players all suddenly enthralled once more in their games as I limped by them. 

Inside the pharmacy, blood dripping down my legs, I tried asking the pharmacist, standing behind a glass wall and a newspaper, for assistance.  Unfortunately, my limited knowledge of Turkish was of little help: serap (wine) and kofte (kebab) might make me feel better later, but weren't going to sanitize my wounds.  The pharmacist seemed bewildered by my requests, even as my white socks turned red.  Finally, a young boy walked through the pharmacy doors.  I waved at him desperately, begging for some assistance and pointing to my gnarly knees.  The boy grimaced, spoke briefly with the pharmacist, who had not budged from behind his newspaper, and then hopped around the pharmacy assembling a personalized First Aid Kit for me.

While I had been (mis)communicating in the pharmacy, Nolan had ridden his bike back to the moped rental store, which, it turned out, had been only a block and a half away from where the whole incident had occurred.  He returned with the shop owner.  Starting to feel stiff, but still too rattled to feel pain, I returned to the scene of the accident. All of a sudden, the potential of a sprained ankle seemed insignificant compared to the realization that we were about to blow our entire honeymoon budget on buying this man a new moped.  And at this, I started to cry.  Perhaps it was my tears, or the gravel sticking to the open wounds on my palms, but the man took one look at me, turned to Nolan, and said "$50," an amount clearly insufficient to cover the bike's bent handle rail and scraped siding.  The best wedding gift ever, I thought.

Back at our hotel, Nolan and I had a truly memorable honeymoon experience, one that involved a lot of touching and moaning, but not in a sexy kind of way: As Nolan attempted to clean and dress my scrapes, I screamed and carried on like a toddler.  For the next three days, I walked around town with gauze wrapped around my knees, looking more like a volleyball star than a newlywed.  By the time we reached Istanbul, Dr. Nolan had replaced the gauze with some large band aids; so I no longer garnered the attention of every person we walked by.  

The rest of our honeymoon went as beautifully as expected: visits to the Haj Sophia, a Turkish cooking class, a ferry to Asia.  We visited the Istanbul Food Bazaar and stocked up on Turkish chili and roasted red pepper paste, and brought home pillow covers made from recycled Turkish rugs. 

Now, four years later, we have used up all of our spices and our cats have destroyed our beloved pillows.  My only tangible souvenir, other than photos, are the scars that still lace my knees.  And from these scrapes, I am constantly reminded that you don't need to speak the local language to be the recipient of kindness; and that sometimes the best travel memories come from the worst travel moments.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On Honeymoons and Medieval Torture

Nolan and I began our honeymoon in Cappadocia, Turkey, that other-worldly land of "fairy chimneys" and cave hotels built into volcanic rock. On our third day, we rented mopeds to get a more intimate look at the region's landscapes. After a brief moped-riding tutorial (sit here. push this.) we spent an awe-inspiring day climbing the mountains of the Rose Valley; exploring the 2,000 year old cave refuges of the first Christians; and snaking along tight, dirt roads of towns not yet overcome by tourists. 

As the sun began to set, we rode back into Goreme, the town where we were staying, exhausted from our adrenaline-filled self-tour.  We retrieved our town map, with the moped rental company circled in  bright pink highlighter. Nolan thought we should go left; I was sure we should go right. And, although only newlyweds at the time, we bickered over the directions like a couple who had been married for decades.  By the time we were ready to remount our bikes, the feeling of grand-vista-induced-thrill had given way to map-induced-dystopia. 

Standing beside the moped I had safely maneuvered for 8 hours through the winding side streets of Turkey, I angrily pulled back the handlebars to rev the engine. And the bike took off.  With me standing next to it.  With my feet off the air, flying Superman-style next to the bike, I made the conscious--absurd--decision to hold onto the bike to keep it from crashing. The longer I held onto the handles, the more the engine revved, and the faster the bike went.  Gravity worked quickly and my brief stint as Superman ended; I was soon being dragged alongside the moped.  In a testament to my strength of character and tenacity (read:stubbornness), I refused to let go, and was dragged for almost a full minute through the rubble streets of Goreme. From Nolan's perspective, sitting safely on his own bike behind me, trade-out the moped for a horse, and I looked like a criminal carrying out her capital sentence in Medieval England. 

All smiles before being dragged through the dirt!

(Check back soon for Part II to see how this romantic honeymoon ends)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What It's Like to Fly with a Toddler

Cute in the airport. And then we reach 30,000 feet.
Flying with a toddler is like being sentenced to a tiny jail cell with a rabid, albeit adorable, puppy chained to your lap.  Sometimes the puppy will sleep or want to play.  But sometimes the puppy will go uncontrollably, hysterically, top-of-their-lungs crazy; he does have rabies after all.  If you're lucky, a more experienced dog owner may stop by your cell to offer a kind word, or even better, a tranquilizer; or maybe the jail warden will let you stand by them as they prepare beverage service.  If you're unlucky, as prisoners with rabid dogs chained to them tend to be, someone will complain about you and your feral friend; then even the kindest warden will have to revoke your roaming privileges.  And back to the cell you go.  For another 5 hours 45 minutes...44 minutes...43 minutes....42.  When you start carving the passing minutes into your tray table with your little red beverage straw, you will know you have had an authentic mile high toddler travel experience.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The History of Glamping

"Glamping", a portmanteau of glamour and camping, first entered the English lexicon in 2005.  Since then, glamping accommodations have sprouted up around the world, providing travelers the opportunity to live among, without exactly being one with, nature.  In a 2008 NY Times article introducing the concept of glamping, Jennifer Conlin explains the allure:

IF the eco-friendly idea of falling asleep under the stars and roasting marshmallows around a campfire appeals to you, but the reality of pitching a tent and sleeping on bumpy ground does not, glamping, the new term being used for upscale — or glamorous — camping, could be your ideal green vacation. 
Though dismissed by hard-core leave-no-trace campers (who don’t so much as move a rock for fear of affecting the area), glamping can still be an environmentally sound outdoor experience, even if it does include creature comforts (like not having too many creatures inside your tent).  Jennifer Colin, "Camping? Yes. Roughing It? Not Quite.", The New York Times (9/14/08). 

While the word "glamping" is new, the concept of luxurious tent-living is not.  In the sixteenth century, the Scottish Duke of Atholl prepared a marvelous glamping experience in the Highlands for the visiting King James V and his mother. Here, the Duke raised lavish tents and filled them with all the provisions of his own home palace.  See Robert Lindsey, Sixteenth Century Glamping, The Atholl Hunt.

At around this same time, the Ottomans had ostentatious, palatial tents transported from one military mission to the next. Entire teams of artisans traveled with the army to erect and maintain these imperial tents.  As described by Professor Nurhan Atasoy,
Ottoman Miniature Depicting Sulanate Tent

The exquisite ornamentation both inside and out of the tents used by the Ottoman sultans made them imposing dwellings fit for a ruler. On ceremonial occasions tents served to create a splendid theatrical setting, as we see vividly portrayed in miniature paintings depicting banquets, audiences and celebrations which took place in the imperial tent complex over the centuries. The imperial tents were richly decorated as if they were pavilions, and often had designs resembling tiled panels, usually in floral patterns, either in appliĆ©s work using cloth of different colours, or embroidered in various stitches using silk and metal thread. Professor Nurhan Atasoy, "The Ottoman Tents," Turkish Cultural Foundation.

Fast forward three centuries, and we find more examples of early "glamping."  In the 1920's, African safari became the thing to do among wealthy Brits and Americans.  For each white tourist, up to 60 local porters would be needed to carry belongings, tents, and supplies.  From electric generators, to folding baths, and cases of champagne, white travelers were afforded every domestic luxury while on adventure. Bartle Bull, Safari: A Chronicle of Adventure (1992).

Theodore Roosevelt's Safari Porters
Today's concept of glamping has it roots in these earlier forms of luxury camping.  In a positive twist on these old forms of tent-living, however, glamping today is not within the exclusive purview of rich, white aristocracy.  To the contrary,  some form of glamping is accessible to most travelers: a quick search for glamping accommodations around the world reveals an incredible range of per night prices.  

Even more importantly, whereas 20th century safaris were built on the backs of underpaid or enslaved African porters, today's glamping sites are generally owned and run by local entrepreneurs. Glamping gives local business people the opportunity to compete against international chain hotels by offering intimate, eco-friendly experiences that the big chains cannot. Built to minimize environmental impact, glamping makes it possible for travelers to comfortably trek the world without leaving their footprints everywhere they go.

While the number of international glamping options has skyrocketed since 2008, the main philosophy behind glamping has remained the same: sustainable, quasi-outdoor lodging that offer travelers unique, but comfortable, experiences in nature.

For a prime glamping example, visit Sandat Glamping in Bali.  Set amongst the rice paddies of Ubud, Sandat houses guests in yurts and lumbungs, typical structures used as rice warehouses throughout Bali.  The structures have been built to have zero environmental impact and to fit seamlessly into the stunning Bali landscape.  Although traditional rice warehouse on the outside, the lumbungs are decked out with beautiful decorations and all the essentials of a modern hotel on the inside.

Sandat Glamping, Bali

Sandat Glamping, Bali