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PTR: [Study] Abroad - The world and its coasters


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Epic as always Danny!! Thanks for taking the time to post these as I know they are time consuming. It is appreciated!

 

Safe travels my friend!

 

David

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TURKEY

 

Hey guys, thanks for sticking with me.

 

This part of the TR terrifies me, and is part of the reason I’ve been putting it off for so long. See, as far as countries go, Turkey is now my favorite. And I could probably write for years about how great it is and why you should go there, the beauty of the countryside, the hospitality of those who live there, why Istanbul is the greatest city I’ve ever been to, how pretty Turkish beaches are, how they lead the nicest most wonderful lives (disregarding all the religious persecution and what not) and how nice everyone is there. But in an effort to spare the both of us, I’ll try and keep this as short as possible.

 

I actually went to Turkey twice, on two separate trips. The first time was through Istanbul on my way to the UAE, and the second time was part of an adventure from Milan to the Russian border in Georgia over land and over sea.

 

I’ma say this again, just to make it clear, Istanbul is the coolest city I’ve ever been in, bar none. And what’s more, most people I’ve talked to who have been there, will agree. The amount of history there, and how much there is to do, is just unbelievable. At night, Taksim Square and the whole strip leading south, lined with restaurant after restaurant of outdoor seating, every place packed with people having the greatest time, drinks flowing, hookahs smoking, live bands playing every twenty feet, low lights creating a floating canopy in the narrow cobble stone lanes that amble on forever – it was literally the coolest night life I’ve ever seen. And the mosques in Sultanahmet – unbelievable. Just, please, go see for yourself. I could move there, and if I ever have the chance to, I’m taking it. It was that cool.

 

The rest of Turkey I saw on a long drawn out journey overland, with about 40 hours in a train from Izmir to Ankara to Erzerum, a ski resort town way out east, and another 8 on a bus to Hopa, where I was able to hitch a ride across the Georgian border. The number of incredible people I met, how hospitable everyone was, and the love every person over there has in their hearts, is reflected both in the number of cups of tea people bought for me (it was a lot, and it was delicious) and on the smiles and nods you get when you pass people.

 

And I have to say, I have never been one to drink tea, but whatever it was about Turkey, the stuff over there is like crack.

 

Gosh, I have so many stories I don’t even know where to begin. From the 40 year old Russian hooker incident, to the Eastern European who walked me across Cesme to the bus station telling me how he couldn’t find anyone to buy a boat from so he could sail to Athens to see his girlfriend, to the family of four with an adorable little girl I shared a sleeper compartment with, to the guy on the train who found out I didn’t have a hotel room and led me to a place where he knew all the locals and proceeded to get me a discounted rate (none of them spoke English) and bought me dinner afterwards before arranging a taxi to get me to the bus station the next morning, to Esa, the guy who kind of looked like Gandalf who was a landscape painter from a small village of 30 goat herders, who made me tea all throughout the night while we discussed the differences between Islam and Christianity until 3 in the morning on our way to Erzerum. And of course I can’t forget Mostafa, a guy I was introduced to in Erzerum because we were kinda close in age and he knew around ten words in English. And then there was the world’s nicest tea shop owner. And the women who owned the Pie Shop. I mean, I couldn’t make up a more interesting group of people, and as I said, I would move back here in a heartbeat. There was, of course, the incident with gun in Izmir, the world’s worst hostel (I spent a half hour looking for it, having walked by it ten times because I thought that particular building was deserted, due to all the busted in windows and boarded up door), the Izmir open air market, Ankara’s sweater selection, the kids I met and leap-frogged with, mosque after incredible mosque, navigation of Istanbul’s Asian metro line, the delay on the way to Georgia due to a minor avalanche caused by the construction of the line to Baku, and the eventual acquisition of a little Turkish cap that all the old folks wear.

 

Plus, you can’t beat a country with that many kebab stands. It’s done.

 

As far as PARKS are concerned; I hit a few. But while there are a fair few spread across the country (it’s an awfully large country, and traveling across it will take you days, like around 4 of them), there wasn’t much to write home about in terms of quality of rides. The stories of how I finally managed to find the parks are far better than the few credits I was able to scrape from the parks that were actually open.

 

I’ll probably break this segment up by the 5 parks I hit, and just fill in the rest with culture photos. Enjoy guys!! I know I certainly did.

 

The first park was Bostanci Luna Park, in the Asian side of Istanbul. Getting there wasn’t horrrrrrible – I just had to take the ferry from the Sultanahmet across the Bosphorous (they’re really cheap, and setting foot on Asian soil, with an amount of land stretching out in front of you bigger than you can ever imagine, is really, really neat.) From there it was probably a 20 minute walk down the coast to the train, and then only a few stops to Bostanci, with the park about a ten minute walk north. I got there about an hour before the park opened, so was able to explore the area a little bit and grab a bite to eat – I don’t know what it was, but it was delicious.

 

The park itself had a few nice flat rides and a wild mouse, built right smack in the residential part of town, right up against huge apartment buildings. Rides were on a pay per ride basis, so I only rode the mouse, and only rode it once, but it was wild. It was also one of those awkward scenarios where I had to search to find a ride op and somehow communicate that I wanted to ride, because there was literally no one else in the park. Awkward.

 

The park was nice though, and while it didn’t have room to grow, it was a nice little carnival area for the few groups of kids that were showing up as I was leaving.

 

More Istanbul to follow, sometime in the near future. Take care guys, thanks for reading!!

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Welcome to Turkey

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I'll start you guys off in Istanbul, the greatest of all the cities. Here's a marked just south of the Blue Mosque, complete with the smallest of all the old women and the largest of allllll the ripened tomatoes

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Blue Mosque. You guys it was incredible

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Made friends with the local birdwoman. What a sweetheart

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Blue mosque-cat

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...yetanothermosque

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Inside Big Blue!

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People pictures are my favorite

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When I told my Dad I was going to Istanbul to see the Hagia Sofia, he told me he didn't know what that was. Then he asked me if I meant Haagendasz

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I think sunset that first night clinched my love for Turkey. It's breathtaking

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Some night markets

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The next day found me on my way to Asia...

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In search of this guy

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Welcome to Bostanci Luna Park, home of Twister about an hour's journey away from Sultanahmet, Istanbul's old town

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The park is built right smack in the middle of apartment buildings, and really sets a neat tone for the place

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a little closer up

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Park Entrance

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I love the way the park looks against the backdrop of the buildings

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Some kids got an early start on the swinger arm thing (what are these called again??)

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Can't forget the dark ride!!!

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This was only my second park in the season, and with so much uncertainty about where it was and if it actually existed, I was just happy to be here

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I thought Cikis might have meant entrance, but I'm pretty sure it just means "Everybody crowd onto the station and run around without any order whatsoever, right here. You can throw your bags and loose items and babies over by Giris"

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World's most charming ride op

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And of course, some wild mouse POV action. wowWOWwow what a treat.

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The rest of the park

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I really like this shot, flying around the buildings was something else.

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One last shot of Bostanci before it's off in search of the other park in the main city center, in Cevahir Mall

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I'll be back shortly for Istanbul part 2!!! Thanks for reading!!

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Woooooo baby. Once I was done with Bostanci, I backtracked on the train a few stations and caught a bus tram thing across the river a little farther north, and was dropped pretty near my next stop, Cevahir Mall. The trip wasn't bad, but buying a ticket for the bus tram thing was a little more difficult because none of the machines were working. I eventually just stalked enough people til they led me to a remote ticket counter. Both of these parks I was able to do in a total of a few hours, and then got back to a quick rush around the back streets of Istaklal during the day time, and the markets of Sultanahmet, including the graaaaaand market !!

 

Cevahir mall was enormous. I had trouble finding the coaster until I realized that what I thought was the whole mall on the map, was actually about an eighth of it. The shark coaster was back in the far corner of the mall, and was a big hit among all the kids, who kept running around to reride. The coaster was pretty much a triple helix we a solid first drop down into the lower level. I actually don't think the coaster went up at any point, once it cleared the lift hill.

 

After a couple rides I headed back into town, and spent the next few hours just running around, before making my way back to the airport to head out.

 

I'll try and get the rest of Turkey pictures up within the next day or so!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

-Danny

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Here are the pics

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Some good old fashioned Turkish rail action

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from the Bridge

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Welcome to Cevahir mall. Apparently there's another Wacky Worm in the city limits, but it was wayyyy out of the way and almost impossible to get to

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The park was way down on the ground floor of the mall

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Up a steep lift hill, curving around the space it's crammed into

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The lift hill pokes up over the top before turning around and plunging back down

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And back down, picking up speed all the way

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Klingon Copybara, the ride

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Kind of themed to some weird Aztec alien hippy rave shabang

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Final stretch

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Shark bait, oo ha ha

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Bam, nailed it

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I love this place

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See that?? That's Asia. Right THERE

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gettin all artsy on you guys, sorry

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Take me back

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Just some exotic boats I found after winding my way around the fly fishers and the underground bazaar

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Favorite picture of the trip

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Turkish women

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Grand Bazaar!! Incredible. Bigger than you can ever imagine

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Black and white mosque

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Hagia Sofiasaurus-rex. I've wanted to see this building for soooooo so long. Incredible. Thanks for reading guys, hope you enjoyed! I'll be back some time soon with Izmir Ankara and Erzerum pictures, including three more parks

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Great Photo TR. I love seeing Photo TRs of parks that are rarely shown. Keep up the good work.

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Great report, you put up some of the most beautiful photos I've seen on TPR. You can really get a great feel for Istanbul, from the people to the cityscape through the photos. Really fun too. Thanks

 

BTW, That swinging ride you didn't know is a Technical Park Street Fighter.

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I love all your pictures so far and I´m excited what comes next.

 

Just for your interst... If you plan a Trip to the North-Rhine-Westphalia Region in Germany (Phantasialand, Moviepark Germany, Fort Fun, Kernies Wunderland, etc.) you should plan it between 15.-24. July, because of the Düsseldorf Rheinkirmes or 06-15. August, because of the Cranger Kirmes in Herne.

 

You should get on both biggest funfairs in this region some extra credits (for expample Alpina Bahn, Olympia Looping, Spinning Racer, Höllenblitz, Looping de Loop...) and you will be part of the Olympia Looping premiere on those funfairs, since many years ago!

 

Have fun!

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Your guys' comments are incredibly gratifying to read, and way too overly-gracious. And I'd just like to say that I really appreciate it. It's great hearing from you.

 

As for the rest of Turkey: there's a lot of it. I mean, a looooooot. I'd actually encourage you to pull up a map in a different browser for this next part, cuz I'll be throwing around a lot of city names, and if "the world" is your thing, it's good stuff to know. While it might not be as big as the US, it feels larger for a lot of reasons. 1) There's so much countryside, and most of it is untouched, uncharted by anyone who doesn't live there, and wild. 2) The landscape is extremely diverse, ranging from enormous prairies to craggly stone mountains, and all sorts of greys and greens and reds and browns along the way. The whole place has a sort of "end-of-the-world" feel, landscape that stretches for miles without tree or inhabitant, and the sky sits sort of flatly, like the land goes on forever. 3) it's impossible to get anywhere. There is one train that runs once a day across the entirety of the country, from Istanbul to Kars (well over 36 hours), and really the only way to catch it in between those two points is to make it to Ankara, the technical capital, in the center of the country. It took me about 4 days to make the trip across Turkey, from Cesme to Hopa, and that was about as direct as I could manage.

 

That being said, because I started in Izmir and not Istanbul, so I had to do a little hopping that gave me around 8 hours in Izmir, 8 in Ankara, and the night in Erzerum.

 

For those not familiar with where Turkey is exactly, it's the country that connects Turkey and Asia below Russia (and the black sea above which is Bulgaria, Romania, and the Ukraine,), just to the right of Greece. It's left side is on the Mediterranean, and to the right you have Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. And below those, to the southeast of the country, you find Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Istanbul is in the far northwest of the country, and is the division between the European part and the Asian part. Most of the country is in the Asian part. Izmir and Ankara are the next two biggest cities after that - Ankara is the capital in the center of the country, and Izmir is on the Mediterranean, a huge beautiful crescent of a city built around a large inlet. Near Izmir is the biblical city of Ephesus, one of the oldest (if not the oldest???) cities in the world, and unfortunately just a little too out of reach for this trip. Erzerum (my last stop on the cross-country train) in the east is an enormous ski resort town, right at the base of the mountains, and apparently the skiing there is really up and coming on the international scene. The south of the country, along the coast, in the Antalya region, is where most of the good touristy beaches are.

 

The plan for this trip was originally to take the tranSiberian to Mongolia, but I just wasn't in one place long enough to turn my passport in for a Russian Visa. So now the plan was to get to take a huge train voyage to Georgia as a second-best option to do some hiking in the Caucasus, specifically to see Kazbegi. I started in Milan with a super cheap flight and to get to the Italian parks the first weekend, then made my way to Greece by ferry and through it by bus, then to Turkey by ferry, taking the train most of the way across it into Georgia. (There are rumors of a direct train from Istanbul to Tbilisi in Georgia, but I didn't find anything like that once in the country). I had also tossed around some other ideas: One was forgoing Italy and Greece (Greece especially, since I was more going to it because it was in the way than because I wanted to see it, although I was enormously surprised and had an incredible time there), and just spending some more time in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The problem with this was that as of recently Americans can't get into Azerbaijan, and farting around this area of the world avoiding Baku is really difficult. Another idea was to try and get into Iran, but Visa requirements are still really tight, I probably would have had to go with a guide, and with the way the weekly train went (there was only one a week), I just wouldn't have had enough time there to make it worthwhile, even if I had gotten permission to get into the country.

 

But back to Turkey, and specifically Izmir. I took the overnight ferry from Athens to Chios, one of the Greek islands right across from Turkey, and then the morning ferry over to Izmir. The ferry was really quite cheap, around 30 euros I think, which sure beats a plane flight - plus, since it was overnight, I didn't need a place to stay that night. I ended up meeting 4 other Greeks in their twenties and we spent the night playing cards and having a grand old time. It's too bad I'll probably never see any of these guys again. I got into Chios at about 3:30 in the morning, but luckily there were a number of cafes open all night right on the harbor, so I just crashed til around 7, and did a little walking around before the ferry at 8:30 into Turkey. Chios was beautiful, everything I expected from a Greek isle.

 

Finally getting into Cesme around 9, noted for it's beeeeautiful beaches, I wandered around the town for a couple hours, grabbed a cheap sandwich at a corner stand, and had a wonderful meal with a Russian 40 year old guy who was bummed after having spent an unsuccessful week looking for a cheap boat to sail to Athens to see his girlfriend. I guess everyone has their problems. He was nice enough to walk me across town to the bus station, and I hope things look up for him in the future.

 

Grabbing a bus to Izmir, I made a few tactical mistakes. 1, I didn't have a map already with me, and since I hadn't had internet for the past few nights, I didn't really have any idea where I was, and only had a blurry picture of the rcdb Izmir map I had taken on my camera, but then had accidentally uploaded, then taken another picture of so that I had at least a general sense of where they were. So I knew I needed to go to the top of the crescent a little bit inland, next to the grey smudged street that said G-something, and kind of at a blip in the harbor. haha... Next, I accidentally got off the bus too soon, at one of the pre-center stops, because everyone else was getting off too. I wandered for a while, and finally got lucky, making it to the water, and finding that Izmir had a ferry system that had stops all along the crescent water front.

 

So my first stop, after finally figuring out that the ferry was indeed able to get me right near the first park up north (Turkish is nooooothing like any of the romance languages), and exhausted from not having slept on an actual bed in quite some time, was to set off in search of Girne Luna park. But what I thought the area should look like, from the blurred picture I had, turned out not to correspond to what was actually there at all. And after passing a couple monuments and at least 20 doner kebab places, I had to resort to asking people. And I finally found it... only to discover that the park had been demolished to make way for new residential areas (the people who worked at the car repair shop on the same block only knew two words in English: kaput, and residences. huh!) So I made my way all the way back, grabbed another ferry to the city center, and went off for park number two.

 

Along the way I passed the only thing of architectural significance in the city (the whole place burned down like 80 years ago, so everything was pretty new), which was a stone clock tower, which looked really cool in pictures, but was underwhelming in person. However, just past that, was the biggest coolest outdoor market I've ever seen, and I spent a looooong time wandering the back alleys past chai shops and huge hunks of meat and hookah joints and fruit stands and appliance stores and knickknack stands and bead stores and painting shops and anything you could ever imagine. I finally made it out, and headed up the street to the main train station, right next to the entrance to a huge public park, in the middle of which, was Izmir Fuari.

 

The whole park area looked kinda dumpy, but they were apparently preparing for a huge international festival that weekend, so I can understand why everything wasn't up and hopping yet. That being said though, the actual theme park was probably the least favorite of any place I've ever been. It was small and dirty, which usually I don't mind, but everything was just a dump. Rides were broken and not operating, the place was deserted, and the one guy who was there, the guy at the ticket counter (which was expertly hidden) wouldn't sell me a ride ticket to the main coaster because I needed 3 people to ride it... no wait, 4 people to ride it... no wait, now I needed 6. I don't think he knew. But finally, fiiiiinally, after minutes of begging in a language in which he must have had noooo idea what I was saying, a group of four came along to ride, and the ride op hopped in after starting the train, for our sixth, and we were off. It was a pretty standard model, but it was also probably the most pain I've ever been in after a ride. I know we joke about rides being chiropractors and all, and most of the time it's funny, but there was one part, coming out of the loop, were I was convinced I would have lasting damage to my spine. I don't know, it was just generally horrible. And I was still exhausted, which didn't help anything. The other coaster in the park, the wacky worm, wasn't operating.

 

So that's Izmir pretty much. The rest of the time I wandered around the area, grabbed some bananas for the 20 hour train ride I had coming, and found a chai shop (and a pie shop). Turkish tea (all anybody drinks; in fact, all anybody does all day) is the best stuff I've ever had.

 

Ankara's up next, enjoy the pictures, see you guys soooooooooon!

-Danny

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Welcome to Chios. The sun wasn't up when we got here, but when you can finally see where you are, be ready for it, it's beautiful

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This is the shop I fell asleep in on a table at 4 in the morning. Thank youuuuuuu

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Just a boat I found. Wish we could have taken THIS to turkey

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Wandering the back roads

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Wherefore art thou, Romeo???

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THIS guy..

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No wait, THIS guy...

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Made friends with a big old Greek family on the way to Turkey - they gave me a bunch of crackers

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Goodbye Greece

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Kind of looks like a cross and a guy doing a russian dance

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Turkey - it's good to be back

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Charming little town - this was only a little bit of it, the beaches stretch all up and down the coast a half hour in each direction

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And after the whole bus slash map fiasco: IZMIR - I MADE IT

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OMG WHAT!??!?!?

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Izmir's north shore

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After a substantial amount of walking and a long time not knowing where I was - the only thing that remains of Girne Luna Park. I couldn't get the guys around the area to figure out what "when was it torn down", but they were all thrilled to tell me that residence houses would be built here

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Turkish women

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Izmir's clock tower at city center

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and behind the clock tower, the entrance to the largest outdoor market I've ever seen (miles, and milesssss of alleys)

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The tree behind my head kind of looks like it's part of my hair

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Anything you could ever want, you can find in Turkey

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Entrance to Izmir Fuari... I have no idea what the 'E' stands for

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Least favorite ride of all time. You win, Turkey.

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Close up of the most painful coaster spot I've ever experienced - right THERE

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Ride station

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The train was stuck here and the controls were all covered. Actually, there were 3 wacky worms I went to find in Turkey, and they were all closed, not working, or torn down. Bummer

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Unfortunately Elma Kurdu was more like Elma Kurdon't today

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It had a little walk over the ride to get to the station though. That was nifty

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POV - yayyyy

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Least worthwhile credit ever

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A quick look out toward the rest of the park

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Leaving. Bummerrrrr.

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Take it easy Izmir. I really thought, with the bananas and everything, the overnight would be alright. But unfortunately, before nightfall, a family of 4, complete with a baby, joined me and the night suddenly got a whole lot longer. See you soon!! Thanks for reading!!

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I've rode one Zyklon ZL way back in Denmark while on vacation - BAD!

 

I think they added the loop shortly after Schwarzkopf started putting out coaster after coaster - but obviously they had no Werner Stengel to calculate it correctly....

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Cool report of a part of Europe/Asia I didn't knew. Those turkish parks really seems worth the travels!!

 

Looks like you had a great time over there.

 

 

 

----Hans

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Ankara update:

 

In a nut shell, Ankara would probably be the place I least recommend to go, while in Turkey. However, it's also the place from which it is easiest to get anywhere else, so if you do end up there, it's no problem getting out of there.

 

I only had around 8 hours there switching trains to continue onward across the country, but I burnt out after around 5 or 6 hours, once it started drizzling, and spent the remaining time pretending I was a guest in the Radisson Blu lobby and bumming their internet (for anyone traveling in Europe, the Radisson Blu hotels are super nice, always have people who speak GREAT English, have great maps, can help with almost any plans, and have nice free bathrooms and great lobby internet connection, as well as an occasional bowl of fruit at the front desks. And they're always pretty tall and pretty easy to spot from most any where.)

 

The first park on the list in Ankara was called something something Lunapark, I'm not really too sure. "Lunapark" seems to be the going term for "amusement park" in Turkey, as they're all called this. RCDB had the place listed as Genclik Lunapark, but I didn't see the word Genclik anywhere. Anyways, unimportant. This park was conveniently located about 50 feet outside the main train station, and is impossible to miss. The place had a really decent selection of rides and was pretty heavily attended, as far as Turkish parks go at least. There were a number of Satanic-sex-fetish dark rides, a ton of flats, a couple bigger flats, a Galaxy coaster, two powered coasters, and something themed to a giant octopus. The day was really overcast so the photos are not the most beautiful I've ever taken, but it was a nice place. The highlight was the game stall where you would throw rings at a huge table of cigarette boxes to win one if you hooked it. It was easily the most popular attraction in the park. I didn't ride much because it was pay for ride, but it's a great way to get a credit for like a buck and a half.

 

The second park was a few long metro stops away up northwest of the city, in what seemed like a more residential area. This was a lot smaller park in a really nice public green space, again called Lunapark, though the public park area was called "Demestre-something". The park only had a wacky worm in terms of credits, but the place was closed until later in the day. Although I'm not really sure until when, because I was there around 3 o clock, and the only person around I could find was a young woman who knew no English, but said that the park opened at 23 o clock... so I'm not sure if she just got her numbers confused, or misunderstood the question, or if the small children's park actually opened an hour before midnight. Either way I didn't stick around. I DID, however, meet a group of high school guys playing leap frog, and joined them.

 

The rest of the day I wandered around the market and caught up on my people watching and scored two HIDEOUS sweaters for about 7 bucks a piece, and a jar of stuff that was exactly like nutella, except golden (pure hazel nut, maybe?) It was probably the best stuff I've ever had out of a jar, and made the bananas I had gotten the day before taste like magic. The market was super easy to get lost in because the streets don't adhere to a very strict grid, and the place was enormous. And by 6:30 or so I was caught the train towards Kars and shared a compartment the coolest man I've ever met. More on that later. Sorry updates have been so infrequent!!

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The vast expanse of rural Turkey

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The windows of the trains had the decals of the Turkish flag on them, which made for some great-yet-occasionally-overly-kitschy dramatic landscape shots.

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Just a town I wish I could say I grew up in

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Here we are in the first park. It was one of those things, getting off the train, where I was all set to begin figuring out my way from scratch in a new city, and begin the arduous voyage that so typically preceded small park visits, and was wonderfully surprised when I emerged from the train station looking for a street sign, and found a ferris wheel.

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Genclik Lunapark. I don't know what THAT is but let me ON IT!

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Tower of Thor (Do they even have Thor in Turkey???)

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First powered coaster, Takaido. Done and done.

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Close up

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A Turkish man and his powered credit

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The cigarette ring toss game. Classic. Easily the most popular attraction in the park

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Credit Coaster #2, Tornado Ren Expresi. Check and mate!

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Name shot

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It was themed to reindeer. Because THAT makes sense..

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Here's the Fun House themed to Satanic rape

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... and the dark ride themed to witchcraft and develry

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A child etc

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Hawaiian themed Turkish flat rides

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Finally, a credit! ... if that's what you're in to. A decent one, at that!

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I don't want to say these next few on ride photos were taken without permission from the park but it's more like they probably would have sent the train around if I was doing a handstand in the car, rather than they verbally gave me consent to photograph during the ride.

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Love riding with the locals!!

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An overview of the park - pretty decent sized place

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First drop

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Action shot

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This one wasn't nearly as bad as the ride in Izmir

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My main ticket man

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Even on roller coasters, national pride is expressed. How wonderful

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these kids were too chicken

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And this is the dark ride tribute to muscular satanic theology and lore

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some 'other' rides

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And finally the park entrance - I should had this picture up at the front of the report, only I came through an open gate at the back of the park that I think, in hindsight, somebody had left open, and wasn't an official access point to the park

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Horse and man - a monument to Ankara

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The old ruins that I was gonna go see before I realized it would have taken a whole more climbing than I had bargained for

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So I settled for some hard core people watching instead

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And the market of Ankara, is an incredible place to do that

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Found this little temple market square thing that, once you were in, was almost impossible to get out of. ITS A TRAP

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Just some hat shopping I observed

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And if anyone needed some stolen goods and looted appliances - I found just the place for you

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And once again, 6 o clock rolled around and it's another 28 hours on a train. I'll try and update a little more often, I've got one more segment in Turkey left. Thanks so much for reading guys!! It's always good to hear from you.

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I still have another park in Ankara I forgot I didn't show you guys, but I'll show you these pictures first, even though they technically came afterwards, just to even things out between parks and non-parks.

 

Welcome to the greatest train ride you've ever experienced. As I think I already mentioned, a large part of the reason for going on a trans-Turkey train trip was because the original plan to bum the Trans-Siberian railway fell through. And at first I only imagined that the most interesting people and stories you've ever experienced only existed on long arduous train journeys in obscure parts of the world, but now I know it for sure.

 

Let me paint you a picture (haha..ha...well, you'll laugh later.)

 

You're in Ankara. It's not so hot anymore but awfully humid and you're a little damp from the drizzle, but otherwise just excited, because you know now for SURE you're heading out into the middle of no where. The train rolls up around 45 minutes late, and you run to find your compartment from the 20-odd car train, which isn't in any numerical order, like you might expect. You finally leap the gap to the train and scramble up the few steps and down the tight hallway, arriving at your room towards the end, sliding the door open just hoping beyond hope there isn't some enormous weirdo -

 

And then you see him. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ysa (Esau? Yssa? Isa? Couldn't tell you.) Now before I really introduce him, let me just preface this by saying that this guy is seriously one of my favorite people that I've ever met, and I've been praying for and thinking about him more than I've been praying for and thinking about anyone.

 

Ysa was tall and skinny, and super super Turkish. Your first impression was that he was the type of person who only looked at home when there was a sheep present. He had an eNORmous face, and an eNORMous nose, and had long slivery hair somewhere between Gandalf and Jesus length, complete with a 6 inch goatee. And I wish I could do this in person for you, but when he talked, he would make the GOOFIEST faces, and everything became super animated and he would lean forward and jut his face way close to yours, his eyebrows raised to his hairline, his eyes wide as dinner plates. And although his English was surprisingly good (he later said he picked it up because he was in the selling-things-people-don't-need-to-unsuspecting-tourists industry). And sometimes he would use his hands like flags and wave them every which way when he talked, accentuating the shockingly oscillatory way in which his voice boomed through the small cozy cabin.

 

His stuff was all over one half of the cabin, leaving me the empty seat right next to him on the same bench, and he welcomed me warmly. After brief introductions, which i thought would wind down to a respectful silence in no time, we both found it quite impossible to stop talking to each other. He ended up making me around 6 glasses of tea (recall that we're on a moving train), and pulled out a huge supply of sugar cubes and crackers to share. Me, I offered him a banana and some M&Ms.

 

Turns out Ysa comes from a small town of 30 people, way off in the middle of nowhere, the every one of the 30 people in his town sheep (or goat, I don't remember) herders. Except, of course, for Ysa. No, Ysa wasn't a goat herder, he was a landscape watercolor painter. And to make a living in this small, small town, he made the 30 hour train trip to Istanbul and back twice a month, to sell his paintings where the tourists had at least a somewhat decent taste in art. I asked him if I could see one of them - I wanted SO BADLY to see one of them - he said that he some in his bag but didn't want to take them out because it would make a mess and potentially ruin them.

 

Ysa and I ended up talking laaaate into the night, for hours, touching over topics from upbringing to religion, and spent a good three or four hours discussing the differences between Christianity, which I had given my life over to, and Islam, to which he had given over HIS life, turning from a life of sin to look with shock and disgust on the world of depravity as it sat today. And while debate became difficult because I knew nothing about the Qu'ran and he knew nothing about the bible, both of which we were trying to use as foundation for everything we said, I'm pretty sure I learned more about myself in that three hour talk and with what I wanted to do with my life, than I've ever learned in three hours. Turkey? I'll be back, and next time, I'll be more prepared.

 

Without getting too spiritual on you guys, we parted the next morning at his stop around 1 in the afternoon, for which we were already a few hours late, and I don't think I've stopped thinking about him since. Dear Ysa - I know we'll meet again someday. Love, Danny.

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Ysa, I love you. This is the only picture I got with him.

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This last segment of the train was around 28 hours or so, Ysa leaving around 18 hours into it.

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This river that we jogged along with for a while, was the Euphrates. How cool is THAT!?!?!? Civilization was BORN AND RAISED on this river.

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SHEEP HERDERS

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The coolest thing about the train journey was seeing how much the landscape changed, the farther east you got. It literally felt like you were traveling to the ends of the world

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Finally, after around 18 hours with this guy, we arrive at his small dinky stop in the middle of no where, where I look out the window to see him LEAPING from the train, bags flying everywhere, landing on the dirt platform ungracefully. Enrico Polini, from Rat Race? Anyone know who I'm talking about? It was very much like that.

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He stood there for a while - just taking it in, I guess. I'm gonna miss you, brother. I'll see you again some day, for sure.

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The town at his stop, an overview - from which I believe he still had a 5 hour trip to his village. Amazing

Edited by coasterer
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Danny...I freaking love you dude, this is just EPIC. It is kind of like Eat, Pray, Love for the younger male set.

 

Congratulations on living the dream man, and please keep it up!

 

David

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^HAHAHAHAHAhahaahahahahahahahaha. Thank you. Male younger set. That, that really means the world to me.

 

And thanks everyone else, your comments and adjective choices [^^enchanting!! ], are so nice to read. Although this next post, might be a little shy of 'enchanting', and might even stop just a few miles short of 'creatively informative' in general

 

Let me take you back a little bit, to Ankara. Just to repeat about this park, Lunapark in Demestre-something public park,

 

"...The second park was a few long metro stops away up northwest of the city, in what seemed like a more residential area. This was a lot smaller park in a really nice public green space, again called Lunapark, though the public park area was called "Demestre-something". The park only had a wacky worm in terms of credits, but the place was closed until later in the day. Although I'm not really sure until when, because I was there around 3 o clock, and the only person around I could find was a young woman who knew no English, but said that the park opened at 23 o clock... so I'm not sure if she just got her numbers confused, or misunderstood the question, or if the small children's park actually opened an hour before midnight. Either way I didn't stick around. I DID, however, meet a group of high school guys playing leap frog, and joined them."

 

Here are some great, great, great great great great pictures. Hahahaha. Youguysit'swaypastmybedtime.

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A mammoth. If more parks had slides like these, I really think the world would be a better place

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A local gang.

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These are the friends I made. We had a great time

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Ope, there they go

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Here we are, at the top of the hill, behind the pavilion fountain lake thing

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Wacky Worm credit, denied

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The place was closed... apparently until 11 pm according to one of the locals, but that just doesn't make any sense.

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Through the fence

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THERE IT IS AGAIN let me ON IT!!!

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And then we're back on the road [train?], where I caught you guys up with Ysa. NOW there's one more Turkey post left, before we're out of here. Thanks for reading everyone

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Welp, I was gonna drag this out another day or five, but I think we'd all just rather have all our Turkey pictures up and in one place. There's only a little bit left anyways.

 

Turkey ended a lot colder than it started. Snow just wasn't something I was expecting to see, and I was a litttttttle bit nervous about rolling into Erzerum, to be honest. I had done a brief brief check on hostels (there were none) and hotels (there were only two listed online), and they were both pretty expensive because Erzerum is a huge ski resort town. So we chugged into the center of Erzerum as night was falling, and it was settling down to around 40 degrees Farenheit, and I didn't have a place to stay, or actually any idea what i was doing.

 

God was really watching out for me that night though - as we were pulling into the train station, I must have looked about as nervous as I felt, because a middle-aged Turkish man came up to me, and after a fair bit of gesturing and a couple of repeats, I was able to pick out the word 'Otel". And while normally I'm super defensive and independent in places like this, because I know how easy it is to end up somewhere you'd rather not be, or paying for something you'd rather not be, I was desperate enough to get across to him that yes, I do in fact need an Otel. God bless this man, he walked me about ten minutes up the hill out of the train station into a little part of the city I would never have found myself, and to a small Turkish hotel that ended up costing around an eighth of the price of the two Westernized hotels I had found online. And not only did he stop there, he checked me in (because nobody spoke English (neither did he)), and then got a cab for me the next morning to the bus station, and then bought me dinner and a few rounds of chai while we watched the Turkish news, and THEN he introduced me to someone my age who knew a few words, and He showed me around the city later that night.

 

I mean, if you took a million trains in the United States, I don't think you'd ever end up on one where someone would be half as hospitable, and it just goes to show how much heart there is outside our safe white picket fences and Target shopping centers.

 

The next day at the bus stop I had about three hours before the bus to Hopa left, so i drank more chai, and then had some more chai, and then in true Turkish style, switched chai shops and had even more chai, before walking around the city buying a little Turkish hat for a dollar and a half, the one that all the old men wear, and then coming back to the bus stop to get more chai.

 

The bus to Hopa wasn't so bad, only like 6-7 hours, and the driver was super helpful telling me when and where I needed to change busses, and making sure I was all taken care of.

 

We had to pause for some avalanche clearing along one of the gorges, but otherwise the ride went real smoothly.

 

By the time I arrived in Hopa, a town on the Black Sea around 15 km from the Georgian border, night was setting in, and I was torn between my original plan to get to the night train in Batumi across the line, or to wait it out in Hopa for it to be light again. I opted to just gun it, and threw out my thumb yet again, hitching a ride within a few minutes from a couple guys who, again, though they didn't speak English, went wayyyyyy out of there was to help me across the border, dropping me off north of Batumi at the train station, walking inside to help me buy a ticket, and then showing me an ATM across the street when they wouldn't accept my credit card at the counter. I'm telling you, you would never expect it from the burly disposition and the hardcore way they go through a pack of cigarettes in like an hour, but these people are the nicest most hospitable people I've ever met.

 

I'll leave you at the Georgian border, where a tired looking woman in her mid-twenties stole herself for a second while looking at my passport, then rolled her eyes up at me sarcastically, and said, in an outrageous accent, "I hope you have great impression of here Country." It was all I could do to not start laughing - the world is truly a wonderful place. And with that, me and my new Turkish buddies hopped back in the truck and headed out into the dark Georgian night.

 

Thanks for reading, everyone, and I hope I've managed to convey at least a little bit of the love and respect this wonderful country deserves. It has been a pleasure sharing my experiences in Turkey with you. Next adventure I think I'll take you all through some of Germany. Something a little less exotic, but altogether still great.

 

Take care everyone.

-Danny

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Setting out into the wide unknown... again

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40 of the last 48 hours have been in compartment the size of a walk in freezer, and things were getting a bit crazy

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Are those mountains?? Oh baby

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Is that a church!?!? Are we still in Turkey???

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Family

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This guy. Nice guy.

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Now THIS, this is who I aspire to be when I get older

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World's greatest hole in the wall chai shop. He even offered me a place to sleep in it.

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Check out THESE mountains!!

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A man and his bird

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So many places to go. When they asked, everyone first asked if I was going to Trabzon. I wasn't, but next time. Also, if you're ever going to Georgia from Turkey, you should know that they call it Gurjistan. No one will know what Georgia is. Thank you Lonely Planet travel blogs.

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Just some kids I found near some laundry

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Favorite picture from Erzerum. This is what I want to do with my life.

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Bus stop on the way to Hopa. People came back to the bus with Loaves and loaves of the most enormous bread you've ever seen

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While waiting for the avalanche clearing

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And on the shores of the Black Sea, our jong journey through Turkey comes to an end. Turkey, you've truly written yourself across my heart, and I will for sure see you again. It has been wonderful. Thank you for reading!!

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Finally, after around 18 hours with this guy, we arrive at his small dinky stop in the middle of no where, where I look out the window to see him LEAPING from the train, bags flying everywhere, landing on the dirt platform ungracefully. Enrico Polini, from Rat Race? Anyone know who I'm talking about? It was very much like that.

He stood there for a while - just taking it in, I guess. I'm gonna miss you, brother. I'll see you again some day, for sure.

Well, maybe he just fell asleep

 

 

And that is awesome! I almost want to steal this for my desktop.

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^ Steal away my friend !! Not to be presumptuous, but if you want a picture or two [or twelve], don't be afraid to just drag them off the page, or send me a message with your email and I'll hook you up with the originals. The world isn't mine - I'd be more than happy to share it with you

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  • 2 weeks later...

A little bit of Germany

 

For me, Germany was a very 'nice', 'pleasant' country, and I'm sure it's a great place to live, but as far as traveling through it, I generally think there are much more interesting countries out there. Berlin was a super interesting city, and we'll get there in the middle of this update. But the other cities were just 'nice cities' in my opinion, and didn't have that much to offer in terms of sight seeing.

 

I did a quick trip to the Cologne region for a couple parks, and managed to get to Phantasialand pretty easily, and Movie Park Germany not quite as easily, but still pretty manageably. I had hoped to get to Klotten, but the train ticket was wayyyyy too expensive. And Toverland, also, appeared to be within striking distance, but there just wasn't a good way to get to the park via public transportation.

 

Phantasialand was a beautiful park, with some really well-themed rides. I kind of had the feeling that without Black Mamba it would have been hard to fill a full day there, but the park was a decent size, and had some really fun things to offer. Winjas was really cool - a really fun ride with a few surprising elements, and some really great theming. Black Mamba was very nice, and of course impeccably themed, and I think I liked it more than some of the people that complain it lacks any forces whatsoever, but no, it was definitely no Nemesis. The whole Africa area looked great though. The seizure-inducing drop tower effects were an awesome touch in my opinion, and while I'm sure Michael Jackson gave a great ride, I just have an awfully hard time differentiating mine trains in my mind, even if this was one of the better ones. There was some construction going on in the main plaza area, so that part of the park was a bit of a mess, but overall it was a really nice park with a ton of beautiful theming and landscaping, and I really enjoyed it.

 

Movie Park was actually better themed than I thought it would be. In my mind I pictured horrible rides AND janky ghetto-theming, but only half of that turned out to be true. Bandit- hahahahaha horrible, but we all knew that. That stand up floorless drop tower was a riot though, and I thought the mouse ran great. I didn't spend a horribly large amount of time in the park, and rounded out the day with a stop at SchloB Beck just next door, the small family do-it-yourself park with a nice kiddie tivoli.

 

But Berlin!!!! That's where real Germany is, and I bet there are very few cities in the world that could give Berlin a run for it's money, as far as "interestingly relevant modern history" is concerned. We ended up in Berlin from a train out of Prague, which we only took because Diana and I missed our flight back to CPH from the Czech Republic due to our alarm being set on silent (not my fault). And even though we only had like a day and a half in the city, it was one of the few places I felt like we needed longer to explore. We ended up taking the free 3 hour walking tour (these tours are starting to pop up in a bunch of the major European cities, and are highly informative, and I highly recommend them as a starting point for your introduction to a city), and our guide was fantastic - I think he was a history student out of Ireland, and you could tell how passionate he was about what he was telling us, and it really was a great way to get a basic jump on the history of the city.

 

My favorite part of Berlin had to be the New National Gallery (although I reeeeeaally really liked the Holocaust memorial), which was a looooong long wall along the river packed full of grafiti art pieces. Definitely worth checking out.

 

Point of the story, while Germany is funnnn, I definitely think you don't *really* see the country until you see Berlin, despite the lack of coasters over in that area. I've got some Hamburg pictures too, but I'll probably put those up way later. I intended to go back to South Germany for some Geforce / Europa action, maybe starting in Switzerland, but it just never happened.

 

Take care guys! Thanks for reading.

-Danny

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WEEEEEEeeeeelcome to Phantasialand

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And a lake. beautiful

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Somewhere in Mexico - a child and a fountain

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"... and the WORLD will know, what you have done for China"

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I <3 Tibet

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Welcome to the creepiest ride in the world

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And then we're in Africa. Boy, this park really gets around, doesn't it??

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While some may like Winjas better, Black Mamba definitely does a lot of stage-hogging

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The integration with the landscape was incredible. More parks should work in rides like these.

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It's awfully hard to judge though, when there's such disparity in theming between rides. I really can't remember if the ride was *great or not, because I just look at these pictures and my mind screams "Awesome!"

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Back to Michael Jackson. Coincidentally, I lived next to a Dane who is an obsessed Michael Jackson fan, and has actually been to and inside the Neverland Ranch. I didn't even know that was possible!!!

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Winjas were great. It's hard for me to remember which one I liked slightly better, but I believe it was the one that was on the right when you're in the station facing forward. Dooooon't remember which one that was though

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The line wasn't horrible, but the park was still more crowded than I was expecting for a weekday.

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Fun little transitional element

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It was definitely a very 'safe' layout. Cool integration, but definitely a safe layout

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I was a little taken aback to see only Africans working the ride, dressed in mock traditional clothes - is that even allowed?!?!?

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Then there was the Chinese dark ride... words can't describe

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Let's do the time warp again - we're gonna jump way back to Berlin now. Stay with me guys. This is the reeeeeal reason to come to Germany

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The morning train, after our 6:45 flight home from Prague just didn't end up working out. Whoopsiedoopsies. It was relieving though, seeing the cold stark eastern European landscape melt away into sunny Western-Europe civilization

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Worlds most alarming sign?

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the New National Gallery - a photoshoot

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Note the concern we're both expressing for missing class today. Hooooo well

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Favorite

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The wall. On a wall. GET IT!?!?!?

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We set our camera up on parked cars for most of these. But eventually had to stop taking timer shots because I couldn't move my fingers enough to press the right buttons to set it up. We all have our problems...

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Ope, wait no, favorite.

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the Reichstag

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Good morning Gate!

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Holocaust memorial. Very vague. Very sobering. Very eerie.

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Can you imagine?? I can't

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The main ministry building, I forget the name. I loved the mural thing on the floor though

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Thar she blows. The most famous wall there ever was.

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Checkpoint Charlie

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Memorial to the Victims of war and tyranny. Incredible

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Altes Museum, Schinkel, 1820s. Thank you Arc 204

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Mid morning sax player. See ya Berlin!! Thanks for being exponentially more historically interesting than your fellow German cities!!

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Welcome to Movie Park Germany. Bad rides with weird themes? Check and mate.

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The place looked surprisingly great though

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First stop - Jimmy Neutron

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This wild mouse was better than most, I'd say

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Car.

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This was one of the most interesting theme park experiences of my life. what a trip hahahaha

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This on the other hand, didn't rate so highly

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And this? Oy. I'm pretty sure I could think of about 4 billion better services this wood could be put to

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the Feaux Boardwalk

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And a quick stop next door for the kiddie coaster

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Maybe a lot of you don't know about this park? It's called SchloB Beck Freizeitpark, and is literally a few hundred meters from Movie Park. Nice little place for families, and a fun little place to see

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Done and Done

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First boat jump - delightful haha.

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Whoa nellie!

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They sent this thing around 4 times each circuit. A little excessive, but it was a nice ride.

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Won't be my last boat jump, what a great ride

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this wraps up this edition of Germany, I honestly don't know when my next post will be, or what will be in it. Thaaaaaanks for reading though!! Take care

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  • 4 months later...

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