Eye candy in the desert SW

Megan, Ferda, and I took off in Megan’s little red car and visited three national parks on the way from California to Colorado.  We spent longest at Joshua Tree where we did a little climbing.  The sun might make it look warm, but it was actually quite cold during our three days there.  We were lucky to get the last available spot at the Hidden Valley Campground, an area that is very popular with climbers.  Unlike, say, Geyikbayırı or Potrero Chico, it’d be rather difficult to visit and climb here without a car.  The campground didn’t have water, you can’t make reservations, and the climbs and crags seem to be scattered over a large area.

DSCN9964 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Tourists in southern California

I’m finally getting around to writing some blogs/posting some photos about Ferda’s and my trip to the US and Mexico 16 months ago.  We spent about seven weeks in the US and five in Mexico.  I took Ferda to some of my favourite places, like Palm Springs, Troncones, and Boulder, and we also went to some new places for me like Arches NP, Papantla, and Potrero Chico.  We tied everything together by visiting friends and family along the way.  Happily, Ferda liked it all enough that she wants to go back.

First stop: southern California, via Turkish Airlines’ longest non-stop flight: İstanbul-Los Angeles.  Isn’t that convenient?  Megan and my parents arranged a couple tours in Los Angeles for us.  Ferda was most excited to visit Hollywood and most disappointed that there’s really not much to see there, although we did eat ice cream next to Muhammad Ali’s star.

DSCN0079 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Skiing in Antalya

In January we had some unusually cold weather in Antalya.  It even snowed (twice!) down below Geyikbayırı in the camps where the climbers stay, something that hadn’t happened in years.  Guillaume, Seb, and I took advantage of the conditions and got out for three days of skiing near Antalya.

One first excursion was to Ala Belen, driving up the road toward Feslikan Yaylası.  We got up to the butcher shops below the curves where the road is really steep.  The ice forced us to park there and start our skinning through the houses of the yayla (Narpızlı Yaylası, according to openstreetmap).  At the car I thought there was no hope of good snow because we were so low, but it turned out to be surprisingly good, especially lower where the wind hadn’t hit the snow so much.

DSC06824 by bryandkeith on flickr
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A few fun days in Berlin with Ferda and Antje

During our week in Hannover, Ferda and I lucked out with surprisingly warm weather for December.  In Berlin, however, we found the cold.  Here are Ferda and Antje, braving the cold to visit this outdoor museum:

Ferda and Antje by bryandkeith on flickr

Don’t be deceived by the sunshine.  After about 20-30 minutes wandering around that site, we were happy to get inside and have something warm to drink.

This was my 4th visit to Berlin.  I’ve always stayed with Antje, and she’s always managed to point me in different directions so that I see new attractions every time.  The exception is the Greek restaurant near her house.  I’ve had dinner there three times in the last seven years.

This was Ferda’s first time in Berlin so we wandered around some of the highlights like the Reichstag, Brandenburger Tor, and Berliner Dom.
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Christmas and New Year in Hannover

Our plans in December and January seemed to change every week, and in the end we had some free time around Christmas and New Year.  One day Ferda and I were chatting with Yasemin when she suggested we go to Germany together for Christmas and visit the famous Christmas markets.  It was a joke/dream more than anything, but Yasemin got online, checked tickets, and it was only 100 Euro round-trip, Antalya-Hannover!  Well, that’s crazy.  I don’t see how the airlines make any money.  In the end, Yasemin couldn’t go because she didn’t have a Shengen visa or even a passport.  Ferda and I, however, jumped on those tickets and visited our friend, Bilge, in Hannover.

Ferda and Bilge by bryandkeith on flickr

On our first evening in Hannover we headed straight to the Christmas market in the old city (altstadt) because it was the last evening for most of the Christmas markets in Germany.  We arrived just a couple days before Christmas, just a day or two after some maniac drove a truck into one of Berlin’s Christmas markets. These Christmas markets are sort of wintertime art and crafts fairs with lots of food and of course plenty of mulled wine (glühwein).  It was fun to see so many people out enjoying the city in spite of the cold and a terrorist attack on another market a few days earlier.
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