Yet Another ‘Trip of a Lifetime’

J and I love the odd ‘trip-of-a-lifetime’ every now and again! Since moving here to Turkey we’ve wandered off on the Trans-Mongolian Railway from Moscow to Beijing;


With many, many, many days spent rocking across the steppes in a daze (I never realised there were so many different types/flavours of vodka) there would come times when one needed a shower. Our babushka would hold up five fingers, snatch the dollars and direct you into her cubicle where sat one of these . .


Your $5 bought you the contents of the samovar, a bit of rubber hose for the tap and a squat over the drain-hole in the corner – oh, and she kept guard in the entrance way and held your soap if required!

We’ve taken in the Panama Jazz Festival for no better reason than the delightful local pianist Danilo Perez invited us. We were also treated to passes that admitted us to everything (including many a meal). Danilo is the founder and the festival supports young musicians from poor circumstances with tuition, instruments and scholarships to Berkeley School of Music. Add to the glorious music some wonderful exploration trips along the canal and to beaches and islands and the vultures at sunset and you have a perfect encore.

Ben panama jazz

our son Ben, sound engineer of choice for many big names and venues, at the board in the beautiful old National Opera House in Panama City – on stage are some of the young and very talented musicians enjoying their very own gig

From Panama we wandered across to take in some of the revolutionary and ecological joys of Venezuela. In Caracas we met with Chavistas and the amazing Presidential Guards from Chavez’ old regiment who reversed the US instigated coup against him in days! In Merida up in the Andes we rode to the top of the longest and highest cable-car in the world whilst stubbornly refusing the available oxygen bottle and we got an OAP discount into the bargain! Then we found local field crocroger1biologist, guide and artist Roger Manrique aka Croc Roger who led us exploring the backwaters of the mighty Orinoco River where we wrestled with Anacondas and Iguanas (this is true), fished piranha for dinner (this is also true) and saw and photographed more wildlife than you could believe existed! We also spent a few days on the tropical paradise islands of Los Roques where, amongst other things, I was able to ogle the amazing creations that plastic surgeons can achieve in exchange for a lot of dosh – you are left wondering what keeps them up!

. . and now? We are in the early stages of organising a tour of the Glories of Persia – we are (visas and other things being equal) going to be wandering around in Iran for 16 days in April. We’ll be using as much local transport, buses, trains and the like as we can in order to be in contact with ‘ordinary’ Iranians.

Originally we’d hoped to travel by train from Istanbul to Tehran but I think a Turkish Airlines flight is going to simplify the bureaucracy. Then it’s off to places like Esfahan; Shiraz; Bam; Yadz and even Mashad way over in the east of the country before wandering back to Tehran via the Aborz Mountains just south of the Caspian Sea. So much history and culture and food and people to learn about before we get too cranky and creaky – wish us luck with officialdom!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

24 thoughts on “Yet Another ‘Trip of a Lifetime’

  1. Our best train journey was Istanbul to Kars in a first class sleeper for a ridiculously low price. We took 12 hours off in Ankara to visit the archeological museum. Much of the scenery was spectacular, the well kept train moved at a dignified crawl and the buffet car became our social club.

  2. What an amazing trip; my husband has been to Tehran a few times, he’s fascinated and says the locals and the history, sites are breathtaking – and lots of familarities with Turkish cuisine of course – I am sure you both will enjoy it – please keep us posted!!: ) Cok selamlar, Ozlem

    1. J was there at a festival the year before the shah was ousted and has wanted to return so much – I’m enthralled just reading about stuff, plus there are young folks we met in the street in Istanbul a few posts back – be nice to see them as well.

  3. Oh wonderful! We really want to do the trip to Peking at some point, trying to work out how to stop off to see all the things we want to see in Mongolia.

    Hilary always wanted to do the route of Alexander the Great on horseback, but is not sure how practical that would be. We’ve started planning trips for this year but it’s likely to be places we can get to on the bike. Inland Turkey, the Aegean, maybe get as far as the Black Sea again…

    We would love to see Iran. Really looking forward to reading all about it.

    1. we should meet up some time around Eğirdir some time as it’s also one of our favourite rest-offs. Good luck with all the plans – as for the Trans-Mongolian, taking side trips is easy as you could probably catch up with the train using a bicycle – dum-dum dum-dum . . .dum-dum dum-dum!

      1. Ahh. This sounds like a good excuse to go back to Eğirdir.

        We’re currently ‘suffering’ from a dilemma – do we keep revisiting places we really like or strike out for somewhere new. A happy medium needs to be found.

        1. . . we try to revisit the places we really like whilst going to/coming back from fresh fields. Amazing what is to be found along ‘diversionary’ routes too!

  4. How wonderful for you two! That trip sounds amazing! I’m a bit jealous! 🙂 I’ve read about Shiraz in many of my historical fiction books from the Ottoman period. “The Blood of Flowers” was a particularly good read for me!

    Can’t wait to see your photos and hear about your adventures! Oh, the food and the fabrics you can enjoy!

  5. What a great adventure, I am very envious. Hope all goes well with ‘officialdom’ and have a wonderful time. Looking forward to a really good set of pictures. 🙂

    1. Hi Judy – really is no reason why it won’t come off – poor old Iran/Iranians get so much crap media coverage that I wonder why they’d want to see anyone from US/UK. Really good set of pictures? No pressure there then 😉

  6. Oh, dear… you’re making me drool. Trans-Mongolian Railway: a dream of mine for a long time (that shower contraption looks like some sort of distillery… maybe that was vodka you were bathing in, not just drinking the stuff…) And you’re the only other person I know who’s even *heard* of the Orinoco River (some day when your internet connection is stellar, you’ll enjoy the photos from our trip on the tributary system here: http://www.mytripjournal.com/travel-497173-outboard-motor-day-river-trip-jungle-matter-boat). But Iran?! Is it April yet??? I’m ready to start reading.

    1. . . good to hear from you Bobbi! The Trans-Mongolian was a hoot, J and I fell in love with Mongolia – the people are as laid-back as Turks and the views really do go on forever. Do it!

. . I'd love to hear from you, please comment