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Nancy's Travel Journal
Turkey (via New York City)--April and May 2007
We traveled to Turkey for a 4-week trip, stopping in New York for a few days on the way. Our itinerary in Turkey included Istanbul, Selcuk (Ephesus), Pamukkale, the Mediterranean Coast (Fethiye, Cirali and Antalya), Cappadocia, and Ankara. Along the way we saw many ancient cities, hiked through magnificent landscapes, biked on bucolic country roads, went to incredible museums, learned a lot of history, enjoyed wonderful Turkish hospitality and ate fantastic meals.

View 30 minute video of our trip. You will need a broadband connection to the Internet and Windows Media Player.

Turkey Journal Index

New York City Pamukkale Antalya
Istanbul Fethiye Cappadocia
Selcuk (Ephesus) Cirali Ankara

Monday, April 16 – Travel to New York

Brian picked us up at 5:45 am to take us to the airport where our adventure begins. Being the insomniac that I am, I was up most of the night watching the news of the terrible rainstorm hitting the East Coast. New York got 8 inches of rain in one day. We’re lucky to get 8 inches in 3 years. I imagined Bill and me having a plane ride from hell and then taking a taxi directly to a shelter. Silly me for filling my head with worries. The 5-hour flight flew by (pun intended). We were able to study our Turkey guidebooks (and then remembered that we were spending 3 days in New York). We landed ahead of schedule, claimed our bags and loaded into a taxi driven by a sweet young man wearing a turban.

At 5:00 p.m. we arrived at our Bryant Park Towers condo at 100 W. 39th Street. We took the elevator to the 40th floor, and opened the door. The Empire State building was looking at us from outside the window. This condo was a real find -- God bless Craig’s List!

Bryant Park Towers – Our Condo

What a view!
Empire State Building – from our window

Our cozy little bedroom (on the 40th floor)

The streets of New York from our condo

We were also surprised to find a computer with Internet service in the condo and a telescope to peer in on New Yorkers without curtains. In fact nobody had curtains or shades, including us – who would dare block such amazing views.

We unpacked and then went out to buy supplies. It was drizzly and blustery, but oh so exciting to be in New York. We found a little corner market and returned with breakfast staples and beer.

We drank our beer as we watched the terrible news of the Virginia Tech massacre. It brought back memories of when Charles Whitman shot some 45 students from the tower at the University of Texas in 1966, a month before our wedding. Bill was working on the 22nd floor of the tower on that fateful day. Today was another very sad tragic day.

We walked to dinner, strolling through Bryant Park and then stopping in at the wonderful old City Library. However, it was closed to the public that night. We walked a few blocks to Times Square and 42th Street. The lights of Broadway with the giant video screens always knock my socks off. Masses of teens seemed to be roaming free. My guess was that they were on some high school field trip to the Big Apple.

Broadway – In the Heart of New York

Target Splashed Over Broadway

We ducked into Ollie’s Noodle Shop for dumplings and noodles recommended in my book entitled, “New York Dirt Cheap.” We enjoyed our yummy food - dirt-cheap dinner with the mostly Asian clientele. New York is good to us.

Bill Catches the Subway

Ollie’s Noodle Shop – Good and Cheap!

We came home and watched the David Letterman show on the TV. We have tickets to go this Wednesday afternoon. He wasn’t very funny. We went to bed. I watched the fog settle down over the Empire State building as I drifted off to sleep.

Tuesday, April 17 – New York

We had breakfast in our condo enjoying the views from our windows while watching morning news hashing over the senseless Virginia Tech killings. About 8:30 we walked to the nearest subway stop and bought a one-day metro pass for $7.

We spent the morning in Lower Manhattan. We walked all around Ground Zero trying to squeeze our camera lenses through the wall of fences. The area now looks like any huge construction sight – that is a construction site flooded knee-high in muddy water. The weekend rains made a mess of things. Most of the mementos with the personal touches that once lined the fences on Church Street and Liberty Street were gone, washed away by the rain -- only a few artificial flowers were left. We saw some policemen quietly observing the scene and wondered how their lives were affected by this tragedy.

Ground Zero

Bill shooting video through the fence

Artificial flowers left on the fence

Three policemen remembering . . .

We saw Firehouse No. 10 on Liberty Street – the old firehouse that paid a heavy price during 9/11. A bronze plaque hangs on the side of the building.

Firehouse No. 10 on Liberty Street

Bronze plaque “Dedicated to those who fell and those who carry on”

We visited several old churches in the area. In front of St. Peter’s church stood a cross, constructed of rubble from the Twin Towers. George Washington once had a reserved pew at St. Paul’s. Alexander Hamilton is buried at Trinity Church. (I’m rather attached to A. Hamilton after reading his biography, Alexander Hamilton.) All of these historical churches housed and supported the volunteers in the aftermath of 9/11. St Paul’s was closed this week for renovation, so I didn’t get to see George Washington’s pew. Some of the graves surrounding the churches had been recently filled in with fresh dirt to keep the rains from washing the old souls away.

Cross (from Twin Tower’s rubble) in front of St. Peter’s

Trinity Church

Alexander Hamilton’s grave at Trinity Church

We walked down to Bowling Green – the oldest park in the city –where the Dutch traded 24 beads to the Indians in exchange for Manhattan. The old Custom’s House sits at the edge of the park and now houses a National Museum of the American Indian. Don’t know if I was more fascinated by the exhibits or the wonderful old building.

Bowling Green Park

Nancy with Bull in Bowling Green Park

Old Custom’s House - Exterior

Old Custom’s House - Interior

We walked through the historic section of town and saw the Fraunces Tavern – the place where George Washington and his buddies met to plan the American Revolution.

Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern Sign

Next stop -- the Police Museum (100 Old Slip St.) – where we saw interesting things taken from criminals, such as machine guns and files in a book. School kids visiting the museum called us “grandpa” and “grandma.”

The Police Museum

The gun is mightier than the violin

Grandma’s in Jail

We caught the bus through Chinatown and Little Italy to the Lower East Side, where we gobbled down a corned beef on rye at Katz’s Deli. We visited the Chinese Museum housed in a temple and then tagged along on a walking tour of Chinatown. For a minute we thought we were back in China. We visited a park – just like ones in Beijing with Chinese men gambling. There were also lots of street markets. The park was once a pond in a wealthy area of the city that got smelly and polluted. To fix the problem, the city dug a canal to drain the pond. That canal is now called, you guessed it, Canal Street. The guide told us about the Opium wars and the Jones Act, which stopped immigration from China. Excellent guide, fascinating place.

Temple in Chinatown

Lin Ze Xu – Pioneer in the War Against Drugs

We left the walking tour to head to the Tenement Museum (97 Orchard Street). The old red brick building was typical of the earliest form of tenement housing in New York. Built in 1863-64 by Lucas Glockner, a German-born tailor, this was the first place to settle in America for many immigrants from many different nations.

Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard Street

Our guide to the Tenement Museum was a cute little gal who showed us two apartments in the old building. We were only her second tour group, but she was perky and adorable and charmed us all.

The first apartment had been restored to look the way it did at the turn of the century (1900) when it was occupied by a Polish woman. She came to this country alone at age 22, married and then suffered through economic hard times. Her husband left her with 3 daughters and a son. She became a seamstress to feed her family. She didn’t want to ask for government help because she was afraid they might take away her children. She inherited $600 from her husband’s family, but first had to convince the court that he was dead. With the money she could afford to move to a better neighborhood.

A young Italian couple, (the Sicilian-Catholic Baldizzi family from Palermo) occupied the second apartment we visited. They lived in the tenement in the 1930s. Their two children, a boy and a girl, were born in the U.S. Years later, the daughter visited her childhood home and was able to share firsthand stories of what happened there in that tiny little apartment. Her mother missed her family in Italy and would sit and weep at the small kitchen table. Her father sang and played games with the kids in the evening. Her mother kept the place (and the kids) all scrubbed up.

The Baldizzi Family Kitchen

After a long day on the streets of New York, we took a subway back to our condo for a beer and some rest.

For dinner we headed to Bar Pitti in Greenwich Village ( 268 Avenue of the Americas) for some wonderful, inexpensive Italian food. After dinner we walked to the Actor’s Playhouse to see Gutenberg! The Musical! It was very funny and clever.

Took the subway back to the condo. We decided to watch Jay Leno tonight.

Wednesday, April 18 – New York

After breakfast, we stopped in at Rockefeller Center to see the orchid show, but discovered only the press were allowed in that morning. We’ll try to make it back.

We went to the New York Visitor’s Center for “what to do in the Big Apple.” They were not much help because we had already done our homework and really didn’t need any help.

We spent the morning at the new MOMA – Museum of Modern Art. Man-oh-man what a fantastic art museum, one of the best we’d ever seen. Bambi, a refurbished Air Stream, was parked in the main lobby. (It wasn’t as cool as our friend Carey’s.)

MOMA and surrounding buildings

MOMA sign


Bill and I started on the top floor and worked our way down to the 3rd floor before it was time to go for lunch and a taping of the David Letterman show. We saw many famous works. Room after room of Picasso, Monet, Chagall, van Gogh (Starry Night), Klimt, Pollack, and on and on. The building was almost as mind boggling as the amazing works of art. I snapped photo after photo while Bill had his movie camera rolling. What an incredible environment.

Nancy relaxing in MOMA

Bill having fun at MOMA

MOMA Sculpture Garden / Courtyard

Scenes from New York viewed from MOMA

We left the museum, walked a couple of blocks to wait in line to get our tickets for the David Letterman show. A host of cheerleading interns, wearing David Letterman jackets, were there to greet us and drum up some spirit. We made some friends with the little cheerleaders, got our tickets and then dashed off to a Thai restaurant – Wondee Siam. Excellent lunch and only $6.95 a plate.

Bill & Nancy waiting for David Letterman Show

After lunch we returned to the famous CBS Ed Sullivan theatre to wait in line and gather more cheer from the Lettermen groupies. Finally, about 2:30 pm, we entered the theatre. A big guy warmed up the crowd, telling us how to cheer and clap. Then David Letterman came out to chat with the audience about the kind of socks he wears. Goofy Paul and the band were all there as well. I was amazed at the cameras – a couple of them were robotic and would swing out over the audience. I saw Biffy, the stage manager, mostly by himself shuffling across the stage while bunches of high energy kids with notebooks in hand dashed about organizing things, all the time looking very important.

We watched most of the show on the overhead monitors because the real action was blocked by groups of people (producers, writers, etc.) hovering around David. The first guest was Edie Falco (from the Sopranos). I liked her down-to-earth, non-Hollywood style. The second guest was Paul Sheer, a goofy looking guy from Long Island. He has a weekly TV program (on MTV) called “The Human Giant” – Thursdays at 10:30. Have to check it out. Son Volt was the guest band – rock ‘n roll – but the music wasn’t as bad as I had expected. It was fun being a part of the audience – Dave seems like a nice guy and is skinnier that I thought he would be.

After the show we headed back to MOMA to finish off floors 3, 2 and 1. Glad we did the top floors in the morning because that’s where all the masterpieces were. The remaining floors contained architecture / design stuff, installations, and other intriguing weirdness. Our eyeballs were full when we left the museum at 5 and walked back to our condo.

I called Karen, Amy’s pal since 7th grade, and chatted. She’s a playwright living in Brooklyn. She’s pregnant and her baby is due today so we didn’t get together.

We walked to Becco’s for dinner and ate massive amounts of pasta, antipasto and salad. It was a lovely, cozy, packed place, but not as good as our Italian feast the night before in Greenwich Village. We stopped at a Deli on our way home to beg for some butter pads to use in the morning on our toast.

We decided to take the night off and hang out in our condo. We phoned home and talked to Amy and Zi. Zi got a cockatiel and named him Sweetie (who turned out to be a most neurotic bird). We watched The David Letterman show – the one we saw live that afternoon. It’s such a different experience watching it at home vs. in the studio audience with all the side shows to behold.

Thursday, April 19– New York, Fly to Istanbul

We got up at 7:30. Bill did the laundry (the condo has free washers and dryers) while I caught up on my journal. After breakfast we headed to the Library for a tour. The NYC Central Library is one of my favorite buildings. The white marble library cost $29 million to build in 1929. It was built over a reservoir. You can still see the walls of the reservoir in some places. The original director of the library sketched the layout on a 3 by 5 card (proudly displayed in a glass case).

The NYC Central Library

The Lion guarding the Library

Library – interior

There were wonderful exhibits sprinkled throughout the museum including one of the 40 remaining Gutenberg Bibles. The removable type was made to look handwritten, because that’s what people were used to seeing. There was an exhibit of men’s clothing, showing how it changed from colorful to drab. Another exhibit was paintings from the American Revolution; some showing the New York Harbor loaded with British ships. There were many paintings of George Washington, including one showing angels lifting him to heaven. There is a mural in the front lobby of the library depicting the history of the written word, including Moses and the Ten Commandments, monks hand-lettering the bible, Gutenberg and his pals, and newspaper presses.

After filling our brains at the library we headed to Ollie’s for a lunch of dumplings and noodles. The sun had finally broken through and New York looked glorious in the sunlight.

We took the subway to Lincoln Center to see the exhibition “75 Years of Collecting Theatre” at the New York Library for the Performing Arts. I loved the theatre posters, which included Houdini, Barnum and Bailey Brothers, and Gypsy Rose Lee. My favorite item was a telegram to Gypsy Rose Lee from Eleanor Roosevelt, which said, “May your bare ass always be shining.” Other interesting objects included a Picasso sketch hidden behind a certificate that Bob Fosse had given to Ben Verine (who discovered it years later when he had the certificate re-framed), letters from Clark Gable, and a letter from Woody Allen’s uncle suggesting to a Broadway producer that he should hire Woody as a writer (he didn’t).

Lincoln Center - Library for the Performing Arts

Theatre exhibit at The NY Library for the Performing Arts

Telegram from Eleanor Roosevelt to Gypsy Rose Lee

We left the exhibit. Bill wanted to do some research at the library (at Lincoln Center - New York Library for the Performing Arts) to see if he could find some information about his great uncle, Charles Jehlinger. Great Uncle Charlie was the director of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After finding nothing in the card catalog, we asked a research librarian for some assistance. He hit pay dirt and brought us several boxes of clippings and original papers (one a masters thesis). We had them copied, then took the subway back to the condo to pick up our luggage. We grabbed a taxi to JFK to catch our flight to Istanbul. We were caught in terrible traffic, but our driver, Mohammed, knew all the shortcuts and got us there in plenty of time.

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