August Adventures – Happy Birthday Janice

Sunday 19th August

After waking at an unearthly hour of 5:30am, Janice started her day by opening birthday cards from family. She then went back to sleep until 6:30am (much to the relief of her tired room mate!)

Morning tea in bed at 6:30am and then off for a morning walk. A wonderful way to start her birthday.

Breakfast time finally arrived and at the entrance to the restaurant area was the “Happy Birthday” sign which was signed in many different languages by well wishes at the conference.

On Janice’s head is a birthday cake made out of balloons!

The birthday celebration continued into the afternoon with an Aussie arvo tea in Ustron at the Chopin Cafe. The occasion was also in celebration of the recent engagement of Jennifer and Adi from IT’s Timisoara Romanian Team. The desserts were big and beautifully presented.

A few of us found that our eyes were bigger than our stomachs!

Below is a group photo of the Aussie IT missionaries that made it to the conference at Ustron, Poland in 2007
Janice Collins, Hamilton, Bec & Zoe McNicol, Mel, Harry, Emily, Christine & Brian Cottrell, Jennifer Grocott & Adi Suci, Linda Goldthorpe.

August Adventures – Auschwitz

Saturday 18th August

Went on an outing to Auschwitz today to visit the memorial and museum.

Auschwitz I – this is the building that contained the first crematorium and gas chamber. The crematorium functioned from August 1940 until July 1943.
Up to 340 corpses per day could be cremated here.
This was the smallest of 5 gas chambers.

Below is the gate to the Auscwitz II – Birkenau camp which was part of the main guardhouse. Prisoners referred to it as the “Gate of Death”

The Death Wall – The Schutz Staffel (SS) – “Protection Squads” shot several thousand prisoners here in 1941-1943.

The interior of a wooden barracks in the quarantine sector. You can see the wooden bunks that they had to sleep on – with straw as their mattress.
Hundreds of prisoners were crowded into each barracks.
An average of 5 people shared each bunk.

August Adventures – Polish Princesses

Wednesday 15th – Sunday 19th August

Early Wednesday morning (at approx. 2:00am) we arrived at Katowice airport to be welcomed by some dedicated people who were to take us to our accommodation 1.5 hours away. Janice had slept a bit on the plane and so was keen to continue her restful state by lying down on the back seat of the van whilst we travelled. Soon after heading off we realised that the drive was not going to be a smooth one.

Janice found this out the hard way! Our driver was approaching the vehicle ahead of us a bit too quickly in relation to the speed that the other car was going. He realised a bit too late that we were travelling too fast and immediately applied the brakes. We were all jerked forward and behind me I heard a thump behind me. I looked around to see Janice lying on the floor and struggling to get back up onto the seat without anyone noticing. Realising that I had seen her unfortunate landing her initial reply was “That is NOT going on the blog”. But as to all stories of our adventures – it is essential that all is revealed about our journey!

We eventually arrived safely at our accommodation at Ustron – Hotel Wilga. It was nice to get into bed and sleep for a couple of hours before daylight.

Whilst in Poland we are attending the International Teams Europe Conference from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday evening. So far it’s been great to meet people that are on the mission field from all around Europe. Hearing their stories and finding out about challenges they face as well as all the joys is exciting. There are 40 children also at the conference so it is very much a fun, family feel to it.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we are going for an outing to Autzwich which will be a real eye-opener. Before I came I made sure that I watched Schindler’s List to be more aware of what happened in Krakow and Autzwich – it’s a movie that I’ll never forget!

August Adventures – Athenian Adventurers

Monday 13th August

Now in Athens exploring more ancient ruins.

We caught public transport into Monistiraki and then walked up to Mars Hill. The climb up to the top of the hill was quite slippery and no guard rails so we were very careful once on top.

We then continued our sight seeing by walking to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon (pictured).

We arrived early (8.30am) to beat the heat of the day but we soon found out that thousands of others had the same idea!

We then browsed the Flea Market where Priscilla paid $5 Euro to have her Greek name written in Greek in Greece. Quite impressive!

On the way back we both navigated both the Metro and bus system to find our way back to the Cottrells. We bought an ‘integrated’ ticket ($1 Euro each) which meant that we had 1.5 hours to complete our travel on both transportation methods. We were successful in the quest.

The rest of the day was spent with the Cottrell family – Priscilla enjoyed doing puzzles with Harry, Mel and Emily whilst Jan caught up on emails and other work.

After dinner (more Greek salad!) we went down town again to visit the Guest House (used for short-term teams) and the ARC which is where the refugees come to collect food, clothing and to shower.

We then treated ourselves on this hot Athens evening to a wonderful ice cream feast at Ice Cream Mania. There we soooooo many flavours to choose from (30 in all).

One of the different aspects of Greece is that the pipes are thin – this has implications that we Australians take for granted. One of these implications is that all toilet paper is not to be flushed. Instead it is to be placed in bins provided. Janice eventually reached the 100% mark of remembering this minor detail on day 3 of our stay. Just in time before moving on to Poland!
Below is a sign that is displayed in th Cottrell’s toilet to serve as a reminder of what you will need to do if ever you forget to bin any paper!

August Adventures – Greek goddesses

Saturday 11th August

Today we say farewell to Turkey and head on towards Greece.

We’ve made it to Greece and Priscilla is very happy to have another stamp in her passport and Jan is very thankful to still have two clear pages left!

Travelling by ferry we ventured on towards the Island of Samos. I was especially intrigued in our short visit to Samos as it was Pythagoras’ birthplace.

We had lunch in a Greek café – what do you have when you first come to Greece? A Greek Salad of course!

It was a lovely Greek café – with a roof covered with ‘real’ grapevines with grapes hanging down to create a beautiful relaxing atmosphere.

After lunch Janice spent the rest of the day lounging in comfort in the heat on a Greek Island. It was so relaxing and the view was spectacular looking out to the Agean Sea. Jan spent her time reading a novel, sitting in a seaside café relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere – the photo shown is the view that she had from her possie.

Priscilla spent her time wandering around the local shops – the tourist prices were noticeable in this area. In Australia I am always asked if I am of Greek origin… Whereas here, I am asked if I am of Arab origin!

Our time relaxing on a Greek Island was coming to a close in the afternoon as we headed towards the airport for our flight to Athens.

August Adventures – Ephesians for a day

Friday 10th August

Friday was our girl’s day out when with Ros we caught a bus from Izmir to Kusadasi and booked into a hotel with a pool! While two rested Jan swam.

Kusadasi is a tourist town full of Brits in full holiday mode and shops eager to lure them all in. WE focussed on walking on by to get a bus to Ephesus.

Ros acted as our tour guide with a book, which gave us all we needed to know. It was HOT so we proceeded slowly.

What an impressive place this is and of course thinking we were walking where the apostle Paul walked is amazing!

It’s hard to believe that the ruins are so well preserved and that there are constantly more being dug up.

Ephesus is full of history. It’s hard to get your mind around how old the structures are and the fact that many generations before you people lived there and walked the very streets that we walked down. It really makes you feel so much more connected to Biblical times and puts Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts much more real when reading through them.

We finished our historic journey through Ephesus by travelling back to the main road to catch the bus back to Kusadasi. We decided the most appropriate transport method back is via horse and cart.

Back at the hotel and it was time for more swimming to cool down before dinner. Dinner was had with a backdrop of a beautiful sunset on the harbour. It was a lovely relaxing and memorable day and a beautiful night to top it all off.

August Adventures – Izmir

Thursday 9th August

Izmir is on the east coast of Turkey, one hour flight from Istanbul and this is where we are for two nights staying with Dave and Ros Eaves from Sydney. Pris went to uni with Ros and I have met them as they work for a simialr company to mine sent out from Sydney.

Its been a mutually encouraging time chatting and then of course we had to do a girly shopping trip to the city market while Dave took their two children to swim. Yes its summer here and great to be enjoying clear heat.

Confession time – we got home and I had mislaid my glasses. Thinking hard I guessed I must have dropped them in the taxi home from the metro station. Ros with very impressive Turkish phoned the company and I was relieved to learn the glasses had been loctaed. I gladly paid the driver a second fare from the metro home as he delivered them back to me. I had already begun checking my insurance policy to see if I could make a claim!

Tomorrow we have a girls day out again. Ros is taking a days break away with us after a busy time with a team of 14 visiting them to work on the uni campus with them recently. We shall take a bus to Kusadasi a port city and leave our bags at a hotel before journeying to Ephesus for a tour with Ros as our guide.

Saturday we take a ferry to Samos then fly to Athens to vist with the Cottrell family. I am looking forward to offloading all the stuff we carried for them!

Enjoying the journey in every way.

Janice and Priscilla

August Adventures – Turkish Delights

Tuesday 7th & Wednesday 8th August

Another two days exploring Istanbul’s wonderful sights.
Janice and I headed across the Sea of Maramar from Asia to Europe (still facinated by that concept) to explore some of the well-known tourist sights of Istanbul.
We went into the city to see Aya Sofya a mosque built in 537 with a dome diameter of over 30 metres. It was amazing to think that we were walking in the same place as many generations before us.
We then explored the Basilica Cistern which was quite eerie and we thought that we should have been in a Walt Disney movie on a small boat weaving in and out of the columns via water.
The next tourist attraction after lunch (provided by a street stall) was the Blue Mosque. We had to take off our shoes and cover legs and shoulders. The Blue Mosque was constructed between 1606 and 1616. Unlike Aya Sofya, it has 4 massive ‘elephont’s feet’ pillars which hold up the leess ambitious dome.
We then met up with Jenny, Amandos & Josh Robles at the Grand Bazaar after we eventually found our way to the meeting point. If you are seriously into shopping and want options this is the place to go – with over 4000 shops and several kilometres of lanes it was easy to get lost and even overwhelmed at times. All shop owners were keen to make a sale and try and urge you into looking at their wares. On a few occasions where we said that “we were just looking” their reply was “we’re just selling”! Great to also test out bartaring skills to try to get a bargain.
Next stop was the spice bazaar – a huge variety of colours and aromas.
Before leaving Istanbul the last place that we wanted to explore was the Dolmabahce Palace. We had to pay $20YTL for a guided tour. Well worth it. Even though we had to adorn some very stylish shoe coverings!
The Dolmabahce Palace was built between 1843-1856 under the order of the Empire’s 31st sultan, Sultan Abdulmecid. It is the biggest palace in Turkey with 285 rooms, 44 halls and 68 toilets.
The most magnificent room in the entire palace was the Muayede Hall which is used to host all state ceremonies and receptions.
In the middle of the hall is a magnificent chandelier – it wieghs 4.5 tonnes and holds 664 bulbs. The tour guide said that it only gets put on for important people (e.g. royalty) but there is one exception – it was lit for James Bond (Sir Sean Connery)!
After all the exploring of Istanbul and the fellowship with the Robles it was time to head on with our journey – next stop Izmir.

August Adventures – Istanbul

Tuesday August 7

24 hours ago we were sitting at Starbucks at Istanbul airport trying to contact our friends here to get to meet them. Seems I missed an email with instructions, but thanks to the necessary travel tools now of laptops, free wireless connections at Starbucks, global roaming on our mobile phones, and USB sticks we soon had printed instructions in Turkish to give to a taxi driver.

Istanbul is a crowded city of 18 million people and we started to see this as we were driven along the coast road amazing Marmara sea then over the bridge connecting Europe and Asia. It’s amazing to see the4 contrast between ruins and new developments. The taxi driver amused us on our journey by pointing out many local features along our way. Jan did her best at interpreting into English – that’s when we both realised how tired we were as the interpretations got very amusing! The taxi driver spent a lot of the time looking in the rear view mirror which was a bit of a concern to us. The road signs stated that the speed limit was 50 but the taxi driver was going 110 – we assumed that the traffic rules were that it was based at ’50 per person’ in the vehicle! We ended our taxi ride memorably as the taxi driver decided that he would take the liberty to pat Priscilla on the backside as she got her things out of the vehicle.

The remainder of the day was spent recovering from a plane trip of night of little sleep. We had an evening meal at a local restaurant – an assortment of Turkish food – pide’s etc.

The view from our window

After dinner, we chatted for a bit until we retreated to our bed for the night – as soon as our heads hit the pillows we were sound asleep for a full night of refreshing and much needed sleep.

Priscilla and Joshua on the balcony

August Adventures – Singapore

On Saturday 4th August I woke early to make sure I had packed all that I would need for my 3 week adventure and headed to the airport with my Aunty Janice.

We had a good flight to Singapore – sat next to Jenny who attends a church in Richmond where Glenn & Linda Clark are involved in ministry (friends from Tassie – small world!)

Day 1 – exploring Singapore.
Woke early (as am not used to being 2 hours behind yet) and watched the sun rise. Then headed out after a quick breakfast to explore the city of Singapore.

We firstly jumped on a free cruise of the Singapore river and then hit the shops.

We mostly ‘window shopped’ although we both purchased some nice jewelry that neither of us could resist.

Lunch was at “Little India” – served on a banana leaf and then off to Raffles. I tried a very nice ring on in “Tiffany’s” unfortunately out of my price range ($20,500) but it’s always good to dream!

We then headed back to the hotel where we spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool – enjoying the refreshing water on a hot day and working on our tans.

We are currently at Singapore airport waiting for our next flight to Istanbul. A long flight ahead.