Turkey

October 18, 2012

Memories from Father to Son

Balloons over Cappadocia

Following is a journal entry written by a father from California to his 11 year old son, while they were visiting Turkey with Thomson Family Adventures. We love that Bruce has been keeping this journal for Jacob since he was born. Do you keep a journal for your kids too? Such a great idea, and it’s not too late to start!

June 28, 2012

Weʼre having a marvelous time in Turkey. Two days in Istanbul and two in Cappadocia so far. Yesterday, we got up at 4:30 a.m. to go hot air ballooning over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia It was surreal as we lifted off, watching the crew on the ground get smaller and smaller. We drifted all over the region, with what seemed like a hundred other colorful balloons dotting the skies. After we landed (and a short nap), we went to the underground city of Kaymakli–eight levels of rooms and “buildings” where Christians would hide from invading Arabs. Afterwards we had lunch at Mustafaʼs (our driver) house. We were served on the floor by his wife and three daughters. After lunch, the girls showed us some Turkish dancing and even you and the other boys joined in.

But it was the end of the day that was the best. We drove into town and met a group of local boys and girls, including your pen pal, Yusuf. None of them spoke English and you and your friends certainly didnʼt speak any Turkish. But it didnʼt matter. We mixed up the kids and played an exhilarating game of soccer. You were our key defensive player, and we won 9-8 (as if anyone was really keeping score). Then all of the kids; boys, girls, Turks, Americans, walked into town for ice cream All of you were completely exhausted, hot, drenched in sweat and incredibly happy. What an experience. You were so sweet and kind to your pen pal–high-fiving him and putting your arm around him while you were both eating ice cream. Sort of a dream day; Iʼll remember this one . . .



August 3, 2012

How Good Can it Be?

Action on the Mediterranean

I try to speak with each family when they return from their Thomson Family Adventure, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I’ve always known it’s never too late to hear the stories and see the photos, but today I got a great reminder of that. Here’s the email I received from Lisa in Virginia who traveled with her family last summer to Turkey:

Dear Moo,

I know its been almost a year since we came back from Turkey and I’m just now getting around to sending you our pics and thoughts. Time really gets away from you. I guess the best way to sum up the trip was when it was time to plan this year’s vacation, both my kids and my husband all said, “Can we go back to Turkey?”

It was an absolutely amazing trip and I can’t thank you enough for recommending it. Every single person we told that we were going, or had gone, to Turkey had the exact same reaction……Turkey??? with a look on their face somewhere between confusion, disbelief, and “are you serious?” Which was coincidentally my same reaction when you suggested it. If I had had to name a top 20 list of places to visit, I can pretty much guarantee that Turkey would not have made the list.

Now, looking back, I can say that I have never been on a more enjoyable or diverse trip. I’m sending just a few of our favorite pictures for you to post or pass on to anyone else who may have the same uncertainties that we had.

My daughter, 10 years old, downloaded an iPad app to learn some Turkish before we went, and she was right in the Grand Bazaar bartering away for what she wanted. It was such a thrill to see a foreign culture through the eyes of our kids. Even our son, who is bored by everything it seems, had a phenomenal time. I was surprised, but they both said the 5 days on the gulet was their favorite part.

Thanks again for the wonderful, unforgettable vacation.

Lisa



April 7, 2012

Art in Adventure

You can do better, right?

Does the fresh smell of spring and the renewed warmth of the sun ever make you think of poetry?

Did you know Billy Collins (two time Poet Laureate) is Smithsonian’s poetry consultant? In a recent posting in the Arts and Culture section of their online magazine, Billy Collins wrote a wonderful poem (below) describing a traveler’s anguish with a camera.

But on our Smithsonian Family Adventure in Photography you’ll have help! With a professional photographer and all kinds of support traveling with you, every one of you can be sure to take home photos like you’ve never done before, along with a lifetime of memories from your family safari.

Meanwhile, for more Billy Collins to lighten and brighten your day, you’ll find it all here.

The Unfortunate Traveler by Billy Collins

Because I was off to France, I packed
my camera along with my shaving kit,
some colorful boxer shorts, and a sweater with a zipper,

but every time I tried to take a picture
of a bridge, a famous plaza,
or the bronze equestrian statue of a general,

there was a woman standing in front of me
taking a picture of the very same thing,
or the odd pedestrian blocked my view,

someone or something always getting between me
and the flying buttress, the river boat,
a bright café awning, an unexpected pillar.

So into the little door of the lens
came not the kiosk or the altarpiece.
No fresco or baptistry slipped by the quick shutter.

Instead, my memories of that glorious summer
of my youth are awakened now,
like an ember fanned into brightness,

by a shoulder, the back of a raincoat,
a wide hat or towering hairdo—
lost time miraculously recovered

by the buttons on a gendarme’s coat
and my favorite,
the palm of that vigilant guard at the Louvre.



February 26, 2012

Top Five Destinations for your Graduate. And You.

Who's bold enough to try grasshopper?

Many popular destinations are just plain fun for a young child, but can be revisited – or seen for the first time – with very different eyes once your child is out of high school. Here are our picks for the most sophisticated and exciting places to visit, or visit again, with your graduate.

5) Alaska. It’s pristine, and so different from the rest of the continental USA. And it’s changing so fast, there may well be species, habitats and glaciers that will be disappearing in the future. Take your graduate to explore up close, with plenty of physical activities to challenge you both while you all learn about how climate change is affecting this part of the country.

4) Galapagos. On select dates we offer families with older kids the opportunity to explore the islands from a 16 passenger catamaran. Or, if you prefer, you can join our MultiSport Adventure with real beach camping and up close experiences with those frigate birds, seal ions, and blue footed boobies. In both options you’ll also have the chance to learn something about rock climbing, early Incan ruins, and the delightful culture of mainland Ecuador.

3) Peru. Whether you like to camp in remote mountains with no one but your camp crew nearby, or you prefer, thank you very much, to sleep in a comfortable hotel…Peru offers mystery and culture you can dive into, and breathtaking scenery to explore. Both versions, the Trek and the Land of the Ancient Inca offer great hiking and plenty of time to contemplate the wonders of Machu Picchu.

2) Turkey. Whether you choose a photographic journey, our Secrets of Turkey, or the special Smithsonian Adventure, Turkey is full of inviting people, scenery, and culture. Oh, and the food! Turkey is an adventure of history and art, Roman ruins, miraculous landscape, and the smooth Mediterranean. So much more than just a vacation!

1) Thailand With a fascinating culture, gorgeous temples, and a philosophy that invites conversation…. plus verdant forest to hike, retired elephants to care for, and rivers to raft…. here is an adventure to change your life forever.

0) It’s hard to stop when I’m on a roll.. how about Morocco? Wander the souks, watch a snake charmer, trek in the High Atlas Mountains, and ride a camel on the beach… Practice your Arabic as well as your French, and tantalize your taste buds in this exotic land of couscous and fragrant tagines.

The truth is, any one of our destinations can be sophisticated and enriching for your older kids, and for you too! Our expert guides are ready to talk up to your level, and challenge you to take home in your heart a piece of their country. Come join the like minded and similar aged families traveling with us in 2012 and beyond.



February 12, 2012

Family Travel: Not Just for Kids

Traveling with the Graduates

With my third and last child up and off to college I find myself rethinking the definition of “Family Travel”. Of course we’re still a family even if we don’t have dinner together every night, if we don’t all live under the same roof, and even if my kids are more grown up than I ‘m ready for them to be. And we still love to travel together – none of us are too grown up to discover new places, thank goodness.

But when we call it Family Travel – it might seem too young for what you are really after. How about: Graduate Adventures.

Your children graduate from high school, or from college. Maybe even from graduate school. And you are graduating from a full house of responsibilities to spare time for thinking about what comes next. Just like dinnertime used to be the time to catch up on the day, now your Graduate Adventure can be the place to reconnect with your busy kids. A time to continue to grow together.

When your kids graduate from high school, college or graduate school you don’t stop wanting to travel together – you just want more sophisticated opportunities. Welcome to our Graduate Adventures. Full of history, mystery, and discovery. Great activities to challenge yourself AND your ‘kids’ (won’t we call them that forever??)

It makes sense that we began with 6 year olds 15 years ago, and now have families with 20-someting year old kids traveling with us. So give us a call and see what opportunities there might be for your graduated family. Turkey, Thailand, Tanzania, Peru, Costa Rica – we have older groups going almost everywhere!



April 28, 2011

What Will Your Teenager Love about Turkey?

Christian at the Hagia Sophia

We are always wondering how to keep our teens active and engaged, with plenty of physical action to tire them out. But let’s not forget open and curious minds, waiting to be filled with fascinating tales and images. Turkey is perfect for teenagers because of its history, art, and culture… but then it has ocean, mountains, and rivers too that offer so much outdoor excitement. Turkey is ideal for teens.

What does 14 year old Christian Kackley have to report on his visit to the magnificent Hagia Sofia? Read on…

“10,000 workers, working from sunset to sundown, 6 days a week, and it still took 6 years to finish. Well, that’s what happens when you’re building a church with the largest dome in the world at the time. Actually it was the second largest dome but even now, 1500 years later, it is still the third largest in the world. The dome is pushing so much pressure down that buttresses were built to keep the church standing, otherwise it would have collapsed. Even so, the church is still moving, you can see it by the leaning pillars.

Mosaics cover every surface, beautiful, colorful, mosaics, with golden backgrounds. The Turks recognized their beauty when they captured the city and didn’t destroy the mosaics…they painted over them with colorful yet dull designs. The Turks also recognized the beauty of the massive dome…they decided that all mosques were to be built with a dome.

The massive pillars holding up the enormous dome are decorated with intricate carvings at the top. The largest pillars in the church are from the temple of Artemis. At the top of each pillar, in the middle of the intricate carving is the sign of the craftsman that carved that pillar. What is extraordinary about Hagia Sofia and all the intricate things is that they were made by normal people, carpenters, farmers, bakers, they weren’t skilled carvers.

There are no stairs in Hagia Sofia, this is because the empress wanted to be wheeled up to her balcony. SO in the 6th century the first handicap accessible building was built.The empress was of course very important so she had bodyguards. At one time her guards were Vikings, they didn’t have very good manners and drew on her stuff. So now on one of the balconies you can see Viking graffiti from the 1;th century carved into the handrails.

The Ottoman presence can be seen all over the church. One example is the 5 enourmous medallions with Arabic writings hanging around the church, completely out of place. Also more Arabic writing in the form of mosaics cover the face of Jesus on the top of the dome. A small building made by the Ottomans shows the direction of Mecca. The church almost faces Mecca but not quite so the building is at an angle inside of Hagia Sofia, looking odd inside of this amazing church.”



April 26, 2011

Top Ten Reasons: Turkey

The lunar landscape of Cappadocia

1) Maybe you’ve been to all the usual places… but Turkey is NOT a usual place. It’s full of more surprises than we can even tell you about.

2) History. World history was practically invented in Turkey. From the Roman emperor Constantine to the ruins of Ephesus, the Hagia Sophia to the Silk Road – so much of the world has happened in Turkey. And for so many years before you can even imagine…

3) Art. Such beautiful mosaics, tiles, carpets and pottery. The designs might make you swoon, and the chance to throw your own pot or weave some carpet? Really fun.

4) Hiking. Some of the world’s most compelling landscape is here in Turkey. The lunar feel of Cappadocia is a magical exploration, from cave dwellings to underground cities. Yes, underground cities. Like 8 stories deep.

5) Landscape. Not into hiking, but like breathtaking views? Come to Turkey. From the nightly glow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul to the Valley of the Roses in Cappadocia to the lush Taurus Mountains, you’ll have plenty to appreciate.

6) Caravanserai. Ever wonder where those camel caravans traveling the Silk Road stopped to take a rest? Wait ’til you see.

7) Rumi. Whirling Dervishes, poetry and a shrine. Even the kids will be fascinated – and maybe you’ll share a poem or two on the way out

8) The Taurus Mountains. A beautiful drive through changing landscape, up to remote villages and the proud people who live there. Soccer anyone?

9) The Mediterranean. My kids will tell you about this slice of heaven…nights stretched out on deck with the lapping water soothing you to sleep under a star lit sky. Days exploring coastline and meadows, ruins and ghost towns. Wow.

10) Ephesus. Springing from the Dark Ages, Ephesus was the second largest city in the world in the first century BC. Can you even imagine how long ago that was?? Now the largest collection of Roman ruins in the Eastern Mediterranean, still only 15% of the site has been excavated.

Add to all of this, new friends. Any extraordinary experience will bond you with the people you share it with. Turkey is no exception. Come have some fun, in a deep and meaningful way, while Thomson Family Adventures takes care of all of the logistics and details and offers you a special guide to show you the way. Limited space still available for summer – call now!



April 20, 2011

Jim is in Turkey!

Fresco at the Hagia Sophia

In our Watertown office we are plugging along without Jim at the helm – he likes to say when he leaves town we are more productive anyway. His family is fulfilling their long time dream to visit Turkey, and we’re excited they are there enjoying all of the wonders they’ve been dreaming of. (My kids still say this was their favorite adventure)

Think it’s too foreign? Think again: Turkey is an amazing example of a secular country, where all religions and all people are respected and represented. You will be so welcomed in Turkey.

Jim writes:

“Our family journey to Turkey is over the April vacation of the Milton MA public school and happened to coincide with Holy Week leading up to Easter in the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. We looked forward to bringing our boys to see the richness of Turkey as the crossroads of the East and West. We prepared them by having many a long talk about the history of the region and it is rich tradition in the Muslin and Christian worlds.

The mosaics and frescos that were so carefully restored at the Haghia Sophia and at the Church of the Chora can’t be described unless seen by ones own eyes. We can’t express enough gratitude that these wonderful works of art were covered up so carefully and not destroyed when Constantinople fell to the Turks.

Listening to our Muslim Guide Huseyin explain the significance of these mosaics and frescos without any animosity towards the topic can’t help but make me think that there is great hope between our cultures as long as we take the time to listen and understand one another. If we learn from the past on both sides of the table maybe we can come closer together. It is clear to me that Turkey does a great job at this… I expect that this discovery is the same for my family and will be for many others who travel to this magical country.”

Come to Turkey! It is one of the most amazing places you might discover with your children. Some space still available for summer 2011.



November 24, 2010

There is more to Turkey than Thanksgiving

The jump from gulet to Mediterranean

While you are planning your family Thanksgiving maybe you are also thinking about your next family adventure. It can be a challenge to have everyone together for the day; what about making everyone happy for a whole vacation?

It’s understandable to have trouble deciding – mountains or water, East or West, history or adventure? How about saying YES to all of your dreams!

Turkey, the country, is a special place with a diversity that promises to always inspire and never bore. In Turkey you’ll have the opportunity to climb through ancient ruins, hike through other-wordly landscapes, sail along the gorgeous Mediterranean Coast, tour bazaars and rural villages, all on the one family adventure.

Our families are amazed to learn the range of enticing activities, appealing to children, teens, parents, and grandparents alike, and all available on one perfect family vacation in beautiful Turkey.

Mix white water rafting, soccer with local Turks, swimming, hiking and ancient world history. European yet exotic, different yet comfortable.

Considering Turkey? Let us answer any questions you might have.

Been to Turkey? We want to hear from you – what did you think of this hidden gem?

For more information about our family adventures to Turkey, go here.



April 27, 2010

Life in Motion – Without Turning Green

Turkish gulet

Several of our Thomson Family Adventures involve time on boats, or in vans on mountain roads… Ah yes, just this first sentence makes me feel queasy. And indeed we spend a lot of time chatting with families about how to combat the effects of motion.

I’ve been plagued by motion sickness my whole life. When I was a little girl the 15 minute drive to ballet lessons left me so green I couldn’t participate in the class I’d looked forward to all week. Products like Dramamine provided some relief, but mostly because I’d be passed out cold as a side effect. Over the years I learned some coping techniques – sleeping, meditation, avoidance – all of which did nothing to help me join in on the things I wanted to do. Does this sound like familiar?

Lucky for me and my traveling heart, I found a formula and a solution that works for me. Boats, cars, planes – now I am fearless, and use those little bags only for writing notes (not – you know). Maybe it can work for you too. There are three important components to this fix:

1) Stock up on Bonine, an over the counter, non drowsy anti-motion sickness medication. I’ve also found the generic drug store chain versions just as effective; look for the non drowsy label. It’s a small chewable tablet and you only need to take it once a day!

2) Take this little miracle tablet well before you step foot on a boat or car. One thing I know for sure is as soon as I begin to feel poorly there is no going back to feeling terrific. Nip it in the bud! If you’re heading out early in the morning, you might even begin taking it the night before.

3) Keep taking it once a day for as long as you are on that boat, or facing bumpy car rides. Don’t stop because you feel good! In fact you may be feeling good because of the drug. It is true you may also get your sea legs after a few days on a boat, but do you want to take the chance of ruining your good time??

Following these simple steps have allowed me to sail on small boats for days on end, and even enjoy long, bumpy, winding car rides to interesting places all while staying alert. Well, except for nap time which is mandatory on a vacation, right?

Bonine or its generic version is inexpensive, simple to use, and transformed my life. Your results (and side effects) could be different so try it out for yourselves before deciding if this is your solution too. Happy sailing!