Fancy a White Christmas?

Jackson Hole in Wyoming can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Jac, as the locals call it, is about 2,000 metres (6,000) feet above the valley floor. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, a short drive from Jac, boasts one of the longest, steepest continuous vertical drops of any ski area in North America. When you see it, you realise why people come here.

I don’t ski, so why did I come? Jac offers plenty for the non skier too –

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FLYING – it can be like a cheap Thai massage!

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Flying – something New Zealanders learn to do well. Or do we? Because we live at the bottom of the world most ‘Kiwi’s’ will fly Internationally during their life time. I know “Kiwi’s” are flightless birds however that is partly the point! My first flight outside of NZ was 50 years ago.YES 50 years ago!!  I had an aunt living in Fiji so decided to go and visit her, I had not been earning for long  so it was a very big deal financially and emotionally. First I had to fly from Dunedin to Auckland. I don’t recall the details now except to say it was the beginning of my passion to travel and see the world. I instinctively knew there was more to marrying the boy next door and becoming a farmers wife. I had to escape! (my city friends just wanted to marry the boy next door, so there you are – we are all different fortunately) I did fall for a tall dark Fijian ‘prince’ for a few weeks, but I got over him easily enough, it was the army uniform 🙂  Anyway I digress. Now days flying is not as glamourous as it was  back then,it is glorified train travel at best. We are so fortunate to have one of the best airlines in the world Air New Zealand to whisk us away to exotic destinations. California, Canada, Japan, China even Australia and more. We should support them  as the alternatives are scary! We have several great airlines serving the Pacific if you are flying to Asia.

I feel sorry for Americans who have to fly 4-5 hours internally and their domestic airlines have no idea of service and comfort. None of their domestic airlines hold a candle to other airlines, there airlines don’t even appear in the top 100 airlines list!  They have little opposition so they seem to  have stopped trying, they run on tight budgets and generally the experience is less than satisfying. The air crews are often grumpy and bored, or down right rude. The planes are over booked. They allow people to put luggage 20 seats from where they are sitting. Boarding the flight with massive cabin luggage is inconsiderate, think about it, if we all took massive bags they wouldn’t fit in the cabin space.  I blame the airlines for allowing such big pieces.   In the USA Delta charge $US25 a piece to check a bag…outrageous really. Reduce that cost and half the cabin bag chaos would vanish! Flying across the USA brings out the worst in people, me included. The passengers push and shove to squash themselves and their luggage into small spaces. The Italians are pushy too… it can be quite comical to watch.

I wonder why some flights your feet become ice blocks, others they are on fire. In this day and age why can’t the temperature be pleasant and constant? If you are hot or cold ask the cabin crew to adjust the temperature. They can alter the  temperature within about a 10 degree range. Now the new Dreamliner planes have much better air quality. The good news is that Air New Zealand have these new planes on some routes called Dreamliners with improved air quality. I know many of you are affected by the poor air quality and return home with bronchial problems. I certainly do.  The lovely medical specialist told me that airlines reduced the moisture content in the planes air supply to make the planes lighter and consequently weigh less and save fuel. Maybe I should only fly on routes with Dreamliner jets. So I am dreaming of Dreamliners on all flight routes before I age too much… as the saying goes Dreams are free! I actually now take antiobiotics when flying. I am not alone with this problem so if you always come home sick talk to your GP. Put the fun back into travel.

The worst part about blogging is that the airlines don’t read my blogs..if only they did and  took action.  Perhaps they could publish articles on flight ettiquette??

Gripes about flying are easy to write about so I apologise if this is a tad negative. However try pushing the buzzer for a blanket on a Delta flight – an hour later they turn up; imagine if it was urgent! Magazines are usually non existent or the Delta Magazine which is totally uninspiring.

On long haul international flights when you are all on board and seated meals are duly served. On many airlines when you have completed your meal it is not OK to thrust your seat back to the sleep position… The person behind you may still be eating and the wine goes every which way, or the coffee!  Wait until the trays have all been collected – PLEASE – it’s a simple thing to do and you won’t miss more than 15 minutes of snooze time… It’s called being considerate. It all comes back to consideration for ones fellow travelers. Consideration for others goes a long way in life, and in particular in public places and on public transport. No matter how many months before I fly and have booked a seat Delta won’t give me a window seat!! Or if they do it is the last row on the plane! If you try asking a crew member what the massive river beneath us is and they look blankly and say they have no idea! I hope our crews are more helpful. Then there are the pretzels..I hate pretzels. Seriously not even a choice of nuts or pretzels. I know I am sounding like a spoilt child –  well I am.

OK so now we are  all seated on the plane, relaxed and ready to go. What Is that jerking my seat? The jerking is an 11 year old, it has parents but they are not parenting so the next 3 – 4 hours is like a cheap Thai massage! Don’t let children kick the back of the seat in front of them, come on parents, show some inconsideration and teach some consideration. I have no problem with crying children, spare a thought for the parents and the child and maybe offer to help if they are in your little area, those little ear drums often react to the pressure.

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When you first sit  down for a long flight Introduce yourself to the person next to you…first name is sufficient.  Even just ‘hello’. On long flights especially, I like to know who I am sleeping with!! And they may even help pass the time with intelligent conversation… If there is an emergency they might help save your life !!! At worst you have been polite. Men – please keep your voices low;  raucous loud laughter and bad language do not have a place on an aeroplane…. by all means enjoy a few drinks but remember altitude makes you intoxicated quicker and no one wants a loud drunk sitting near them – Be considerate. And lastly don’t pass flatulence; go to the bathroom rather than effect the six people sitting near to you… We had the steward come through and spray our space due to some ignorant individual recently; so be considerate to your fellow passengers.

Men are the worst at this! And on that note aim carefully, visiting the cubicles after a man has sprayed the walls, toilet seat and floors is horrible…be considerate to the next person….you are not at home now! Empty the basin and leave the place tidy and dry!!!

Ladies – You never know who will end up seated next to you, and they may not have a tolerance for perfumes or lotions. For some, strong scents can bring on headaches or migraines, so hold off until you’ve disembarked to use your favourite perfume.

Despite all those comments I actually enjoy flying.. I make the most of the time, watching movies, reading, sleeping and eating.

I am soon to fly to the USA and I will enjoy that 11.5 hour trip and then a five hour domestic flight. I wish I could say I will  enjoy the later but NO, one just suffers it !!  Thanks DELTA.. you could do sooo much better.  

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand

Bazaar Istanbul – a photographic essay by Lynn Clayton

The Grand Bazaar Istanbul – a photographic essay by Lynn Clayton

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Mazes always freaked me out so it was with some intrepidation that I first ventured into the maze known as the Grand Bazaar. I had been privy to a rooftop view of thousands of orange tiles covering 54.653 square metres consequently the thought of getting lost was very real.

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There are more than 20 entrances so rule # 1 remember the Gate number you enter, and exit the same place if possible.

Let the romance of the Ottoman Empire sweep you through the hundreds of passageways adorned with ornate ceilings and welcoming Turkish people.

Don’t panic if you think you are lost, you can always ask for directions, most shop owners speak some English.
300,000 thousand tourists supposedly visit every day, however before 11am it is not crowded. Early morning the shop keepers are washing their pavement area or sitting chatting over small glasses of Turkish Tea.
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They don’t hassle you early in the morning and even later in the day the Turkish people are very polite; they ask you a question to engage you but accept a ‘No Thankyou ‘ response quite happily.

The Grand Bazaar (Turkish: Kapalıçarşı, means ‘Covered Bazaar. The construction of the Grand Bazaar’s started during the winter of 1455/56, shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Sultan Mehmet II had an edifice erected devoted to the trading of textiles, and today, 500 years later, it is a thriving Trading Post. I loved poking around the eclectic mix of shops.
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I have no idea how extensive the bazaar really is, as I seemed to keep returning to the same area. Most tourists arrive at Gate # 1. There are cafes inside selling good Italian or Western food and coffee. There are toilets with long queues outside Gate1. There are more hidden inside. There is an armed policeman at every entrance so I was lulled into feeling relatively safe in the bazaar.
Some of the ceilings are more recent, some authentic and very old and dilapidated. The murals on the ceilings are quite beautiful in some areas so remember to look up.
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I am no authority on the Bazaar; I am just sharing my visits with you. It seems to me that there is more jewellery here than the rest of the Globe put together, no joking I have never seen so much bling! From fine jewellery such as antique and priceless brooches to 5 lire (NZ$1-00) junkie bracelets; every woman could find something to suit her taste and budget I am sure. I purchased a silver dress ring from a silversmith working in a small dark workshop off the main streets and another shop in the bazaar spends all day resizing so that was a quick and efficient exercise.
epoqueis a very charming antique shop owned by an Armenian gentleman. He sells old Russian and Greek Icons as well as exquisite jewellery and watches. It was this store that had a Van Cleef and Arpels diamond and emerald brooch; absolutely spectacular. Sandal Bedesten Sokak #38, a shop with much history and a great reputation, one of my highlights.

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This emerald brooch was in its original box  from Van Cleef & Arpels.

Another store Karmen is celebrating 150 years in the bazaar next year. Jacob is the 4th generation in this family business. Shop #156 Main Street is the location, his speciality is antique diamonds but he also has objects’d art, silver and carpets. The shop fittings are as old as Balthasar, so well worth a look in this little gem..

antique store                                                                                 Jacob’s shop # 156
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Leather jackets outnumber the population, well almost! Some are beautiful, some are shoddy. I recommend Trip Advisor when shopping leather in Istanbul. Prens leather store we found excellent, I had a jacket made to measure, fits me perfectly.
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Gimmicky Souvenirs

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Beautiful silk tops featuring the Ottoman Empire.

However Turkish leather is very good quality unlike some countries I’ve visited so even the fake products are at least well made; usually. Turkish towels are also inexpensive as are spices and numerous teas including Love Tea, Viagra and Aphrodisiac. No I didn’t try them!

On the outer edges of the Bazaar are several low lit workshops where craftsmen manufacture exquisite jewellery and where they also melt down the Gold. We saw them melting the gold and turning it into a slab, $20,000 US worth of 14 carat gold… no security, two men working in a hot little workshop, the only ventilation being the open door.

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Melting down the gold!                                                                                 The finished product a slab of 14 carat gold.

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Felted Fez                                                                                  Patchwork rug

It is easy to wander around aimlessly so perhaps have a pre conceived idea of what you might like to buy; scarves outnumber leather jackets – and remember to bargain, they expect it. Fake brands in abundance. T shirts, men’s belts, watches; it is all hidden amongst the corridors of the Grand Bazaar.Other very popular items are the colourful Turkish lamps, a real decor statement.
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As I already mentioned the jewellery seemed to go on for ever. Diamonds and Gold in abundance, buyers a little more rare! Some jewellery pieces are cheap copies; well not so cheap actually! And some are the real thing! One needs to know your stuff before buying or have a trustworthy local to assist you.
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There are not many resting places so when you do find a cafe sit and people watch, it is a wonderful way to see many tourists from many countries; people watching at its best!

So visit the Grand Bazaar more than once and try and ferret out the unique and speciality stores. Allow two hours; I actually made four visits in the week I was in Istanbul.

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FLY
Air New Zealand to Shanghai
Turkish Airlines to Istanbul

STAY

Shanghai- The excellent Les Suites Orient on the Bundt.
Istanbul – The fabulous Sophia Hagia Old Istanbul .