Day 502 In Beijing: The Maiden’s Tower.


The Maiden's Tower.

The Maiden’s Tower.


Jill and I were cruising on the ferry back to Istanbul and enjoying the ride.

One of the joys of riding this ferry is that it passes by the Maiden’s Tower.

The Maiden’s Tower is a beautiful that pops right out of the bay and into the sky.

It isn’t very large, but it is quite impressive, all the same.

The story behind the tower is interesting enough, as it was built long ago and used as a military look out against invaders, and is now a restaurant and tourist destination.

Jill and I didn’t visit it, this trip, but we’ve both been there before and found it quite enjoyable.

The legend behind the Maiden’s Tower is quite intriguing.

Supposedly, an oracle told an emperor that his daughter would die from a poisonous snake on her 18th birthday.

The emperor, thinking he could outsmart fate, built this tower and kept her in it until she turned 18.

However, on her 18th birthday, he brought her a basket of delicious fruits in a beautiful basket.

When she reached in to get one of the fruits, an asp, which had been hiding in the basket, bit her and killed her.

A close up of the Maiden's Tower.

A close up of the Maiden’s Tower.

So, in case you think you can tempt fate, and ignore what an oracle’s prophecy, think again.

Day 501 In Beijing: Leaving The Prince Islands.



A shot of the rainbow over the port.

A shot of the rainbow over the port.


Jill and hopped back on to the ferry to return to Istanbul.

We wish we had decided to spend more than one night on Buyukada because it is so peaceful and quiet.

Our month long vacation to Turkey and Greece was going to be a busy one, seeing lots of friends and also going to many historic sites, and having some down time was essential.

I’d almost say that is the one thing that we didn’t factor in enough on this trip and next time we will do that.

It is funny how quickly a vacation can pass and how quickly you can forget everything you did and what happened.

That is one of the benefits of this daily blog: We can look back and see what we did and how we did it whenever we want.

I’m thinking of writing a book on our travels and documenting all the crazy things that have happened to us in this 1.5 years that we’ve been together.

For now, we just want to enjoy the trip back to Istanbul and let you ride along on the ferry with us.

There is something about floating along on the sea, and just letting the wind blow through your hair, that is magical and special.

The first one is from when we docked at an island before arriving at Buyukada and the second is from when we left Buyukada to go back to Istanbul.



Day 499 In Beijing: Trip To The Prince Islands: Sunset.




Jill and I miss sunsets over the bay since we left San Francisco.

There really is something truly magical about being near water and seeing the sun’s light reflect off of it.

In Beijing there are a few lakes but no large bodies of water like in San Francisco or Istanbul.

It just brings us back to ourselves and we notice how much more content and relaxed we become when we can sit on a beach and just let the water crash as it hits the shore.

I think that I’ll probably want to live somewhere near the ocean, after we leave Beijing, and will try to make sure that happens.

As we sat near the main port of Buyukada, we just watched the sunset and realized just how lucky we are to have met.

The chance that my older brother, Robert, knew about a job opening in China, and then I was able to get hired, and then met Jill 8 days before I moved here, and everything else, good, bad and in between that has happened to us, is truly incredible.

We are experiencing a lifestyle that most people don’t get to experience and seeing things that most people don’t get to see.

It takes a certain type of person to be an expat and from the ones I’ve met here, and on my other travels, it is a fun, interesting, and diverse group of people that constantly allows me to learn more about the world and everyone in it.

Now, just enjoy the sunset.


Day 498 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands: More Horse and Carriage Videos.


Two horses and their dyed manes.

Two horses and their dyed manes.


Honestly, Jill and I grew up in the countryside and we love horses.

We just can’t get enough of them and love to take videos and spend time around them.

When we get out of Beijing, and start traveling again, we will definitely take our time and ride horses more often.

I’d like to do a fairly major campaign, on horseback, for a few days and see what it is like.

Maybe in the Grand Canyon or maybe some place much less busy and more isolated so that we can just enjoy the freedom, solitude, and quiet of the Earth instead of the noise and speed of cities.



Day 497 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands: Horse and Carriage Videos.


The view from our carriage of the Sea of Marmara.

The view from our carriage of the Sea of Marmara.


Jill and I love taking pictures, but as the kids today say, videos are more interesting and alive.

Therefore, we decided to take a few videos of our horse and carriage ride to give everyone a more fully interactive experience.

The roads are very smoothly paved and there weren’t very many potholes which is another benefit of not having cars on the island.

There were a few other horses out and about and we were able to actually have a bit of a race with another carriage driver and it was fun.

The horses can really get moving, when they want to, and it is pretty exciting to be racing along with the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and the clippity clappity of the horses’ hooves hitting the pavement.

Some of the other roads we went on were paved with cobblestones so that was a bit more bumpy but the sound of the hooves hitting cobblestones took us back to another time when this was the only transportation around.

It was truly wonderful to just allow ourselves to disappear into a peaceful little world for a day or so.



Day 496 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands: Horse and Carriage Ride.


A horse wandering down the street.

A horse wandering down the street.


Jill and I couldn’t wait to hop on a horse drawn carriage and cruise around Buyukada.

We had arrived on Sunday morning, and would be leaving on Monday afternoon, so the weekend crowds were gone and it was very quiet.

There were lots of horses, carriages, and drivers, just hanging around and talking to each other as we walked up.

The prices are printed on a poster near the entryway and we decided to do a 1.5 hour ride to see most of the island and get away from the town.

We loved being driven around this gorgeous island with almost no one else around us.

Except, of course, the other carriages and horses, especially the single one walking around by itself as we climbed the first massive hill to the top of Buyukada.

We also went by an area with a bunch of massive barns for the horses but the picture didn’t turn out that well so I didn’t post it.

Just have to go back and take another one soon!



Day 495 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 4.


Another house in disrepair.

Another house in disrepair.


Jill and I wandered around the port area for most of the rest of the day.

It was very relaxing, calm and beautiful.

We really miss being near water, since we are so used to it living in San Francisco and the Bay Area for much of our lives, and this was wonderful.

We just walked, for a few hours, and took pictures of the people, the sights, and the scenery.

Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for more and it was just another fantastic memory that we will have from this trip.

One of the great benefits of being hired to work in China is that we get to travel to so many places and see so many different cultures.

So far, in just over one year, we’ve been to Malaysia twice, Singapore twice, Shanghai, Xian, Tianjin, Turkey, Greece, and Mongolia.  Add in all the places we’ve visited in Beijing and it has been a very eventful year to say the least considering Jill and I met only 8 days before I moved to Beijing and she had no intention of moving away from San Francisco until she met me.

I truly love ports, and the small boats, that are all over these little islands and would love to learn how to sail someday as that would give us another way to find freedom and visit places that others don’t get to very often.

I was thinking of doing that, but then was hired for my job, and that has been put on hold.

Who knows, maybe when I get back to the states, I will follow through with it and become a sailor.

Just one more thing to add to the bucket list.


Day 494 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 3.


One of my favorite houses on Buyukada.

One of my favorite houses on Buyukada.

Jill and I decided to walk around the town and get a bit of exercise.

When I say a bit, I mean a lot.

Buyukada is mostly hills and some of them are quite steep.

It was also July in the Mediterranean and you can guess what the heat and humidity felt like.

We got nice and sweaty and it was worth every drop.

The houses, and the views, were amazing.

We actually stopped, many times, just to watch the horse drawn carriages, and their owners, cruising past us.

Some were at full gallop and others were just leisurely cruising and taking their time.

We were a bit jealous of the people that were sitting in the carriages because we were sweating away but not too much because it gave us time to look at the houses, and the flora, as we took our time and rested.

At one point, we crested the top of the hill and started going down.

It was also quite steep and we thought it would be nice to go for a swim.

Sadly, we didn’t have our swimsuits but we noticed a man made beach at the bottom of the hill and roadway.

We went in, asked if we could wade in the sea in our shorts, and they realized we didn’t have suits so they offered to sell us suits.

I’ve never liked Jill’s swimsuit (she can tell you more about it) and she found a super cute blue one and I bought some decent shorts.

All in all, it cost us about 20 bucks for two nice swim suits.

And then we jumped in the water and it was like jumping into perfection.



Day 493 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 2.


A horse drawn carriage in front of one of the beautiful houses.

A horse drawn carriage in front of one of the beautiful houses.

Jill and I arrived at Buyukada and and checked into our room.

It was about a 3 minute walk from the port and we have a wonderful view of the rooftops, the walking street below our balcony, and the Sea of Marmara.

We loved that they had set up the bed with red roses petals and made a very cute heart design on it.

They also had a complimentary bottle of wine and a fruit and cheese plate for us in our room when we arrived.

It was a perfect way to start our island getaway and “vacation” from our vacation.

We love Istanbul but there is so much construction going on that it is quite loud.

There are also lots of cars, and with lots of cars, you get lots of horns honking.

We both grew up in small towns and forget how wonderful peace and quiet is when we don’t have it for so long.

Well, Buyukada is about as peaceful and quiet as they come.

Why?  Because cars are not allowed on the island.

It is all horse drawn carriages and a few electric vehicles.

It is wonderful because it is so quiet other than the click-clacking of hooves on stone roads.

They have paved some of the “main” roads (which are two lanes so still not very big) that circle the island but many of the streets in the town are just cobblestone.

It is truly wonderful.

We walked by the horse drawn carriage station and took a few pictures but decided to wait until tomorrow because we wanted to hang out and just take in this little town.

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