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Day 2: We started off at the Sultanahmet Archaeological park, a UNESCO world heritage site and this time were able to get into Blue mosque.
We visited Topkapi palace with great views both inside and out. Our next stop was the underground Basilica Cistern which once provided water to the Topkapi Palace, but is now limited to a few feet of water lining the bottom.
Evening we went around in Taksim square, an 8 storey mall and Hippodrome. But the real buzz started at night after 6pm for Iftar(a meal to break the fast), when families gather to eat, shop and enjoy the special performances.
Day 3: We went to Dolmabahce Palace, a very grand and classy palace right on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait.
Then we toured Istanbul University. Evening, we took the sunset/night cruise on Bosphorus which was expensive but got to see the dazzling Istanbul along with dinner, drinks and belly danceJ (There are also official ferry tours http://ido.com.tr/en/index.cfm for fraction of cost available for Bosphorus and Prince's islands).
Day 4: Its nearing the end of the trip, so we went to Grand Bazaar for some souvenir shopping. We spent there quite some time before going to New Mosque, colorful spice market and walked across the Galata Bridge. The Galata tower offers nice views of the city and the Golden Horn.
|Catching our own fish at a Restaurant, Bansko|
|Malnik, a town near Bansko|
Next day we visited the popular Rila Monastery, another UNESCO world heritage site on the way back to Sofia. This big eastern Orthodox monastery has beautiful wall paintings and equally astounding natural surroundings and stands as an important symbol for culture, architecture and ancient history.
|Inside a mosque|
Soon after reaching Stehekin, we took the bus to Rainbow falls. The guide explained us about the place and living there with a set of laminated pictures and the facts amazed us(population 95, no medical facilities!). The 312-foot falls drenched us and the bus got us back showing historic Buckner Orchard, one room schoolhouse and Stehekin pastry company. We had lunch at a picnic area near boat landing and kayaked to the other side of the lake to see petroglyphs on a rock face on Lake Chelan by ancient Native Americans.
The Golden West visitor center, just up the hill from Stehekin Landing and the Crafts shop(the house that Jack built) were other attractions overlooking the beautiful lake amid towering glaciers. We took “Lady of the lake II” in our return, which allowed us to stay back and enjoy this quiet paced isolated valley longer. Also, this one had a better layout and came at a comfortable pace(4 hour long), so we enjoyed the views better. Sitting on the top deck in cold breeze with a hot cup of cocoa was a reason for delight! But, it was late to take the Cascade loop further as the kids were exhausted already. We stopped at the Rocky Reach dam in Wenatchee on the Columbia River with beautiful park arboretum and drove back to Seattle.
We usually do hiking or tour local attractions for most of the day. As we go on these nature trails, the best things always come unexpected. We walk to a waterfall, a viewpoint or a landmark but we see many true wonders all the way. Its surprising to see hardcore backpackers to determined older couples, curious kids and people hiking with toddlers on their backs, everyone enjoy their share. There is definitely a lot of passion involved and we build a relationship with nature, between us and ourselves! I remember the lines I read from the Ken Burns interview(the filmmaker of The National Parks: America's Best Idea), “That's what happens in a national park. You can stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon and see rock that is 1.7 billion years old, but it matters very much who's holding your hand. We save these places, and they show us a glimpse of what the land was like before–but there are also intimate histories. Parks are places where we forge connections.” As quoted by John Muir, In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. Some find God, some draw inspiration, some just have good times while some make memories for a lifetime. We capture few in camera while others get imprinted on our mind forever, whatever it is, we are sure to return with a smile.
Next day, We enjoyed morning walk on the beach, got the maps at the crescent city Information center and drove through Crescent beach and Klamath river overlooks. I was told we can find sea lions and whales from here, but wasn’t lucky enough.
|Can you find me?|
We drove on Rim drive to Rim Village which has a Café and Gift shop, visitor center and Crater lake lodge(I am sure it would be damn expensive). We had our lunch watching the lake and left in awe that a cataclysmic eruption has evolved into such beauty!! Nature is a true wonder..
We watched a short movie on how these locks were built and amazed by their superior technology in 1855. By the time we came out, the streets were packed with people, all chairs on either sides of the road, ready for the Independence day Parade. We liked it a lot, especially the people and their hospitality and I was happy to get myself a few candiesJ. It was dark by the time we reached campsite and watched the fireworks from across the lake, we believe from Sault Ste. Marie. Then Rama started preparing dinner and it was very late by the time we slept.
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