Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Enid Great Land Run 2008

For the 2nd year, I did the Great Land Run 5K this past Saturday morning. For the $15 entry fee, we received nice Brooks wicking shirts. This year, the race was put on by Continental Resources. I was on call for the weekend but figured I would be done in about 1/2 an hour. My PA student, Abby, ran the race with me. The week had been mostly rainy before the race but when the race started, it was relatively dry. In the last few minutes before reaching the finish line, it started pouring rain. I had my personal best time for a 5K: 28:24 (gun time)/ 28:17 (chip time) with a 9:10 pace. Surprisingly, I placed 2nd in my age division (35-39) and received both a finisher's medal and a special age division medal. My next race will be the Disney World Tower of Terror 13K at the end of October during the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. In November, Seth and I will be running the Route 66 full marathon relay in Tulsa and the kids will be doing the Kids' Marathon.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Referenced in a journal - we're famous!!

So I was looking up information about mammary duct ectasia while answering a post on my iVillage Child Health message board that I moderate when I found out that in 2006, Seth and I were referenced in a case report in the journal Clinical Pediatrics. The article was entitled "Painless Bloody Nipple Discharge in a 16-month-old Infant" and we are reference #12 which is an email reply archived on Pedtalk - a pediatric-focused email discussion group that I've been a member of for many many years. I described a patient from a long while back with bilateral mammary duct ectasia and bleeding in response to someone else's inquiry. How cool! It just made my day! LOL.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Celebrity Mediterranean Cruise - Sea Day

The phone rang at 9 am – it was Wade calling to see if I had RSVP’d for the Captain’s table as the invitation asked for RSVP’s by 9:30 am. Thank goodness he called, we would have slept right through 9:30. Not 10 minutes after I called the concierge service to RSVP, there was a knock on the door. I answered the door to find a woman holding a vase of a ½ dozen peach colored roses – from Wade and Charlie saying happy “early” birthday. What a wonderful and thoughtful surprise from them.

We went to the Oasis Café for breakfast again and then went over to poolside for the Mediterranean market. I bought a bunch of Greek, hand painted ceramic containers with a variety of scented oils – one for each of my staff members. There was even a container with Anais scented oil – the perfume that I’ve been using forever. It took a while to open each box to find the ceramic containers with tight fitting lids and without chips in the paint. As I finished shopping, Seth bought a Greece cap and then took our receipt to the Stratosphere lounge to pick up our passports.

I returned to the cabin to drop off my goods and picked up my laptop to try and catch up on some of my journal entries. I went to the Stratosphere lounge and found a comfy place to sit and type. I worked for a bit then chatted briefly with Linda who will be on our Naples tour. Later, a gentleman from Fort Worth struck up a conversation with me when he found out that the passports were no longer being handed out. I chatted for a while with the inebriated gentleman who then moved on to Guest Services to get his passports. I caught up quite a bit and then at about 2:15, went back to the cabin to pick Seth up for our food/wine tasting in the restaurant.
Our sommelier last night mentioned the food/wine tasting at 2:30 in the restaurant and signed us up. It was $10 per person. We were seated at a table for 8 with 4 wine glasses set up in front of us. There was also a plate with small samples of chicken, basil pesto chicken, 2 types of chocolate, lemon, salt, parmesan cheese, olives, and sundried tomatoes.

The Cellar Master conducted the tasting and went through the usual wine tasting instruction: examining the wine’s color, legs, nose, and taste. We then tried each of the wines: a white meritage, a chardonnay, a syrah, and a red meritage. The mertiages were from Wente vineyards in San Francisco Bay and the other 2 wines were from Murrietta’s Well in Livermore valley. We then tried each food item with each of the wines appreciating the blending of tastes. The chardonnay was very good considering we don’t like chardonnay but my favorite was the syrah.
After the food and wine tasting, we went to the Cova Café for pastries and ran into Wade who invited us to his cabin at 5 for a pre-Captain’s table party. We talked briefly and I mentioned to him that we went to see David Fisher, the violinist, last night and I thought he was extremely talented. We then went to the grill and I had a hot dog and French fries for lunch.

As we were heading upstairs to Wade and Charlie’s cabin, one of our tablemates from the food and wine tasting event mentioned that the sommelier had picked up my camera that I had left on the table. I thanked him and went downstairs to guest services but they had not received my camera yet. I went back up to deck 12 and spoke with the man from the wine/food tasting who described which sommelier had picked up my camera. I was a little worried but went on ahead to Wade and Charlie’s cabin. When I got there, Peter and Joyce were already there as well as Shiyan and Jazzlin whom we had met the other day at brunch. They all wished me a happy birthday and admitted that our pre-dinner get together was actually a birthday celebration. Wade and Charlie had gotten me a wall hanging with a caduceus on it. I was so touched that they went to such troubles for my birthday. Seth had even ordered me a peach dacquiri that I had commented earlier to him that I would be ordering for cocktails that night. I sat out on their veranda talking with Charlie and Peter when Wade came back in to tell me that a special guest had arrived. When I went back in to their suite, there stood David Fisher – the awesome violinist that we had seen performing the night before. He played happy birthday for me on his violin – twice. I was so shocked, surprised, and blown away that I immediately teared up and missed the first time that he played happy birthday. He stuck around and chatted with us for a while and even gave me his address, phone number, email address, cell number, and websites after I wondered aloud how awesome it would be if he was a guest artist with the Enid symphony. Mr Fisher was very nice and friendly and I just loved listening to his British accent. Wade said that he was in the internet center sending an email when he saw Mr Fisher sitting behind him on the computer. He invited him to drop by which is exactly what he did. I was thrilled and shocked at how special my birthday had been made.

We returned to our cabin to get ready for dinner but I did stop by the dining room and spoke with the sommelier and then the Cellar Master who had turned my camera in to guest services. I went back down to guest services one more time and this time my camera was there. I was so relieved.

We got ready for our dinner at the Captain’s table and after stopping by guest services to change our departure time (0630 instead of 0700), met everyone at Michael’s piano bar running into Steven and Elaine and we let them know that we wouldn’t be having dinner with them this evening. Soon we were joined by Joyce and Peter who said that Wade was not feeling well having probable sun exhaustion. We were so disappointed that they would missing our special dinner together. We ordered drinks – this time I ordered a glass of Asti when Daniela – the Captain’s Club coordinator invited us back to the reserved section of Michael’s.

We were soon joined by Nad and his wife, Huda from Cruise Critic; another couple from England where the wife was a physician; Elaine and Nan from Cruise Critic as well (and who were the cousin and grandmother of the hotel manager, Damien, whom we would be having dinner with this evening);

and Ursula.

We sipped on our drinks which were all compliments of the Captain and were offered hors d’oeuvres. We soon moved into the dining room and had an absolutely wonderful evening. I had the shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, and the lobster tail.

The Cellar Master and sommeliers were especially generous with the Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot during dinner. I enjoyed chatting with the couple from England especially with the wife who was a GP with a special interest in pediatrics. We compared notes through the evening. The staff did their traditional Baked Alaska show and each lady was given a single rose – compliments of the captain. We saw Lucy and her husband from our dinner table waving to us from upstairs. What an unforgettable evening and we especially thanked Peter and Joyce for inviting us. We snapped some pictures then returned to the cabin and called it a wonderful night.

Celebrity Mediterranean Cruise - Santorini, Greece

Even after almost a whole day of laying around yesterday, I still slept soundly through the night and awoke at 8:15 this morning feeling much better than I had felt the night before. We were anchored already and I could see the town of Skala where our tenders would drop us off. The winding donkey path was easily visible from our veranda and the cable cars were tougher to see but we could make them out in the distance.

We packed our things to go ashore and had breakfast at the Oasis café where I avoided anything with milk or cream in it. After breakfast, we headed to the Celebrity Theater to pick up our tender tickets and, as last time, there was no wait and we immediately headed down to the deck 3 to exit the ship and board the tender. The tenders for this port were larger than the ones in Mykonos.

Once we arrived in Skala, we turned right and headed towards the donkey trail having already decided that we would climb the 600+ steps to the town of Fira. We walked by the donkeys who were all huddled together and we carefully spent the next 20 minutes or so sidestepping donkey puddles and piles as we made our way up the steps.

Occasionally, loose donkeys would make their way down and we hugged the walls to avoid being stepped on. We made good time on the steps stopping occasionally to catch our breaths, take pictures, or wait for donkeys to amble by. We actually made it to the top in better time than some of the donkeys who would stop midway up to eat or relieve themselves while their riders waited for them, unsure what to do when they came to a standstill. The donkey handlers were no help letting riders go with their donkeys up the steps unescorted.

The view at the top was beautiful and we looked back proudly having ascended some 900 feet amidst donkey stuff and strange donkey smells. We looked briefly in a few stores for a souvenir magnet and walked in what we assumed was the general direction towards the main street which is very difficult to tell with the narrow, winding walkways that are so common here in Greece.

We found our first street and walked down another alleyway where we were talked into renting an ATV for only 20 Euros. The woman at the desk of the Moto Kostas rental agency made a copy of my driver’s license and an imprint of my credit card for a deposit. The 20 Euros I had to pay in cash. After being given a map, selecting helmets and a brief rundown of how to work the ATV, we were on our way and immediately met our first challenge – turning right into traffic. The ATV reached about 40 km/hr on a straight road and only about 20 km/hr on a steep hill. Drivers who were in a hurry passed us including a few buses.

We headed towards Megalochori to the South of Fira stopping first at the Santos Winery along the way. The setting was breathtaking and after a few tour buses left, we approached the winery staff about sampling wine but, not being a part of a tour, we were told it would cost 1 Euro per tasting. We paid our 2 Euros and tried their table red and their Vinsanto (sweet) wines. The table red was ok – nothing to write home about but we both liked the Vinsanto and picked up a few small bottles of Vinsanto shaped like the island, a bottle of liqueur made from cinnamon and cloves, and some olive oil soap.

We stopped to take a picture of us on our ATVs then headed to Megalochori where we easily found the sign pointing towards the Boutari winery.

Here, again, a couple of tour groups kept the winery staff busy and when they finally all left, we were able to sample some wines. We had joked about disguising ourselves as tour groupies but we didn’t have the requisite numbered stickers so we waited until they all left. The down side to not being on a tour is that we did not get snacks with our wine tasting, had to wait, and had to pay for the wine tastings but the upside is that it was a heck of a lot less expensive to tour this way. While we waited, we walked around the winery for a bit noting the smell of “overripe” grapes and watched as some winery staff were scooping grapes into buckets. These were the grapes that had been drying in the sun for 10 days and would be used to make their sweet wines.

We paid 6.50 Euros to taste 6 wines (the medium tasting). The first white wine, simply named “Santorini” was very good and of the white wines that we tasted, was our favorite. Our second white wine was named “Selladio” and seemed drier and earthier than the first tasting. Next was the Kallisti Reserve – another white wine that were really didn’t care for. Our first red tasting was the Sec Rose which had a wonderful strawberry bouquet and would be wonderful with chocolate dipped strawberries. We tried a red table wine next and loved it. The staff member doing our pouring also mentioned that this was his favorite red wine as well. Lastly, we tried the Vinsanto dessert wine which was also very good. We purchased a case of wine to be shipped home: 2 bottles of the Santorini white, 2 of the red, 1 of the sec Rose, and 1 of the Vinsanto. We paid about 150 Euros total for all the wine and shipping.

Our next stop was in Kamari on the Southeast side of the island where we easily found the Koutsoyannopolous winery and museum that the woman working at the ATV rental store highly recommended.

For 6 Euros each, we did a self-guided tour of the museum which was informative and cute with animated figures and authentic equipment housed underground followed by a tasting of 3 wines. This was the best deal of the day.

We sampled a white wine, the Nichteri Koutsoyannopoulos which was very very mild as was the red wine, Abelones. The 3rd tasting, however, was a dessert wine, Kamaritis, that is not available for purchase outside of the winery. We loved this dessert wine and bought 2 bottles to bring home.

By this time, it was about 2:30 and we needed to think about lunch. It’s customary in much of Europe to eat both lunch and dinner very late. We headed towards Monolithos to the north after taking a brief unintended detour into the airport and found the Monolithos beach where we parked and walked a short distance to a taverna called Skaramagas. The taverna was pretty busy even at around 2:30 in the afternoon. We ordered Tzatziki, a Greek salad, and souvlaki which were all very good.

We spent 22 Euros on lunch then hopped on the ATV for our final ride back into Fira stopping off at a gas station to put a couple Euros worth of gas in the tank. We got a little lost trying to remember where to turn to get back to the rental agency and, thankfully, another couple on an ATV pulled up next to us and showed us the street that the rental agency was on. We drove the wrong way up a one-way street without getting killed (but did get some dirty looks) and returned the ATV in one piece before 4 pm.

We easily found the donkey path and, this time, made very good time getting down to Skala passing a lot of worn out passengers on the way and now feeling comfortable shoving the donkeys out of the way as we made our way down. At first, I was afraid of walking behind the donkeys and spooking them but it was very obvious that these donkeys were very used to activity around them. Each port day as we returned to the ship, Celebrity would have water and punch for us to drink as well as cold, wet towels to cool off with. We really looked forward to those cool towels and wiping the dust and sweat off our arms and neck.

We got back to the ship, dumped our stuff in our cabin, and then ran down to the Tastings Café to pick up a few snacks – I especially like their little chocolate meringue cookies. The pastries disappear at 5 pm every afternoon, though, so we just slipped in under the wire and snagged a few pastries. The crew member tending the pastries asked us if we had ridden the donkeys and it dawned on us that we must still have “Eau de Donkey” despite carefully wiping our shoes on the floor mat before getting back on the ship. When we returned to the cabin, I kicked my shoes off out on the veranda to let them “air out”. We really did enjoy walking up and down the donkey path and can now add it to our list of “brags” for this cruise although most everyone that we know would not have been caught dead doing that. I had a brilliant idea later for marketing a new item at the foot of those donkey steps: rubberized, disposable, slip-on shoe covers. What a hit those would be.

The shower I took had to be one that I looked most forward to on the entire cruise. I swear I caught a whiff of “Eau de Donkey” for most of the day that we were in Santorini. We met Wade, Charlie, Peter, and Joyce again outside the Cova Café for cocktails at 6 pm and shared stories and compared notes. I had another Flirtini. Charlie had slept in today and didn’t make it out to Santorini while Wade explored it on his own taking the cable cars to the top. Peter and Joyce had taken a Celebrity tour. When they left to go to early seating dinner, Seth and I went to look at the specials in the Galaxy shops and then went to the Celebrity Theater for Peter Fisher billed as a British virtuoso violinist at 7:15. Seth was a little reluctant to go but I insisted.

At 7:10, there were still fewer than a half dozen couples in the theater but the seats filled in pretty nicely in the last 5 minutes or so. I’ve never heard of Peter Fisher before but he really was fantastic. He played Paganini, Sarasate, Meditation from Thais, and even did The Devil Goes Down to Georgia as well as some jazz. For an encore, he played Oh Danny Boy which was just wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed his music and couldn’t help but wonder why he was playing on a cruise ship which seems almost beneath any classically trained violinist but I was glad to know that Celebrity really did provide high quality entertainment and not just cheesy lounge acts.
We decided to skip bingo tonight and wandered around for a little while looking in the art gallery, considered doing some gambling in the casino but then reconsidered, and found a place in the lounge to sit and people watch. At 8:50, we headed to the Orion restaurant for dinner and were soon joined by Steven and Elaine. We hadn’t eaten dinner at our table in 3 days and our sommelier, Oana, did give us a bit of a hard time in good humor. We ordered another bottle of wine at Oana’s encouragement – she even offered to let us use our other Captain’s Club wine coupon for $5 off without ordering another bottle. I just had to promise to bring the coupon with me to dinner tomorrow.

I’d been feeling much better since swearing off milk and dairy products the night before last. I got the tuna tartar, declined the avocado soup (cream based) and opted for the beef consommé instead, had the spring leaves with fried potatoes and onion, then the veal marsala which came highly recommended by Alexander who was particularly chatty tonight. I had to skip the bananas foster and got the chocolate meringue instead which was very sweet but very good. We chatted with Steven and Elaine again resuming our comparison of US vs England and shared with them our triumphant lunch the other day in Mykonos where we ran off without leaving a tip remembering our conversation about the tipping practices (or lack thereof) in England. We all got a good chuckle out of that. At 10:45, we said good night to our table mates and called it a night. When we arrived back in our cabin, an invitation was sitting on our bed for the Captain’s table tomorrow night. Joyce had somehow arranged for the 6 of us to have dinner on our last formal night at the captain’s table.

Celebrity Mediterranean Cruise - Rhodes, Greece

I awoke before 8 am today and headed to the Fitness Center where I ran 4 miles in just over 39 minutes. I felt pretty good at the time but then shortly after returning to our cabin, started feeling queasy with an upset tummy. I was really hoping it was just overindulgence of dairy products (milk, ice cream, etc) rather than gastroenteritis so for breakfast, I stuck with potatoes, fruit, and pastries instead of the milk and cereal I’d been having every morning. I was still not feeling well when we left the ship to explore Rhodes. We walked through the port and across the street to the walled off portion of the city looking through some shops and stopping to admire an old courtyard with great arches. We picked up a chess set for Rhys made of alabaster stone with the Spartans fighting the Persians for 60 Euros. We then climbed some steps up to a lookout point but by this time I was really not feeling well and we decided to return to the ship. We walked back to the ship and immediately went back to our cabin – it was only about 10:30 am. I lay on the bed with waves of cramps and got up to use the bathroom intermittently. I fell asleep about 11:30 am and didn’t get out of bed until late that afternoon – around 3:30. I was feeling a little better – the cramps were gone. I sipped on some water which didn’t seem to make me nauseous – a good sign, so we stopped by the Tastings Café to get some snacks. I had a canapé with ham and cantaloupe and a chocolate meringue cookie. We sat for a while until about 6 and then met our cocktail friends but decided to head back to the cabin again still feeling queasy. I took another nap and when I awoke, Seth suggested getting some sushi which turned out to be a good idea. I also had some rice noodles with chicken and mushrooms. We returned to the cabin and watched “Mr Brooks” on my computer then went to bed. Maybe someday we’ll come back again to Rhodes and explore.

Celebrity Mediterranean Cruise - Kusadasi, Turkey

We were woken by a phone call telling us our breakfast was on its way just before my Centro alarm went off. We ate our continental breakfast of raisin bran, milk, coffee, croissants, and danishes as we got ready for our private tour of Kusadasi booked through Ekol Tours of Turkey.

We met Wade, Charlie, Steve, Marcy, Stan, and Claire on deck 6 and headed down to deck 3 to exit the ship (we were docked today). We made our way to the terminal and once we exited the terminal, we easily saw our Ekol tour guide, Inan, holding a sign with my name on it.

He led us to another mini-bus – this one a bit smaller than the one we had in Athens but still very comfortable.

We also had a driver for our tour so that Inan spoke to us with a microphone and also guided us through the various sites. Inan had graduated from college with a major in archaeology and art history so he really knew his stuff. Our first stop this morning, he explained, would be the House of the Virgin Mary so that we could avoid some crowds in this small site.

Inan described the history of Turkey referring to us frequently as “Dear Guests”, and pointed out various interesting sites on our way to the House of Virgin Mary. There were few buses in the parking lot when we arrived and the weather was still cool. Inan pointed out the baptism pool as we made our way to the house walking past a post office and the souvenir stands. There was a religious ceremony being conducted as we walked by. Photos were allowed outside but once within the house, guests were asked to remain silent and no photography was allowed.

There was a short line into the house and we silently filed in and out of the house then lit candles outside.

We made our way down the steps and saw other tourists pull out small bottles to put the blessed spring water into. Further down the way was the wish area where anyone who wrote a wish on a piece of paper or fabric could tie their wish to the wall. Seth and I each put a wish on the wall.

We walked back to the front area and purchased some post cards then took some time to address them and write short messages to loved ones. Inan had pointed out to us that post cards mailed from this post office would be stamped with a unique Virgin Mary stamp. I sent a postcard home to the kids and one to the office although I suspect that we’ll be home before the postcards make it there. We waited around for the post office to open at 9 am and I bought a cute purse at the souvenir stand for 10 Euros. After mailing our postcards (about 3 Euros for 5 postcards) and exchanging some Euros for Liras to take home to the kids, we boarded the bus to head for the ruins at Ephesus.

I had already read on the Cruise Critic website how amazing Ephesus was but to see it for ourselves and to walk the pathways that ancient people had also walked really gives you a true understanding of how magnificent this place is.

I’m sooooo glad that we also opted for the Terrace Houses. I had not seen any pictures of Ephesus or the Terrace Houses before our trip (not that I hadn’t looked) and, for some reason, had envisioned something different for the Terrace Houses but was wonderfully surprised during our tour. I have to give credit to Inan whose background in archaeology and art history gave him a passion which was evident in his explanation of the ruins as he led us around to specific areas describing what life was like thousands of years ago and how to read the clues in the ruins. He commented on how unhappy he was that tourists in other tour groups were taken right up to the odeon and were allowed to climb all over it. Inan really avoided taking us to any part of the ruins where others were climbing and pawing around out of respect for the ancient sites. We took a zillion pictures and marveled at the craftsmanship and genius of these ancient people and wondered about the dedication they had to their gods and goddesses immortalizing them in marble and stone and honoring them with temples at every turn. We saw Medusa, the guardian of temples, Athena Nike, Aescepulus, and snapped pictures by the very earliest caduceus carving.

Even after being amazed by the ruins we had seen so far, we were furthered impressed by the Terrace Houses which are a separate area within Ephesus. Our tour was $10 USD per person more for this part but well worth the added expense. In fact, another tourist had slipped into the entrance of the Terrace Houses in front of us and was asked to pay 15 Euros for entry. This part of the tour was also a little more arduous with a lot of stair climbing but the entire ruins were covered/sheltered from the sun and the walkways that we took were clear so that we could see the ruins below our feet. We explored room after room from above and saw detailed drawings, stone inlays, marble walls, clever plumbing, and wonderful architectural feats.

We left the Terrace Houses and climbed down the stairs, walked past the Library of Celsus (although Seth and I stopped to examine it and take pictures including one of the token cat sleeping in the Library), and met back up with Inan near the exit of Ephesus within the gauntlet of tourist shops.

We chuckled at the signs advertising “genuine fake watches”.

We reboarded the mini-bus and were taken to what remained of the Temple of Artemis – one of the 2 Wonders of the Ancient World in Turkey Inan proudly pointed out. The temple was in ruins with only one column remaining. The site had once held over 120 columns and was one of the largest temples ever built. Inan told us that a lot of the temple ruins were taken and used to build St John’s basilica. We walked around briefly and admired the column and ruins complete with a huge stork’s nest at the top of the column.

Our next stop was a Turkish carpet weaving facility. We were warmly welcomed by our host/owner who showed us a woman working at a weaving loom tying wool knots with incredible speed. He demonstrated how the knots were tied and I was even given a chance to sit at the loom and tie a knot. It was a good thing that I was paying attention – I didn’t realize there would be a test! He showed us the tools that the weaver used – huge shears to trim the knot fibers and a heavy device used to knock the knots down and compact them. Depending on the carpet pattern, a carpet can take 3-6 months to weave.

We were then shown into the facility and stopped by a large machine that turned out to be a silk extractor. It was fascinating to see the silk cocoons and our host pointed out that every cocoon contained a dead insect. The insects were sacrificed before they could burrow their way out of the cocoon and disrupt the silk fibers. A woman demonstrated the tool she used to stir the cocoons floating in a vat of water to find the beginning of each silk fiber. The machine was then hand-cranked and pulled the silk fibers together into a thread which was wound onto a spindle. The thread was then collected and dyed with natural dyes. We saw a beautiful silk carpet on the weaving loom and our host pointed out that carpet quality was, of course, dependent on the number of knots per square centimeter – the more the better. Some of the silk carpets had thousands of knots per square centimeter.

The next room we were taken to was the show room where we sat, were served tea or coffee, and enjoyed what resembled cheese spring rolls made with Lore cheese.

They were delicious as was the tea served in their traditional Turkish tea cups with a small saucer and spoon. We were given more education about the differences in carpets: size, wool on wool, wool on cotton, and silk on wool. He gave us tips on what to look for in quality carpets and even invited us to take our shoes off to walk barefoot on the carpets to appreciate the way they felt. The carpets were luxurious and we learned quite a bit about carpet fibers and the way true Turkish carpets change colors depending on what side you view them from – the “dark” side and the “light” side.

Seth and I had already discussed getting a carpet for our great room in front of the fire place. After the demonstration, we split up from the other passengers into separate rooms for the hard sell from the owner’s staff. We described the colors that we were interested in and were immediately shown a large variety of carpets and we settled on a 6 ft by 9 ft carpet with reds, blues, black, and some green with a design somewhat resembling a southwestern style with what I called “bugs” – designs that, to me, look like scorpions. We paid 2300 Euros for the carpet which included shipping.

Our last stop was a leather factory where we were taken into a small room with a runway, were served apple tea, and watched models with a wide range of leather coats, shoes, and jackets parade by to strobe lights and loud dance music. It was kind of funny to watch until Seth and I were pulled up to the stage to be “models”. This will be the only time in my life, I’m sure, where I’ll see Seth dressed in a leather jacket and beret.

For me, I was given a beige leather jacket to wear. The models were not the friendliest people on the planet – they never said a word to either of us and really seemed to give off the vibe: “I just want to get this over with”.

We were shown in to the showroom and were allowed to browse around a bit after a brief lesson by one of the staff who showed us the “silk leather” line which was incredibly, buttery soft and strong as well. Apparently, the leather making process has not added a new part that renders the jackets waterproof. If I hadn’t just bought a leather jacket in Toronto this past spring, I may have considered buying a new jacket.

At this point, we were driven back to the port terminal where we paid Inan and posed together for a group photo. The group split up and went our separate ways with Seth and I heading to the Grand Bazaar just down and across the street from the terminal.