GULLIBLE TRAVELERS. (Chapter 4) “TURKISH DELIGHT!”

Turkish Delight is better known as lokum (in Turkey) and happens to be a delicious confectionary treat.  (i.e., candy)  However, the above headline refers to our recent stop in Kusadasi, Turkey, “The Jewel of the Ottoman Empire!”  Just for the record, the Ottomans were a tribe of folks that liked to put their feet up at the end of a long day of rape and pillaging.  Hence, they invented a cushioned bench for that very purpose.  (They also had some stool problems, but that’s another story, and was related to overconsumption of lokum!)

Anyway, we arrived in the port of Kusadasi on a blistering hot day and decided to start the morning with a LONG jeep drive up the incredibly steep (and curvaceous) mountains outside of town.  Why?  Because of temporary insanity!  Our little tour ended up taking 9 hours, and it was truly a death-defying experience, not for the faint of heart.  Still, it was quite interesting.  We got to explore the ancient home of Mary (the mother of Jesus) and wander around the Cave of Hercules, where the big guy supposedly lived during his younger days.  The tour ended (believe it or not) at a beach-side club, where we were treated to a “bubble disco party.”  (Don’t ask)  I really love Kusadasi  (this was my third visit) but I would not recommend this jeep tour….. unless you love tempting fate.

The very best part of this port is the incredible city of Ephesus, which is just up the road and a MUST SEE.  We have been there several times, but on this visit, we returned in the evening and had a candlelight dinner amongst the ruins.  (I’m referring to the structures, not our fellow passengers!)  The tables were set up under the ancient library of Ephesus, which housed more than 12,000 ancient scrolls nearly two thousand years ago!

For my fellow gourmands, the Ephesus dinner menu consisted of stuffed grape leaves, eggplant in lemon sauce, purslane with yoghurt, veal stew, assorted cheeses, creamy spinach puree, Bulgur rice, and a carrot and broccoli pie.  (All of these items followed by an unlimited quantity of very good wine!)  Prior to making little piggies of ourselves, we were treated to a visit to the Grand Amphitheater (where the Apostle Paul delivered his famous speech to the Ephesians around 62 AD), a tour of the Temple of Hadrian, and a visit to the Virgin Mary’s House.

The country of Turkey is roughly 98% Muslim, but as you have probably guessed by now, a great portion of the New Testament takes place in this fascinating locale.  (Which also contains a fair number of Old Testament sites.)  Unfortunately, Istanbul is sort of “off-limits” for the present time, due to the knucklehead who is determined to return Turkey to the 14th Century.  Luckily, we were there several times before the current regime took over.

Next week will be chatting about the Greek island of Patmos, which is truly an amazing spot, so be there or be square.  In the meantime, please mark your calendars that I will be teaching not one, but two, writing courses in March.  (Designed for older Americans)  I will be at the Querencia at Barton Creek on March 7th, and then at Longhorn Village on March 8th and March 15th.  (Please feel free to drop in for an autographed copy of TURBULENT TIMES or THE SECOND MOURNING.  Both books will be available for purchase.)

Well, my dear friends, I must leave you now.  I’m off to breakfast with my family in downtown Austin and then it’s dinner with some dear friends tonight.  Have you noticed that I seem to be either eating or drinking all day?  Fortunately, I never order dessert.  (Remember my motto:  “Boys who eats sweets, take up two seats!”)

Have a marvelously enjoyable week!    Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

RETURN OF THE PROBABLE SON!

Wait a minute…  Isn’t that supposed to be “Prodigal Son?”  I’m not a prodigy, but the word prodigal certainly applies to me.  After all, if I remember correctly, “prodigal” means extravagant, self-indulgent, reckless, and wanton.  (God knows, I love wanton soup!)  In any case, I have finally returned from my latest ocean-going voyage to the Caribbean.  After two short, but sunny weeks, I am back in lovely Austin!  Back in Texas!  Back among sober people!  Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.

In case you’re wondering, I was sailing around the Caribbean on my latest book tour/rum tasting cruise, spreading enlightenment to the sun-tanned natives (and pale tourists) of the Leeward Islands.  (Those islands are not as wild as the Wayward Islands, but just as gorgeous.)  Our venture began in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which has fully recovered from last year’s devastating hurricane and looks just wonderful.  We spent two days at the Marriott Resort Hotel and then boarded our vessel for a ten day jaunt to the lovely tropical islands south of Puerto Rico.

Just for the record, you can now purchase my books (both the mysteries and the histories) at the following literary locations…  Tortola, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts, St. Martin, and St. Thomas.  We visited at least one book store at each port, and after sharing a rum & coke with the proprietor, my books were prominently displayed in the window.  (Until we sailed away!)  Actually, the book stuff was pre-arranged, so you can probably pick up some books until the next hurricane arrives.  (After that, you’ll be forced to read “Gone With The Wind!”)

Lest you think that this was some sort of working vacation, allow me to remind you of my legendary work ethic.  (When I had a job, I did the work of three men:  Moe, Larry, and Curly!)  I don’t take life too seriously because I have a feeling that I’m not going to get out alive when my time comes.  Just saying.

So, how was I able to ingratiate myself to the locals so quickly?  Good question.  I’ve found that if you tuck one part of your pant leg into your sock, people expect less of you and are willing to give you directions.  (Even if you don’t need directions.)  On this particular voyage, I also observed that women spend more time thinking about what men are thinking than men actually spend thinking.  Just saying.

My best one-liner of the entire two-week hiatus was delivered at the Jolly Beach Resort on Antigua.  As we were entering the lobby, I spotted a donkey crossing the road.  Amazingly, the animal looked both ways before crossing.  I turned to my travel-mates and said, “Smart ass!”   (Everyone laughed except the local gendarme)

As usual, the best part of the trip was meeting and making friends with folks from across the globe.  We made many new friends, but I would be remiss not to single out a very special couple from Wales…  Sir Emlyn and Dame Gwyneth Jones. These whacky Welsh wonders were thoroughly delightful and enlivened many of our dinners with their brilliant repartee.  (Dame Gwyneth loves her white wine and frequently giggles before, during, and after sips!)  Another tip of the hat to Roger and Jo, and also to Steve & Edith, Scott & Martha, and Dr. and Mrs. Bali Rangpoor of Sri Lanka.  Thanks for making this such a memorable voyage!

And speaking of remembering things…  Today just happens to be Judge Susan’s 39th birthday.  (again)  Allow me to wish her “Happy Birthday” and ask her forgiveness for drinking her birthday rum on the way home from the airport.  (Hey, man does not survive by bread alone!)

By the way, have you ever locked yourself out of your hotel room and wondered how long it would be before your spouse came looking for you?  (The answer is 37 minutes.)  I shall elaborate on this fascinating bit of trivia at a later date!  Incidentally, while I was wandering around the Marriott (at five o’clock in the morning) I saw several guests leaving the hotel in shorts and sneakers.  I suddenly realized that some people do this on purpose to exercise!  Dear God, what is wrong with humanity?

For the record, I was up at that ungodly hour playing poker.  (I was not, as the San Juan papers suggested, up to “no good.”)  At my age, “getting lucky” is finding my car in the parking lot at the mall.  (Or an extra set of room keys!)  Just saying.

I will eat a slice of birthday cake in Judge Susan’s honor later tonight.  (Don’t repeat this, but I eat a slice of cake almost every day because somewhere, it is someone’s birthday.)  I know what you’re thinking.  They don’t make men like me any more.  How true, how true.

As I frequently remind Judge Susan, “judge not, lest ye be judged.”  (I didn’t make that up.)  I can tell when people are judgmental.  (Just by looking at them)  What can I say, folks?  These jokes might be old, but very few of them have made their way to Wales.  (I hope!)

Next week we shall return to our novel-in-progress, titled, GULLIBLE TRAVELERS.  Our last chapter dealt with Mykonos, and next week’s tale will take place in the wondrous city of Kusadasi, Turkey!  Please join me for another enthralling (and mostly true) adventure.  Until then, have a safe and smile-filled week…..  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

***P.S.   If you scroll down you will see me in all my glory (partially clad) on the shores of glorious St. Bart’s.  (Please feel free to copy and enlarge if you need a wall poster for your dorm room)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GULLIBLE TRAVELERS. (Chapter 3) “The Mykonos Mouse Club”

M-I-C, K-E-Y,  M-O-U-S-E!  Hello, kids, and welcome to the Greek version of Mickey’s Clubhouse!  I didn’t actually find any Mouseketeers in Mykonos, but I did see a few rats.  (Down by the pier)  In any case, day number two of our Greek odyssey was spent on the enchanting island of Mykonos.  The best part of Mykonos is the little island just off shore… the uninhabited isle of Delos, which is one of the most important archaeological sites in all Greece.  This place is a MUST SEE spot, and contains numerous temples and buildings dating back to the 6th century B.C.  (Delos is the mythical birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister, Artemis.)  There is no shade, so if you visit, bring a good hat and some bottled water!

Mykonos, as you have heard, is “party central.”  The island is notoriously famous for wild dance parties and drunken festivals.  Fortunately, most of these events take place at night (past my bedtime of 10 p.m.) so I missed all the fun.  (Nothing like watching a group of German tourist regurgitate yogurt and wine.)  During the daytime, you might want to visit one of the beaches, which are quite lovely.  We spent the afternoon at a luxury hotel near Agios Giannis Beach, which is surrounded by wonderful tavernas.  Be aware that some of the beaches cater to nude women.  (I didn’t notice any of the men, but there might be a few.)  I should also mention that naked Greek women are not very pleasant about posing for photographs.  (Even when you tell them you work for National Geographic Magazine.)

Once you find a taverna, order a glass of ouzo and a plate or two of homemade meze.  Stick with the basics (tzatziki, hummus, pita, moussaka, etc.) and you cannot go wrong.  The food and wine on Mykonos is very good, and most of the prices are fair, except for a handful of tourist traps.  (The “traps” are usually filled with tourists, so avoid them at all cost.)  After you become intoxicated (but can still walk) head over to a spot called “Little Venice,” which is down by the main port.  This is where you will find the famous windmills of Mykonos and the church of Paraportiani, the most photographed church on the island.  They also have some wonderful tavernas down by the water, so grab some grilled octopus and another bottle of wine.  (Hey, you only live once!)

I hope I spelled “octopus” correctly.  I hate spelling errors.  You mix up two letters and your whole blog post is urined.

By the way, Greek women are gorgeous, but the men leave much to be desired.  (Not that I desired any men.  That’s just a phrase.)  Anyway, most of the men refuse to shave during the summer months, and there is apparently a shortage of deodorant on the island.  Also, here are the reasons to have a man bun:  NONE!  There is literally no reason.  Stop it.

So what else is new?  Well, once again we were enthralled by the Princess of Portugal and Baron Lee, who jointly hosted another gala dinner party at their mansion in Round Rock.  (There were NO joints, but plenty of barbecue.)  Our special guests were the unofficial “Minnesota Goodwill Ambassadors,” Dr. Rick and Museum Mary.  We dined on gourmet brisket and ribs, but alas, there was no potato salad.  (Somebody forgot to check the bags!)  Nevertheless, we had a marvelous evening.  (Thank God you-know-who didn’t forget the beans!)

I was supposed to attend the new Monet exhibit last week, but I got my dates mixed up.  (Nothing messes up your Friday like finding out it’s only Thursday.)  I might give it another shot today, depending on the whether.  (whether or not I have the time!)  Monet is one of my favorite painters, and he always made a big “impression” on me.  (I have to “brush up” on my art jokes!)

Well, time to head for my brunch date, so adios until next time.  I hope you all have a wonderful week, and please remember that you should never fret about getting old… not everyone gets the chance!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

 

GULLIBLE TRAVELERS. (Chapter 2) “My Grecian Formula”

No, I am NOT referring to the brown shoe polish that I occasionally use on my hair!   I’m referring to the travel plan that I designed for our Grecian voyage.  I wanted to make sure that our (semi) sober captain brought us to all of the neurotic, I mean exotic, islands that were worthy of a stop.  Sailing around the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is serious business, matey.  By the way, have you noticed that no one disappears in the Bermuda Triangle anymore?  What’s the deal?  Maybe the Triangle is full.  Hey, did you know that Isosceles was a Greek mathematician?  (He was not a square guy, if that’s what you were thinking.)

Stavros is the most common Greek name in use today, but since I overate during my entire stay in Greece, our colleagues re-named me “Starve-ros.”  (I was always starving)  Last week I mentioned the delightful food tour we took in Athens, but I neglected to mention the names of the chefs.  If you dine in or around Athens, you might bump into Sue Vlaki, Philo Dough, Shish Kay Bobbie, or Lou Koumades.  (All wonderful folks, as their names imply!)

So, after 3 glorious days in Athens, we stumbled aboard our modest sailing vessel, the Titanic II, and set off for the enchanting village of Nafplio.  This stop was quite interesting, and the village is considered to be one of the most romantic places on the Peloponnese coast.  I actually hitchhiked into town and had a funny experience.  The gent who picked me up told me that he was surprised that I got into his vehicle.  After all, he said, he might be a serial killer.  I told him that I wasn’t worried.  What were the odds of two serial killers being in his car at the same time? (We didn’t chat much after that remark.  Not sure why.)

Anyway, if you go to Nafpilo, you must make time to see the Corinth Canal, which is close by.  (The canal dates back to 600 B.C.  It’s four miles long and 70 feet wide, and was carved out of sheer rock!)  Before the canal was built, the ancient Greeks had to sail all the way around the Peloponnese Peninsula, which added about 185 nautical miles to their voyage.

Another wonderful excursion would be a trip to the Epic Theatre of Epidaurus.  As the name implies, this is a very old Greek theatre, constructed in the 4th century, and famous for its marvelous acoustics.  This marvelous structure held up to 12,000 spectators and is the best-preserved theatre of ancient Greece.  (I’m not sure, but I think Epidaurus was the goddess of childbirth.)  As you can see, I’m a little rusty on my Greek mythology.  I do remember some of the big names…  Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty and love.  (Hermaphroditus was her rather confused and conflicted brother.)  Apollo was the god of music and arts, and the owner of a theatre in Harlem.  Hermes was the god of travel, but he contracted some sort of STD.  Zeus was the head man, and the author of many highly-acclaimed children’s books.  (His most famous work was “The Greek Who Stole Christmas.”)

Do me a “fava,” as they say in Greek kitchens… don’t repeat any of these bad jokes to your children!  I have always believed that raising kids is like a walk in the park.  (Jurassic Park!)  Anyway, I must take my leave, as my bagel is ready and I am very hungry this morning.  (I think it was all this talk about food!)  I do hope you enjoyed the humor about the Greek gods and goddesses.  I was going to tell a few jokes about chemistry, but I never get a reaction.  (Come on, you never heard that one before!)

     Well, please have a wonderful week.  If you would like to see some more photos of Athens, you can scroll down and feast your eyes on some lovely scenes.  And speaking of feasts…..   Sesame bagel here I come!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

GULLIBLE TRAVELERS. (Chapter 1) “Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts!”

Books By Stephen G. Yanoff

Well, as you can see from the above blog title, we are off on the second leg of our round-the-world cruise.  (The second leg cost an arm AND a leg!)  Nevertheless, our Mediterranean voyage has now become (semi) immortalized in its own book… “Gullible Travelers.”  If you recall, the first book was titled “Innocence Abroad,” which was a rather clever reference to Mark Twain’s book, “Innocents Abroad.”  (His book was not as funny as mine)  Book number two is a similarly clever reference to Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, “Gulliver’s Travels.”  (His book was not as funny either)

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, we shall begin in Athens, Greece, the ancient metropolis that gave the world democracy, mathematics, philosophy, and hummus.  (The hummus was the most important, as it produced the world’s first musical trio…  Pita, Paul, and Mary.)

Being something of a poet, I have always been impressed…

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GULLIBLE TRAVELERS. (Chapter 1) “Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts!”

Well, as you can see from the above blog title, we are off on the second leg of our round-the-world cruise.  (The second leg cost an arm AND a leg!)  Nevertheless, our Mediterranean voyage has now become (semi) immortalized in its own book… “Gullible Travelers.”  If you recall, the first book was titled “Innocence Abroad,” which was a rather clever reference to Mark Twain’s book, “Innocents Abroad.”  (His book was not as funny as mine)  Book number two is a similarly clever reference to Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, “Gulliver’s Travels.”  (His book was not as funny either)

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, we shall begin in Athens, Greece, the ancient metropolis that gave the world democracy, mathematics, philosophy, and hummus.  (The hummus was the most important, as it produced the world’s first musical trio…  Pita, Paul, and Mary.)

Being something of a poet, I have always been impressed with the works of Homer.  (His brother, Jethro, was also a fine poet.)  Homer was a great baseball player, and as his name suggests, he led the league in home runs.  All right, that was a bit of a stretch.  Homer, as you might know, was the author of two epic poems, the INVALID and the ODDITY.  (Both are required reading at my alma mater, Dodge City Community College.)  They are fascinating poems, but not very humorous.

Upon our arrival in Athens (we flew in from Rome) we checked into a swell joint near the Parthenon.  The Parthenon is a former temple, but they never hosted bar mitzvahs there.  This temple was dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, courage, and feta cheese.  Our lovely room at the Grand Bretagne Hotel overlooked the ancient ruins, so we immediately requested a better view.  (Who the heck wants to go to Greece to look at old buildings?)  The staff were very accommodating, but I don’t think they understood my American sensibilities.

Half the population of Greece lives in Athens, and that would be about 5 million folks, give or take a few Spartans.  I actually love this city, and for good reason.  The food in wonderful, the people are gracious, and the history is simply overwhelming.  (Almost as cool as the Alamo!)  We spent a full day at the National Museum of Greece, which is a “must see” location.  Again, most of the items on display were old, but we still managed to enjoy our visit.  (By the way, don’t touch any of the ancient vases.  They’re very breakable.  Just saying.)

Thanks to my brilliant daughter, Rebecca, we booked a food tour of the city, and this turned out to be one of the most interesting days of the trip.  Our lovely guide escorted the four of us around Athens, stopping every five minutes for some delectable morsel.  We also got to peek around the old markets and sample some goodies there.  If you go to Athens, I would definitely recommend this excursion.  (I had tzatziki coming out of my ears, but I loved every minute.)

Incidentally, do you remember me mentioning Keats and his relationship to Rome?  Well, believe it or not, his famous contemporary, George Gordon, Lord Byron, had a fascinating connection to Greece.  In the summer of 1823, Byron left Italy, eager to help the Greeks in their fight for independence.  While attempting to raise a regiment (with his own funds) he contracted a fever, and died on April 19, 1824.  His body was taken back to England for burial, but he still idolized by Greek scholars and students.  (Byron wrote many wonderful poems, but my personal favorite is “She Walks in Beauty.”)

And speaking of beautiful things…  I now have a major publisher looking at my first two history books, THE SECOND MOURNING and TURBULENT TIMES, for re-publication under their own imprint.  (Something not uncommon in the realm of non-fiction.)  I shall keep you informed of my progress!  They are also interested in publishing history book number three, GONE BEFORE GLORY.  (The complete tale of William McKinley’s amazing life)  Wish me luck!

Well, time for breakfast…  I do hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!  Have a great week!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff

 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Merry Christmas to all you good boys and girls out there in Santa’s Blog-Land and Sunday Joke-a-Thon!  I wish nothing but happiness and good health for all 100,000 of you crazy blog followers who keep putting up with my lame travel jokes and old Milton Berle comedy routines!  I will be taking a few weeks off to finish my biography about Santa Claus.  (It’s actually more of an “elf-help” book.)  So lest I forget, HAPPY NEW YEAR, too!   We’ve shared another great year together, and 2019 will be even better.  (Not my jokes, just the year!)

Thank you for your continued loyalty and support.  May God bless you and your wonderful families!  See you next year!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff