Coming inland... we were getting higher and colder, until we were in minus 8 degrees, playing in the snow at the foot of Mount Erciyes. It was here I put an end to my 5 year hiatus and strapped my feet to a snowboard. It wasn’t easy, firstly the weather was so appalling that the lift had closed. I struggled to walk on the snow, so it was Jacek on his skies who would tow me up the mountain, whilst I fell over continuously. I knew though that these troubles would be quickly be replaced by sheer elation. We finally made it through the blizzard to the gloomy concrete foundation of the unfinished ski station. Mom had chosen to remain at the bottom of the hill to take photographs of this monumental event.
Strapping the board on, I had to audibly psyche myself up. I knew I could ride, I had done it so many times in the past, but now there was the unknown restrictions of my disability. I knew I’d fall and I wondered just how much it would hurt. Pushing myself off, all the worries disappeared. The joy of movement on the snow overpowered any concerns and pain. I could do it!
From the summit we headed down through miles of secluded banana groves to reach the sea. We guided our way using a map and hope that this dead end road would lead us to the beach. Arriving in the darkness on Christmas Eve to what would be our home for the next 3 days. Jumping out with childish expectation we had a torch-lit scout around and decided that the sand was compacted enough to warrant driving on it. Once parked and the kettle on we listening to the crashing waves, excited that on christmas day our beach residence would be revealed to us. I awoke to the sound of the sliding door and the van filling with sunlight.
It was a gorgeous day; mountains, bananas, sand, sea and a woman taking her pet cow for a morning stroll. The cow most likely taking this route everyday was startled by our presence and only passing by with encouragement from its keeper, although it wouldn't take its eyes of us as it passed.
My mother didn’t just see the Med, but she also felt it. With some cajoling she joined us for a little swim and at 62 years young this would be the first time that she had swam in a sea. It was a perfect non-Christmas Christmas.
The draw of Istanbul was far too strong for the pair of us, leaving the quiet life to be hit by the sixth largest city in the world certainly had it’s charms. We spent 8 nights in the Sultanahmet district, underneath the breathtaking Hagia Sofia Mosques. There was so much to absorb in this particular part of the old town that we rarely felt the need to leave. We thought we’d move district every day but never felt the need. We would spend most of the day sheltering as best we could from the rain, stark contrast to the heat of the south. We’d lose ourselves amidst the maze of alleyways in the old market. Sometimes when the rain was too much we’d dive in to the covered Egyptian market brimming with tourists and spices. The days slipped by, merging into one as we found a routine that consisting of breakfast, heading towards the old town, exploring, finding coffee then a food stall to grab lunch, more exploring, more honey soaked pastries from street venders, then returning to the hotel for a siesta. The weather did not deter the sightseers: it took 6 days until we thought the queues were small enough to warrant joining to see the Basilica Cistern or the Hagia Sofia Mosque.
The whole trip was a joyous experience and I wholly recommend it. You can learn so much from your parents when you take them out of their comfort zone and remove the possibility of hot showers. I've shared with her what it is that I love to do and know it's become her love too.
I watched my mum become younger as her eyes sparkled like that of an inquisitive child.
Thank you Mum. You've done an amazing job of bringing up great kids. I may have sparked her thirst for travel but I’ve realised that she always had that spirit of adventure in her and now I know where I get it from!