Tag Archives: Appropriate Behavior

Do you Know Turkey Law?

A little over a month ago, my mom’s very good friend and her husband went on a trip to Turkey. They are a very well traveled couple and even went with a travel group of people on this trip. They have been to Europe several times and both have very social and aware personalities. This all goes to show that you can never be too prepared.

I say over and over again to friends and relatives and readers to research your trip. For example, I was a little nervous going to Cairo by myself in 2011, so I specifically researched female traveler safety tips. I read blogs, travel sites, and national travel guides. Somewhere I read to cover my head no matter what and to wear headphones not plugged into anything. If I had headphones in and I was being harassed, the predator was more likely to dismiss me ignoring them on the account that I could not hear them. So why not plug them in? Well, because it would inhibit my awareness of my surroundings. Little advice like this is crucial. So I decided to write to my readers about my mom’s dear friend.

The second or third week of this November, they were on their last day in Turkey and heading home. They stopped at the market to look for some more souvenirs to bring home. Her husband found a decorative knife and bought it for himself to bring home. They packed up their bags and headed to the airport. He did not put the knife in the carry on but in his checked bag to be safe. While at the gate, they called him over and asked if he had papers for the knife in his luggage. He replied that he did not and they asked him to wait. He knew it might take awhile so he told his wife and friends to go on ahead and he would take the next flight.

When my mom’s friend got home to America, she came to find out that her husband was arrested at the airport after she left and was put into prison. It is against a Turkey Law to remove antiquities from the country, and the knife was enough of an antique to cause problems. They had no idea. They thought it was just your average souvenir. He stayed in prison for about 2-3 weeks, after they had countless Turkish and American lawyers, the embassy, the consulate, and several politicians involved. He had to stay in Turkey for a hearing and put under house arrest. Thankfully he is now home for the holidays with his family, but it is quite scary what happened to him.

Research, research, research!

Who Do You Trust While Traveling in Prague?

After starting my day with tea, my social media ritual, and then stumbling across a video of a busker in NYC being treated unjustly and then arrested, I have a bit of a fire in me. I have a background in performing. It talks a lot of…well….balls to be frank to perform. Not only perform but perform by yourself in front of numerous strangers.

Organ Grinder in Brugges
Old Man Organ Grinder in Brugges – original busker

Like other countries, you need a permit to perform on the streets in New York City. There are laws and very specific regulations to follow. This particular busker seems to have those laws memorized for some reason. You can never prepare for the corruption of the police anywhere you go. Remember that. Sometimes you can be doing absolutely nothing and still be harassed. Wrong cop on the wrong day.

Prague
Elise and I traveling in Prague

When Elise and I decided to travel to Prague for a weekend, it was on a whim and one of our last weekends living overseas. Normally, I would have researched a place prior to going. This time I only had enough time to download some sights to go to while in the city.

We arrived from a 20 hour bus ride from London. It was long. At one point I needed to use the bathroom and there was no promise from the driver that he would wait for me while I went to find one.We finally got there. Exhausted. We also had to find our hostel. We

Coach from London to Prague
Starting the 20 hour bus ride with a bottle of wine. Probably not the best idea…

stumbled off the coach, grabbed our bags, and went for the restroom. You had to pay, so we went to an ATM nearby to get some of the currency, but once again I had not done my research so I wasn’t sure the exchange rate equivalencies with crowns to dollars. We just grabbed the minimum in order to use the restroom.

At this point we knew that we had to get on a train and go to the main train station, and then our hostel was in walking distance from there. With our duffel bags full and weighing us down, we staggered

Astronomical Clock Prague
Having cappuccinos and tiramisu outside the Astronomical Clock in Prague

through the train station. We were tired and were not necessarily trying to hide that we were definitely tourists. We pointed at signs, argued with one another, and studied signs in a foreign language we knew nothing about. Suddenly a man bumped into Elise and showed her something on his belt. She didn’t really look down because we were really trying to figure out how to get tickets to get on the train. We somehow felt like we were in the right place, but we didn’t have tickets yet. I suggested that maybe we buy them on the actual train. He then knocked into me right after Elise and said, “Tickets please.”

He was dressed in normal clothes and looked a bit intimidating. I didn’t get a good look at the badge on his belt because he flashed it so fast. Apparently he and his friend were the train police. I called back Elise saying that he wanted our tickets. I asked him where I could get some since we were lost. He then insisted on seeing our

Prague sight Seeing
Sight Seeing Prague and all its history

passports. Elise took her’s out and handed it to him. Something was not right about this situation. He was odd and yet seemed like he knew what he was doing. I held onto mine and showed him. He tried to grab it from me and I told him “no.” That was when I stopped believing he was police. He said that they would arrest us “stupid Americans” since we were illegally on the train platform without tickets. I told him that we were lost and more than happy to purchase tickets, but we just could not find where. He then refused to give Elise her passport back until we gave him a thousand crowns. At this point after the bathroom purchase, I could figure out that was about maybe around $40-50. He kept on harassing us and calling us names.

He finally took us to an ATM and I agreed on about half the amount and he had to show us where to buy tickets. Elise put her card in and

Prague
Beautiful Prague

the ATM wouldn’t work. I then put my card in and it wouldn’t work. We tried once more then I turned to the ugly, mean man, and I said “Well looks like your stupid Prague machines don’t work!” He tried then and I demanded the passport back. He wouldn’t. Elise tried once more and it did work. We gave him the money and he gave us the passport and the direction of where to buy tickets. It was so annoying and not the greatest welcome from such a beautiful city.

Morale of the story: Try not to look like tourists and in turn bringing attention to yourself, but mostly NEVER LET ANYONE HAVE YOUR PASSPORT. NEVER EVER!

Police or not…they are corrupt everywhere. Hang on to your passport!

Oh the Places You’ll Cruise??

My dear co-worker and friend Candace married her long time girlfriend Genna last month in Chicago. They had a lovely wedding, but like all weddings go…it is finally time for the honeymoon!!

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio

They booked a Mediterranean cruise that goes from Barcelona to Naples/Pompeii to Rome to Florence/Pisa/Livorna to Cannes to

Pisa Cliche
Mom at Pisa

Palma, Majorica. I have been to six of those nine places. I thought I could give some good insight to it. Then I decided for a wedding gift that I would make them one of my iWander books of their cruise for free of charge!

It was a lot of fun to make, because I have always wanted to know all the potential places I could go to in limited time and therefore I (or whoever I am writing it for) would have lots of options once there. But, this was a cruise.

I gave Candace her book!
I gave Candace her book!

They are only allowed 10-12 hours in each place. How does one see all of Rome in 10 hours?! Well. Actually. One doesn’t. So I did a lot of research of finding the best one day excursions in each place. I looked up blog suggestions, must-do’s and must see’s, and travel sites suggestions. It was a really fun book to make because I was able to set personalized suggestions of where to go and when.

Here is a blurb of my Barcelona part:

 Barcelona

 

History: The city is the capital of Catalonia and is Spain’s second biggest city. They have a population of about 1.5 million people. Best known for the Olympics being hosted in Barcelona in 1992, and since then the city has changed its neighborhoods and the way the city is presented today. It was originally under Roman rule. Barcelona was founded under two stories: the first being Hercules (yes, the Mythological God) founded the city, and the second being founded by Hamilcar Barca the statesman of Cyrene. He was said to command the forces in Sicily from 247 BC to 241 BC. The Roman redirected the city as a military camp around 15 BC, and used for its excellent harbor.  After the Romans were the Visigoths conquer, and this was a rule by the Moors for the next 100 years. The city gained a reputation during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century with the World’s Fair in 1888. Catalonia fought for freedom from the rule of Spain through the 20th century, and with this heightened Barcelona’s importance.

Suggested Options for A Single Day in Barcelona:
(On your first day, with only a few hours, it might be beneficial to start one of these and then finish the suggested list on your return back and be able to spend more time in a museum or Cathedral.)

  1. 1. PERSONALIZED         2. TYPICAL BARCELONA            3. TURISTA BARCELONA
    – Mirador de Colon         – Placa de Catalunya                 – Parc Guell
    – La Rambla                 – La Rambla                          – Train to Sangrada Familia (Go in?)
    – Detour thru Barri Gotic   – Mirador de Colon                  – Av. Diagonal to Casa Batllo (Go in?)
    – Visit Museo Picasso      – Placa Reial                         – Casa Mila (Go in?)
    – Walk back by Catedral     – Thru Barri Gotic                   -Thru Barri Gotic
    – La Boqueria (off of La Rambla) – Visit Catedral               – Visit Catedral (Go in?)
    – Placa de Catalunya           – Walk to Can Culleretes         -Visit Town Hall
    – Casa Batllo (Go in?)          – Montjuic                           – Olympic Stadium
    – Casa Mila/Pedrera (Go in?)  – Sangrada Familia (Go in?)        – Montjuic hill
    – Avinguda Diagonal              – Train to Parc Guell        
    – La Sangrada Familia (Go in?)                    
    – Train to Parc Guell                        

* (G) signifies Gaudi Work

– Avinguda Diagonal – A collection of bars and restaurants on one of the most important streets in Barcelona. It was designed by IIdefons Cerda (one of the city original planners).

– Barcelona Catedral (of Holy Cross) – The cathedral was started in the 13th century and finished in the 15th century. It was built on the site of an old Roman town (close to what was once the Roman Forum). The Roman city’s gate was once across the street (Carrer del Bisbe) and you can still see the lower segments of the towers as well as a Roman aqueduct at the base of the Bishop’s Palace (Palau Episcopal).The cathedral was spared by the anarchists during the Civil War and is the place where Santa…..cont.

CONGRATULATIONS CANDACE and GENNA!!!!