Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sail Away

Know any good knitting shops in Istanbul? (Not Constantinople.)

I haven't said anything about this, because I've been waiting for the dear officials at the Turkish embassy to send me a document promising they'll allow me into their country, but I'm going abroad on June 2.

My job is not heavy with perks, but when they do come along they're big. I'm being sent on a tour with a bunch of the university's high rollers, which happens roughly once a year. I have to smile and make chitchat, provide an arm to lean on as we walk across cobblestones, host a cocktail party, and make sure all the ladies get to dance. All these things are, for me, quite a pleasure.

I've seen my list of 11 travelers and it's a comparatively youthful crowd, average age somewhere in the early seventies. That's nice, because it means that chances are we all listen to the same kind of music, and there are usually at least two other knitters.

It's not exactly a vacation. Although there are travel directors and guides to do the heavy lifting, as it were, on these trips I'm expected to be always "on" and usually find that by the return flight my face hurts from looking pleasantly interested in everything being said to me.

The Itinerary

We leave Chicago and fly to Istanbul by way of Munich. Munich is always fun because even when changing planes you get a full pat-down by a burly Teutonic security guard in tall boots.

After two days in Istanbul, we embark on the Minerva II for a two-week tour entitled "Islands of Antiquity." These will be our ports-of-call:
  • Rhodes
  • Crete (Ághios Nikólaos)
  • Malta
  • Sicily (Catania and Palermo)
  • Sardinia
  • Minorca (Mahón)
  • Corsica
  • Civitavecchia
  • Rome
I hope the citizens of Palermo have at this point forgotten why it was my mother's family was asked to leave back in 1903.

Travel Knitting


This paramount question is already settled. Susan's Maine stole, for the rare moments when I'm alone and can concentrate. And a Koigu vest (just begun) for the rest of the time. The Koigu was a rather stunning birthday gift from Kathy Merrick, the lady who changed my mind about crochet. (She'll change yours, too, if you check out her designs in Interweave Crochet.)

Travel Hostess

Except for my very first university tour, when my brother-in-law assisted as able co-host in the English Lakes, I've always been solo. Not this time.

Yup.



I've finally faced facts. It's easier to drag her fleece-covered butt along than try to deal with the City of Chicago Police Department via ship-to-shore lines. Besides, her game of bridge is better than mine, which will take some of the pressure off me.

When I extended the invitation, instead of gratitude I got a startled gasp and a poke in the chest with a sharp hoof.

"Shit," she said. "You're giving me two lousy weeks to get ready for this?"

"What exactly do you need to do?"

"I have absolutely nothing to wear, shortcake. Zilch. One Diane von Furstenberg isn't gonna get a girl through two weeks on a lah-dee-dah cruise. Where's my purse? I need to get to Barneys."

"It's almost midnight."

"And I have to call my girlfriend Menekshe and let her know I'm coming through Istanbul–"

"Not Constantinople!"

"That wasn't funny the first time. And if we're going to be in Greece, I want to look up some old Navy buddies."

"What?"

"I was in the Greek navy for a couple of weeks back in the seventies. Or should I say vice vers–"

"I can't hear you I can't hear you I can't hear you."

But she was already burrowing through the pile of clothes on the floor of her closet.

"I know I still have that Dolce and Gabbana thong in here somewhere. It was a big hit at Cannes a couple years ago. You think the Minerva has a topless sunbathing deck?"

"I rather doubt it."

She paused in her rummaging and frowned. "Cannes. Goddamn. You don't think Catherine Deneuve might be on the ship, do you?"

"I have no idea. Should I even ask why you're concerned?"

"Nah. It's ancient history. But of course she's got a memory like a elephant, that one. With hips to match."

Ms. Deneuve, I thought you were wonderul in Belle de jour. On the off chance that you might be joining us, will you please accept my apology in advance?

57 comments:

somebunnysloveDOTcom said...

I recommend checking with Polly at "All Tangled Up" fame. She has posted about visiting Turkey where to find the best yarn bargains there. Try reaching her at the http://www.alltangledup.com/ site.

Dave Daniels said...

Maybe you can have your eyebrows drawn in to always have that interested-arched eybrow look. It can save on the face muscles.
Have a great trip!

Vintageme said...

"Islands of Antiquity"..I see why you are taking Dolores. You never know there might be a murder and they can make it into a Poiret ..who to play Dolores?

Anne said...

I never should have brought up the idea of Dolores in a thong within her sight.

Please bring back pictures... of everything but that. *Shudder*

Sarah said...

I am envious of your trip and I hope Delores doesn't run into the any of those Navy guys with her thong! Yikes.

Have a great time and take LOTS of photos so we can all go with you.

AprilBrokenA said...

Have fun!

My only question is will you have interwebs access to keep us current on the stories?

katherine said...

Good god, I'm green with envy. I know nothing about yarn shops, but if you need either the best coffee or the best gelato in Rome, I'm your girl.

DianeS said...

I don't have much experience with cruises, but I bet if you send an email to the cruise director, he/she will certainly come up with a list of yarn/fiber sources for you by the time you arrive.

Enjoy (as much as possible with the perma-smile and Dolores in tow) and I'm with everyone else...take lots of pictures and post if you can.

Isela: Purling Sprite said...

Hey, if anything Dolores can tell the ladies some stories and keep them occupied.

Have fun and if possible, share some pics.....Enjoy your trip Dolores

Carol said...

Sigh.

Liz said...

What a wonderful itinerary!

Now how can I give Dolores the slip and put myself in her hooves?

pacalaga said...

Oh Franklin, how glorious. I'm so envious I could die.
I wonder if I could stow away in one of Dolores' bags?

Jewel of Montreal said...

How funny, you must work in the same field as I do. A couple of years ago I travelled to Russia with 27 alumni. I'd always wanted to see Russia and was happy to go but oh, those travellers.
Have fun! The tour sounds great.

obxparrot said...

When I was a kid (an Army Brat) we lived in Izmir, Turkey. I often played at Alexander the Great's castle, roamed the ancient ruins, and visited wonderful cities of antiquities, such as Ephesus and Athens. They were some of my most memorable years. I know you will love your whole travel experience. I just wish I could tag along . . LOL.
(A note of caution: one time a year, there is a special day where sheep are sacrificed; will skip the horid details . . . Delores better wear a big floppy hat and sunglasses, and a large moo-mmo dress, or some guys might start looking at her funny and have other ideas for her destiny; skip the D&C thong! lol)

Have a great time and post pics.

Carrie K said...

Even as a working trip, it still sounds glorious. Dolores can can undoubtedly schmooze some of your charges while you run to the LYS.

Holly said...

So just why did your mother's family get kicked out of Palermo in 1903? My family's been kicked out of several places, so just asking......

Jen said...

Oh, fantastic!!! Have an awesome time. It sounds delicious, even with the grannies to entertain.

Jen said...

vintageme asks "...who to play Dolores?"

I have some ideas for that, but she might take offense at my suggestions and put a hit out on me.

I hope the two of you have a great trip, Franklin!

Cheryl said...

"I have to smile and make chitchat, provide an arm to lean on as we walk across cobblestones, host a cocktail party, and make sure all the ladies get to dance"
So you are going as a man-ho?!

you and dolores are so cute.

Maggie said...

Why'd they change it to Istanbul? That's nobody's business but the Turks.

Dolores may not have thought it very funny, I thought it was hysterical, thank you.

Judith said...

Do look at Polly's Blog Franklin
http://alltangledup.com/movabletype/archives/000674.html
She is very kind and helpful, one of the few bloggers I have actually met, and I am sure if you wanted more information you could e mail her. She has the most wonderful descriptions and comments and I do hope that you wil have a great time.

Sandra said...

Oh geez, I just snorted water all over my keyboard!
You need to write Dolores' life story. with pictures. uncensored.
Except the part about her and the Greek navy.
Enjoy your Munich pat down, as well as the rest of the trip. We'll want a detailed report.

msubulldog said...

Your self-portrait is wonderful! :) Have a fabulous time.

moiraeknits said...

I love the pleasantly interested look on your face there with Dolores. Heh. I'm also filled with envy about your getting to see some of these islands. Wow. Just...wow.

Rachel H said...

I'm jealous. And ever so slightly panicky. That stuff you're helping me with? Any chance of some of it being done before you go? Please?

Ben said...

lucky dog.

will the viewing of turkish wrestling be on the intinerary?

Paul said...

What a great trip! The septuagenarians are just gonna love you! They may even by slightly amused by Dolores...

Joanna said...

Did Delores have anthing to do with this line in My Big Big Fat Greek Wedding... "Greek women, we may be lambs in the kitchen, but we are tigers in the bedroom." Maybe she does have a very very colorful past!

Opah! I hope you have a wonderful time.

shaxophile's mom said...

Happy trip!

p.s. while the original is of course charming, have you heard They Might Be Giant's remake of the song?

Donna said...

So you get to sorta be a gigolo? Wow

Rabbitch said...

Oh. my. god.

Please tell me you and Dolores will be blogging during this trip.

I can't wait!

(Oh, and I think the term for what you'll be doing is "gigolo". I shall refer to you as such from now on.)

Ann said...

Does it say anything about how far down the gutter my mind goes that I read that as the "Islands of Iniquity" tour?

Try Kürkçü Han (Furrier Han) in Mahmutpaşa Street in Istanbul.

Sally said...

You lucky dog! I spent 3 years on Crete as an AF brat back in the 60's, and loved it. I know you will have a great time! I do not doubt that Dolores will run into some of her more rural cousins on this trip. Such fun!!!! Do please post lots of photos and details of your trip!

knitcase said...

at least you are smiling in the picture!!

and perhaps you could ACCIDENTALLY leave dolores in some foreign port to wreak havoc???

c.

Norma said...

OMG, you are a gigolo! I mean a consort. I mean a "companion." Uh. I mean a "host."

Even though I'm sort of tongue-tied, I think this is just a hoot.

And I'm jealous.
Have a great time.

Norma said...

ESCORT, ESCORT! That's the word I was looking for. Hee.

Lee Ann said...

A knitting guy who can dance. You're my kind of escort, honey...

stellastarflower said...

Be sure to get some honey from the maquis (the scrub brush of wild thyme, rosemary, lavendar, etc that grows high in the mountains) while you are in Corsica. It is amazing tasting and good for sore throats. Like you get from trying to talk with D in loud bars.

Corsica is an amazing island.

Windsornot said...

Okay, so you aren't going to Constantinople, so I suppose you aren't going to Byzantium either? Damn...

Mel said...

I'm jealous. Very jealous.

What does it say about me, though, that when I read the travel list, the thing I was most jealous about was that you'd being going to Mahon, where they make a most wonderfully yummy cheese? If you've never had it, I highly recommend - both "young" and aged.

Mel said...

And what more does it say about me that I hate Microsoft for not giving me an easy way to put the proper accent in Mahón? Puta mierda de Bill Gates, dirían los españoles.

Lisa and Robb said...

Sailing to Byzantium...






(...with Dolores)

Marie said...

Now that you may have outed members of the Hellenic Navy as possible sheep....er, please accept this travel tip. To the best of my information, the Hellenic navy wears dark blue uniforms in winter, dress whites in summer. I have no idea when they switch. If you see a flash of either color heading toward you, run!

Perhaps Dolores will save you. Best of luck.

Violetsrose said...

Of all the blogs I read YOURS could only ever be the one to mention Diane von Furstenburg!!

Marvellous!

Elizabeth said...

I have never felt the urge to make love to a sheep... until I met Dolores.

Mama Lu said...

Franklin,

You lucky duck. You'll love it. Swan Hellenic is not your ordinary cruise line: the library is the biggest room on the ship, and the guest lecturers are academics and retired diplomats who really know their stuff. We, alas, have never been on one of their cruises, but I know people who have.

Dolores, on the other hand, is going to find the whole thing a bit of a yawn; for one thing, no shopping. I hope there are a few dishy waiters to keep her distracted

Carol said...

Yes, Franklin, who is going to be minding your blog while you're gone?

Nelly O said...

mmmmm...Greek sailors...mmmm

About that email you sent last weekend, I'm not the guy doing that pocast. I have had a bit of a conversion experience lately, though. It's as though I've been born again. I'm a whole new man - from bottom to top.

Hope to talk to ya soon!

Jacquie said...

We have spent many happy vacations on the wonderful island of Menorca.

A word of warning: try to keep Dolores away from the Xoriguer Gin factory showroom in Mao (Mahon)- they give free samples.

I highly recommend the local cheese and ice cream, and any of the restaurants on the quayside.

Did you know Mao has the second longest natural harbour in the world?

The island has a rich and interesting history with historical monuments and unique flora (alas, you will be too early to witness the poisonous squirting cucumber in action) and fauna to match. I hope you get to see a little of it.

Debbie said...

Have a fantastic time! We were in Istanbul and Rhodes two years ago, and it was overwhelming. Watch out for the rug shops in Istanbul, and if you go to the folk art museum on Rhodes, let me know if they've fixed the loom yet.

Liz in NoWhere PA said...

oh, oh, oh! I went shopping for yarn in Istanbul about 10 years ago. My entire family remembers that yarn is pronounced TifTik. Maybe that's not accurate, but that's what we were told. It was a hoot wandering the grand bazaar and other places asking for tiftik.

cyn said...

Funny -- I'll be in Istanbul at the same time for my honeymoon! As others have mentioned, Polly's blog entry on yarn shopping in Turkey is fantastic. You might also want to check out this article: http://www.mymerhaba.com/en/main/content.asp_Q_id_E_1609 and this craftster thread: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=47008.msg428357

Enjoy your trip! I can't wait to read about your travels when I return from mine!

Iby said...

I am RAVING jealous right now. I want to go too! Can you see the glow of envy-green from the direction of Iowa?

Beware the Ouzo. Or better said, beware Dolores on Ouzo!

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