Thursday Oct 9, 2014

Hard to believe, but our ‘Midlife Madness’ cruise/tour is pretty much over. The final chapter of our Mediterranean adventure has been written. We’ve had a ball, and we’ve made some great friends … but today’s the day we must say “güle-güle” (goodbye) to Istanbul and some of our fellow-Kiwis. Ataturk International Airport is our final stop in Turkey, and from there we’re heading off in different directions – most of us flying home on a big Singapore Airlines jet, but others destined for a few extra days in the Greek Isles, or London, or Ireland.

However, before I close this blog down, there’s a little side-trip that we made earlier this week on our way home from Gallipoli that I ran out of room to tell you about.

We’ve seen lots of old stuff this trip, but awaiting us that morning – in some empty countryside on the other side of the Dardenelles, near the coastal town of Canakkale (pronounced ‘Char-nak-arly’) – were the VERY old excavated ruins of Troy: legendary city of Helen, the famous Wooden Horse, and the sneak attack by Greek soldiers on the Trojans (around 1200BC). Generations of historians assumed this place (first mentioned by Homer) was purely fiction – but then, in the 19th century, the remains were found of a once-great centre of civilisation, and the painstaking archaeology continues to this day.

We visited the ancient site, relived a little of its fascinating story, photographed an imaginative replica (?) of the wood horse, posed as a group in what’s left of Troy’s circular amphitheatre, and gave a stirring rendition of Pokarekare Ana.

(No kidding, it would’ve bought a tear to Kiri Te Kanawa’s eye!)

Anyway, that’s it! The past three-and-a-bit weeks (combining luxury-at-sea with discovery-on-shore) have been a BLAST! We’ve seen so much, done so much, learned so much, gained so much and laughed so much that we don’t know where to put it all! We’ve had a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience – and we’ve got stories and memories and photos to prove it!

Just wait till we get home, and we’ll bore you to death!

PEOPLE NEWS: Two final Lucky Quacky Yellow Duckies will be sent via NZ Post to their unsuspecting recipients (shorthand for “I forgot to give them out”):

  • Gloria will soon receive our ‘Box of Fluffy Ducks Award’ – for countless near-misses while on tour: disappearing (briefly) in Barcelona, losing (temporarily) her handbag with passport etc enclosed in Turkey, being last on the bus more times than we could count, and generally running like a hyperactive rabbit all over Europe. Well done Gloria – we love you and are gonna miss you!
  • Val will receive our ‘Oh-I-Wish-I’d-Received-An-Award Award’ – for trying so hard to qualify for one of our cute ducks, but failing right to the end to do anything deservedly silly enough. No one’s ever tried harder, Val – hope your grandkids enjoy playing with it!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Thank you John so much for your blogs. They really are terrific and appreciated. I don’t know how you managed, having to sit up and send them while everyone else must have gone to bed after such eventful days. Wish I had been there.

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