This is in retrospect mainly because I was too busy experiencing our ridiculously plush and vacationlike hotel to write a blog. Using the word ‘retrospect’ may imply that I am ponderously recalling the trip, perhaps coming to some grand and insightful conclusion, but that’s not really the case. It’s really is not a good excuse, but I think that the completely leisurely atmosphere forcibly slumped me on my bed and forbade me productive daily blogging activities. Really, our luxury hotel brought to mind middle eastern stories like Shaharzad, in which men lay about in glorious palaces hearing exotic stories and being fed exotic fruit. I kept waiting for Sadie to feed me a starfruit while I reclined gloriously on my bed, but it never happened. In any case, this is the first part of a U23 Turkey trip rundown.
For the sake of organizing my Turkey blog series, I think I will break it into four key themes; skiing, town, the bus, and the hotel. Since those are the only places that I spent any amount of time, they deserve the most consideration. The drive from the hotel to the venue was about an hour long, and anywhere that I spent two whole hours each day calls for at least one photo and a small paragraph.
The buses were exciting from the first hour that we were there. As we drove towards the hotel at 1am, the cargo door of the bus popped open. Only my industrious shoving of my bag into the very top of the compartment had saved us from an expensive explosion; everything was packed so tightly in there that it hadn’t really moved. We drove through town in the dark, everyone either sleeping or peeking curiously out the windows. Those of us awake enough to pay attention noticed a curious tendency to ignore red lights and lane markings, but thought nothing of it yet. The next day, we had our first drive to the venue. The bus was late. This became a recurring theme of the trip; the ride was slow, long, and often the bus wasn’t there until 10-15min after the planned time. Rolling through Erzurum was fun the first couple of times, we got to see some rundown buildings, a sports store, a university, and large statues of a skier, a two-headed eagle, and a giant hockey goalie:
We also noticed that the reckless driving of the night before had been no fluke. Cars used their horns more often than their brakes, and any two-lane road automatically became three-lane. Our bus drivers varied, but some were very exciting. One afternoon my bus seemed to use mainly intimidation tactics. If anyone was going too slow in the left lane, he would get within two feet of their bumper and lay on the horn. All while going about 50mph. Everyone got out of the way expediently, to be sure. On another trip, the U23 training bus, made a little detour from the route to the venue. We were assured that it was just because the driver had to make a little stop. We were left for about 10 minutes in an alley way, looking at this store, joking about keeping an eye on our kidneys:
It turned out to be totally harmless, the driver just needed some chips. At the time though, we felt like we were on another planet. Everyone was looking outside, taking pictures, and definitely not thinking about getting out of the car.
The positive side of the long and interesting bus rides was a chance to get to know people from other teams. I probably would never have sat down and talked with some of the people that I met on the bus. One of the Austrian coaches didn’t speak a whole lot of english, but I know he is a really nice guy because he saw how dirty my glasses were and immediately took them from me and started cleaning. The Aussies, a rowdy bunch of blokes, were fun on the bus as well. It seems that there is a very strong connection between Alaska and Australia, we knew a lot of the same skiers. The Australian wax tech is from the Black Forest in Germany, and knew basically all of the germans that Sadie and I knew from Alaska as well. So many connections!
Most of the people we met on the bus were also staying in our amazing hotel. If I complain about not getting things done in the hotel, you can’t take me too seriously. I am a ridiculously spoiled skier for even thinking about complaining about a place like this: