"You hold an event and we turn up"
"You hold an event and we turn up"

October 18 28, 2011

 

by Nilda Roth

 

 

My most memorable experience was meeting/making friends with the Turks!!! I cannot say enough about how pleasant it was to meet the local walk organizers, especially Frates (named after the Euphrates River) - first of all, he remembered my name just like that (when most Americans have such a hard time remembering a strange name such as mine), then he proceeded to make sure I picked the best walks and checked up on my experience and highlights of my walk! If only, most of our local walk volunteers could do half as much!!

 

Then, I walk and made acquaintance with Turks from different regions of the vast and beautiful country - we're on each other's email list now and I continue to learn more about their culture and history. I have an invite to visit their country soon and walk with them on the next Olympiad!

 

Matt, thank you for putting this together --it turned out to be better than I had anticipated. Only because I went outside of my comfort zone and reached out - after all, isn't this what travel is all about - not just for the sights, shopping and food -- but for the memories and friendships made with distant cultures and peoples!

 

For those who might be interested in pursuing more connection with Turkey, I highly recommend reading the following: "The Bastard of Istanbul" by Elig Shafak - I am re-reading it and enjoying it more! and for non-fiction, read "The Crisis of Islam" by Bernard Lewis - both must read!

 

I also met and walked with a group of Estonians and learned a bit more about their country albeit mostly in sign language and motions (they spoke little English), and hooked up with the organizers of the upcoming Canadian convention in Ottawa next year.

 

See you at the next international walks!

12th IVV Olympiad, Antalya, Turkey

By Tom Francis

The 12th IVV Olympiad was held 20-23 October 2011 in Antalya, part of the Riviera on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The Bad Pennies Volksmarch Club (thebadpennies.org) from Merrifield VA was well represented by a team of 15 hikers (from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Colorado, California, and Arizona) who gathered at Washington Dulles Airport on 18 October for the journey to Turkey. Travel arrangements for the Bad Pennies group were made by Alabanda Turizm (www.alabanda.com.tr) in Ankara, the official 12th Olympiad travel agency. Great in-flight service and amenities were provided by Turkish Airlines (rated the number one air carrier by European travelers) for our outbound flight to Antalya via Istanbul. We arrived at Grida City Hotel in Antalya at 8:00 PM on 19 October after a 15-hour flight experience. Our hotel was conveniently located just across the street from Atatürk Park and the Antalya Culture Centre “The Pyramid”, the hub of activity for the Olympiad.

 

Turkey is a member of a unique group of five transcontinental nations (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkey) whose territories span an overland continental boundary between Europe and Asia. Ninety-seven percent of Turkey’s territory lies in Asia (Asia Minor) while three percent is in Europe (Turkish Thrace). Since Antalya is situated in the Asian portion of Turkey, Olympiad participants were able to obtain an Asian continent stamp in their quest for IVV World Cup qualification (www.ivv-web.org/english/worldcup.html ).

 

According to 12th Olympiad officials, there were 90 participants from the USA. A total of 49 IVV member nations were represented at this Olympiad with 1785 participants. The largest contingent was from Germany with 259 participants (including a large group traveling with old friend Manfred Trettin and the Koala Wanderers from Denzlingen, Germany (www.koala-wanderers.de). Other notable contingents were from Norway (243 participants), Estonia (172), and Japan (105). The nations with the smallest contingents were Romania (two participants) and Bulgaria with one participant. The Olympiad was organized and executed by a competent team of 130 staff members, many of whom were volunteers from local Antalya sports organizations. Planning for the 12th Olympiad had spanned a period of 18 months.

The IVV Olympiad concept has a rich history which began with the 1st Olympiad in 1989 in Valkenburg, Netherlands. Every two years thereafter, successive Olympiad gatherings were held in 1991 (2nd, Schömberg, Germany); 1993 (3rd, Ribeauville, France); 1995 (4th, Athens/Amaroussi, Greece); 1997 (5th, Vierumäki, Finland); 1999 (6th, Bibione, Italy); 2001 (7th, Seefeld, Austria); 2003 (8th, Genk, Belgium); 2005 (9th, Pilsen and Prague, Czech Republic); 2007 (10th, Otepää, Estonia); and 2009 (11th, Yamanaschi, Japan).

 

In accordance with the typical Olympiad schedule, the first day (Thursday) consisted of registration and the Opening Ceremony. All Olympiad participants gathered at Republic Square at the edge of the Antalya Old Town and formed a grand parade (participants from each represented nation followed their national flag and placard which were carried by three young Turks in traditional costume) which proceeded down Konyaalti Boulevard for five kilometers (km) to the Pyramid for welcoming comments by Turkish officials and IVV leaders and a traditional Turkish cultural dance program, followed by the Olympiad flame lighting ceremony on the Pyramid main stage. At this 12th Olympiad, IVV events were offered at four sites: Antalya (hiking, biking, and swimming), Lara (sand dune and beach hiking), Kursunlu Waterfalls (hiking and biking), and Kemer (hiking in the Taurus Mountains, biking, and swimming). Buses were provided to shuttle participants between the event sites. Hikes ranged in length from 5km to the 42.195km marathon. Biking events ranged from 15 to 36km. Swimming events included 300 and 500 meter laps in local pools and a 1000-meter salt water course just off the Konyaalti Beach in Antalya.

 

At each Olympiad, the major array of IVV events is offered on Friday and Saturday. During these two days, the Bad Pennies hikers pursued a variety of schedules to accommodate their individual goals for Olympiad adventure. Some concentrated on hiking while others included mountain biking and swimming. Event stamps and distance stamps were collected in IVV Record Books by participants who can achieve progressive IVV award levels yielding certificates of accomplishment, hat pins, and jacket patches. Some Bad Pennies hikers are also members of the International Marching League (IML) (www.imlwalking.org) and sought to gain IML credit for this Olympiad by completing at least 20km of hiking on Friday and again on Saturday.

 

On Sunday morning, hiking was available in Antalya followed by the Olympiad closing ceremony at the flag-lined outdoor arena in Atatürk Park. After farewell comments by officials, the Olympiad flame was officially passed to representatives of northeastern Italy where the 13th IVV Olympiad (www.ivvsuedtirol.info) will be held 25-29 June 2013 in Val Gardena/Wolkenstein in the scenic Südtirol region of the Dolomite Alps. The 13th Olympiad will be a bit unusual as it will offer ice skating as an IVV event in addition to the traditional hiking, biking, and swimming events.

 

On Monday, our group took an organized tour around the Antalya region, visiting such antiquities as Perge (ancient Hellenistic-Roman city) and Aspendos with its famous Roman theater.

On Tuesday, we took a flight from Antalya to Istanbul where we checked into the Erboy Hotel (great location near Topkapi Palace just off the Marmara Sea) and enjoyed three days of group tours to such attractions as a cruise along the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus separating Europe and Asia where marble palaces, fortresses, and Ottoman architecture abound; visits to both the old and new sectors of Istanbul; the Spice Market; Dolmabahce Palace; Bosphorus Bridge; Camlica Hill; Sultan Ahmet Center; Hagia Sophia Basilica; Blue Mosque; Hippodrome; Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, and the Grand Bazaar. On Friday, we enjoyed the return trip from Istanbul to Washington Dulles via a Turkish Airlines flight.

 

Members of the 12th Olympiad Bad Pennies group are shown in the attached photo (photo by Matt Pernick). First row (seated): Caroline Sljula (CA); Second row: Margaret O’Brien (PA), Rosy McCloskey (CA), Bernice Bowra (CO), Nilda Roth (MD), Julie (local Turkish guide), Kathy Trekal (MD), Becky Mackoy (VA). Third Row: Nancy McCowan (CA), Jim Bowra (CO), Tom Francis (AZ), Matt Pernick (VA), Robert Gambert (PA), Darlene Bell (MD), Jim Truscott (VA), Wanda Musse (PA).

 

The Bad Pennies organization is a member club of the American Volkssport Association (AVA) (www.ava.org, headquartered in Universal City, Texas) and a member of the Virginia Volksmarch Association. The Organizer and Trip Captain for this Bad Pennies adventure was Matt Pernick (president of the Bad Pennies Club since 1992 and leader of many hiking adventures). Participants in this Bad Pennies outing had a great time and are already looking forward to the 13th IVV Olympiad in 2013.

by Margaret O'Brien

 

I think that Matt did a great job providing us an itinerary that moved along very well. It was great having things in place before arrival: such as, hotels, meals, tours, etc. and, of course, the wonderful flight that we had with Turkish Airlines.

 

However, in the future, I would recommend that there be an announcement board in the hotel lobby or near the reception desk for announcements, changes, and/or reminders of same to itinerary. We had a couple of place and time changes that not everyone became aware of right away and it caused a little confusion.

 

As a group, everyone was very friendly and hospitable. For the Olympiad, the Program and Courses were well identified and followed along very nicely. I only wish that our group, the Bad Pennies, might have had identifying shirts, hats, or something to show that we were indeed a specific group. We didn't stand out as a group. So many other groups were immediately identified by their like shirts and like hats.

I also noticed that other countries were sharing/handing out small memorabilia from their countries to members of the host country and other guest countries. That is a wonderful gesture of friendship and it also serves as an advertisement for your group and your country. Such things as patches, pins, brochures, and flags were distributed. It would have been very nice to have had something to distribute from The Bad Pennies in the USA.

 

Antalya, Turkey is a beautiful and clean city and I was happy to have the opportunity to visit this beautiful city and this very old and interesting country.

Overall, the Olympiad, was very memorable. The number of countries present was very impressive - I think about 49 countries I was impressed with the friendliness of all the folks. And, wasn't it nice to see others again whom you met at past Olympiads? It sure was a time for reminiscence. The weather was wonderful, warm and sunny, what more can one ask for. The trails were a bit challenging in some areas, but nonetheless interesting. The opportunities for exercise were abundant.

 

Then we were fortunate to also have the opportunity to visit Istanbul. Oh, what an interesting city......Matt did a great job setting up the tours for this wonderful city. We cruised the Bosphorus which is the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia. We saw quite a few Hellenistic-Roman cities of antiquity, Mosques, Palaces, and of course, the famous Grand Bazaar. The restaurants where we ate served wonderful meals and we could choose lamb, fish, beef, or chicken. Each meal contained a salad and dessert and some of their wonderful flat bread.

 

Matt, I have one negative note and that is.......I know that Turkey wants to show us their best products and take us to their most reputable merchants but I found that the Jewelry Shop, Carpet Shop, and Leather Shop that we were taken to were very, very expensive shops. Their prices seemed to be much higher than those items would have cost in the States. In the future, I think visiting shops more in a normal person's price range would be beneficial for the merchant, us, and the tour.

 

Thanks again for a great job, Matt and Bad Pennies. I hope to travel with you again!!

 

by Robert Gambert

 

As this was my 8th Olympiad – I do have some additional history to compare respective to the 12th Olympiad in Turkey and others that I have done.

 

Organization by the Turkish Olympiad – it was readily apparent that they did their best to make the overall organization of the event as transparently smooth as possible. In particular the innovative participant chips that we used to either participate in, controls, finish, results and even board buses. Although, somewhat confusing at first, once the instructions were read, and actually applied – everything ran smooth from then on.

Events – I enjoyed going to a different location to participate either walking, bicycling or swimming event’s. That provided for new scenery and further exploration of areas outside of Antalya to include shopping and eating.

 

Having the modern buses take us to the other locations was good, however, there was a big bottleneck of many people waiting up to an hour and a half to load up; on a return, we were the only ones on the bus, and it left early! Later I was told there were problems with the bus company. My primary comment is that as a walking event, some of us want to get started early, which may be around 5 or 6 in the morning. As for myself, I would rather start earlier in the morning than around 10:00 a.m.

 

Hotel – while the breakfast was adequate – I thought the coffee was terrible. And I would rather have a simple breakfast and get going earlier. The location of the Hotel was great as it meant that we were close to the Olympiad village and could get signed up earlier to participate in the events, as we did for the bicycle event. Our group was fortunate to be located to other accessible shops as well. It was easy for us to get a cab to take us down to the old town; thereby saving time and exploring more for ourselves. We really enjoyed the Turkish Bath – Hammas; as it was so refreshing and exhilarating. For me, this was the high light of visiting Antalya and being in Turkey.

Bicycle event – what an experience it was – to ride crouched over the low handlebars and only able to partially extend our legs – but we made the 15 km ride without difficulty, thereby getting our first Olympiad event stamp before 8:30 a.m. and then off to do a 20km walk. We brought our own helmets for safety but I would like to have brought a wrench to adjust the seat as well.

 

Swim event – having the pool in our hotel – was just so easy to do. Only wish that I had swum each day – another event stamp is always a good thing.

 

Tour and tour guide in and around Antalya – was a real enjoyment and for me very interesting. I really enjoyed the Roman and historical sights’ that we visited. Along with the lunch and drinks and the size of our group all went smoothly.

 

Istanbul – good hotel centrally located and easy to walk to shopping and eating places. Tours were great, and I am glad that I did buy a book on the Turkish Harem, as I would not have had time to do the tour.

 

Travel arrangements – although a bit tight for comfort, having a smaller group allowed for transportation of picking up/returning to the airport or hotel was stress free. Overall, the arrangements made met all my expectations – and count me in for another tour.

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