01 December 2021 | Southwestern Yacht Club, San Diego
Alison Gabel | Foggy
7 months of intense preparation have finally culminated in an actual departure from Oxnard, California on our 2008 Seawind 1160 Deluxe (I love that "Deluxe" part) and we're off on what I'm calling our "second-childhood adventure." I sold my car at the very last minute, rather unexpectedly, to the Subaru dealer who sought me out after a visit for some routine maintenance. I had done a deep-clean on the interior the night before, removing the workhorse look and restoring the somebody-loves-me-look, and was just pulling into the car wash when he called. We discussed price ranges on the phone, and a few hours later I drove little Hedwig into Kirby Subaru and within 15 minutes she was destined for the used car lot. I named the car Hedwig after Harry Potter's owl because she was white, and very smart. I found a tiny little hand-knitted white spotted owl on Etsy and made a teeny-tiny face mask for her, since I got her at the very beginning of the Covid era, and she served as my dash mascot for 2 years. Now little Hedwig is hitching a ride to Mexico on a boat.
The unexpected sale of the car delayed us a day waiting for the check-writing person to come in on Monday, so we used that extra day doing the last, last, last things that always dangle at the end, and had one more Sunday dinner with family.
We left the dock before noon on Monday, and pulled up the sails so we could move smartly past friends and family who had gathered on shore to wave us off and take pictures. We hooted and hollered and jumped up and down, waving furiously, while Allan tried to keep the boat sailing at the right angle to the wind to keep our new sails from going all loose and floppy, which is what happens when a sailboat goes into the wind. Which is what happened when we turned the corner to sail smartly past our friends and family who were waving from the shore, but happily, we did get some nice pictures. It was so amazing to see them all gathered - Allan's mom, brother and sister-in-law, my sister, and some dear friends who had all made the trek to the edge of the rocks, taking time out from work to cement in all of our minds that after years of talking about it, we really were going off on this adventure.
We turned left out of the harbor and set our course for San Diego on flat seas with light wind, and here we are 18 hours later with about 6 hours to go. It's been a good trip - ironic that we picked late November to do our first all-nighter in years, with 12 hours of darkness, but it's gone very well. All our new groovy electronic equipment gives us peace of mind. A new radar, which shows stuff you don't want to hit: boats, land, big things. Our AIS thingy which shows other boats (assuming they also have an AIS thingy) and gives you so much data it's staggering - boat name, boat type, the MMSI, (super-secret radio ID number), COG (course-over-ground), SOG (speed-over-ground), CPA (closest point of something that starts with an A), and TCPA (I have no idea what that stands for.) It shows the boat facing the direction it's actually going, and even has a little green line protruding, in relative size-to-speed, to show if it's actually moving. And by the way, there were a lot of really big ships out there tonight not moving. Tankers and cargo ships are parked offshore in droves up and down the coast. (Wonder where that toaster you ordered last spring might be?)
All of these things came in very handy in the dense fog that embraced us for most of the long, dark, damp, cold and foggy night. Fog makes standing watch difficult, especially at night, because high-powered lights just reflect off the moisture in the air, so other than a horn or these fancy new electronics, there's no way to detect that another boat is in your way. Having flown top-of-the-line aircraft with top-of-the-line electronics for many years, we are grateful for this new-fangled technology that allows us to relax in the cabin in the thick fog, snuggled under a fuzzy blanket with turkey and rice soup, monitoring the Raymarine display and making occasional checks outside for things we can't see anyhow. We acknowledge that in the event of an alien attack on our global satellite system things might revert to old-school, and we're prepared for that. Although, we haven't gone so far as to get trained on the use of that ancient navigation device, the Sextant, which requires a massive investment in time, a sunny day, a horizon, a chronometer, a chisel and some fairy dust to plot your position. Maybe we'll get to that at some point.
Our carefully planned night watch schedule fell apart almost immediately, we're so out of practice. We had decided to have dinner together around 5, I'd take the 6-10pm watch, Allan would do the 10-2am, and then me for the sunrise 2-6am stint, which I actually love. But instead, we ate dinner, I took a 2-hour nap at 6pm which turned into a 3.5 hour nap, then we had more dinner, then Allan napped for 5 hours, and then finally my turn. As I slid between the bamboo sheets I was grateful the boat wasn't heeling (tipping uncomfortably to one side, throwing a person who wants to sleep off the bed or at least into an awkward position that belies actual sleep.) Monohulls (boats with one hull) when under sail do the heeling thing. Catamarans under sail do a different thing, which is weird and lumpy and can't decide what it wants, but at least it doesn't heel. So I fell into a nice, deep sleep until Allan woke me around 5:30. And here I am, writing this blog, wondering about breakfast, wishing I had bacon but then remembering I'm mostly vegan and vegan bacon is gross. So I think it's going to be granola with bananas and fresh pomegranate seeds.
Fun stuff: just at sunset, our left engine, which also goes by the name of "port engine," ate some seaweed. I've done this many times, not seaweed, exactly, but if I see something especially yummy I take a way-too-big bite and then can't talk for a long time. The engine started making "mrph" and "glorp" sounds and we looked back and saw a huge patch of seaweed. Luckily, the right engine, which sometimes likes to be called the "starboard engine", wasn't hungy. Mainly because it wasn't running at the time, so the prop wasn't spinning and therefore it didn't get all tangled in the kelp. Allan did all the things a person who does NOT want to jump into cold water at sunset might to do to clear the prop, but all for naught, so he reluctantly but bravely suited up and jumped in (tethered to the now-stopped boat, of course, lest you have sudden visions of me sailing off into the last of the sunset while he waves goodbye with a handful of kelp.) He made quick work of cutting the thick tubes wrapped tightly around the engine shaft and then gave thanks for our cockpit shower, which was warm and toasty since we'd been motoring all day.
Another fun thing was the smoke I saw wafting past the stern (back of the boat) in the middle of the night. It just caught my eye in the stern navigation light as I looked up from my LA Times September 5th crossword puzzle, which I finally had time to tackle. Stepping into the cockpit I saw lovely, blue-white billows of smoke emanating from the right/starboard engine. I summoned my inner calm, and applied logic: where there's smoke, there's (maybe) fire. IS there fire? Door to starboard engine room is cool. Open door slowly. Room is fine, no smoke, no unusual heat. So, no fire. Most likely, my logical brain said, it's condensation, but I hadn't seen it earlier in the night so it was odd. Time to wake Allan anyhow, and we agree to use scientific methods to determine what's happening - start the left/port engine, shut own the starboard, and see if the port makes the same pretty blue-white smoke. Yep. It does. Condensation. But it was a first, and we were glad to have the second engine to test the theory.
And the last fun thing for now is this, the definition of the word "catamaran" per Wikipedia: "derived from the Tamil word, kattumaram (கட்டுமரம்), means "logs bound together". However, the original kattumaram did not refer to double-hulled boats at all, but to a type of single-hulled raft made of three to seven tree trunks lashed together."
San Diego is drawing near. We'll spend a few days here getting more last, last, last, last minute things with the help of friends John and Carol, who drove down to hang out with us for a few days. We plan to head for Ensenada on Thursday night, another overnight trip that should take around 10 hours. There, new adventures in routine boat maintenance and Copper Coat bottom paint await in the Baja Naval boatyard. We'll stay through Christmas. And speaking of such things, Happy Hanukkah!
Next post: Ensenada! (And don't forget to click on the Gallery for a few new pictures.)
Tick, tick, tick.
20 November 2021 | Peninsula Marina, Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, CA
Alison Gabel | Cold! We wanna go south!
The timeline is shrinking. We hope to leave in 9 days.
At this point in the crazy prep phase, there's not much of interest to report, but we could generalize our days by saying "one step forward, two steps back, dammit, pour me a drink" and you'd be completely up to speed.
Quick summary: buy 300' of new 3/16" anchor chain, lug it into the car, out of the car, down the dock at high tide, so the ramp is flat instead of steep - a cart full of heavy chain in a wheeled cart down a steep ramp at low tide could get the better of anyone (image: Wile E. Coyote), unload the chain onto the dock, mark it with paint every 50', ponder the logistics of getting the chain into the dinghy (our floating car), under the bow (the pointy ends at the front), up onto the roller, along the guide to the windlass (the motorized gear thingy that pulls our chain up or drops it down) and ultimately into the chain locker. Well, the windlass jammed. Multiple times. Allan finally discovered that parts of it had shattered into 3 pieces. He managed to removed the shattered bits, which un-jammed the chain, and we got all 300' on board without further ado. But, we had broken bits, and needed new bits, and there's this thing we all keep bumping into called the "supply chain" which is apparently a big global mess. Luckily, the supply chain came through and we got our part, and are glad to have it now and all is fixed, while we're still tethered to dry land and the pesky supply chain is easier to access.
Multiply that by maybe 7 and you've got it. Oh, here's a good one: order 200' of line for a new halyard (the rope that hauls the sail up the 55' mast) (the tall thing in the middle) and then, when the very-sought-after rigger man makes a change in his schedule to help you with the new halyard, and spends many large and dangerous minutes (120 of them or so) going up that mast to pull that new expensive line to the top and then back down again, you discover that 200' isn't what you have. You have less. So it all comes back down, the rigger pulls the old halyard back up and into place, wraps up all his fancy mast-climbing gear and leaves.
We spend our evenings saying goodbye. Goodbye to dock neighbors, to old house neighbors, to family. We feel like we're going into space, launching toward Mars, with no chance of returning in this lifetime. But the boring fact of the matter is, we plan to come back next summer! So it's all rather anticlimactic.
Okay, so a friend said we need pictures, so I have pictures. Check the photo gallery. More later - :)
29 October 2021 | D Dock
Alison Gabel | Weather is still fabulous!
Life on Fly Aweigh continues to be interesting, and we haven't even left the dock yet.
The the variety of happenings ranges from the two of us going flat out trying to get the 14,000 things done before we leave in a month, to spending time with friends and family before we leave in a month, to noticing how fun it is living in this marina, and wondering why we're leaving in a month.
The sea lions serenade us almost 24/7 here on the end of D dock, a stereophonic cacophony of pleading and fighting and chatting and probably some whining and gossiping betwixt the herds of Zalophus californianus hauled up on the docks on either side of the marina. Tonight, we were visiting with our friend Mari on the bow (front patio) of our boat, and our conversation was seriously challenged at times, by theirs. It's not always that loud - right now just one or two are barking plaintively, but other times they are the true definition of noise.
Then there's the avian crowd. Great blue herons, little old man herons, average medium herons. Ducks. Seagulls. It all adds up to a lot of bird poop. When a great blue heron lets loose, it's like someone dumped a gallon of white or gray paint everywhere. And the adhesive qualities of bird poop are astonishing! Someone should study this. The waterbirds are a bit more polite, tend to not poop on your boat, and look cute swimming along like little submerged periscopes. Soon, hopefully before we leave in a month, the Canadian Bufflehead ducks will return! This is a serious highlight here in our harbor, it marks the real, actual entry into fall and at the end of their season, the official start of late spring. We set our watches by the Buffleheads. They come before Thanksgiving and they leave by my mom's birthday in May. I capitalize the "B" in "Bufflehead" because they are just that cool. I'll miss these graceful little bottom feeders.
The Projects: too numerous to mention, or to actually achieve, I've taken to following our friend Greg's advice and labeling them A, B or C depending on their importance. "A" jobs MUST get done before we leave in a month. It would be nice to get the "B" jobs done and will make life a lot easier if we can, but not crucial to the safe operation of the boat. And "C" jobs, well, you can guess what they are. In the "A" category: 2 new walk-on solar panels arrived today. Their arrival checked the "A" box, but installation can move to "C." "B" and "C" jobs will be attempted when we get to Ensenada to get the bottom paint done, but having the materials on board is important since getting things in Mexico can be harder than it is here, which is why a few yards of Cadet Gray Sunbrella fabric and some Phifertex (stuff you make really cool boat projects out of) also arrived today, as well as some nickel-plated grommets and a grommet tool. I'm waiting for my cool snap installing tool. We're doing our part to circulate our money in the economy to such a degree that it's like Christmas everyday. Tools, bedding, spare parts for the engine, water maker, toilets, water filters. The new radar is installed, which required hauling Allan up the mast multiple times, yielded a few new swear words and some achy muscles but in the end we have a radar that actually talks to our new nav system.
I'll admit, the whole "Blue and Pink Jobs" thing - a contested reference to the traditionally accepted tasks a man might do and those a woman might do - seem to fall pretty much in line on this boat. I'm capable of almost anything, given time. I can learn, but with goals and time constraints, it just makes sense for him to do what he's good at, and me to do what I'm good at. Since being on this boat has nothing to do with flying a big jet, my skills revert to mostly "pink" jobs, and I'm just fine with that. After being all manly and grown-up for he last 36 years of my flying career, I'm really glad to be relegated to broccoli and brown rice prep. I'm good at throw pillows, and I excel at hanging towel bars. Allan gets to cook the morning oatmeal, and I can drive, sail and park the boat, so we do some crossover stuff, but in general we line up in traditional ways. This couldn't bother me less.
A large part of my time is spent making lists. I have a list on my phone and another on the old-fashioned paper notepad in my "desk box." On a boat this size you don't get an actual desk: you get a desk box, and when it's time to do desk-y things, you get out the desk box, open your laptop, plug in the printer, and take over half of the salon table. Then, you complain about the lousy wifi and whine when you have to crawl out of your nook, and clamber over the charge cords to get a hot cup of tea of go to the loo. But it's good complaining. It's a fun life this one, I call it a Tree House life. Living in a little place with great views, compromises on all sides, and yet, the more we live it, the more we redefine the word "compromise." In many ways it's actually convenient, sensible, and streamlined.
In summary, we love it. We love the sunsets, the rocking, and the visits from friends on the weekends on kayaks, paddle boards and electric boats. We love the sea lion serenades, the birds, the sky. We love being flat out, having goals, getting things done. We love it all, and we haven't even left the dock yet. We leave in a month.
Blog Number Two: The Preparation Propagation
20 October 2021 | Peninsula Yacht Marina
Alison Gabel | Weather Today: Really nice!
We're six weeks from our proposed departure date, and deep in the throes of getting it all ready. The British 80's band The Fixx nailed it in their song "One Thing Leads to Another" ... and another, and another, until the one thing you thought you were trying to get done has propagated into at least 3 other tangent issues, and by the way, you're never trying to get just one thing done, so 6 things lead to 18 other things and pretty soon you're wondering if you'll ever leave town.
But, we've done this once before, and we did leave town, so I'm sure we will this time, too. But it is a bit like swimming in sludge. All that said, we're still happy knowing WHY we're swimming in sludge - and when we have time to stop and realize it, we're pretty excited.
Of late, our issues have included discovering (as SO many other sailors have recently discovered) that our insurance isn't going to cover us for the adventure we plan to have. The marine insurance industry these days is totally insane. Lost its' mind. Gone bonkers, and now, we're making calls. Lots of them, to people who are either trained to frustrate the crap out of you, or simply don't return your call. We're also busy with funner things like finalizing the last details of settling my mom's trust, continuing our tug-of-war with Merrill (Lynch must have retired) for some money of my mom's they don't want us to have, selling our 50hp Honda outboard and getting my little turquoise runabout ready to go into deep storage for a few years, finishing the new sail installation, ordering and installing safety equipment, and most importantly, trying to stuff all the myriad things we think we need into small holes on the boat. And that's just a mini-list.
We did manage to sneak off for 5 days to attend the Annapolis Boat Show last weekend, wow, that was a great idea! We had a wonderful time and besides getting to see some dear friends and buying lots of little needies for the boat, we discovered this important fact: this Seawind 1160 is pretty cool! She's lacking in storage space, I must say, but we can overcome that. What she does boast is a beautiful main salon (living room) with a huge settee (couch) and a unique swiveling dinette (table) all of which opens to a spacious cockpit (back deck) with wonderful views. Her galley (kitchen) is larger than most of the galleys on boats 10-15' larger, and her cabins (bedrooms) are equally comparable. In exchange for the limitation of storage space, we gain maneuverability, single-hand capabilities (one or the other of us can sail this cutie all by ourselves if need be) and an overall lower profile out there in the wilds. So we're happy. We do have boat envy when we clamber around on the 50' yachts, but we have to remember: those show boats, with the 3 perfect throw pillows and the single flower arrangement on the table are lacking real life: no backpacks, computers, note pads, pencils, headsets, or dishes litter the space, no clothes crammed in the 2' of closet space, no shoes ... (oh, the shoes!) strewn about, and no hanging mesh baskets of produce swinging from that weird spot in the galley. So when you factor all that stuff back in, the big boats win on the closet space, the shoe storage, and maybe a much bigger forward deck (a blank white canvas for birds to poop on) but we're pretty comfy on this boat.
Today I'm going to send our old mainsail to a company called Sail Bags that will turn it into just that: bags made from sails. I like it when things don't get wasted. I'm also going to start the process of figuring out how to secure our folding bikes when underway, and Allan and I are going to cut a big hole in the installed-but-not-used gray water tank under the galley floor, so we can gain a lot more sneaky storage space.
We're ordering stuff like mad and shipping it to our mail handlers, Allan's brother Mark and his wife Pam, who, according to a recent text from Mark, are only charging us a 35% handling fee for the service. (That was a joke, I think, I'll straighten that out with Mark this afternoon when I see him ...) (I'm pretty sure I can buy him off with some candy corn.)
Okay, so that's just a tiny bite of the meal we've ordered, but it's all good. We're retired! There really is no rush. We don't HAVE to leave on December 1st. At the latest, we can leave on the 3rd, so phew, no worries.
We're Back! Welcome to Fly Aweigh II.
02 October 2021 | Channel Islands Harbor
Alison Gabel | Fabulous
Today is a big day. Big, scary, exciting, sad, happy, questionable, fluid, solid. Today (September 30, 2021) marks the official start of a new phase in our lives. Today we moved out of our home and onto our boat, a 2008 Seawind 1160. In December, weather and Covid permitting, we set sail again to explore new territory and revisit old favorite places. And while things are going just as we'd planned, I have to admit, it's weird.
It's weird to think that we've sold the house in which we lived for 19 years and moved onto a floating tiny home. Weird that we're leaving the neighborhood we've come to love, saying goodbye to old neighbors and some great new ones, and lots of dear friends. Weird to think we'll no longer sit in our comfy Harry Potter Chairs by the fireplace, rehashing the day and making plans for the next, or sit on our deck at sunset and watch the great blue herons fish. No more washer and dryer conveniently located steps away in the garage. And no more big fridge - our tiny boat fridge will not accommodate my giant pot of soup, from which we nosh for a week. I need to reestablish my galley-savvy and think small. No more easy grocery storage in the pantry and the overflow shelves in the garage - it's back to removing all cardboard packaging and re-labeling food stores with one of the most important tools in life, on land or sea - the Sharpie pen, then stow the food in strange and hard-to-reach places. And mostly it's weird to think that at 63, I'm actually choosing a difficult life over the cushy sweetness that was our home.
But like so many people these days who are opting for small-space lives, whether it be a tiny home, a motor home, or a boat - we're trading convenience, routine and comfort for new adventures, and that's exactly what we're looking forward to. Unlike the last time we went cruising in 2009, when we escaped for only 2 years and ended up in Australia, we have unlimited time before us to explore as much or as little of the world as we want, and can return when we want. Not having ties is a heady feeling, and one we're grateful to experience.
A bit about the boat: s/v Fly Aweigh II was built in Australia. She's 38 feet long plus an extra 3 on the stern hulls, a modification made by the first owner, which gives us great swim steps on either side and adds a bit of length (= speed) to the waterline. So, really, she's 41' long, over 21' wide, with a small-condo feel. She has 3 sleeping cabins, but is a bit lacking in storage, so one of them will be conscripted for that job. She's very energy independent, with 945 watts of solar supplying the lithium battery bank with 800 amp hours of juice. This means we can have an electric dive compressor to fill our scuba tanks wherever we want, and we rarely need to plug in to shore power. She has a small water maker, and we'll see in the next few months if that needs to be upgraded. She's equipped with a reverse-cycle air conditioner/heater, which we've tested and find adequate to take the edge off of cold or hot weather, but we might add a diesel heater if we take her to higher latitudes.
We're splurging on new sails from our sailmaker friend Jamie Gifford on s/v Totem, and a new dinghy and motor since the dinghy is the car - we'll be very dependent on that little boat and want good comfort and reliability. (We went with an AB flat-bottom aluminum dinghy and a 15hp Tohatsu outboard.)
What else: well, I guess we'll figure it out as we go - we have lots of projects to complete before we launch. But with these Covid variants, who knows what the future holds, even 2 months from now. Maybe we'll delay our departure, or maybe we'll never even leave! If that were the case, we'd enjoy our Channel Islands and local sailing, fly our airplane, and hang with family, so it's all good, although the blog might be a little boring.
We're grateful to the buyers of our house for letting us stay 2 extra months to give us time to get through the memorial service we had in early August for my mom, who left Planet Earth at the end of May, and to also get some work done on the boat that would be difficult if we were living aboard.
And so, I officially mark this as the beginning of The Further Adventures of Allan & Alison Gabel on s/v Fly Aweigh II. And while it's trendy (and potentially lucrative!) to have a YouTube channel these days, we're camera-shy and also a bit lazy, so we'll stick to this blurb and a nice photo gallery, and hope to have a decent readership with whom to share. I do have a YouTube channel to post the occasional wildlife or adventure video, but it will be sparse offerings.
The last time we did this, in 2009 on Fly Aweigh the 1st, I set up the blog (a new-ish concept 12 years ago) just so I could write to my adventurous, yes-girl mom, who loved sailing and always hoped to do some real cruising, who relished any new experience, especially if it involved water, digging in the dirt, or buying hand-loomed fabrics at small foreign markets. She's the reason I learned to sail, she taught me to love the water and all of its' creatures, and she's the reason I'm even here - on this boat, and in this world. So I dedicate this blog to her, the immortal Margy Gates.
And so it begins. To you, Mama.
09 May 2014 | Ephesus, Turkey
I admit, I'm actually having a difficult time getting around to writing this blurb about our trip to Ephesus, because it was so cool. I'm sure that makes sense. Sometimes the words that come out after such an experience are so full of flourish and superlative, it sounds almost idiotic.
So. Ephesus: Amazing. Expansive. Eye-popping. Magnificent. The scale of it all is a bit unfathomable, like so many of the ancient civilizations around the world that are only partially unearthed: we see but a fraction of the picture, and to imagine how it looked in it's heyday is quite a mental task, especially these advanced cultures with underground plumbing and big libraries and stuff.
Underground plumbing! Steam baths! Gender-separate loo's! Like most Roman and Greek cities of it's time, the bath was an important part of the culture, and was located near the entrance. This meant all the visitors to the city arrived clean. Our guide told us that newcomers were also sent to the hospital for a checkup, to be sure they weren't importing communicable diseases. How lovely! If they weren't all so aggressive and full of the urge to conquer each other, I'd say parts of that ancient realm definitely had it going on.
We apparently started at the wrong end of the site, near where all the tourists end their walk downhill through Ephesus, which, it turns out, was a good thing. We hired an official guide at the exit gate, (there are plenty of unofficial guides who want to drag you off to carpet store after) and he shared his knowledge all the way up and around to the upper gate, where we paid him and parted ways. After a cool glass of fresh-squished pomegranate juice in the shade and a visit from a friendly pregnant kitty, we started back down, this time at our own pace, augmenting our knowledge with the Lonely Planet Guide. We spent about 30 minutes in the Terraced Houses, an add-on to the base ticket price and well worth the extra $7.50.
Six of the thousands of terraced houses have been excavated, and are still in the process of detailed reconstruction. The entire complex of rooms and houses is protected by a huge structure built about 15 years ago, and has people throughout working on restoration. When you see someone with what looks like a dental pick working meticulously on a 1" square of tile, you get a sense of the massive job of restoration it would take to put Ephesus back together. So far, about 20% of the city has been excavated. In the spaces between structures that have been reconstructed - the amphitheater, library, baths, etc., there are piles and piles of neatly stacked building components: Doric, Corinthian and Ionic columns, pilasters, lintels and doorways, blocks and pavers, plaques, tiles, and more. It was a kick for a yard sale junkie like me, with the feel if a salvage yard: wander through and take your pick!
At it's height around 0 (that's somewhere between BC and AD) Ephesus had over 250,000 people. Driving back to Marmaris Harbor that evening, we passed through a town that listed its population as 62,000. Looking at how spread out that town was, I realized how extensive Ephesus must have been. In the terraces we saw 6 homes that might accommodate a total of about 25 people; that leaves 249,975 residents, slaves, and transients that lived in palaces, homes, and apartments.
It's all quite extraordinary, and somewhat humbling when you realize how many ancient cultures like this are gone, buried beneath millennia of dust. Where will we be in 1000 years? Will anyone marvel at our libraries and plumbing systems, or the staggering number of McDonalds and Starbucks they find under it all?
By the time we wandered back to the bottom gate, it was nearing 5pm. Most of the tour busses had loaded and left, and we almost had the place to ourselves, leaving us a few minutes of quiet to sink our minds back 2000 years and see Antony and Cleopatra (who visited several times) arriving while shoppers wandered along the wide marble street, shopping for silks, spices, and other goodies.
It's definitely the kind of place you could visit several times, and because we went up and back, we've already seen it twice!
(We are standing in front of the magnificent library in the picture above, which literally takes your breath away the first time you see it.)