Gerry Kataoka


Gerry Kataoka

Travels to all continents except Antarctica. Preference for do it yourself trips, meeting locals, and learning local customs and food. I have been doing a daily travel diary through email for the last several years(mostly Asia), and received many compliments from friends. I plan to visit the following in the years to come: Turkey, eastern Canada, and Bolivia. I drove most of the length of Chile with my golf buddy in September 2009. Several African countries and safaris in 2012. The Trans Siberian Railway was completed in May, 2014, from Vladivostok to Moscow, and on to St. Petersburg. I have played golf all over the planet as well. I have been to Wimbledon and rank it behind only the Masters golf as the best sporting event in the world. I have also become more interested in our great national parks, like Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, Glacier, Teton, Yellowstone and Yosemite here in the U.S. I have completed my quest to visit all fifty states, with Michigan as number 50. I also enjoy train travel, having crossed the US three times, as well as taken the Trans Siberian, Cuzco to Machu, Canadian Pacific, and the Aurora Winter Train (Alaska). I may start on the eastern Canadian provinces, and all of the countries in South America. I am also looking for volunteer opportunities overseas now that I am semi-retired. I enjoy writing about my travels, and sharing with others who cannot travel. I also take tons of photos, which I publish.

Recent trip to Antelope Canyon, near Page, AZ was a revelation. The Navajo guide actually had me taking Ansel Adams like photos for a couple of hours. You must go!!!! South Africa and Tanzania just completed in 2012, followed by the Trans Siberian Railway in May 2014.

I also completed my "sports-fecta" with events like the Kentucky Derby, Olympics, Super Bowl, Wimbledon, Masters, Indy 500, NCAA Final Four, World Series, and NBA Finals. I also follow my favorite sports teams around the country. What is next?

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet May 24th 2019

The Blue Mosque is blue because of the hand painted, blue tiles (over 20,000) on the interior walls. Built in 1606 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmet I, this Ottoman mosque contains his tomb, a madrasa (educational institution), and a hospice. Still used as a mosque, the Sultanahmet Camii (Turkish for Blue Mosque) is a popular tourist attraction here in Istanbul. But it is closed in ninety minute segments during the five daily prayers for worshippers. Mid morning is the best time to arrive. One noticeable difference from the Hagia Sophia is the four "elephant foot' pillars. It has a central dome, flanked by four semi-domes, making it nearly square in shape. The mosque was designed as an imperial show of strength to complement the Hagia Sophia across Sultanahmet Square. It also has six minarets, ... read more
Blue Mosque
Beautiful blue tiles
View of the Blue Mosque

Middle East » Turkey » Mediterranean » Patara May 23rd 2019

I can only think of one word, a chemical element, P, number 15, Phosphorus, never found as a free element on earth. But Bosporus, the strategic waterway, is the strait between the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara. With the Dardanelles, it separates Europe form Asia. Or should I say, it connects Asia and Europe? It is only 19 miles long, and from 2.3 miles wide at the west, and only 2450 feet at its narrowest. The current here flows from north to south, but with a strong subsurface undercurrent, making navigation difficult for beginners. The strait is busy with oil tankers, and commercial ships (over 48,000 annually), along with local fishing and sightseeing boats. One hundred and forty ships take the 90 minute voyage daily. In addition, the Bosphorus has two tunnels that run underneath: ... read more
Great views
Bosporus is here!
 a bridge

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Kadıköy May 22nd 2019

We have all enjoyed kebabs of various sorts back home, including lamb (shish), beef, and chicken. I have even had fish, cheese, fruit, vegetable, and tofu kebabs in some places around the world. But what really is a kebab? In the Middle East, Asia, and the Muslim world, a kebab is any variety of grilled meats, usually on a skewer, but not always. The meat on the kebab can be ground, cut, or cubed, and may include anything that can be grilled. But rarely pork due to religious reasons. One of my favorites is the doner kebab, available throughout the world, but particularly good in this part of the world. The "Adana" kebab is quite popular here. It is made of ground beef or a combination of ground beef and lamb. Quite commonly, onion, garlic and ... read more
Lovely and tasty kebabs
kebabs and sides

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Kadıköy May 22nd 2019

I have mixed thoughts about visiting Turkey. Not just the current political turmoil, but their past history with the genocide of the Armenians. We grew up with so many Armenian families and friends in the area. They are among my best friends. And the greater Fresno area is home to a large number of Armenian Americans. But I have been anxious to visit, despite all of the issues, even the danger. Last year, as you may remember, I had one of the last visas issued to an American, and was told by the State Department NOT to go! This time, unless another war breaks out, or open hostility to tourists, namely Americans, becomes unbearable, I am going. I plan to pick and choose my spots, and most likely avoid tour groups, which seem to be an ... read more
7 hills
The sultan

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Beyoglu May 21st 2019

Istanbul has been Constantinople, and Byzantium long before becoming Istanbul. There is even a song about it: So, Take me back to Constantinople... read more
A great story
And some changes

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Kadıköy May 20th 2019

I have been waiting for many years to visit. The visit is upon me. What to see and do? How about these for a start? I want to try the famous street food, particularly the Döner kabab, which is famous throughout Europe, and parts of Asia. A few I have tasted in Europe were quite tasty, and go quite well with a cold beer. Some other dishes to try: dolmas, koftas, and of course, the ubiquitous baklava. The Hagia Sophia is the only place in the world to serve three religions. Uniquely, have breakfast in Europe with a view of Asia, then lunch in Asia with a view of Europe. In other words, a trip on the Bosphorus, often called the heart of the city. Witness a unique form of meditation, the whirling dervishes with their ... read more
Kumpir looks great!
The famous 7 hills

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet May 20th 2019

President Erdogan is opening what he claims will eventually become the world's largest air transport hub on the 95th anniversary of Turkey's establishment as a republic. It's a symbolic launch, as only limited flights will begin days later and a full move won't take place until the end of the year. Tens of thousands of workers have been scrambling to finish the airport to meet Erdogan's Oct. 29 deadline. Protests in September over poor working conditions and dozens of construction deaths have highlighted the human cost of the project. Istanbul New Airport, on shores of the Black Sea, will serve 90 million passengers annually in its first phase. At its completion in ten years, it will occupy nearly 19,000 acres and serve up to 200 million travelers a year with six runways. That's almost double the ... read more
Pretty snazzy!
Istanbul will continue to grow!

Europe » Romania » Muntenia » Bucharest May 19th 2019

This rather small, obscure country has produced four Nobel prize winners: Romania is home to four Nobel Prize laureates: George Emil Palade (medicine), Elie Wiesel (peace), Herta Müller (literature) and Stefan Hell (chemistry). Of course, Elie Wiesel is the only one most of us are familiar with. Mr. Wiesel made it his life's work to bear witness to the genocide committed by the Nazis during World War 2. He was the world's leading spokesman on the Holocaust. He was a barely alive 17 year old when the Americans opened the camp, having lost his parents and a younger sister in the camps. But he did not fight only to remember the Holocaust, he fought indifference, and saw it as a struggle for peace. His words, "The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference." He ... read more
Keep the culture alive!

Europe » Romania » Transilvania May 18th 2019

From the Romania website: "We Draculs have a right to be proud… I am the last of my kind" – Dracula, from Bram Stoker's Dracula img= say that Transylvania sits on one of Earth's strongest magnetic fields and its people have extra-sensory perception. Vampires are believed to hang around crossroads on St. George's Day, April 23, and the eve of St. Andrew, November 29. The area is also home to Bram Stoker's Dracula, and it's easy to get caught up in the tale while driving along winding roads through dense, dark, ancient forests and over mountain passes. Would you believe that Dracula translated in Gaelic as Drac Ullah means bad blood? Bram Stoker's Dracula novel was publishe... read more

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