Blogs from Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Marmara, Turkey, Middle East


Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet June 6th 2019

Somehow, these emails were not sent, and were actually "lost" until I retrieved them here at home. I apologize for sending them all at once. As I may have mentioned, Istanbul is a great city, perhaps a top ten in my personal book of cities. I hope to return some day and see more of this wonderful country. They are most welcoming, love Americans, and have a strong infrastructure to support all types of tourism. And of course, my favorites, among many favorites, was the Grand Bazaar, a total feast for the senses. Only in Istanbul II 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 ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet June 2nd 2019

I just read where kidnapping is now on the State Department's risk indicators for travelers to some countries I am visiting or visited in the past. From Fodor's: On April 9, the U.S. State Department announced that it’s added kidnapping to the risk indicators on its travel advisories. Countries where U.S. citizens face the potential risk of being kidnapped or taken hostage will now be marked with a “K” on their respective travel advisory page, alongside previous indicators like crime, terrorism, and natural disasters. The new indicator has been applied to the 35 following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia/... read more
The ransom note
Even in San Francisco!

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet May 28th 2019

The Hagia Sophia, built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral in 537 CE, was a mosque under Ottoman rule after 1453. It became a museum after the founding of modern Turkey in 1935. Prior to the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520, Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world for about 900 years. It attracts over 3 million tourists a year. It has been standing for over 1400 years. It was converted to a museum by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. Totally amazing is the fact that the church has been destroyed twice by riots. First built in Constantinople in 360 CE and dedicated by the Roman Emperor Constantius II (son of Constantine, the founder of Constantinople), the initial, wood-constructed Hagia Sophia burned during a series of riots in 404 CE. ... read more
Beautiful on the inside
An architectural wonder
I made my wish at the weeping pillar

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 » 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!

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet September 4th 2018

Turkey, December 2012 - January 2013 Day 1 We have arrived, probably yesterday evening? I’m writing this based on my handwritten notes in 2018, five years later so… The first full day goes by wandering around Old Town, hoods of Sultan Ahmed mosque or Blue Mosque as it’s also known as. This area is quite touristy but necessary to appreciate the heritage and history. We end up visiting Blue Mosque twice because the visiting hours are unknown to us. Suppose checking timetables prior to visiting wouldn’t be such a bad idea. It is closed for prayers in between as it is still functioning as a mosque and not just as a tourist attraction. It has continued serving as a mosque from the beginning of 17th century. Details and the building itself is fascinating. Hagia Sofia is ... read more
pamukkale limestone 2
pamukkale guard

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet May 18th 2018

Arriving back from Egypt meant a trip to the cinema with the Movie group we have all been waiting for the release of Infinity Wars which in my opinion was brilliant. A few days later we went out for after work drinks, I don’t do it often because it is expense here, I left early because I am going kayaking in the morning. I left early the next morning picking Chris, Rina and Arthur up as we made our way to Abu Dhabi’s Mangroves National Park. Today we would Kayak about seven kilometres through the mangrove canals and it is damn hot for early May. I love kayaking and the others seemed to enjoy paddling through the park as much as I did, a bit more wildlife would have been good though. A few days later ... read more
City wall
City wall

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet June 6th 2016

Today is the first day of Ramadan, when observant Muslims don't eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset. I found out that this rule doesn't apply to the local stray dogs when I encountered a few on top of the old city walls and one of them gave me a nip on the ankle. This led to an interesting involvement with the Turkish health service. The first hospital I went to doesn't give rabies shots. You may also find this surprising, given that the city is full of stray dogs and cats. They sent me to another hospital where I joined the locals in pressing myself forward for service, despite their attempt to assign numbers to each patient. I eventually got a jab and went to a pharmacy for two kinds of antibiotics. My system ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet June 4th 2016

I think that Istanbul has as good a claim to be an Eternal City as Rome has - perhaps even better, since Istanbul has been an important city continuously since Constantine chose it has the capital of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, thus driving Rome into decline for centuries. One really visible sign of this continuity is Aya Sofya, the huge Byzantine church built in the 6th century which was preserved virtually intact over the ages because when Moslems captured the city they converted it to a mosque. No building in Rome from that time survives (with one exception) because they were all used as stone quarries by mediaeval peasants. (The exception is the Pantheon which survived because it was made of non-reusable concrete!) I walked around the old core of the city quite ... read more

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