Blogs from Istanbul, Marmara, Turkey, Middle East


Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul April 25th 2023

When I strolled through the vibrant streets of Istanbul, I was instantly captivated by the city's unique blend of history, culture, and breathtaking architecture. Turkey has been an unforgettable chapter in my travel journey, and Istanbul, in particular, has stolen a piece of my heart. This city, where East meets West, offers a mesmerizing fusion of the ancient and the modern, making it a true paradise for history enthusiasts and architecture lovers like myself. One of the most awe-inspiring aspects of Istanbul's skyline is its magnificent mosques, each with its own story and architectural flair. After spending countless hours exploring these sacred sanctuaries, I've narrowed down my three favorites, which I believe are an absolute must-visit for anyone traveling to Istanbul. The Süleymaniye Mosque: A Majestic Masterpiece Perched atop one of Istanbul's seven hills, the Sü ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul January 23rd 2023

I had a 24 hour (once my flight was delayed) stay in Istanbul so I decided to take advantage of the time and go see the sites! Turkish Airlines offers a free tour of the city for any passengers with a long layover. I generally am not one for group tours, but I thought I would at least join for the bus right into town. I ended up staying with the group for the first half of the day where I met some interesting travelers from around the world. I learned that Istanbul is the largest city of Europe with 15 million people beating out Moscow at 12 million people. While it was busy and crowded, I am not sure I would have guessed it to be the largest. We started the day visiting the Hagia ... read more
Hagia Sofia Mosque
Hagia Sofia Mosque
Hagia Sofia Mosque

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet January 22nd 2023

What is the real truth about jet lag? Well, I know it is real, as I have suffered greatly over the years. And for a while, it got worse with age. One secret, which is not really a secret, is to time your flights to fit your sleep schedule. This, of course, assumes you can sleep on a plane or train. A red eye to the east coast was my normal flight for many years. I would have a nice dinner at home, take a little nap, shower, then head to the airport for a late night/early morning flight to Washington, DC, Boston, New York, or Hotlanta. But truth be known, I was not always at my best the next day, often falling asleep before, during, or after dinner! Another secret is that I am really ... read more
Out of kilter?
Where am I?

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul November 27th 2022

I am combining our last two days into one blog…Last of Jordan and an evening in Istanbul. Friday was our last full day in Jordan, and time to head back to Amman to turn the car in and get ready to leave Saturday morning. As we packed up and left the Petra Marriott, dark clouds and lots of wind were starting to gather. We were grateful that the day before we had great weather and weren’t attempting to visit Petra in the wind and drizzle. As we drove the 3 hours to Amman, we had spurts of rain which didn’t look to be letting up. Luckily the drive was easy, the car was dropped off and we were settled into the Amman Sheraton with a nice suite. We had thought of doing a dinner out, but ... read more
Blue Mosque
Opening up the pot was a production!
View from our room in Petra

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet November 19th 2022

Winter in Europe is something I have never really experienced. I am not big on the European Christmas markets throughout northern Europe. But I am not crazy about cold, wet, rainy, snowy, icy weather. So, even though I start and end this trip in Munich, I am already thinking of warmer climes. This does present a problem with what to pack, whether colder and warmer weather. But I can always ditch the cold weather clothes, meaning donating to either the homeless or to a charity. Or, as my brother often did in our youth, just bring a pair of scissors, and make some instant Bermuda shorts. Given a choice, I would always choose Greece. After all, I have my "adopted" Greek brothers there, Stavros, Giorgos, and Vasilis. And there are many parts of Greece I have ... read more
Or a Cape Town sunset
Somewhere warm is better!

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet November 16th 2022

Well, for one thing, I get a free layover of about 18 hours, between my connection from Munich to my flight home from Istanbul to SFO. So, why not take advantage of this layover, spend the night in a decent hotel, instead of spending the night in the airline business class lounge? I was just here in May, 2019, just before the pandemic hit in early 2020. I spent about a week here, with a local guide. He was a friend of a friend, of Mr. Mike. And he was excellent. I was able to hit all of the highpoints of Istanbul, as well as take the harbor cruise throughout the Bosporus. But the real reason for returning is simply for the Turkish Delight. I brought back a kilo last time, thinking it was too much. ... read more
Love the food on display
The famous Blue Mosque

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet October 12th 2022

From Conde' Nast: Here are the global top 10 airports as voted by readers: RankingAirport/CodeStandout features1.... read more
Turkish air lounge Istanbul
Polaris by UAL

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul June 27th 2022

An action-packed few days in Istanbul. Given that we had been here before (twice for me) and I thought the girls might tire of mosques and palaces, I looked into a few unique experiences to kick off the holiday. Yesterday morning started with an impressive breakfast overlooking the port (cause you can never really get away from the wonder of freight) before a stroll through Sultanahmet and a Turkish coffee to shake off the call to prayer early morning wake up. Just next to Topkapi palace, we visited an art shop where the owner (who had a degree in Fine Arts) showed us the art of paper marbling or Ebru. She explained to us the materials and techniques involved - some stuff to make the water more jelly-like and ox bile to make the pigments more ... read more
Blue Mosque
Aya Sofia
Love me, pat me, give me attention…oh, ok then…

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul » Sultanahmet June 25th 2022

Travelling in the post pandemic world is full of stress and uncertainty- cancellations, staff shortages, queues. It is, then, a miracle to behold that two travelling parties, their origins on two separate continents can agree to meet on a third continent and arrive within 30 people in the passport queue. Particularly when one of those parties can answer with genuine ignorance when he’s asked upon boarding his flight from Tanzania what his onward travelling arrangements from Turkey are. So, we have arrived in Istanbul, pleasantly stress-free compared to the last trip, but not lacking in vomit. After settling in to our apartment and admiring the view, we had a wander around Sultanahmet, refuelled the tanks, rekindled our love for Efes and enjoyed some warmth. A Turkish feast in a beautiful garden before the whinging about fatigue ... read more
First of many Turkish feasts
Beautiful garden restaurant
22 hours of this…

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul June 5th 2022

Here we are, back on the road! Imagine, we are not yet at the half mark of 2022...and suddenly Covid is feeling so far away. I have to admit, my friends left in China do have a very different view about the issue...being on hard lockdown in Shanghai for 76 days while the world is enjoying a new freedom to travel is not what you are awaiting for as an expat. I guess for them too freedom will come...rather soon than later! First stop, a little food and shopping one in Istanbul. Tanya has seen the city...and I've been here few times, but it's a first together. Friday night flight on Turkish Airways from Joburg was fully booked. I may be gold level with them, funny enough, it's my first long-haul with them. Clearly better than ... read more
Riding the Bosphorus...
Cat having a nap after exchange his hard earn money!!!
Beautiful Istanbul...

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