Blogs from Turkey, Middle East - page 26


Middle East » Turkey October 16th 2014

I have to say, the Turkish take on what it means to be Muslim is very different to other countries. There is no throwing down prayer mats in the streets whenever the call to prayer is heard 5x day as Su has seen done in Egypt (the Turks generally feel such displays of devotion are ostentatious), that prayer at home is very acceptable, that gays are acceptable, that women don't have to wear head-scarves or burkas, and that women have equal rights to men. We've enjoyed learning about it as lived in Istanbul. The change is attributed to The Father of The Nation, Mustaffa Attaturk, who decided many decades ago to look to the west for Turkey's future. Hence the Turkish language is in the Western alphabet not Arabic script. The age of civilisation here is ... read more

Middle East » Turkey October 16th 2014

Traveled to Lake Beysehir on the Silk Route. Stopped at a Sultan Hani (early version of a truck stop or motel) for the Caravans. These were about 25 miles apart and offered a place to rest and restock for animals and people. There was a mosque in the middle of the courtyard and surrounded by rooms for the travelers. Visited one of the most popular tourist spots for the Turkish people -- Mevlana Museum which honors the Sufi order of the Mevlevi, Whirling Dervishes. The famous 13th century poet and lyricist, Rumi preached of tolerance, forgiveness and enlightenment. He died in 1273. The museum has tombs of several Dervish abbots. Muslim's hold this order in very high regard by visitors from all over Turkey (much more than international travelers). Visiting the museum was meaningful after witnessing ... read more
Mevlana Museum of Whirling Dervishes
Iman talk in Mosque
Budak Village women

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Fethiye October 16th 2014

Leaving Iran on 15th was easy, a 20km jolly to border, somehow managed to mislay my guide again! and they ushered me into border region quickly. But so many 'fixers' and money changers, all a bit of a shame compared to the easy pace in Iran. Mr Yazd came to Iran side of border with me, to help clear the carnet document, requires 3 different signatures, then quick Xray of bike on Turkish side, all done by 10:30. While Mount Ararat was looking down from just 20km, hazy from Iran side, quite clear while was doing border paperwork, but then clouded over when ready to take photo. So run across Turkey was abit rushed, with ISIS & refruggees crossing up from south, violence in some of the western cities (UK foreign office advice none too possitive), ... read more
Leaving Iran
Mount Ararat
Download pic of Ararat

Middle East » Turkey October 15th 2014

Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow. We are reeling from Istanbul's ancient sights, the smell of food absolutely everywhere and I really mean that as food is a huge part of their culture, the noise of a busy city of 15 million people and the necessary trams, buses, cars and bikes that whiz around the narrow cobblestone streets in the old part of the city, and of course the colour of the pottery, rugs, silks, cottons, wools and jewellery. We arrived earlyish yesterday and were met by a guide at the airport and driven to our little hotel...just 3 rooms on our floor and there are 6 floors, although the place does have a suite and a couple of two-bedroom options, so overall it's tiny. We are the only guests!!! The tourist season is tapering off ... read more

Middle East » Turkey October 15th 2014

We began our day with a stroll through Taksim square, past the monument of Atatürk dragging his countrymen into the future and down Istiklal street... a charming meander along a pedestrian street with shops, restaurants and at least 5 Starbucks. We decided to return to a belle epoch building with lots of restaurants to celebrate Steve's birthday. On to the small but lovely Kariye museum for a view of Byzantine mosaics on a small scale then on to Hagia Sophia to see things on a grand scale. My sister Amy joined us for dinner not realizing that the police might tear gas protestors including our restaurant. When the smoke settled literally, we walked the mile back to our hotel past cordons and busloads of polis, having experienced the discomfort of tear gas.... read more

Middle East » Turkey October 15th 2014

Up early for balloon ride over Cappadocia. After the ride, we had a toast of Champagne which was fun as we watched the pilot's crew deflate the balloon. This ride was magical over the fairy castles. We then departed for Uchisar where we walked among the town and the fairy castle homes. Many of the people live in these cave-homes and it was an interesting journey through town, looking into their homes. We had tea on the balcony of one which had an absolutely spectacular view. The tufa rocks are as high as 250 feet so one can imagine how impressive these structures are. In ancient times the people used pigeon dung to fertilize their crops. They carved out small holes in the rock for the pigeons to enter into a cave room where the pigeons ... read more
Balloon close-up shot.
Our balloon budies.
Cappadocia Balloon ride

Middle East » Turkey October 14th 2014

We visited a middle school today, grade 6. The visit was not a pleasant experience as the 5th graders were unruly. The new teacher was overwhelmed with these children and was trying to teach them English for the first time. Just last year the country made it compulsory to finish 12th grade (vs. 8th). They will begin English in 2nd grade. After the visit we traveled to a neighboring village where we met with the Muhtar (Governor) of the village of 266 people. This gentleman met with us, explained his duties and answered questions. He is the go-between of the village with the larger regional government. He trouble shoots things such as sewage problems. He keeps records of births, deaths, marriages, education issues etc. The village is made up of farmers and most young are leaving ... read more
Farmer's  market.
Saying good-bye!
Middle school visit in Hacibektas

Middle East » Turkey October 13th 2014

Up at 3:45 a.m to get to the airport for an early flight to Cappadocia (450 miles). Visited another UNESCO site, Kayseri. This region is like no other in the world. GIANT rock formations over thousands of years in what is called tufa rock which is a soft white volcanic rock. These are tall cones & columns that dot the entire region that spreads for miles. Everything is quite dusty and the people in the area have a high level of cancer due to the volcanic white dust that almost looks desert-like. People have lived inside these formations for years, carving out not only houses but entire cities. These housing sites are actually caves and in ancient times, were used to hide the early Christians from their enemies who wanted to take over the fertile land. ... read more
Goreme -- Fairy Chimneys
Open Air Museum
Ancient church

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Fethiye October 12th 2014

We traveled south today stopping in Sultankoy at a government-sponsored rug factory. An al fresco lunch was served on the complex with a wonderful local wine--Solon. En route to Göcek we stopped in Aydin as one of our group needed medical attention. We were late arriving at the harbor to board the gulet, a replica of a traditional Turkish fishing boat with a crew of 3 named Viagio nella speranza. Late--but delicious--dinner on the boat!... read more
Day 9 Sultankoy
Day 9 Sultankoy (3)
Day 9 Sultankoy (2)

Middle East » Turkey October 12th 2014

Day 4 -- October 12 (Sunday) -- Today was a busy, busy day. We visited The Blue Mosque with the 6 beautiful Minerets, just outside of our hotel. It is called The Blue Mosque because of the beautiful blue tiles inside but frankly, we have seen nicer tiles elsewhere (later in the trip, at some smaller mosques). This mosque is HUGE and we got to go inside for the tour. It was built in 1609-1616 by Sultan Ahmet I. We also visited the Hagia Sophia, "the church of the Divine Wisdom". We can definitely understand why our brother-in-law, Michael Bleday, who recently passed away, loved visiting Turkey and this former Greek Orthodox Church. It was completed in AD 537 and is an architectural wonder. It was home of the Greek Orthodox Church for almost a thousand ... read more
Inside domes of Blue Mosque.
Funeral Hearse

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