Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Great Ottoman Empire.

T
hough its lands were once occupied by the Romans and the Byzantines, modern day Turkey has largely been shaped by more than 600 years of Ottoman rule.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A-whirlin' they will go.


K
nown more commonly as the Whirling Dervishes, the Mevlevi order is a mystic group of Sufi muslims who are followers of Mevlâna Jelaleddin Rumî, a great Persian poet and mystic. The Mevlevi order was founded in 1273 following Rumi's death. Turkey is home to the Mevlevi and Lei and I are hoping that we will be able to catch a live performance while we are in Istanbul.

What we have come to recognize as a music and dance performance is actually a form of worship known as the "sema". The sema symbolizes man's attainment of the various levels of mystical union with God and of absolute perfection through spiritual fervor and controlled ecstasy. The whirling is derived from Rumî's habit of occasionally whirling in ecstatic joy in the streets of Konya, Turkey which was his home for most of his life.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bed, bath and beyond.

Lobby of the pension we'll be staying at in Istanbul. Can you tell the owner has a love of Turkish lamps? :-)

T
hanks to Lei's persistent efforts, we have accommodations for all the places that we'll be travelling to but the one in Fethiye which is currently closed for the season and we have to call back in April. Lei is worried about getting her visas in time so the earlier we have accommodations picked out, the better for her in case she needs to provide this information on her visa application form(s).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fethiye and the Turquoise Coast.


F
ethiye (pronounced "Fet-thee-yah") sits on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos, built in the 5th century BC. All that remains of Telmessos today are the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheatre that's situated alongside Fethiye's habor and numerous Lycian rock tombs dating from the 4th century BC carved in the hillside above the town.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Of new liras and kunas.

Iam fascinated with currency. Over the years, I have collected bills and coins from all the countries I've ever been to. It's not just that foreign currency bills are more colorful than US "greenbacks" but because they often reflect the country's history which are very often much more tumultuous than US history. Current day Turkish currency reflects recent economic strife and Croatian currency, recent political strife.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cappadocia. Am I on the moon?


T
he first time I saw a picture of Cappadocia (pronounced "Cap-a-doh-kee-ya"), I was completely mesmerized by the what I saw on the pages of the magazine - a landscape unlike any that I had ever seen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Planning Queens.


No kidding. It took Lei and I about 15 minutes to come up with the start and end dates for our trip, a preliminary list of the places we want to go to and even a rough idea of the things we want to do e.g., hot air balloon over Cappadocia, shopping in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Memories of Moscow - Red Square and the Kremlin.



When Lei and I were trying to decide on where to go in 2008, Lei mentioned that she would like to travel to Russia. Back in 1996, I had a work assignment that took me to Moscow, Russia. When I got home from work that night, I pulled out the photos of my trip to Moscow, my journal and was overcome by a flood of fond memories!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Going, not going?

Turkey is the only country in the world that straddles two continents - Europe to the west and Asia to the east. It also shares its southern and eastern borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran - three countries that most of us associate with terrorist violence.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Where are we going next?



T
he voice at the other end of the phone line belonged to my friend Lei. We travelled together through Egypt and Jordan in early 2007 and we got along so well on that trip that we decided that we would continue to travel together when opportunities presented themselves.