Showing posts from May, 2014

Postcards from the Holy Land

From Bethlehem

From the Old City of Jerusalem

A Mix of Religious and Secular 
Doing the station of the cross at Via Dolorosa 

and walking the souk.

Istanbul, Turkey: Back in the City of Romance

Cruisingthe Bosporus
As someone obsessed with the sea, I could not go to Istanbul and not take a cruise on the Bosporus. So I bookedthisactivity before leavingfor my trip to Turkey. Asimple google search could havesaved me somemoney. I paid $89.00 forthesamecruiseoffered at ten Turkish Lira ($5.00) in Istanbul. The only addedbenefitwasthatwehad a boatchartered by thetourcompanyand a guide, butwehad to payfor our drinks (tea, orangejuice) andtheywere not cheap. Solet me give my traveltiprightoff: You can takethesamecruisefor 10.00 Turkish Lira (about $5) oreventake a publicferryforless than $5.00.

Thescenery from theboatwasoverwhelming.  It was nice to have a guidethat gave us information about the scenery andabout Bosporus like howdeepthewaterwaswhenwereachedthepointwhereitwasthedeepest (300 feet). Wewere on a 2-hour cruise that started in Eminonu. Wesaw a row of menthrowingfishinglines from thebridge. Theview beyond thewatervaried. Both on thehillsideandwater’s edgewerethemost…

Turkey: Near the End of a Long Road Trip

The Road to AnkaraLeavingtherocky, archaicand lunar-looking terrain of Cappadocia wetook to theroadfor Ankara pastbeautiful snow-capped mountainsandgreenvalleys. I lookedforward to seeingthesheergrandeur of themountainsandtheimmensity of theskyagain from the Silk Road wepassed on our way to Cappadocia a fewdaysearlier – a landscapewhosepuritygave me such a feeling of beingalive. However, wetook a differentroute. Past thebeautiful snow-capped mountains, theroadlead to flatlands.

We drove for hour after hour, passing empty spaces of land before reaching a nomadic village. I saw men laying carpets out on the dusty road (our guide said that they did it to make the carpet look antique). Had our guide not said that it was a nomadic village, I would not have been able to tell the difference where people lived in that nothingness, walking, trying to make a carpet look antique - an honest living for them -, I guessed. We visited an elementary school where the children behaved like any schoolch…

Cappadocia: A Fairy Tale Landscape

Turkey:  A 2000-Mile Road Trip, Part 6 Cappadocia: A Fairy Tale Landscape

I had a few friends and acquaintances that went on hiking expeditions and ballooning over Cappadocia and raved about their experience. When I told an acquaintance that I was going to Cappadocia, she recommended that I stay at a cave hotel owned by her old Cal Berkeley professor, one of the modern-day troglodytes who gave up teaching and returned to Turkey to dig in and carve out a niche (pun intended) in Cappadocia’s booming tourism industry. I had seen the Cappadocia landscape featured in travel magazines. So I came to Cappadocia with very high expectations.

I mentioned in an earlier blog thatthedrive to Antalya was one of themostbeautiful in Turkey. However, thedrive to Cappadocia wasevenmorebeautiful. Wedrovepastrollinghillsandpastmonumentalskiesandclimbed up mountainpassessurrounded by beautifullandscape – majesticmountains with alternating greensandnaked bedrocks of grayand red, snow-capped mountainsandmo…

Pamukkale: Walk of a Lifetime

Turkey:  A 2000-Mile Road Trip, Part 5 Pamukkale:  Walk of a Lifetime I did not set my expectations too high from the place we were about to visit; described in our itinerary as “Necropolis and the ancient city of Hierapolis (Holy City) atop the Pamukkale hot springs, which together constitute a World Heritage Site,” I imagined that we would see more ruins. I admit I yawned at the presence of the gods, rather the remnants of the statues of gods and goddesses in the ruins we visited earlier on this road trip. Not that I was not that interested in great art and culture, but I found as much culture in Instagramming a photo of a landscape, and more into adventure travel. So imagine my delight when our guide suddenly announced that we should be able to bathe in the ancient Roman pools, walk for an hour and hike uphill.

I never heard of Pamukkale before. Situated at the crossroads of ancient history and commerce, and archeological diversity of Hierapolis (religious buildings and temple…