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

Cruising the Bosporus As someone obsessed with the sea, I could not go to Istanbul and not take a cruise on the Bosporus. So I booked this activity before leaving for my trip to Turkey. A simple google search could have saved me some money . I paid $89.00 for the same cruise offered at ten Turkish Lira ($5.00) in Istanbul. The only added benefit was that we had a boat chartered by the tour company and a guide , but we had to pay for our drinks ( tea , orange juice ) and they were not cheap . So let me give my travel tip right off : You can take the same cruise for 10.00 Turkish Lira (about $5) or even take a public ferry for less than $5.00. The scenery from the boat was overwhelming .  It was nice to have a guide that gave us information about the scenery and about Bosporus like how deep the water was when we reached the point where it was the deepest (300 feet ). We were on a 2-hou

Turkey: Near the End of a Long Road Trip

The Road to Ankara Leaving the rocky , archaic and lunar-looking terrain of Cappadocia we took to the road for Ankara past beautiful snow-capped mountains and green valleys . I looked forward to seeing the sheer grandeur of the mountains and the immensity of the sky again from the Silk Road we passed on our way to Cappadocia a few days earlier – a landscape whose purity gave me such a feeling of being alive . However , we took a different route . Past the beautiful snow-capped mountains , the road lead 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 th

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 that the drive to Antalya was one of the most beautiful in Turkey. However , the drive to Cappadocia was even more beautiful . We drove past rolling hills and past monumental skies and climbed up mountain passes surrounded by beautiful landscape – majestic mountains with alternating

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