'Round the World with David and Ron
The Boys are Abroad!
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12/23/07
Ron in Istanbul or Constantinople or perhaps Byzantium
Filed under: Turkey
Posted by: @ 8:07 pm

Merry Christmas!!!


So I’m a month late with this entry. I guess that’s only two weeks later than usual, but this time I’m home. Oh what a joy it is to be home: My dogs and cats, my job and routine. The routine maybe the thing I missed the most. This might be a function of age. When I traveled in my 20’s (I spent 14 weeks traveling around the Mediterranean) I didn’t have to plan much or call home to see how things were. It all seemed so carefree. Not now…

Istanbul was our brick wall. We had been traveling for so long and seen and done so much that we couldn’t absorb much more. It was cold and rainy and I can hear you saying, “They should have felt right at home…” If we went in the spring or summer and saw more of the country our experience would be much different. Despite all that, we had a good time and saw some sites.


Tom Hitt joined us in Turkey, a face from home greeted us on our arrival.


We stayed in a comfortable hotel near the college where the conference was held. It was right on the Golden Horn, a large river that feeds into the Bosporus.


Our room was the middle balcony. They didn’t speak much English, but were mostly accommodating and it was a safe place to come home to after a long day.
It was about 1/2 mile walk to the conference. Here are some of the things we saw:


The road has been built up over the years and this building has managed to remain despite slowing disappearing.


These women were just there one day, the one in black is praying and the older women is taking a break.


This wise face was too good to pass up.
The Bacilica Cistern is located across from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia.


It was my favorite cool thing that I saw while there. Over 2 acres large with 336 columns.


This Medusa head is at the bottom of one of the columns.


Many of the capital, columns and stonework were scavenged from prior centuries temples and architechture.

We took a ferry from the Golden Horn to the Black Sea.


This is as we left. It takes about two hours one way with a three hour layover. This is the Black Sea.


This was one of the first forts built by the Ottoman’s before they defeated the Romans.


The Bosporus was filled with jellyfish. More than I’ve ever seen. I think they are an indicator of increasing pollution.

We got a chance to attend on opening at the Archaeological Museum of Turkey.


This is the Alexander Sarcophagus. It’s from for 4th century BC. It is suprisingly intact for how old and detailed it is…


This is one of the minarets at Hagia Sophia. I took this on the way to the museum.

This is a crowd scene in Taksim: The heart of modern Istanbul.


This was taken in the Topkapi Palace. The home of the Sultan’s prior to the 1800’s


And finally the spice market. We loved the spice market. It was an easy walk from the hotel and had endless things to see and buy.

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Turkey
Filed under: Turkey
Posted by: @ 7:15 pm

Dear Turkey,

I hate to tell you this but you smoke too much. Now I have been known to enjoy a fag now and then myself, but this is crazy. You smoke everywhere and it’s not just cigarettes. There are those venders roasting chestnuts and corn on the cob on the street corners… I have to tell you that I decided to see what corn roasted over an open flame tasted like and I think it is a mean thing to do to a piece of corn. It tasted something like leather mixed with those old maids at the bottom of a bowl of popcorn. I think you could just let that bit of cuisine go… there I have helped already, but back to the tobacco products. Do you really need to smoke in the grocery stores? I know that I come from a whiney neck of the woods with a government that is always trying to save us from ourselves. Yes, we go too far sometimes but you smoke in Starbucks! I’m just saying that you might consider creating a few safe zones for those who don’t wish to be part of the smoke-in. The smokers grumble in other parts of the world that have adopted no-smoke-zones but it seems like we get used to it and then come here and can’t believe that we used to smoke in peoples homes who did not smoke themselves. With all that America has to be embarrassed about right now, perhaps I should hold my tongue but Turkey you stink…

Istanbul has been an interesting place, very old and located on a lovely piece of water-riddled real estate.

I have had work to do here so I taught a class and gave a lecture and now that is done and I am glad. We did have a few opportunities to see some of the major sites and there are some worth looking at.


(Spice Market-better of the two large markets)


(Blue Mosque as seen from Hagia Sofia.)

Istanbul is an ancient city that has had a tumultuous history that it seems to be somewhat indifferent towards. I love to see the history of a place and try to imagine how it was when old was new. I want to look at the old but my impression is that current Istanbul is more interested in showing the new. There are a lot of old pieces of this place that are in need of a good fix up and some neighborhoods that have great potential and a high quaint quotient but I guess no one really likes to be quaint, so much of what I was interested in is about to fall over. It seems like this place has not yet reached consensus as to what it wants to be but it has enormous potential and I hope to keep an eye on it.

David

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