Archive for the ‘On Tour’ Category:


NE Turkey – Sites Seen and Unseen

astern Turkey beckons once again and we land in Trabzon ready to start our trek south following the borders.  Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria all share Turkey’s eastern border and stretch out before us for the next fourteen days. The Black Sea laps at the city’s shore along the ribbon of new highway spanning the north coast of Turkey.   Although Trabzon is familiar to me from previous visits sadly on this visit there is one site that we will not be visiting.  The church of Aya Sophia of Trabzon has been recently converted from a museum to a mosque.  This 13th c structure is a wonderful

Hot Air Balloons – Aloft in Cappadocia, Turkey

hile traveling in Western Turkey this fall with a great group of friends from Vancouver I wrote a couple of posts that I did not put online.  Not posting only reflects how engaged I was with the group and the fun that we had along the way.  Here is an account of hot air ballooning in Cappadocia.  It was definitely a highlight of our travels together.  The morning was extraordinarily clear, a perfect day….. Turkey is a land of  infinitely  varied geography with the region of Cappadocia being among the most unique and with incredible surreal topography.  That being said, what better way to view the fairy chimneys, valleys  and caves but from the air?  A literal bird’s eye view.

Mountaintop Morning at Termessos on Turkey’s South Coast

urkey’s south coast is a great antidote to the busy streets and bazaars of Istanbul. It did not take much to encourage the hikers in the group to abandon their beds in the restored Ottoman houses of our hotel in the Old City in Antalya and to head to the mountains inland to the ancient archeological site of Termessos. One hour outside of the city and we are into Gulluk Dagi National Park. The road winds up the steep mountainside with hairpin turns until we reach a parking lot and the beginning of the hiking trails. Our day is perfection, not a cloud in the sky and the early morning coolness makes the uphill climb a comfort. Here we are at Termessos, the home of the Somian culture of ancient times. The first recorded reference to this city is in the Illiad in the 7th BC. Alexander the Great laid siege to this city in the 3rd c BC but w as unable to conquer these people and moved on with his troops after losing

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Sunday Morning Rambles in Beyoglu, Istanbul

unday evening is our start to our travels together in Western Turkey and guests from Vancouver are arriving en route via France, Switzerland, Italy and America. Of the twelve people who have joined us for this tour in Western Turkey two couples who arrived a day early express their wish to attend a Catholic mass on Sunday morning. We meet an hour early in Taksim Square and walk the side streets off of the main walking street of Istiklal through Beyoglu, the 19th c European quarter of Pera in Istanbul before arriving at the neo Gothic church of St Anthony of Padua. After mass we walk down the hill along a street loaded with musical instrument shops past the Galata tower, a 14th c construct of the Genoese in Constantinople. Along the way we pick up a glass of freshly squeezed…

Day Trip from Mardin to Dara – SE Turkey

he week before it was time to come home from Turkey my daughter Leah and I took a short trip to Mardin in the Southeast of Turkey.  Our time was a combination of putting our feet up and relaxing and also exploring some nearby sites and cities that I had never visited previously. One such morning we set aside some time for a trip to Dara.  Dara is a village built on the site of ruins dating back to the 6th c BC.  The name harkens back to King Darius the Persian king

Fall 2013 – Eastern Turkey: The Land Beyond

ooking ahead to the fall of next year we have travel planned for Eastern Turkey October 4th -18th, 2013.  We will start and end our trip in Istanbul with an internal flight to the city of Trabzon on the Black Sea in the northeast of Turkey close to the Georgian border. Then we will return to Istanbul from Gaziantep in the southeast corner of Turkey.   Travel in eastern Turkey provides glimpses of landscape, culture and traditions that appear to have remained unchanged for centuries.  The same travel includes insight into the monumental changes that are impacting the region.  Highways, massive dams and sophisticated agricultural undertakings exist side by side with the very old. I personally love to tour the ancient sites of Eastern Turkey.  I love the experience of not being with masses of people as we wander through monasteries, palaces, abandoned ruins of bygone cities or hike in the Taurus Mountains above a lakeside village.  My imagination is lured back in time when on the Mesopotamian plain, when in Sanliurfa (birthplace of Abraham)

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A TURKISH GIFT

  hinking back of gifts given and received and some of the best memories I have are of the unexpected gifts. A meaningful gift arrived in the hands of a Turkish child. Jack and I were on a road trip driving north from the Mediterranean through the Taurus Mountains. We were traveling on a religious holiday (Kurban Bayram) and were uncertain as to whether or not we would find restaurants open midday along the way.  This uncertainty about our lunch destination was reason enough to plan a picnic and the weather was mild and lovely, so inviting for a meal outdoors.  What better way to break up the hours of driving to our final destination in Cappadocia than to plan a picnic en route?   On our way out of Antalya we stopped at the local market.    Fresh cheeses, olives shiny and varied, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers along with seasonal fruit were all piled from the stalls into our basket.  As an after thought we picked a perfect watermelon which we thought we would enjoy

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CARPETS AND KILIMS – FROM THE SHEEP’S BACK TO YOUR FLOOR

    arpets stacked high, kilims by the meter, in Istanbul this wealth of colour, design, texture and tradition share a commonality of being made of wool.  Old and antique weavings or pieces right off of the loom all started out ‘on the hoof’, wool or hair on the backs of sheep or goats. I have a strong image of the first flock of sheep I saw grazing in the distance on a hillside in Cappadocia.  The shepherd was visible at the rear of the flock as they grazed against the surrealistic landscape that defines Cappadocia.  It seemed an ancient image to me.  In fact research would indicate that the practice of animal husbandry spans the past 8000 years in Anatolia. On our travels in Eastern Turkey one day as we were driving across the Mesopotamian plain towards Mardin my colleague Mehmet noticed