Anticipating a Visit to the David Collection of Islamic Art in Copenhagen

After some time spent in Istanbul and Western Turkey this spring I have plans to revisit the David Collection in Copenhagen, Denmark.  I want another opportunity to  study this extraordinary collection of Islamic Art. Housed in a recently renovated space in central Copenhagen the museum is located in two early 19th c buildings thoughtfully conceived with series of intimate spaces to showcase an extensive collection and variety of art of the Islamic world.

Detail of an Ottoman Velvet Textile with a Cintimani Design with a Cloudband minor motif


Hot Air Balloons – Aloft in Cappadocia, Turkey

While 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…..

Lots of company with a sky full of balloons. Uchisar castle is the landmark in the background. What a view!

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. (more…)

Mountaintop Morning at Termessos on Turkey’s South Coast

Turkey’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 some of his Generals. Our hike past the lower city walls makes it clear why this location would be so difficult to conquer and so easy to defend. The steep (more…)

Sunday Morning Rambles in Beyoglu, Istanbul

Sunday 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… (more…)

Role Reversal – The Turks Visit Canada

All the tours that Jack and I have hosted to Turkey have been organized by a historical guide who has become a friend and huge ambassador to our North American friends as they visited his country, Turkey.  This summer the tables turned as Jack and I were able to host Mehmet and his family for a visit to Canada.  We became the ‘tour guides’ and shared our beautiful country with this Turkish family who make their home in Istanbul.

long flights for their first international family excursion


Day Trip from Mardin to Dara – SE Turkey

The 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.

Catherine and Leah in Mardin

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


Tiles in the Harem of the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul.

My sister came for her first visit to Turkey this spring.  An early morning ferry ride across the Bosphorus, a tram ride up the hill to Sultanahmet and we were near the front of the line for tickets to the Topkapi Palace.  To view the Harem of the palace it requires purchasing a separate ticket within the Palace grounds.   At the main ticket office it indicated that the Palace opened at 9 a.m. and the Harem opened at 9:30 a.m.  On passing into the inner courtyard we went directly to purchase our tickets for the Harem and to our surprise they waved us through into the Harem.  What a unique experience!  I had never been in those rooms without swarms of others and we had the place to ourselves with perhaps half a dozen others who were lucky enough to stumble upon an early entrance.

My Sister at the Entrance to the Harem

The Topkapi Palace hosts collections that are vast and diverse – textiles, weapons, the treasury,  and religious artifacts plus the kitchen complex with an extensive collection of porcelain, but for me the most interest are the 16th and 17th Iznik and Kutahya tiles that adorn the walls of the Harem.  Many other sites in Istanbul, from mosques to museums, offer exposure to this form of art but somehow both the scale and intimacy of the rooms, corridors and courtyards of the Harem are the perfect showcase for these tiles.


As a woman viewing these spaces of course one’s mind goes to the women who lived in the Harem and their lives within these ornately decorated walls. (more…)

My First Week in Istanbul

I have been here in Istanbul this week getting my feet on the ground, enjoying the signs of spring and the pleasure of reconnecting with colleagues and friends.  I have been posting some images from around the city on using Tumblr and a few reflections on coming and going in Istanbul.

Take a look at what I have seen and where I have been….tumblr feed.

Fall 2013 – Eastern Turkey: The Land Beyond

Looking 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.

The old and new of Eastern Turkey

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) and Harran or when examining the magnificent Roman mosaics from Zuegma in the stunning Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep.

Summit of Mt Nemrut with 1st c BC Statues and Tumulus

On Easter last year Jack and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on the summit of Mount Nemrut with our tour group.  It was a blustery, windy climb to join the first century B.C. giant statues at the base of the manmade tumulus at the summit.  Our spirits were not dampened and we were warmed by the tea and welcoming hospitality of the site guard who had us into his simple trailer and served us tea.  Having this man offer tea in his ‘home away from home’ is typical of the warmth, openness and graciousness of the people of Eastern Turkey.  Jack and I have an ongoing tradition of shaking hands on our anniversary and agreeing to ‘one more year’.  It is memorable for me that this commitment to sharing life for this next year took place while waiting for the sunrise at the top of Mt Nemrut.

The above video on this post is of previous images I shot while traveling in Eastern Turkey.  Of course, every photo carries with it memories for me.  At times my memories are of interactions with individuals, insight gained into historical events that I had only previously read of or deep impressions left by the beauty of artifacts, art and architecture.  Consider joining us on our travels and building a database of your own memories, insight and knowledge.  As a destination I recommend this part of the world highly.

Women to woman - these women had a welcoming wave when they saw my camera




Spring 2013 – Discover Western Turkey

Turkish tea, domes and minarets, colour, food, culture; all combine to stimulate one’s senses with all that is Turkey.  April 21st to May 5th, 2013 we plan to tour in Western Turkey with a group of not more than twelve guests.  At this point there is space remaining on this trip so be it on your own, with a friend or partner do consider joining us for two weeks.  Check your calendars and if the timing works come along.

Turkish Tea Glass

Tea - the Hallmark of Hospitality

My Turkish tour partner Mehmet Ozbalci is a registered historical guide with over twenty years of experience, great English skills and a keen understanding of what the north american traveller enjoys.  Mehmet is tremendously aware of details and the travel we have shared has (more…)