March 25, 2016. One last post about Turkey, I promise. I couldn’t leave the topic without touching on some of the quintessentially Turkish experiences everyone always asks about: whirling Dervishes, baklava, hookahs, coffee, and other such stereotypical stuff. Yep, these items may have been branded as “touristy,” but I’m never one to turn up my nose at anything harmless that has become part of a cultural identity. If it’s fun or delicious, I’ll jump in with both feet. Which brings me to Subject #1: dancing Dervishes….
March 23, 2016. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know what’s coming. Given my obsession with all things “oriental” (to use an old-school design term), I could barely wait to see what Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar had to offer. It’s billed as the world’s oldest shopping mall (it goes back to Byzantine times), and supposedly contains more than 4,000 vendors. We’d devoted only a half-day to perusing the place. What the heck were we thinking? In the end, I think we came back here three times. Continue reading Turkey: The Grand Bazaar
March 22, 2016. “Looking for a true Turkish experience? Try a public hammam,” advised Rick Steves’ guidebook. Many of our colleagues had also raved about their own bathhouse visits, so we’d booked a reservation to try one out. Rick listed two options: traditional segregated establishments, where men and women bathe in separate quarters and are pampered by members of their own sex. Or more modern coed facilities, where husbands and wives bathe together but are served only by male attendants. Continue reading Turkey: Taking a Turkish Bath
March 21, 2016. Turkey is simply chockablock with “bucket list” sites, especially for folks like Matthew and me, who’ve studied architecture and archaeology. But rather than bombard you with basic guidebook information, I thought I’d share with you my favorite fun factoids and most memorable moments of Istanbul’s historical sites. I’ve covered a lot of territory below, so prepare yourself. Plus, I’ve created some gargantuan photo galleries that I hope will whet your appetite for a visit. (Click on the images for bigger views and captions.) Enjoy! Continue reading Turkey: Mosques & Museums
March 20, 2016. I awoke on our second day in Istanbul to a pinging cell phone message from my cat sitters. I stared at it for a minute, not really comprehending what they were saying. “We saw the news this morning and are so worried. Are you okay? Such a tragedy. Please let us know you’re alright.” Having no idea what they were talking about, I flipped on the TV, while Matthew Googled “Istanbul” to see the breaking news. Continue reading Turkey: Terrorism in Taxim Square
March 19, 2016. One of my favorite things about international travel is comparing the passenger experience in different airports and aboard various airlines. For example, in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, employees motor through the terminals on golf carts, while in Oslo’s Gardermoen, they zip along on kick scooters, and in Amsterdam’s Schipol, they race around on bicycles. Continue reading Turkey: Intro to Istanbul