A Travellerspoint blog

Faces of Turkey


I am putting some of my favorite pictures here.

Woman reading at the Memorial near Eyup

Walking on the side streets of Istiklal Cad. on a Saturday afternoon, you will see many people playing backgammon. This day in addition to the many young people, there were these gentlemen enjoying their game.


One evening my friend, Lucita and I were enjoying Ortakoy, along the Bosporus on a Saturday evening and started a conversation with some women. It turned out that they were tourists from Saudia Arabia. They were enjoying their visit to Istanbul and doing a lot of shopping. One of them had gone to graduate school in Virginia and her daughter had been born in America.

Young girls in Emirgan Park anxious to practice their English 4-15-10_016.jpg


Pomegranate juice and spices for sale
Clothes are dried on the sidewalks. These are towels from the Kuafor (barber shop)7June_042.jpgFriends from work at my going away partyIMG_0777.jpg
March in favor of the Sept referendum on Istiklal CadJune_154.jpg

Posted by goodearth 13:00 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Istanbul Archaeological Museum

Statues from Constantinople as well as famous sarcophagus from Sidon, near Beirut, Lebanon


Sidon Sarcophagus

There are four panels to the Alexander Sarcophagus, one is a hunting scene showing Macedonians and Persians hunting
The Macedonian cavalry companions are dressed unlike the foot soldiers, and on one of the panels, the sculptor
carved out the figure of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great riding his horse Buchephales. This is from the 4th Century BC.
Background on Alexander's Sarcophagus

Blue Glazed Tiles from Ishtar Gate of Babylon

Istanbul Museum has white lions, dragons and bulls.

Statues from Constantinople

Funerary stele in Classical style, 480-420 BC.large_IMG_0239.jpgIMG_0246.jpgIMG_0254.jpglarge_IMG_0260.jpgIMG_0263.jpgIMG_0266.jpgIMG_0270.jpgIMG_0271.jpgIMG_0277.jpgIMG_0279.jpglarge_IMG_0281.jpgIMG_0295.jpg

Print of Hippodrome 1450

World's first peace treaty between the Hittites and Egypt

Posted by goodearth 17:25 Archived in Turkey Tagged museum istanbul archaeological Comments (0)

Bella Roma and Firenze

Spring in Italy

sunny 82 °F

Our flights on Egypt Air were very smooth and we arrived in Rome in the afternoon from Cairo. We were met at the Termini Train Station and taken to the apartment I had rented a few blocks away. In a city where there is a lot of noise, our apartment overlooked a garden with orange trees and was very quiet even though it was in the center of the city. We adapted quickly to our one bedroom apartment and I quickly decided this was much better than a room in a hotel!


The next day we went to Piazza del Popolo to meet Silja IMG_1637.jpg, my Finnish friend from my two month AIESEC internship in Helsinki in the summer of 1968! We had a lot to catch up on. We had a lovely walk in the area and visited several churches and interesting neghborhoods. We had lunch at L'Orso80 near the Piazza Navona.

They serve an endless array of delicious antipasto dishes. One of the best meals I have had in Italy. IMG_1640.jpg

Ah the familiar sights of Rome.. large_IMG_1657.jpgIMG_1622.jpg
The Pantheon is one of my favorite places. Video gives me a chance to revisit it whenever I want.

The next day Silja rode her scooter to meet us and we took the metro to Ostia Antica. When we arrived, the workers at Ostia were having a typical worker's right to have a meeting and no one could enter for the morning. It was noon before they ended their meting and opened the site.

Ostia was the harbor city of ancient Rome founded in the 4th century BC and now covers over 10,000 acres. At the height there were 50,000 people including 17,000 slaves. Most slaves were taken to Ostia from Egypt, the Middle East, and Turkey. The most frequent slave-name is Felix, "Happy".

One of the most interesting things we saw was the Square of the Guilds (Piazzale delle Corporazioni):

This grand square evolved from a simple place — where businessmen would stroll and powwow together — to become a monumental square lined with more than 60 offices of ship-owners and traders from all around the Mediterranean Sea. Inscriptions in the mosaics mention guilds (collegia and corpora), shippers (navicularii) and traders (negotiantes). There are also many depictions of dolphins, ships and the lighthouse at Portus. Grainmeasures (large round bins) refer to the grain trade. Many harbour cities are mentioned. Several were in modern Tunisia, a main supplier of grain. The Karalitani were from Cagliari on Sardinia, the Narbonenses came from Narbonne in France. This unique square shows the “international” character that Ostia must have had. The streets of the city were crowded by people from all over the known world. On the walls of the city not only Latin, but also Greek graffiti are found. Silja and Joy with the Square of the Guilds in the background.

This was the bustling center of Rome's import / export industry. Along the sidewalk, second-century A.D. mosaics advertise the services offered by the various shops. The mosaics advertised in Latin and in a sign language for illiterate or non-Latin-reading sailors. The most common symbol — the lighthouse — was the sign of the port of Ostia. Grain containers are reminders that grain was the major import of Ostia. The elephant marking the office of the Sabratans (a place in present-day Libya) symbolized the sale of ivory or perhaps of exotic animals (great for parties and private spectacles).
IMG_1692.jpg Note the light house that represented Ostia.

In the far corner there is a mosaic showing porters loading containers from a sea-going ship to a river-going ship and the three-mouthed delta of a river (probably the Nile). More connections for us between Rome and Egypt. Statues of notable local guild-members and business leaders decorated the courtyard. The temple in the center was likely related to Ceres, the goddess of harvest and abundance (prosperity from good business). There is a small white altar on the Square. This was used to sacrifice animals — such as the rams carved into the corners — to ask for favor from the gods. The entrails would be read to divine the future, and to determine whether the gods were for or against a particular business venture.

The theater would accommodate 4,000 residents. IMG_1686.jpg

There is a tavern that has display shelves for food and drinks for sale, a small sink, and remains of wall paintings IMG_1705.jpg IMG_1707.jpg
and even an outdoor terrace for eating. IMG_1709.jpg

There are many temples and baths that are quite grand, with multi story apartment buildings that had shared facilities like condo's today. They had their own swimming pools and baths for the residents. I highly recommend a visit to Ostia Antica.

For additional background, click here....

We returned to the city and went to the National Museum of Rome The 3rd floor displays some of the best. Paula had been last year and I had never been. It is full of frescoes and mosaics from the villa discovered in Rome especially on Palentine Hill. There is a beautiful fresco that is from Lydia Villa, that was a garden room.

I have included a video to give you the full effect! It is beautiful.

Lovely delicate ceiling decorations IMG_1720.jpgIMG_1723.jpgIMG_1782.jpg

Wonderful mosaics IMG_1733.jpgIMG_1734.jpgIMG_1735.jpgIMG_1737.jpgIMG_1749.jpg

Frescoes IMG_1738.jpgIMG_1742.jpgIMG_1743.jpgIMG_1744.jpgIMG_1745.jpg

Some wonderful inlaid marble pictures large_IMG_1750.jpg

A most enjoyable museum to see the richness of the life of the wealthy Romans.

On our third day Silja kindly invited us to have lunch in the garden of her home and meet her family. It was a beautiful day and she prepared a delicious lunch.
We then spent the rest of the day at the Forum and Palentine Hill where the poppies were blooming. IMG_1800.jpg

One of my favorite statues.
Place where he was found. IMG_1785.jpgIMG_1801.jpg

Our last night in Rome and an early start tomorrow to catch our bus to Siena. Paula waiting for our bus from the Rome bus station.


We enjoyed great views of the countryside and connected to another bus in Siena for the hour ride to Montalcino.
Paula waiting for our next bus. IMG_1832.jpg

There was a road rally for the weekend and the city was full. Lovely doorways of Montalcino.

The next day we returned to Siena. IMG_1953.jpgThis is peak tourist season and it was difficult to find a room. We were fortunate to stay at Alma Domus which has beautiful views from the rooms.IMG_1879.jpg IMG_1859.jpg
Our hotel is the former convent, the long narrow building just below St Catherine's.

Garden area of Alma Domus large_IMG_1883.jpg

IMG_1856.jpg The Duomo is easy to see and we attended the service on Sunday.

Beautiful inlaid marble floors.

The Baptistry was also very beautiful. IMG_1868.jpgIMG_1869.jpg

We enjoyed the Duomo museum. One of my favorite items was the illustrated books of music. large_IMG_1963.jpg

I very much enjoyed seeing what they call the crypt but it is really the 13th century part of the church. The frescoes are lovely and reflect a Byzantine influence. IMG_1863.jpgIMG_1866.jpgIMG_1864.jpgIMG_1865.jpg

In our wanderings we saw the entrance to a lovely home which had a wonderful courtyard and beautiful painted porch ceiling.
IMG_1906.jpg 9IMG_1904.jpgIMG_1914.jpgIMG_1915.jpgIMG_1916.jpgIMG_1917.jpg

Many steep streets in Siena. IMG_1980.jpg Allowed us to eat pizza and pastries without feeling guilty!

One of my fond memories of Siena will be the bells. They rang many times each hour.

Then we were off to Florence for our final three nights.
We had two days and they were full. We saw San Marco and enjoyed the Fra Angelico paintings. No photos allowed, but the link will show the wonderful paintings. We were fortunate the next day to stand in line and get tickets to the Uffici Gallery.

So our last early morning of the trip. Paula had a 5:30 AM shuttle to the Florence airport and I had a 5:50AM train to Rome and then to the Rome Airport for my flight to Istanbul. A full three weeks that was fun to share as sisters.

Posted by goodearth 03:31 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Egypt - Land of Pyramids

Visiting Egypt after the 2011 Spring Revolution

sunny 92 °F

With Cairo only a two hour flight from Istanbul and the usual crowds of tourists much lower than normal, I decided it would be a good time to visit. I read blogs and emailed people who had recently been to Egypt to get a first hand view of issues tourists might face and it seemed safe from a security perspective. There was a lot written about the differences in culture and challenges an independent tourist might face, so I evaluated tours as well as independent travel. There are the usual pros and cons. I decided that travel could not be that different from Cambodia and SE Asia in general and having navigated those areas decided on independent travel in Egypt. My sister flew from Atlanta to join me.

For 30 centuries Egypt was the foremost country in the Mediterranean world. Then, in 332 BC, the arrival of Alexander the Great heralded the end of the Egyptian way of life. Then Greek, Roman and Arabic culture were layered onto the Egyptian culture. Egypt was a part of the Ottoman Empire for 300 years. This BBC site has a good overview of Egypt as does this site.

We spent two days in Cairo staying at the City View hotel right across the street from Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum. We were greeted with some typical Egyptian towel sculptures on our bed.

We hired a guide for the Egyptian Museum and he was very good in giving us an introduction to Egyptian history and preparing us for the sites we would see in Luxor. The treasures of King Tut's tomb and the colossal statues from the temples were quite amazing.

The next day we went to Sakkara, where the first pyramid was built in 3000 BC.

There are many pyramids and tombs here. An example of the tomb decoration IMG_1207.jpg

Our next stop was the Giza Pyramids built in 2550 BC. IMG_1243.jpg
This gives you a view of the size of the pyramids with the camels in the front.

Sunday evening we boarded the overnight train to Aswan. We took the subway to the train station. They have separate cars for men and women. The women were helpful in directing us to the right stop and finding the train station. The train compartment was smaller than I had thought since they had no room for the luggage and it had to remain on the limited floor space.
but we had a good time traveling by train and seeing the people working on the farms along the Nile. IMG_1275.jpg

We arrived around 9AM in Aswan and checked into our room. View from the window of our hotel at the Isis Corniche.

Scene near the market. IMG_1396.jpg

Said, our taxi driver, kept finding us in Aswan. He took us to Philae Temple the first afternoon.
This was the center of the worship of Isis and was built during the time of the Ptolemaic Kings. You take a boat to an island where the temple is located. You can read more here.

6IMG_1382.jpg Model of the temple in the museum.

Sunset on the Nile

We were up at 3AM the next day (this was our second early rise of this trip. There were many!) to join the caravan to Abu Simbel. It is a 3 hour journey through the desert to get to the temple and it is hot, so nice to visit as early in the day as possible. We had a nice mini van with a good driver and air conditioning! Rames II had two temples cut from the rock. Construction of the temple complex started in approximately 1284 BC and lasted for about 20 years. Known as the "Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun". Their purpose was to impress Egypt's southern neighbors, and also to reinforce the status of the Egyptian religion in the region. These temples were moved to higher ground when the Aswan Dam was built. The color and decorations on the walls are wonderful to see.


This part of Egypt borders on Sudan and is home to the Nubian people. They have a very nice museum with a wonderful statue of Rames II.


We visited the museum in the afternoon and planned a walk through the market in the morning prior to our departure for Luxor.

Said drove us the 3 hours to Luxor stopping at the Temple of Edfu, also known as The Temple of Horus in Edfu, which is considered the best-preserved cult temple in Egypt. This is partly because it was built later than most: in the Ptolemaic era from 237 to 57 BC.

Yet despite its later date, it exactly reflects traditional pharaonic architecture and provides an excellent idea of how all the temples once looked. Edfu is also very large: the second largest in Egypt after Karnak Temple.

The Temple of Edfu was abandoned after the Roman Empire became Christian and paganism was outlawed in 391 AD. It lay buried up to its lintels in sand, with homes built over the top, until it was excavated by Auguste Mariette in the 1860s. The sand protected the monument over the years, leaving it very well preserved today.


The video will give you an idea of the space. Considering the age it is amazing to see the columns and walls in place. Most Roman and Greek temples are in ruins that were built much later.

It was dark when we arrived in Luxor. Our hotel had an open air lobby where they had dance performances each evening.
IMG_1481.jpg There was also a nice pool with lovely views of the Nile. IMG_1484.jpg

Another early morning, (for anyone who is counting this is our third) up at 5AM, to go to the West Bank and see the Valley of the Kings and the Tombs of the Nobles as well as Medinet Habu. First sight as you enter the West Bank is the Colossi of Memnon which have been standing for 3400 years. Their original function was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep's memorial temple.

This is a very large area. We bought our tickets for the temple and tombs and drove to the ones we had selected.

Medinet Habu, erected around 1180 BC, is the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III. large_IMG_1454.jpgIMG_1435.jpgIMG_1437.jpgIMG_1438.jpgIMG_1440.jpglarge_IMG_1442.jpgIMG_1444.jpgIMG_1455.jpgIMG_1456.jpgIMG_1461.jpg

Video again gives you a sense of the space.

The land on the West Bank is quite barren IMG_1463.jpg
We hired someone to take us to the 4 tombs we were to visit because there are no signs. These were the burial tombs of important people in the society but not royal. They had wonderful decorations on the walls. A lot of what we know about every day life in Egypt was learned from these decorations. The first tomb we visited was Re-khme–e, who was vizier of Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep II. It is another rock cut tomb and its walls are decorated with many painted scenes of the various aspects of life in Ancient Egypt. One of the most beautiful scenes is the one that represents the arrival of the foreign delegations to the court of the Vizier, carrying presents and tributes to the King of Egypt and his men. These presents and tributes included items such as, utensils, agricultural products and various animals. One of the most important text in this tomb is the one which mentions the duties and responsibilities assumed by the vizier in order to let the justice prevail on Earth.

We then drove to the Valley of the Kings. There are over 63 tombs here. They close tombs for extended periods of time because the breath and humidity that visitors bring are causing destruction of the tombs. We visited three tombs of the Kings. No photography is allowed in the valley or in the tombs.

The next day we had a leisure day and enjoyed sitting by the pool and enjoying the views of the Nile. We continued our exploring the next day by going to the Winter Palace, which was built in 1886 and is a wonderful colonial hotel with a lovely garden. There were hugh ficus trees growing in the garden. IMG_1584.jpg

Karnac Temple was next. Another early morning. Most of the sites open at 6AM so people can avoid the heat of the day. We hired a guide at the site who was very informative. Construction on the Karnak temple complex began in the 16th century BC and continued into the Greco-Roman period - a period of up to 1300 years of construction. Around 30 successive pharoahs added their own touches to the complex: a new temple, shrine, or pylon and carved detailed hieroglyphic inscriptions. It is the largest temple complex in the world, covering a site almost a mile by two miles in area. There are over 25 temples and chapels in the complex, including separate shrines for the three boats that took the statues of the gods on their annual trip on the flooding Nile. Sanctuaries, obelisks, and groups of columns all feature accounts of the heroic deeds of the sponsoring pharoah. Many of the obelisks have been taken to other countries but one remains standing. One is at the Place de la Concord in Paris.
The Avenue of the Sphinxes, or Sacred Way, that once stretched the two miles from Karnak to Luxor Temple is the entrance to the Temple of Amun. They have excavated and you can see many of the sphinxes that have survived between Luxor and Karnac and they are working on recreating the avenue between the two temples.
IMG_1515.jpg Paula resting in the shade.

Video of the Temple of Amun.

The Luxor Temple is right in the middle of the modern city. Construction work on the temple began during the reign of Amenhotep III in the 14th century BC. Horemheb and Tutankhamun added columns, statues, and friezes, and Akhenaten had earlier obliterated his father's cartouches and installed a shrine to the Aten.

However, the only major expansion effort took place under Ramses II some 100 years after the first stones were put in place. Luxor is thus unique among the main Egyptian temple complexes in having only two pharaohs leave their mark on its architectural structure.

Each year, to ensure the flooding of the Nile that was necessary to national prosperity, the statues of Amun, Mut (goddess of war), and Khons (the moon god) were sailed down the river to Karnak for a great festival.

The temple fell into disrepair during the Late Period. Alexander the Great claimed to have undertaken major reconstruction work "to restore it to the glory of Amenhotep's times" in the 320s BC. During Rome's domination of Egypt it was converted into a centre for the Roman emperor cult.

By the time of the Arab conquest, the temple was largely buried underneath accumulated river silt, to the extent that the Mosque of Abu Haggag was built on top of it in the 13th century (much reworked since, but one of the minarets dates back to the original construction).large_IMG_1488.jpgIMG_1589.jpg

Our 10th night in Egypt. We have another early morning leaving the hotel at 5:30 AM to catch our plane to Cairo and then on to Rome. We have had a wonderful time and enjoyed getting a better understanding of Egyptian history and culture.

Posted by goodearth 03:27 Archived in Egypt Tagged egypt Comments (1)


Step back in time to a medieval city

49 °F

We had a very comfortable train ride to Prague. A very modern train with good seats.

Prague's population is 1.2M compared to Vienna 1.6M. Not much difference in population from the medieval city of Prague and the capital of the empire, Vienna.

I did not realize that Mozart spent time in Prague as well as Salzburg and Vienna and was much loved by the people of Prague who gave him a funeral with over 4000 people attending. Don Giovanni was first performed here.

There is a very nice podcast on Prague at this site. Look down the page to find it. I think you will find it entertaining!

We had very nice fall days to enjoy the sights. antalya_057.jpgantalya_068.jpgprague_004__1_.jpg

Views of the rooftopsPrague_019__3_.jpgantalya_130.jpg

Interesting shop signs9antalya_112.jpg
Musician on the bridge antalya_125.jpg
Famous clock tower antalya_139.jpg

Lots of wooden toys and puppets antalya_077.jpgantalya_065.jpgantalya_069.jpgantalya_156.jpg

Bohemian cut crystal antalya_084.jpg

Prague has a lot of Art Deco construction and the municipal hall is a grand example. I just wish we could have attended a concert. The restaurant is especially lovely.

Shopping street antalya_177.jpg

Prague is a lovely city and we enjoyed our visit very much. So now back to Istanbul.

Posted by goodearth 13:52 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

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