qatarperegrine: (travel)
I've finally uploaded our pictures of Turkey.

I've also added some relevant photos to the blog posts I made from Turkey, and added additional blog posts with transcriptions of my paper journals. The new posts are backdated, so depending on how you access my blog, they may or may not show up as new.

Turkey posts:
qatarperegrine: (travel)
On Thursday we did our longest hike -- 17 kilometers along the coast from Karaöz to Adrasan, past the lighthouse that is emblematic of the Lycian Way. It's an absolutely gorgeous walk, and rather remote: there is no road anywhere nearby, and in over seven hours of hiking, we saw only two other people (at the halfway point, coming the other direction).

Beginning of the walk

First view of the Gelidonya Lighthouse

Marjorie near the Lighthouse

Sample stunning view

The Lycian Way

Back at the hotel after 7.25 hours


Mar. 27th, 2008 08:38 am
qatarperegrine: (travel)
Haven't had access to internet for a few days; have had to resort to blogging old skool, with a PEN and PAPER. (How will people leave comments???) Will transcribe later.

I'm finally getting used to reaching sideways for the i key instead of up for the ı, but I don't think I'd ever get used to the comma being up by backspace.

We've been in Adrasan the last few days, walking bits of the Lycian Way and other nearby day walks. Yesterday was the most memorable walk: in the morning our host, Jon, guided us around the Lycian town of Olympos, and then we hiked up to Chimera, where the mountainside is permanently aflame due to natural gases seeping up from the ground. The ancients, who thought that the fire was caused by the slain body of Chimera, used the fire as a natural lighthouse. Gazing on this natural wonder, I turned to Justin and said, "The beacons are lit!" He promptly responded, "Gondor calls for aid!" I love my husband.

From there the Lycian Way took us up and over a pass, with absolutely amazing views. Eventually we came back down and had to wade through a thigh-high stream, which led to great hilarity, especially as one of the other hikers with us, a quiet Englishman, had to take off his trousers to cross. As we scrambled up the other side I realized I felt wonderful: my ankle didn't hurt, my knees felt good. Exhilarating. We hiked on to a fish-hatchery-cum-restaurant that served us stunning mezze and cheese sticks.

The food here is incredible generally: this region grows oranges, lemons, pomegranites, tomatoes, aubergines, and lovely sweet red peppers in stunning quantities, and all of our meals have consisted of these things prepared in very simple but ravishing ways.

I'm being called to breakfast, then Gelidonya and the Lighthouse... long day ahead!

Pictures )
qatarperegrine: (travel)
I have so many days to catch up on!

On our last day in Istanbul we went mosque-hopping: the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and then the Suleyman.

The Hagia Sophia was built as a church in the 530s and converted to a mosque in 1453 when the Ottomans came to power.

It is absolutely mind-blowing that people had the mathematical and architectural knowledge necessary to build this in 532. The central dome is 102.5 feet in diameter and 182 feet tall, resting on 40 arched windows which take the weight of the dome down into the side walls, so that no additional pillars are needed. The builders of the Blue Mosque next door were less ambitious, and instead relied on enormous pillars to support the weight of that dome. That's how amazing a feat of architecture the Hagia Sophia is: when people sought to equal it a millennium later, they couldn't. Even today, the Hagia Sophia is an awe-inspiringly vast interior space. And it was built in five years.

My knowledge of architectural history is derived almost entirely from my Uncle Jon's tours of English churches, where I learned various features of Saxon vs. Norman architecture. All of the changes over time that I learned about represented progress: stonework got better, ceilings got higher, windows got larger. Cathedrals grew in size and light and splendor. But long before the Saxons' rough-hewn triangular window-slits were replaced by Norman arches, the Byzantines were making 182-foot-tall domes!

Here in Istanbul, architecture did not progress. Seventh century people had access to Greek mathematical treatises that allowed them to create buildings that simply could not be made a few hundred years later. What would it have been like to be a medieval visitor to Istanbul, faced with a church so magnificent that no one on the entire planet had the skill or resources to reproduce it? What would it be like to know that knowledge had been lost?

After touring the mosques, we flew to Adrasan, where we are now. This is a small agricultural town of 3000, mostly made up of greenhouses of tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, and orchards of oranges, lemons and pomegranates. We're staying in a hotel run by a British couple who specialize in walking holidays. Every morning they help us choose a route and drop us off with a map and directions.

Yesterday we walked with an Irish/British mother and daughter who were good company and amazingly well-traveled. We did an easy walk to test my ankle: several hours in the morning, then a stop in town, and a lovely afternoon walk. I proved by untrailworthiness by choosing to answer the call of nature in a patch of stinging nettles. Ow. The highlight of the day, though, was surprising two tortoises in flagrante delicto. The surprised male fell off his mate, which was apparently a rather frustrating experience as he then proceeded to ram her with his shell and bite her neck before running off.

Today, Tuesday, we had a lovely walk. I was stiff from yesterday, so Jon suggested a short but scenic circular hike for us. We followed the Lycian Way up the valley to a high pasture with a stone hut, then took a side path back to the village. It's a 3-hour walk but we did it in five and half, stopping for lunch in a meadow, taking frequent breaks and stopping to read our books. Oh, and taking the wrong trail for half a kilometer at one point. Justin gallantly carried all our things so my ankles would have a lighter load.

The countryside here is lovely -- a bit Mendocino-ish, in a way. Mountainous, with plenty of fir trees, wildflower-strewn glades, little streams. There are a lot of half-fallen-down stone walls that once demarcated terraced fields, like in Yorkshire. Walking here is very calming, and exceedingly quiet. We have seen a total of two other walkers. The local people we come across wave and say Merhaba. The women here ALL wear baggy floral trousers, several sweaters and a headscarf. The uniformity of the trousers is rather astonishing; they're all DIFFERENT floral patterns, but they're ALL floral patterns. What would happen if someone showed up one day in leopard print, I wonder?

More photos here )
qatarperegrine: (Default)
If you hadn't noticed, internet is available enough here that I decided just to blog about Turkey from Turkey. (Hey look Shahriar: a travelogue!) When I get home I'll upload the corresponding photos.

Justin always wakes up at dawn when we're on vacation and wanders the city with his camera. Today I joined him, and we wandered around the Blue Mosque and Hippodrome and then around some neighborhoods. A surprising number of houses are derelict and falling down, and we had a great time photographing one that would have made [ profile] mellowcupcake very happy.

We spent the morning at Topkapı Palace, the palace of the Ottoman emperors from the 15th to 19th centuries. The best part was the treasury display of sacred relics, including the Prophet Abraham's saucepan (!), Joseph's turban, Moses' wooden staff, King David's sword, the arm of John the Baptist, and several of Mohammed's beard hairs. Oh, and best of all, Mohammed's footprint. I've now seen the footprints of the Buddha (in Bodh Gaya), Jesus (Quo Vadis, Rome), and Mohammed (allegedly from Jerusalem, from the Mir'aj). Mohammed's were definitely more human-looking; the toes weren't square.

This afternoon we went to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, which far, far exceeded our expectations. They had to kick us out at closing time. The burial steles and sarcophagi were my favorite part; the Alexander Sarcophagus, for example, was stunning. I'm so used to Greek sculpture being, well, marble-colored, that it was rather stunning to realize it would originally have been vibrantly colored. Some color still remains on the Alexander Sarcophagus, and nearby is a reconstruction of what it might have looked like. Wow.

Another highlight in the museum was seeing a six-sided die from the 5th-7th century. Its pips were in precisely the same configuration that you'd see on a modern die. Opposing faces even added up to 7. Have dice really not changed in 1500 years?

Speaking more generally, acquiring food has been an enjoyable aspect of visiting Istanbul. Restaurants employ people to stand out on the street and try to persuade you to come in. Sitting nearby, you can watch them size up passersby and launch into a sales pitch in what they guess is the appropriate language. Last night we had quite a conversation with one in Spanish (about why he doesn't like Spaniards, who he says are muy amables al principio, pero despues de dos días, peores que los turquos -- whatever that is supposed to mean!). It's very impressive to watch them switching from one language to another. When I was here in college I was traveling with friends who were Filipino and Japanese-American; the vendors really didn't know how to address the group of us. Justin and I seem to be more identifiably American, though we've been mistaken for Spanish. It must be because we are muy amables.

Photos here )
qatarperegrine: (Default)
So says Lieutenant Dubosc in the first chapter of Murder on the Orient Express, despite never having seen the Hagia Sofia. I didn't go inside it today, but it is indeed very fine (though I admit to being partial to the Sultanahmet).

This isn't my first time in Istanbul; I spent a few days here while on a college trip. I had quite a shock this morning when I realized that was, in fact, slightly more than 11 years ago. It's strange to think that I'm old enough to have 11-year-old memories of being an adult.

I took Justin to the wonderful Turkish restaurant where Darci and I enjoyed many pilavs on my last visit, but it has changed hands and now only sells kebabs. Alas.

Other than the pilav, Istanbul is living up to my memories of it. I'd forgotten how European a city it feels -- I suppose, last time I was here, I'd only ever been to European cities. Walking down narrow, hilly cobblestone streets lined with shops and hostels, surrounded by lovely ancient and medieval architecture, sometimes I had to glance up at the minarets to remind myself I wasn't in Florence or Blois.

La Sainte Sophie (The Hagia Sophia)

The streets of Rome Istanbul
qatarperegrine: (travel)
Spring break woooooooooooo!

We're off to Turkey in the morning. See you in a week!


qatarperegrine: (Default)

August 2011

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