Tag Archives: tourism

Göreme Open Air Museum (Cappadocia Photo Dump #3)

First, a couple pictures I snapped on my way out of Göreme on my way to the museum…

The Old Cappadocia Pancake House gave me a little chuckle. I guess you can kinda call Gozleme’s “pancakes” but that really stretches it. On the menu list you can see the second option is “chese” a little later down they have another choice “beef and chesee”. On the scrolling neon sign they spell the word, “chesse”. Keep trying different spellings. Sooner or later they will get one right. 🙂

The skyline in this next photo is Sunset point (to the left of the flag) and path (extending off to the right) where many of the photos for Cappadocia photo dump #2 were snapped. There are three tiny dots on the right of the skyline that are actually three people sitting and enjoying the view. It is about where they are where I snapped the selfie that is currently my facebook profile picture.

And now on the road to El Nazar Church…


This next one would have been the home of the priest or monk responsible for the church. It is actually larger than most homes I have seen and might even have been a meeting place. One thing that I am constantly reminded of here is how everyone’s homes were so much smaller than what we think we need today. Even those living with what we now call “tiny homes” would be extravagant by comparison.

Now on to the Open Air Museum…

I’m only allowed to take pictures inside when nobody’s looking to tell me no.  (Interpret that how you want) So know that any pictures like the next couple from here on out were snapped covertly. 😉

Most of the dozens of churches here are very small and are places for prayer (and burial) rather than meeting places like we consider church today. I do have a little evidence that the larger one halfway through the trip was the exception. The table for forty is served…

Now back outside:

When I returned to Goreme, I noticed a place that whares the name of one of my favorite restaurants in Gaziantep. While it was good, clearly not all Istasyon’s are created equal. Good bye till next time.



Turkish Night (Cappadocia Photo Dump #1)

It was getting close to dinner time and my hotel manager told me that tonight was Turkish Night. “What is Turkish Night?” You might ask. OK, maybe you wouldn’t, but I did. He got excited and started explaining quickly and I had to have him slow down and remember to use simple Turkish. (I’m still too much of an amateur and after a couple months in the States I am out of practice.) So he explained, Turkish sing, Turkish dance, Turkish music. Very good.

Actually, it sounded a bit touristy. I was right but even still, I am here in Cappadocia to do the tourist thing so… why not? Off I went to:

Sorry, I didn’t think to adjust my camera to night time exposure. Anyways, I went into this restaurant which, like nearly everything in Cappadocia, is actually a cave. There was this large open area with five or six atrium branching off from it each holding eight large tables. I was sat at one of these and even before anyone came to take my order something like this was put before me:

On these plates we have a chickpea salad, two yogurt type dips, bread, watermelon, cheese (all gone), çiğ köfte (mostly gone), humus, mixed nuts, and water (just to the left off the screen). They also had a bottle of white and red wine but I had them taken before I even set to. Before the main course they also brought out a börek plate as well (with four: cheese, mashed taters, olive, and cheese&spinach). Honestly, I could have enjoyed this alone as my meal. The main course was a let down. But long before that came out, the entertainment started…

Again, I apologize about the incredibly poor quality of these pictures. These three (actually four, one off screen) male whirling dervishes are not true Mevlevi (or even Sufi, I would guess). They will all appear in many of the other dancing acts that follow. The female does not reappear when the normal group of nine (five men, four ladies) do their acts.

After these two, the night rotated between a band (kettle drum, djimbe, clarinet, accordion, and cymbals) and the dancing with various traditional costumes…

Near the end there were a couple acts where they drew on audience participation. These were some fun acts except I was never chosen. Oh well. Considering the number of people there, the odds were against me. In all, except for the dry chicken in this final picture, and of course my overpriced bill (I’m always too cheap),  it was a great night.

The Ruins (Theater and Necropolis)


For my very brief Christmas break this year I went to the ancient city of Myra. Why on earth would I go there? Because I love Santa Claus, of course!

Now I am sure some of you have read those first three sentences and are doing a wee bit of head scratching. Let me back up a bit. Saint Nick is actually a real person. He was a bonafide pastor (bishop) way back in the day and if one were to explore his life, it becomes easy to see the kernel of truth that blossomed into the legend of the rolly polly jolly fat man that most of us love today. For those of you who don’t and have this crazy notion that telling your kids that Santa isn’t real is the height of good parenting… stop lying to your children. Of course Santa is real!

But really, I’ll be dealing with Santa, and who he was in my next post. I took enough pictures this past holiday weekend that I will be breaking this into two posts. Since I personally think the Saint Nik part is the better, more interesting half, I’ll be saving that for later. In this post we have pictures of the ruins of the city of Myra. With only a minimum of commentary, here’s the theater and necropolis (graveyard) from that ancient Lycaean village:

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These first five are approach shots taken as I was on my way to (or from) the ruins. There’s a fortress that sits atop that first picture. Originally, my intention was to climb up there but it never happened. I was still recovering from a small bout of the flu and even climbing to these lower spots was embarrassingly tiring for me.

The next few shots are all of the amphitheater:

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The next few are taken from various entrances or exits to the theater. All these pictures, top to bottom, can be clicked for high quality, full size versions:

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While working my way through the ruins, I could always hear the bell on this lawnmower ringing on the wind. Sometimes it would be above me, sometimes below, often I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Usually it was the only sound I could hear and it seemed an eerily appropriate accompaniment to the ancient memories I was eavesdropping on.

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A few more for the road. You might notice that I took no pictures from inside the necropolis itself. That wouldn’t actually be true. I’m just keeping them for me. Maybe it is because I am not quite sure I was allowed to be in there. (There were signs saying climbing was dangerous but none explicitly forbidding it). Partly because they don’t do the live site justice. Mostly it is because not all memories or experiences are meant to be shared with the world. Anyways, I’ll be back here tomorrow (or soon) with Santa Claus and his cathedral.

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Day 3 Morning

Sometimes things go bump in the night. I made my camp last night just north of the town of Kargi. The spot I chose was near a bend of the road and right up the embankment from the lake I was walking past. Honestly, it wasn’t the best of spots but it was full on dark already and if I didn’t stop there the next possible spot might have been miles ahead and still no better.

I was still walking a major highway and the sound of each car that passed was accompanied by the running silhouette of nearby foliage against my tent. Occasionally I could hear the distant thunder of a plane passing by as well. In addition to these human sounds I could also hear the frogs singing down at the lake. Crickets and cicadas made accompaniment as well as a host of other lakeside wildlife.

I was drifting off to that point where the sounds of my environment combined with my wandering thoughts were starting to turn dreamlike. Suddenly I was jolted wide awake. Something sounded off. I strained to listen and at first I couldn’t tell what it was. Then I heard it again. Something was walking on the gravel towards my tent. It was too light, faint, and irregular to be human. On the other hand, I think it was making a bit too much noise to be a dog or a cat.

Then another car drove by and what I saw what was silhouetted against my tent I almost laughed. It was a duck. This little guy had the audacity to walk almost right up next to my tent, alongside it, and then down to the lake. Sure enough, a couple minutes later, I could hear a bunch of them quacking away down on the lake. I can’t say I have given it much thought but I never imagined ducks as being nocturnal animals.

That set me thinking, how unique of an experience was this missionary journey for Paul and crew. We know Paul himself was a tent maker and a Roman citizen from Tarsus living in Jerusalem and traveling to Damascus when the Lord stepped into his life. Apparently he got around. We don’t have so much of a back story for men like Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, or Luke.

Can you imagine Timothy as a young teen on his first night out with the missionary team? Everyone else is sleeping. Silas’ snores are worse than a rusty saw on green wood. Timothy can’t sleep. Suddenly, there is something that goes bump in the night. How far out of their comfort zone did these missionary journeys take these heroes of the faith? How big of a sacrifice even in little ways was their obedience to the cause of Christ?

Antalya – The Night Before

I went down to the harbor at Antalya to watch the sunset. Before getting there, I did walk around for a bit in Old Town. There is a beauty and a quaintness to the place but too many of those old buildings have now been hijacked for use as hotels and bars. They mar the rich history of the place by trying to market it.

Most of that history would not even have existed when Paul and his team landed at this port. There might have been a couple thousand people here tops. The port was little more than a service station for the real city, Pergia, a couple miles to the northeast.

When I passed through Old Town and into the harbor, the first thing I noticed was how small it was. There were perhaps fifty small boats docked but they were all packed in like cars in a lot. There were cliffs to the west and north, and then a small beach on the east with steps leading up to the cliffs behind it that continue onward to the east.

Even in Roman days you could see why this would not have been the best shipping center. The cliffs make it visually beautiful but they make it obvious why this harbor was skipped right over in Paul’s journey to Rome in Acts 27. This would not be a good place to winter a bireme. Until the infrastructure was in place to bring people here by bus, train, and plane there wasn’t much reason to come to Antalya. Now it is a new, large city. Tourism has made it a vacation favorite and in the past fifty years it has ballooned from the tens of thousands into a city of well over a million and there is no sign that the population growth has even begun to slow down.

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My (failed) Quest To Find The Perfect Sunrise

Those of you who follow me on facebook know that I’ve recently taken to posting a sunrise picture or two from my balcony every morning. (If you aren’t following me on facebook, feel free: www.facebook.com/beejai.richardson) This daily habit has had me thinking as I go about my day about other places that might make for good shots. Nearly a week back I was crossing the Galata Bridge when I noticed that I could probably get the perfect shot from the western side of this bridge of the sun peaking over the south side of the Bosphorus Bridge.

This sounded like a great idea until I realized the amount of work it would take for me to get there early enough. Currently the sun is rising right around 5:50 AM. From my house, to get to the Galata Bridge I would have to take a bus to the Marmaray, cross over to the European side and then walk about 2/3 a mile north (or take the tram 2 stops). There’s another problem. No busses stop anywhere near my house until almost 6AM. By then it would be far too late.

For almost two weeks the idea was dead in the water. Then, this morning those Ramadan drums woke me up (again) at about 2:15 AM. Instead of trying (and failing) to get back to sleep, I got up  and started my day. As I was going about my morning, I remembered what I had been thinking earlier and figured if it was going to happen, now was the time. So around 4:15 I left my house and started my trek.

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I reached this small park near Beylerbeyi Palace right around 5AM. This little park does have a bench that I call my sunset seat. If I happen to be on my way home around that time I will hop off the bus early and take advantage of the view it offers. Unfortunately, since it is a southwest facing park, it doesn’t offer the same opportunity to enjoy my mornings.

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After going under the tunnel, there are two parks on the west side of the Bosphorus Bridge before getting to Uskudar proper. The first of these is Nakkastepe. Pretty much every Asian side park runs northeast to southwest so no matter which one I stop at, I am going to be getting much better sets than rises.

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People were starting to be up and about by the time I was passing the next park, Fethipasa. By this point I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it to Galata Bridge in time but I figured I might be able to get on a ferry and get some nice shots from there.

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Unfortunately the ferries, like the buses, don’t accommodate early risers. I was back to my original plan of taking the Marmaray. Right before heading down I snapped this. At this point it was 5:50 AM which means if I had still been up on my balcony, the sun would be peaking its head over the horizon any second.

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I was surprised how many people were up and about that early. As a general rule, life doesn’t begin in Istanbul until about 10AM but apparently enough people do have to head off to work that there were almost no open seats on the 6AM train. By the time I made it to the other side at Sirkeci it was about 6:10 and I was far too late.

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I figured I might as well push on at this point and continued heading for the Galata Bridge.

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I made it there a little past 6:20. So I was either thirty minuted too late or a month or two too early. I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Below and above are the exact same picture. Just played around with it a bit. (Brightened, softened, decreased the shadow, and added a tough of blue. Now it’s postcard worthy)

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Anyways, I’m off to get me some good borek. Till next time…

Finding My Way Home

Sleep is not easy to come by. At least, it isn’t when I want to get it. Technically, I slept right about when I normally would. I got in and settled from my flight around 3:30 AM and was asleep about an hour later. Back in NY that would have been 9:30 PM. I then slept, and slept and slept until almost 1PM. Again, that is 6 AM back in the States, about the time I am normally getting up. So even though I just ended a two day journey, I still got a normal night of sleep at my normal time… not very convenient at all.

20150330_181011Anyways, I was up and about and out the door by 2PM. I have a game I like to play whenever I move somewhere new… it’s called get lost. I can picture you laughing but it isn’t quite what you think. I am getting lost on purpose. What I will do is just start walking aimlessly for an hour then see how quickly and easily I can make a direct line back to my starting point. The first time I went out, it was a piece of cake. The sun was shining, the day was beautiful, and I wanted to get my legs under me and take in my first impressions of my new home and that is exactly what I did.

getting lost 1In many ways, Istanbul reminded me of NYC except much older. In other ways, definitely not. Where NYC has clearly delineated roads and sidewalks, here… not so much. Apart from the major arteries, all the roads are shared. The drivers are just as aggressive trying to manage their way past all the foot traffic but they do not seem nearly as angry or impatient as in the states. On the flip side,pedestrians will generally drift to the sides almost without thinking to let vehicles through.

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I have yet to do much exploring on the Asian side but from where I have been in Europe (Besiktas, Beyoglu, Sisli, and a little bit of Fatih) the general rule is that moving away from the water means a quick, steep ascent. I feel like have done more uphill/downhill walking in the past two days than I did in a year of traveling around Binghamton. Hopefully the Asian side is a bit more level because using a bike in this area is completely untenable. This was a sad realization for me but my fingers are still crossed.

getting lost 3There were a couple things that I did not expect but which did not really surprise me. The first of those was when I came to my first park. From the other side of the fence I could hear a familiar, what I would have called American sound of dribbling basketballs. Once I thought about it, I wasn’t really surprised. Basketball has definitely become a global sport over the past few decades and it requires much less space than would futbol, baseball, cricket, rugby, American football, etc. A park just doesn’t seem to be complete without a playground and a basketball court.

getting lost 4The other thing I did not quite expect was the number of cats and dogs I found wandering around aimlessly. The cats, yes. That wasn’t a surprise, but I also have been seeing quite a few dogs wandering around in the streets or lazing about in the sun. None of them were on a leash but every single dog seemed as docile as could be. The cats on the other hand seemed very wary of us humans. After hearing their late night street fighting these past couple nights, I can understand why they might not be as well loved. Next time I come across one of these pests when no one is looking I might just see how far my right foot could launch that. Yah, scream at that, Garfield.

getting lost 5Getting back on point, like I said earlier, my first walk was a piece of cake. My second one… not so much. I came back with the specific goal of locating the nearest HSBC bank so I can begin setting up an account. I found that bank easy enough but by the time I did, it had closed 18 minutes before. I guess “bankers hours” are a global nuisance. I was a little bummed but decided I would play getting lost again since I had launched out in the opposite direction as last time. Now, I like to think that I possess a pretty good internal sense of direction. Beyond that, usually I can look at  a map once and the map memory is easily applied to the real world roads I am traveling. Well, Besiktas severely challenged that opinion. Here, roads curve. All of them. All the time. Not only that, right angles are a pipe dream. Streets much prefer merging, converging, and Y’ing off to the grid-like patterns of a much more boring, sterile world. (Springfield) I can honestly say, I was thoroughly, completely turned around.Getting lost 6

What set me straight was the sunlight. I thought I had been heading east when in reality I was still moving north, further and further away from where I wanted to be. So I stopped trying to remember the roads in my head. I gave less concern for the path my feet were taking. Instead, I focused on the sun. No matter how turned around my mind might be, no matter how convoluted the roads I travel, the sun is an eternal truth fixed in the heavens that can never lead me wrong. Let me say that one more time in case you didn’t catch it: The sun is an eternal truth fixed in the heavens that can never lead us wrong. It is a light that can straighten our feet and it is a guide that can direct our path. No matter how lost we might feel we are getting, the sun will always help us find our way home.