Van, Tatvan, Bitlis: "Castles in the Sky"

Lake Van
Southeastern Anatolia
19 October 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

The Lonely Planet "Turkey" is 732 pages thick. When I got to the last chapter on page 597, Southeastern Anatolia, I decided to begin my travels out there and work my way backwards in the book, traveling from east to west in southern Turkey. I flew from Istanbul to Van (1642 km…1020 mi).

Out here, Turkey's neighbors are Georgia and Armenia. West of Van lies Iran (only 100 km), and to the south, Iraq and Syria. Even though they were very close, and tempting, I decided not to visit any of these countries, at least not on this trip, since there is so much to see here.


Istanbul: "Sunday in the Park"

Istanbul, Turkey

13 October 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Fortunately, I chose to be in Istanbul on Sunday.

Fortunately, my hotel was a ten minute walk to the Sultanahmet area and the Blue Mosque and The Haghia Sophia – two of Istanbul's most historic and most visited sites.

On Sunday, the visitors included hundreds of residents of Istanbul and other Turkish tourists and their families who swarmed around the grand mosques, picnicked on the grounds, and entered the halls for prayer. It was Sunday in the Park and I was happy to meander among the multi-colored crowd as I admired once again the lofty minarets, the colossal domes - the superb architectural achievements of mighty Istanbul.


Places I Missed the First Time

Places I Missed the First Time

Bangkok, Thailand
4 October 2009

Dear Friends,

When I visited Egypt two years ago, I missed Aswan and Abu Simbel.

When I visited Turkey seven years ago, I missed the Aegean Coast, the Mediterranean Coast, and Southeastern Anatolia.

When I visited Israel last year I missed The Negev and Masada.

So for my next adventure, I decided to see some of the places I missed.

Kıyıköy: The Black Sea


15 November 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

The Black Sea.  I have never been here before.  I’ve been to Romania three times but I never went to Constanţa, the popular beach resort.  I’ve been to Bulgaria but I avoided Varna.   I guess I avoid the noisy, popular beach resorts now.  Too much...I don’t know…too much of the stuff I don’t do anymore. 

Anyway, here I am in tiny Kıyıköy (pop 2500).  From my hotel balcony, the view is the wonderfully blue waters of the Black Sea.*