Thursday, April 19, 2012

Istanbul, Turkey

Since March 12,
I've been calling the Prinsendam ship my home.

It's relatively small as ships go, making it possible to maneuver through the tight Bosphorus Straits bordering two continents -
Europe on one side and Asia on the other.

From our balcony, we could see old mosques, fortresses, castles, and palaces.

From the water, we absorbed in some fabulous history in visuals.

Above is the summer palace of the Sultans - late 1800s.

BELOW are the gates to another Ottoman palace on the other side of the Bosphorus.

It was built by the fellow who took the throng, shortly after the above palace was constructed.

This kind of lavish spending led to the demise of the Ottoman Empire.

Yes. I saw all of this from my bedroom balcony.

Isn't that a mind-blower?

(Comment: traveling by ship is the cheapest way to go. I promise. You just need to learn the ropes.)

We spent several days in Turkey and I couldn't get enough of that Turkish Delight!!!

Himalayans of Turkish Delight!

I did succumb. Every flavor had to be tried, after all.

I also loved the carts full of bakery twists covered with sesame seeds.

Add some fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice and it passed for a meal.

It takes exactly three pomegranates to fill a glass.

I passed on the Ant Egg Oil, even though I was given a convincing pitch of it's virtues as a tonic.

I also passed on the street corn. Why must they scorch it, for heaven sakes?

I am not exactly attracted to the long beards which are often seen around Istanbul and Kusadasi.

Additionally, the Turkish noses appear to grow more prominent with age
. . . and can actually be a bit scary.

Some women don black from head to toe, but others wear colorful headscarves.

Many individualize with the headscarves but stick with black elsewhere.

It was t-shirt weather, but you wouldn't know that when you saw the women.

(Sorry for the grainy shots, but I did not want to be indiscreet in photographing strangers
and so I took some of these shots at a distance.)

I strolled through block after block of stores with head scarves.


The head scarf shops took me up several staircase after staircase of ancient pathways.

I was blissfully lost. I absolutely LOVE losing my way in a foreign country.

Can't explain why, but somehow it's the ultimate freedom.

So, I had a full and delightful day of wandering combined with encountering kind strangers en route.

The traditional women didn't interact with me very much, but the men certainly did.

I sure wanted more contact with those women. They are draped and inaccessible.

But I traveled their paths and watched their world from a distance.

With our expansive itinerary in Turkey,
I felt like I experienced enough to be enticed and get the itch to return.

Bonsey, you can count on that!

Parting Shot:

Gotta love those Turkish TAKSIs!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Islands of Malta

View from our balcony on the ship when we landed in Malta

I am getting off the ship in 30 minutes to spend a couple of days with my niece who lives in Athens. An update is past due. We spent a few days in Spain, nearly a week in Turkey, as well as full days in Romania and the Ukraine. However, I'm going to focus on Malta. It's an archipelago of islands between Tunisia and Sicily. The natives speak a language combining Arabic and Italian. They are a delightful people and I made lots of friends during our stay.

The coastlines of the Maltanese Islands are fascinating

However, it was the villages which really won my heart.

Very few streets can handle automobiles.
So kids can kick soccer balls without concerns of getting run over.

(Notice the boy in the background with his ball in the above shots.)

Many residents place potted plants in front of their homes and this makes the narrow alleyways so inviting.

Some of these homes are more than 500 years old. The locals proud of their heritage.

Because the crusaders made Malta a home base, the people are also very tied to their Christian roots.

The majority of homes use their street-level windows as religious displays.

This woman and I made friends using the granddaughter as our connecting link.

We visited for quite a while, in spite of the fact that we have a language in common.
We did, however, share the language of mothering, grandmothering.

Women make lace in the same way they've done in for centuries.

The primary industry of Malta: fishing, naturally.

Untangling the nets is a long, long process. I watched. And watched.


Dear Kids,

Do not worry about me. I've got a new boyfriend . . .

. . . and a new hobby.

And, btw, you never need to believe a word I say.

It's been 27 minutes and I need to head out. My niece is waiting!

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