• Culinary Treats

    Istanbul, Turkey…this bustling city is a literal assault on the senses…smells, flavors, and colors!

    Food is a major element to any culture, but here food may look unusual, but it’s out of this world! Amazing dips and spreads, kebabs of every kind, sticky nutty baklava type deserts, and wonderful breads and pitas. Of course, aromatic teas accompany everything served in clear hourglass shaped glasses.

    I love street food, even though I am not always brave enough to indulge in it; I think it gives insight into local tastes! A must try are the freshly caught and grilled fish sandwiches sold off elaborate barges on the Bosphorous at the Galata Bridge. Also you can sample here a array of fresh corn, roasted nuts, sweet pistachio topped donuts, and sesame bread rings. So much to savor!

    There is nothing like a Mezze platter of different Turkish salads and dips! On my final afternoon in Istanbul, that’s exactly how I bid farewell to this delicious city…it was to die for! Tomato Couscous made tasty with fresh parsley, zucchini fried and then topped with Tzatziki, Hummus and Babaganoush, stuffed grape leaves, and assorted fresh salads. We grazed and grazed!

    Farewell to Istanbul…a place that really spoils a visitor with it’s many riches!




  • A Study in Contrasts!

    Istanbul, Turkey…I love this city! So rich and complex…straddling two cultures and two continents!

    It has a mystery and a sense of the unknown but also the sophistication and modernity to make it feel familiar.

    A visit to the Spice Bazaar, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, and The Blue Mosque made for a day full of riches! I love experiencing the cultural differences that make the world we live in! It’s intriguing to smell different aromas, taste unfamiliar flavors, and see unknown sights…I relish it! It makes you appreciate how diverse our world is and the many different creeds, religions, beliefs, and customs that all work together to form humanity.

    I am still walking around with my eyes wide open and my jaw on the ground as I can never get over the mesmerizing sights of my travels!





  • A Bubble Bath!

    Istanbul, Turkey…2 days in this amazing city to enjoy its exotic yet cosmopolitan vibe. Besides visiting all the mosques and bazaars, I wanted to experience a traditional Turkish Hamman… Cagaloglu Hamami, named in the best selling book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”…this 300 year old bath has hosted sultans and kings and retains many of its original details.

    I am stripped down to a tiny scarf sized wrap and wooden clogs, the service starts out with a relaxing 10 minutes in the marble encased steam room. Afterwards, the man performing the service shows up also in a towel…I guess we are going to become very well acquainted!

    A rough massage smack in the middle of the Hamman on the marble has me squealing. We then proceed to the bathing ritual of skin loofah, foam bath, and a series of cold & warm rinses! By the time it’s done, I am exhausted but my skin is glowing!

    It’s a little weird to get fully scrubbed in front of a Hamman of strangers but a cool experience, nevertheless. The interior itself is beautiful and this hour just spent here just adds to the mystique and allure of Istanbul.





  • Totally in Ruins!

    Kusadasi, Turkey…this port city was our pathway to the ancient ruins of Ephesus as well as the much debated final home of the Virgin Mary. The well preserved ruins of Ephesus rival Pompeii in their size and grandeur and are a must see!

    I have been here before on a previous cruise, but these sights are definitely something you can repeatedly experience…my travel companion has never been here and I wanted him to experience it as well. I am “allergic” to big tour groups, so instead of an organized outing with a large group following a guide, I decided we shall go it independently. I like being able to customize my experience instead of following some pre set program….A few taxi drivers and a lot of haggling later, we were on our way through the beautiful Turkish hillsides towards the House of the Virgin Mary.

    The sights were bustling with an overflow of tourists on buses from allover the globe!

    At the house of the Virgin Mary, this holy shrine is a pilgrimage spot for many Christians and hence women visit with scarves on their heads to show respect and collect water from the natural Spring below. There is a wishing wall where you can write your wish or prayer on paper or fabric and attach it to a wall already full of other’s hopes and dreams. I affix my wish to the wall and I hope time will tell!

    Afterwards, a hike through the marble laden ruins of Ephesus really provides a sense of antiquity and manmade ingenuity…it’s a sprawling feast for the eyes everywhere you look! Instilling complete awe, you are able to see up close how these buildings and artifacts have survived so well for centuries!

    History is so powerful. Exploring ancient marvels such as these makes you realize the enduring power of mankind! Learning about it in a book cannot compare to traveling to feast your eyes on the marvel of it yourself.20120829-020930.jpg20120829-021055.jpg20120829-021137.jpg20120829-023327.jpg20120829-023622.jpg20120829-023954.jpg


  • Surprise Makeover!

    Kusadasi, Turkey…after arriving at this Turkish port which is the gateway for Ephesus, I needed some personal maintenance! I was desperate for a haircut…

    I found a cool looking local yet random barber and had no idea what I was in for! I guess I shoulda known it’s Turkey and everyone here is like a carpet salesman…always trying to get you to spend more money…I can be brave and stupid at the same time!

    No sooner did I sit down that I ended up with an oxygen head conditioner, a facial mask, nose hair and eyebrow trim, and the frightening ear hair burn!

    My friend Jeff got roped in too…the barber pulls out a mini torch and literally burns the hair off your ear! What!!?!! It was crazy! You can hear the hairs singe under the flame!

    An hour later I have had the full service and a bill to match! At least I got the trim I needed and a whole lot more!

    Experiences in travel…funny stories that create lasting memories!