Little of this and that in Turkey

These camels were on display in the village near where my group and I were staying in Kayakoy, Turkey.  I’ve ridden a camel in Egypt and have to say I found it to be the least comfortable animal for transport.


But with a face like this…


I was in the midst of speaking with a man about how to get to the tombs of Fethiye when I turned around and saw this lovely painting on the steps.


For the equivalent of $7.00 I had my hair shampooed and blow dried in Istanbul.  I didn’t bring my flat iron with me on the trip due to weight and it was nice to get rid of the frizzies for a few days!


In the town of Fethiye…


This kitty was near Kayakoy…


No matter where you are, there is beauty!

Crossing the Galata Bridge and sights along the way

The Galata Bridge in Istanbul is symbolic of the link between the traditional old city of Istanbul and neighborhoods to the east that are largely non-Muslim.  The bridge spans the Golden Horn (the primary inlet of the Bosphorus) and has been rebuilt five times.  These are some of the sites I saw on either side of the bridge and on the bridge itself.


I believe we were headed towards Takism Square here…


I’m also a collector of street graffiti “art”!


Nice view of the Bosphorus…




The fishing must be excellent!

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Colorful and Bustling Istanbul

Sights like this, a cat plumped down in the middle of a table of belts, enriched my visit to Istanbul and created such a fun and surprising atmosphere!


When you pick apart a scene like this to understand why it seems foreign to someone from America, the things that stand out to me are: the cart (it’s unlike those from America), the way the man is dressed on the right, with a long apron, the man in the background carrying a box on his head, the cobblestones, and the foreign signs on the building across the street.


Love this guy’s spirit!!


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Going Solo in Istanbul

Each day after taking my group to the included sites on our itinerary, we would split up into groups.  Being a photographer, I usually prefer sight-seeing on my own.  That way, I’m not worried about holding people up or having to wait while someone goes shopping (ugh).  Most afternoons I would head off on my own and on this particular day, I was trying to find better angles of the Blue Mosque and also somewhere to have a nice lunch.  There was a man by himself, seated outside of a hotel/restaurant in a somewhat solitary part of town.  I asked him if the food was good at the restaurant and he highly recommended it.  Oh my, he didn’t tell me what a magnificent view there would be!


I ordered Sea Bass (I think), which was very good and had a nice glass of white wine while taking in my beautiful surroundings!


What’s funny is I thought this was the Blue Mosque that I had such a wonderful view of, but actually it was Hagia Sophia!


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Hagia Sophia Museum and Basilica Cistern

Dating back to the 6th Century, the Hagia Sophia Museum (Holy Wisdom) is one of the most impressive and important buildings in the world!  Hagia Sophia was converted from a church to a museum in 1935.  It was the largest church ever built until St Peter’s Basilica was constructed in Rome 1000 years later.  It is the most visited site in Turkey with over 3.5 million visitors in 2014!


I visited the day after seeing the Blue Mosque and was surprised at how awe-inspiring the Hagia Sophia is in comparison!


It literally leaves you speechless!


That’s gold in the ceiling!


It is so stunning and I loved taking photographs inside…the way people’s shadows made shapes on the floor.  Maybe you know what I mean, that some places you’re much more excited to be taking photographs in than others.

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Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace was the main residence of Ottoman Sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries.   Visiting the palace gives a fascinating glimpse into what their lives were like during this time frame.


We arrived to the Palace early in the morning, so I was lucky to get a few photos without people in them…


The Palace is huge, so there are lots of angles to take photos from…


Topkapı is a series of pavilions, kitchens, barracks, audience chambers, kiosks and sleeping quarters built around a central enclosure.


The view from the Palace was gorgeous!


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Made it to Istanbul! First on the list: Exploring the Blue Mosque

Arriving to the hustle and bustle of a large City like Istanbul from the a sleepy town near the Turquoise coast of Turkey definitely wakes you up!  I had a private shuttle arranged to pick us up at the Airport for a 90-minute transfer from the Sabiha Gökçen Airport to our hotel centrally located in Old City Istanbul.  After checking in, the first and only thing on the itinerary for that day was to go to the Blue Mosque.  There are small windows of opportunity when you can go inside (in between the calls to prayers, but you have to wait until 90 minutes past each call to prayer and there are five of them).  We followed a tram line (literally at times running within inches of your body) about fifteen minutes and this was our first view!


Backing up to our arrival in Istanbul.  Our hotel, “Eurostars Hotel Old City” was perfect.  It was within walking distance of all of the major sites and tucked up a side street so it was nice to sit outside at one of the outdoor cafe tables, have a drink and people watch.  I’ve stayed at a Eurostars somewhere else in Europe and had a good experience there also.


Here’s the view looking out from the lobby.  Whenever I would pet that cat he would be nice at first and then try to bite me.  Bad Kitty!


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Charming Town of Fethiye, Turkey

During my four-day stay in the small town of Kayakoy, Turkey, my group and I explored the darling and picturesque town of Fethiye, located nearby along Turkey’s Mediterranean’s coast.  The whimsical umbrellas hanging between the shops were delightful!


Everywhere you look…cute and colorful touches added to the charm!


The waterfront was lined with boats ready to whisk passengers off for a cruise…


Shafts of light filtered through the canopy of enchanting umbrellas…


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Searching for the Ancient Rock Tombs of Fethiye, Turkey

The Fethiye region of Turkey is rich with ancient history and the Lycian Rock Tombs, dating back to the 5th Century B.C., carved into the rock, reminding me of my visit to Petra, Jordan and it’s massive beautifully carved stone architecture!

Our adventure began with a 20-30 minute dolmus ride from our Villa in Kayakoy to Fethiye and upon arrival we set off in search of the Tombs.  After consulting with a couple of people to ensure we were headed in the right direction, we meandered through the village’s narrow streets, heading uphill and then…wow, we found them!  This young lady was posing for her boyfriend’s camera, and agreed to let me take a photo.



On the way back to the main section of town, I spotted this lady and motioned towards my camera and she nodded her head “yes”.


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Turkey’s Turquoise Coast and Oludeniz

My group and I arrived by foot to Oludeniz after hiking 7 kilometers from the ghost village of Kayakoy, which you can read about here.  The blue waters of the Mediterranean sparkled and looked so inviting after our rather sweaty hike over the mountain hill, along with these colorful, plump soft seating areas, under the shade of draped cloth.


Most of us ordered a freshly squeezed frozen lemonade with mint that was sinfully delicious!


The beach was lined with people lazing beneath thatched umbrellas, enjoying the beautiful warm weather.


A few boats swayed in the light breeze on the dazzling waters…


The sky overhead was filled with vibrant, bold para-gliders…


After having lunch, and exploring the town a bit, we took a taxi back to our heavenly retreat at Villa Rhapsody.  What a wonderful day!

Hiking the Lycian Way Trail beginning in the Ghost Village of Kayakoy

I plan trips and take people around the world through my site at “Travel Spirit Meetup” and for the eight night Turkey trip in mid-September, six people joined me for four nights on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and four nights in Istanbul.  One of the adventures I was really looking forward to was hiking a small portion of the Lycian Way trail along Turkey’s turquoise coast.  Everyone arrived from the States and settled into our accommodations at Villa Rhapsody the first day, and after a delicious poolside breakfast the following morning, we walked 10 minutes from our Villa to the ghost village of Kayakoy and began exploring.

The village was deserted by the Greek Orthodox that inhabited the village during the 1923 forced exchange between Turkey and Greece.  Our goal was to take the trail head that leads from the village and hike seven kilometers to the town of Oludeniz.  During my research at home before the trip I found a great website with information about the hike, and read other information, but we still experienced some difficulty finding the trail head.  Another couple armed with a map were also a bit lost.  The trail is marked with red and yellow paint stripes on rocks along the way.  One of our groups’ members took off ahead of us exploring the ghost village and once we’d found the trail head, we shouted for him to no avail, and another member went off looking for him, which added another 10-15 minutes wait.  We weren’t able to find him and with the knowledge that he would be able to make his way back to the Villa if necessary, decided to begin our hike.

There are a number of ways to enter the ghost village, one of which requires a fee of 5 Lira ($1.65) and of course that’s the entrance we found.


The ghost village was amazing!  The sunlight illuminated the windows of the decaying buildings.


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In Heaven at Villa Rhapsody

I arrived from Edinburgh, Scotland to the Dalaman Airport near the Mediterranean coast of Turkey at 9pm in mid-September, 2015.  The flight was direct and took 4 1/2 hours.  After much research, I chose accommodations at Villa Rhapsody in the town of Kayakoy, which is located between the towns of Fethiye and Oludeniz.  A private shuttle met me for the hour drive to the Villa, which is owned by a couple named Atilla (from Turkey) and Jeanne (from Holland–I believe).  It was after 10pm, and Atilla offered me a drink of my choice on the house, so I chose a glass of white wine.  We talked briefly and then hit the hay.  The rooms were basic (you typically just sleep and bath in them anyway), but the property and the food were outstanding!

The following morning I woke early and went in search of coffee armed with my camera.  The Villa is small with 16 rooms.  Six people had signed up to join me for an 8 night trip to the Turkish Mediterranean and Istanbul through my site: “Travel Spirit Meetup” and were due to arrive during the day.

The pool and outdoor dining area were perfect!


The bar to the left of the pool, where many interesting conversations occurred and a few refreshing cocktails (Vodka with cherry juice and fresh lemon) were imbibed …


the peaceful view from my room…


one of their four cats…


the staircase window view…


another kitty…


feeling creative…




view from the pool area…


from my balcony of one of their two doggies…


beautiful light fixtures in the bar’s ceiling…


a Turkish breakfast…


I had to pack carefully due to the climate differences between Ireland/Scotland and the Turkish Mediterranean.  During our four day stay, in between the sightseeing, I enjoyed a few dips in the pool.


The attention to detail and the simple, yet colorful decor created a tranquil and lush environment!