Tom is an old school travel writer, guide book author – the kind that went to the destination, walked all the streets, drew the map if there wasn’t one, learned the language, and checked all the prices – and what is incredibly cool, is that he is also a pioneer of the new school of travel writing and online guides.
I am working in Istanbul, staying in a small apartment that looks out on a city state of ships at rest in the Marmara Sea waiting for their chance to go up the Bosphorus and reach the Black Sea and the many Russian and Central Asian ports it holds.
Istanbul is an emotional state more than a place.
2011 was a great year for me in terms of travel, family, and work. While there were a huge number of experiences to choose from, here are my top ten favorite adventures that came from this incredible year.
When I go to new places, I like to see the things that one should see in those places. Or at least, I have liked that. I don’t know that I do anymore.
From the Otogar in Ankara which was truly massive with hundreds of buses going to all points in Turkey, we followed Ramazan and got into a cab which took us to the modern and architecturally interesting train station. It was situated near a giant amusement park that made me remember going to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm when I was a kid.
Bostanci is the big ferry port on the Marmara Sea which has all the ferries out to the Prince’s Islands. We hope to make it out to the Prince’s Islands someday on another trip. As it was we said our goodbyes to Alp and used the time before our ferry to Yenikapi on the European side to try to figure out how we were going to get to our next stop, Bursa.
What I saw as a nice rectangular park with some old monuments in it was actually a Byzantine race track which used to have two levels of seats on the outside and where chariot races used to excite the crowds for more than 1200 years. The chariot teams were really political parties called ‘Greens’ and ‘Blues’ and so it was part politics and part sport for the Byzantine Emperors and chariot fans.
“The dervish whirls so that the true form of the world can be seen. When we whirl all the individual pieces we think are separate blend together and we begin to sense the totality that is God.”
Istanbul may not be the first place you think of to take a family vacation, but the city that bridges two continents is an extraordinary place to take a family vacation. While there may not be an Istanbul Disneyland (yet!), the city abounds with activities that are worthy of inclusion in any magic kingdom. Fishtanbul!…