It’s Just An Ocean

Did New York really happen?

 

Did we really just spend six weeks there?

It’s hard to believe we criss-crossed the expansive Atlantic in such a short time span, dabbling in diverse cultures as we went. From the dusty beauty of Morocco to the neon brilliance of New York (complete with familiar comforts of home), and now, the mysterious world of Turkey. Our exhausted minds were awhirl as we landed in yet another new country, hearing strange words, once again adjusting to a different perspective.

“Here is the New Mosque,” our taxi driver said as he drove into the heart of Istanbul, pointing out one of the many mosques that speckled the cluttered view outside my window, “it finish in 1665.” He rattled off dates for several buildings as we passed them, making him our unofficial tour guide on our first official visit.

“The New Mosque?” I asked rhetorically, “That’s older than the whole country of Canada.” He repeated my statement with laughter, shaking his head. He continued to point out more landmarks along the way, flexing his English and chuckling at our feeble attempts at Turkish.

We were beleagured from our long journey, but jacked with anticipation. For as impressive as New York was, we were once again whisked away to somewhere new and exotic.

And we were awestruck.

 

Our brief exploration of Istanbul transported us back many centuries, starting with the stunning Hagia Sophia, which has been many things to many different generations. Since the sixth century it has been an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, a Catholic Cathedral, again an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, an Imperial Mosque, and now a musuem.

Istanbul

 

Hagia Sophia 1

 

Hagia Sophia 2

 

Hagia Sophia 4

 

In the heralded Blue Mosque we quietly loitered, taking in every bright color and complex detail. While it still functions as a traditional mosque, it is open to tourists when not in prayer.

Blue Mosque 2

 

Blue Mosque

 

On the streets, snow swirled around us with the bitter wind. We prolonged our wandering as long as possible despite frozen noses and numb feet. Vendors approached us to sell carpets, waiters to guide us into their restaurants, their warm cocoons of unfamiliar smells and lively foreign chat. On the back street near our hotel, we were greeted with friendly recognition of the maple leaf on our backpack.

I remember living in our cozy suburb home years ago, dreaming of such foreign places as Turkey. In those days I was sure that the world was too wide, the space between, impenetrable. But now, our quick jaunts traversing oceans and continents prove that the world can indeed be a small place, if one chooses to make it so.

 

69 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own

  • March 19 2012

    No matter how many Mosque photos I see, they always look amazing when someone who knows what they’re doing takes them. Istanbul was overcast when I was there, and the photos turned out rubbish (the outdoor ones).

    • March 20 2012

      Thanks Ian! :) Our outdoor photos were hard to take as well, it was completely overcast and our fingers were freezing trying to use the camera! But we do have a couple that we will post on Friday.

  • March 19 2012

    These are incredible photos! I love the lighting and post processing. Inspired me to visit Istanbul (the entire Middle East/ Orient is a rich palette). Thanks for posting.

    • March 20 2012

      Thanks Charu. We couldn’t agree more about this part of the world, can’t wait to start exploring more of it!

  • March 19 2012

    One of my favorite city! Love everything about Istanbul – food, people, shopping, nightlife – the perfect blend of old and new. Great city. Awesome shots!

    • March 20 2012

      Thanks Kieu! Alas, our stay was too brief. Can’t wait to get back and see more.

  • March 19 2012

    Oh wow this photos are amazing although I have a feeling they don`t capture how overwhelming it must be to see it in person.

    Why do you tease me with all these gorgeous places, I need to stay home a few months!
    Ayngelina recently posted..Pigging out in Playa del Carmen

    • March 20 2012

      You’re exactly right – Hagia Sophia especially – the scale and intricacy of it is staggering. It’s something that must be seen in real life.

  • March 19 2012

    Your Photos continue to amaze me as to the beauty in this world of ours

    • March 20 2012

      Thanks Gord! Perhaps you need to make another visit to this side of the world… :)

  • Mom
    March 19 2012

    It’s amazing everyone used that word. I was thinking the same thing as I enjoyed your photo’s.

    I would love to camp out in those mosques for a week or so & soak up all that architecture.

    Beautiful,beautiful !!!!!!

    • March 20 2012

      Thanks Mom. :) We wandered in them for quite awhile, with jaws dropped! Really spectacular.

  • As always your pics are AMAZING!!!

  • jan
    March 20 2012

    Wow, how long will you be in Turkey? Did you see there was a housesit a while back in a cave house in Cappadocia?
    jan recently posted..BAC HA MARKET TOWN

    • March 20 2012

      We will be here until the end of May – housesitting in the NW! We did see that assignment come up in Cappadocia – looked very interesting!

  • March 20 2012

    Lovely photos. They look so much better than mine. Ashamed to publish mine now. Glad you like your first introduction to Turkey. Looking forward to reading some more of your posts.

    • March 20 2012

      Thanks Natalie! I’m sure your pictures are great – it is hard to take a bad picture there!

  • We’re heard so many good things about Turkey and Istanbul — I can’t wait until we make it there! Are you guys housesitting in the city?
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Photo Essay: Elephants in Thailand

    • March 20 2012

      We’re not in the city – about a 9 hour bus ride to the NW Aegean Coast. Lots to see and do around here, but we are excited to get back to Istanbul and do more exploring!

  • March 20 2012

    Your photographs continue to be stunning Pete. (And Dalene?!) But what I love most is the way you express the wonder, yet smallness of the world because I truly know exactly what you mean and I love that we are able to experience it doing what we do. I simply can’t fathom living an other life.
    Kirsten recently posted..Learning Acceptance in Costa Rica

    • Pete
      March 21 2012

      Thanks Kirsten, and yes Dalene is definitely part of the photography :) We choose to live this life of travel and I don’t think I can think of living it any other way either. See you soon!

  • March 20 2012

    Wow – snow! It was really warm when we were there last year so I can’t imagine that.
    Andrea recently posted..Spring in Amsterdam

    • Pete
      March 21 2012

      I didn’t think there would be snow either, but it was certainly a nice reminder of home as it blew into our face.

  • March 20 2012

    Beautiful shots! I’m back to NYC (my former home, too) next week–sad I missed you!

    • Pete
      March 21 2012

      Thank you Kristin. Too bad we missed you, another time I hope :)

  • Ter
    March 20 2012

    The age of the places ‘across the ocean’ continues to baffle me. Canada really is such a baby in comparison. You gotta wonder if foreign people ever really take us seriously? :)

    • Pete
      March 21 2012

      Haha……. They don’t. ;)

  • March 20 2012

    I love your pics. The New Mosque doesn’t seem to be that new after all and I found the comparison with Canada hilarious :)
    Laura recently posted..Las Fallas Food Tour. The Biggest Party In Valencia Is Delicious

    • Pete
      March 21 2012

      Exactly, and the ‘taksi’ (as they spell it here) driver here thought it was quite funny as well.

  • March 21 2012

    Your gorgeous photos really take me back to those breath-taking sites. Can’t wait to hear about your further adventures in Turkey. Are you going to the Turquoise Coast or Cappadocia?

    • Pete
      March 21 2012

      Thank you so much Jeff. Yes we definitely are planning a trip to Cappadocia. And if things work out, we might be on the Turquoise Coast this weekend (fingers crossed)…

  • March 21 2012

    check out Chora Church while you are there. It is so impressive!

    • Pete
      March 21 2012

      Cheers Mike, I’m assuming that’s in Istanbul? We will be making a trip back there in the next couple of months as we are on the coast right now.

  • March 21 2012

    Fantastic photos as always :) Looks like you’re going to have your hands full with exploration :D
    Laurence recently posted..Six weeks in Australia – an itinerary from Sydney

    • Pete
      March 22 2012

      Oh yes, In fact, we are off exploring tomorrow. To the Turquoise Coast…

  • March 21 2012

    Amazing Photos! The last photo is my favorite!

    • Pete
      March 22 2012

      I think it is one of my faves as well. Dalene took that one!

  • March 21 2012

    Isn’t that cool – we also did Morocco and Turkey recently – Marrakech back in March and then Istanbul (also Ephesus/Kusadasi and Bodrum as part of a cruise) in August. Istanbul is just another world.

    I spoke to a woman who is part Turkish on Monday night at work – she was saying how for her Istanbul is too much like New York for her to feel a culture change – she feels it when she goes out into the countryside. So you, my friends, are definitely getting the true authentic Turkish immersion. I hope you enjoy yourselves, and look forward to hearing about your adventures!

    And yes, your pictures are stunning! But it is hard not to make places like the Haggia Sofia and Blue Mosque amazing!

    • March 21 2012

      Wait a minute – that last part sounded like a backhanded compliment. What I meant to say is, those building are so amazing, it’s hard not to take a good picture – but your pictures, as I said are stunning.

      • Pete
        March 22 2012

        haha, no worries, i knew what you meant ;) and thanks

    • Pete
      March 22 2012

      Thanks Karl. I agree the countryside is definitely more of a true reflection of the culture here in Turkey. And we’re loving it.

  • March 22 2012

    such breathtaking mosques! love the photos!
    Maria D. recently posted..Fun & Affordable Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

    • Pete
      March 22 2012

      Thanks Maria. Being there is even more breathtaking. That first step in blows your mind.

  • March 22 2012

    I am so happy that you are enjoying Turkey and that, I will have you as house guests in my beautiful town tomorrow. We have so much to cach up since Banos, Ekuador. I just can’t wait to go into the kitchen and start cooking together and I can’t wait to show you around. And I have loads of questions to ask, I have a lot to learn from you. Have a safe journey tomorrow.

    • March 22 2012

      Gunes – we are SO excited to get there tomorrow and spend some time with you!

  • Ali
    March 22 2012

    Gorgeous! Andy and I will be in Istanbul in a few weeks, and I’m getting so excited looking at your photos!
    Ali recently posted..The Great Ocean Road and a Bit of Parrot Poo

    • March 22 2012

      Ali – wish we would be there at that time! But, I’ll see you at TBU, right?

      • Ali
        March 22 2012

        Yes! We’ll be in Turkey for just under 2 weeks and then flying straight to Rome. See you soon!

  • March 22 2012

    Spectacular photos of the mosque. Wow, seeing this really brings back memories of when I was there! Thanks :)
    Wanderplex recently posted..Get some pre-flight R&R at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

  • March 23 2012

    I spent weeks in Istanbul and never saw the beauty in the mosque quite like this! How gorgeous!

    • March 23 2012

      Thanks Diana! WEEKS in Istanbul? Oh, I wish we had that time…

  • March 23 2012

    I’ve seen pictures of that place and I’ve been DYING to go. I think I would take hundreds of pics of just details alone.

    • March 24 2012

      Oh yes, there are about that many photos sitting on our hard drive now! So gorgeous.

  • March 23 2012

    1665? Wow. It’s still breathtaking how many centuries later. This keeps in awe of the talent and creativity of our ancestors. Great shots and thank you for sharing!
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..A Perfect Day Up North Down Under – Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia!

  • Wow, amazing photos, guys! We were hoping to get to Turkey on a press trip in May, but it looks like that has fallen through. Have a blast and take LOTS of pics so we can live vicariously through you!

    • March 29 2012

      No worries…there is never a shortage of photos around here! :)

  • March 28 2012

    I have never been to Morocco, but I sure want to visit it. Everyone is always telling me about how beautiful things are. I’ll just wait a bit until my baby is a bit older and able to appreciate all that beauty.
    Marina K. Villatoro recently posted..What To Do in Monteverde, Costa Rica – How about Ziplining, Hanging Bridges in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde

    • March 29 2012

      Yes, we loved Morocco too…(But in this case, I think you mean Turkey?)

    • March 29 2012

      One thing to consider about Morocco: it’s easier to go with a gentleman. It was a challenging place to travel with just another lady friend, especially outside the main cities. I encountered some harassment and felt a bit uneasy at times.

      • March 30 2012

        In Morocco for sure I could see that. I had a hard time with it, and I was even with Pete the entire time! I find Turkey to be much easier in that regard.

  • March 29 2012

    I just love that you guys are still on the road, still experiencing new things, still loving it. Your posts are an inspiration!

    • March 30 2012

      Thanks so much Gigi! We see no end in sight – this life is too good…

  • April 3 2012

    What a beautiful post – pictures, words, everything… We are so lucky to live in a time where the world is really accessible. Thank you for sharing a part of it with us.
    Kate recently posted..Around the Web: Travel Roundup Tuesdays

    • April 4 2012

      I couldn’t agree more Kate. It’s a wonder to be able to see the world as easily as we do now – I don’t know why more people don’t do it!

  • April 26 2012

    So amazing that you went from NYC to Turkey. I too dream of going there! Can’t wait to catch up properly on my Stumbles and read more of your adventures!

    And so nice to meet you in person at TBU! =)

    • April 28 2012

      It was great to meet you too Cheryl! Hopefully our paths will cross again!

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