My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

An overview of our 9+ days, (10 nights) in Istanbul, Turkey

Day 1; Dec.25

  • LandedIMG_8624
  • Had to pay 15 Euro each for visa
  • Driver was late but eventually arrived and drove us to apt. on the Anatolian side, near Galata Tower
    IMG_8721 Galata Tower
  • Took 45 minutes b/c it was rush hour, sure glad we were not in a cab.
  • Explored local street, Istikal Street, for dinner

Day 2: Dec.26

  • Got cash out of ATM
  • Bought card for public transportation for 6 TL
  • Added 20 TL to it for rides, we could both use one card (added  80 TL more over time, for total of 100 TL or $60 for 10 days, or $30 per person for the 10 days, not bad)
  • Took tram over to the European Side where the Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia are located.
  • Walked to Bazar
  • Back to our side of the by crossing over the Galata bridge.
    IMG_8722 100’s of fishermen daily on the Galata Bridge!
  • Toured Galata Tower 12 TL piece and stayed til sunset, great viewIMG_8694

Day 3  Dec. 27

Day 4  Dec. 28

Day 5  Dec. 29

Day 6  Dec. 30

Day 7  Dec. 31

  • Toured Topkapi Palace 25 TL per person and NO map, really???IMG_2137IMG_9111
  • After tour walked to AqueductIMG_2448 IMG_2447
  • Got scammed by a shoe shine guy.
    IMG_9151 this guy dropped his brush so we thought we were helping by returning it and instead we got scammed and had to pay for a shoe shine!
  • After this walked to tram and took it home
  • Since it was NY Eve we ate in a restaurant not street food, quite yummy
  • Took nap and headed out for NY Eve about 11:15
  • Taksim Square had well over 100,000 people but quite mellow.
    IMG_2459 Happy New Year. A mellow celebration with 100,000 others!

Day 8 Jan 1

Day 9 Jan 2

Day 10 Jan 3

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Galata Tower and Galata Bridge


While in Istanbul we stayed in an apartment over near the Galata Tower.   As we crossed the Galata Bridge the first day and saw the palace, and mosques behind us we were thrilled that we had chosen to stay on this side of the sea. IMG_8879

We decided to take the tour of the tower and watch the sunset over the city from there.  The tower is 220 ft tall, and has 9 floors. When it was built was the tallest structure in Istanbul.  It sits on a hill that is and was the city’s tallest structure when it was built. Because near the top of the hill so really sticks out when looking at the horizon.IMG_8715 IMG_8708 IMG_8707 IMG_8694 IMG_8693 IMG_8690

We thought we’d have to climb stairs to get to the balcony near the top, but there was an elevator that took us to the top.  Simple enough, but once up there, it was crowded, and hard to ‘hold’ a good spot.  Conveniently they let you off on the restaurant floor, though prices of the food were much higher than elsewhere.

The original tower was built in 1348.  By 1717 the tower was used as a place to watch for fires in the city.  Ironically in 1831 a fire damaged much of the tower.  IMG_8684 IMG_2154 IMG_2151 IMG_2155IMG_8682

We only walked up the hill to our place one time after either walking across OR taking the tram across the Galata Bridge.  After we discovered the Tunnel (part of the tram system) we rode that up each day though we’d typically walk down the hill to the tram.  Each ride cost something, so when we could we saved $ by walking.   IMG_8893

The Istanbul subway system is the 2nd oldest subway system in the world, the oldest is London.IMG_8982  The tunnel we rode is one of the oldest links in their systemIMG_9074.  We would exit at the end of Istikal Street, the busy street our apartment was near.  I’d say we walked that 2-4 times daily enjoying the 1000’s of locals (and tourists) that were busy shopping and exploring the area.

The Galata Tower area is certainly worth exploring and the Galata Bridge is full of energy and liveliness from sun up to sun down.  The fishermen line the bridge day and night and we were shocked by the size of the fish most men were catching, they were TINY. IMG_8722IMG_8728 IMG_8727  IMG_8725IMG_8726IMG_8729 IMG_8724

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Chora Church; a MUST SEE in Istanbul


We had read that the Chora Church was one of the best buildings to see while in Istanbul.  However, it is a bit off the beaten path so takes a bit of planning to get there!  It was actually not difficult, just one of the first times we had to plan something out but figuring out which train to take and then the connections needed.IMG_2601

This was originally built in the early 5th century as a monastery outside of the walls of what was then Constantinople.  The original name translated to ‘the church of the Holy Redeemer in the Fields’ as it was out in ‘country’.   Sadly in the 12th century an earthquake destroyed much of the original structure.  The rebuild was done in many phases, with most of the mosaics inside being completed between 1315 – 1321. Eventually the church was converted to a mosque.IMG_9326IMG_2608 IMG_2609 IMG_2610 IMG_2611

There are 3 sections of the church and all are filled with beautiful mosaic works.  In 1958 it became a museum allowing the public to enjoy the beauty of the artwork.  sorry there are so many pictures, but it was just so beautiful, it is hard to narrow down to less.  Enjoy AND make an effort to get there!

Chora Museum is closed on Wednesday.

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Hagia (Aya) Sophia


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Jan. 1, 2013

Hagia (Aya) Sophia was originally built as an Orthodox basilica, then a Roman Catholic cathedral and later a mosque.  It has been a museum since 1935.IMG_2479IMG_2476

Visiting here is a must while in Istanbul.  There is so much beauty in the structure and the mosaic pieces of artwork that are masterful. At one time they were covered by plaster but have been uncovered for visitors to see.  IMG_2515 IMG_2527 IMG_2518 IMG_2517

It was built from 532 to 537 and has a very large dome at the front.   At the time it was the largest dome ever to be built and it is still studied today as it is considered such an architectural masterpiece.

It was the largest cathedral for 1000’s of years.  In 1453 it was converted to a mosque with the alter being removed and many of the mosaic decor  plastered over. Minarets were added as well as the minbar where prayers are delivered and mihrab an arch in the walls where Muslims face during prayer. IMG_2511 IMG_2509 IMG_2508 IMG_2506 IMG_2505 IMG_2503 IMG_2501 IMG_2499 IMG_2498  IMG_2496IMG_2497 IMG_2493  IMG_2491 IMG_2487IMG_2492

There was a huge earthquake    in 989 that caused one of the domes to crumble.   The repair took over 6 years but there was a lot of additional interior paintings and mosaics; Christ on the dome, the Virgin Mary holding Jesus with Peter and Paul on either side of her.


Hagia Sophia is closed on Monday!

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Blue Mosque~ A Beautiful, Beautiful must see!


We decided that today was as good as any to take a tour of the Blue Mosque.  We had several photos of it from the outside and had learned some interesting things about the Mosque.  Technically it is called Sultan Ahmed Mosque, but is more commonly called the Blue Mosque because of the tens of thousand blue tiles that are on the inside walls.IMG_2132 IMG_2131 IMG_2130 IMG_2129 IMG_2127 IMG_2126 IMG_2125 IMG_2124

It was built from 1609-1616 and was built to compete with Aya Sophia, which is 1000 years older; it was to be bigger and more beautiful.   It is a beautiful building with 260 windows, many made of beautiful stained glass, and a huge prayer space in the middle.   The original windows are no longer in tact, but came from Venice. To enter you are required to take off your shoes and women are asked to cover their head with a borrowed scarf or one of their own.IMG_8900IMG_2243 IMG_2255 IMG_2254 IMG_2253 IMG_2251 IMG_2250 IMG_2249 IMG_2248  IMG_2246 IMG_2245IMG_2247 IMG_2244

There is NOT an admissions fee, but you can make a donation upon leaving the building, which to us was a no brainer, I hope that many future generations get to see this beautiful building.]

One story we heard from a local merchant that was trying to get us to go to his carpet shop was that there are 6 minuets, more than any other mosque in the world.  One other one has 7, but most don’t come close to 6.  The story he told us was that the Sultan wanted this beautiful mosque, again to be more outstanding that Aya Sophia.  The word Gold and Six are very similar in the Turkish language and somehow when saying build the mosque with lots of gold got turned into six minuets.  Not sure if we got the story right but it was a ‘good’ story!IMG_2258 IMG_8643 IMG_8642 IMG_8641 IMG_8640 IMG_2297 IMG_2260 IMG_2259 IMG_8661 IMG_8660 IMG_8659 IMG_8657 IMG_8656 IMG_8655 IMG_8654 IMG_8653


Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey


I must admit when we read about the ‘cisterns’ I thought, what’s the big deal?  Why would I care to go to an underground water-gathering place?  In the end I was wrong, this was very cool.

Though there are many cisterns under ground in Istanbul, there are only 2 currently open to the public.  This cistern is close to Hagia Sophia, just across the train tracks.  There seemed to be a long line all the time, mostly school-aged kids out on a class trip.  We lucked out as when we arrived, we had almost no one in line.

The cistern was built in the 6th century.  Originally this area was the First Hill of Constantinople and the Stoa Basilica, and before it was turned into a cistern, the great Basilica that stood here was built in the 3rd and 4th centuries.  There were over 7000 slaves that helped with the construction of the cistern.   It had been basically forgotten until 1545 when it was a Frenchman was looking into the area and discovered that many locals got water by putting pails into holes in their basements.  IMG_8933 IMG_8932 IMG_8931 IMG_8930 IMG_8929 IMG_8928

In the far left hand corner from the entry, there are 2 Medusa heads on columns.  One head is upside down and the other is on its side.  No one really knows why they are here, but there is thought that these columns were from another building in town that was built during the late Roman period. IMG_8927 IMG_8926 IMG_8921 IMG_8920

Water was provided to the Great Palace of Constantinople from this cistern and most of the area.  When in the cistern it seems like a forest of marble columns, there are 336 all together!  They are all 9 meters tall and spaced 4 meters apart.  There are 12 rows of 28 columns!IMG_8910 IMG_2293 IMG_2292 IMG_2291 IMG_2288 IMG_2286

Cistern holds over 22,000 gallons of water.  James Bond spent time in this Cistern in the movie From Russia with Love!


Tour of the Bosphorus Sea


Enjoyed the day exploring the streets around the spice market.  We headed towards the train with the idea of taking it to the end of the line, but as we walked around the area we noticed that there were 1.5-hour boat tours of the Bosphorus Sea for 10 TL (about  $6).  It was a beautiful sunny day, so we jumped on the opportunity.  The first ½ of the trip followed along our side of the river, we viewed the Dolmabahce Palace https://timistravels.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1047&action=edit and eventually all the way down to the Rumelihisari Fort https://timistravels.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1850&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2 before turning around.  It was sunny and very nice.IMG_8803

Once we turned around and headed back following along the Asian side of the water it got much more chilly.IMG_8837IMG_8759IMG_8760IMG_8778 IMG_8779IMG_8788 IMG_8805IMG_8813 IMG_8814 IMG_8815IMG_8823 IMG_8838 IMG_8840 IMG_8842 IMG_8844IMG_8859 IMG_8862 IMG_8863 IMG_8864

It was a great ride but the best part was watching the sunset as we were pulling back into the harbor.

For dinner we had some lamb kabobs and 3 of them cost a grand total of 22 L well under $10.   IMG_8765IMG_8882IMG_8884 IMG_8773


Rumelian Fort or “Fortress on the Land of the Romans”

We were unaware of the fort when we were planning our trip to Istanbul, but the day we took the Bosphorus Sea tour we saw the fort from the water, and came home to investigate how to get there.  It is built on the hill on the European side of the narrowest part of the Bosporus.  From notes we read on line it wasn’t going to be that hard, we took the blue line to the end and then hopped on bus 23, the return was the opposite but the bus to take us back was 22. The fort is open every day except Wednesdays from 9:00 to 4:30 though they did not ‘kick’ us out until after 5:00.IMG_2337IMG_2338IMG_2349

The fort was amazing mostly because as we explored it we learned that it was built in 4 months, and 16 days, the entire thing was built between April and August in 1452, it took thousands of people to do it this quickly.  It was built so that the water traffic could be monitored.   There are 3 main gates by each large tower.   The towers and the walls are 16-50 feet tall.  Inside there are 15 other smaller towers of different shapes and sizes.IMG_2341IMG_2343IMG_2346IMG_2352

We, with our American frame of reference, were shocked by the lack of railings or handrails in the fort.  We were able to climb many of the steps, but I must admit there were moments I worried about falling off!  We actually spoke to an American lawyer there who said  “In the states this is how I make a lot of money, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.”  Not in Turkey dude!IMG_2347IMG_2344IMG_2362

The Saruca Pasha Tower is so large that it has 7 floors and is over 90 feet tall, and amazingly 30 feet thick.

After it was no longer used as a ‘fort’ it was:

  • a customs check point after the fall of Constantinople,
  • a prison in the 17th Century.
  • in 1509 destroyed part of the fort
  • in 1746 a fire took out all the wood in the towers.
  • In 1960 it became a museum and the outdoor theatre is used for concerts throughout the summer.
  • You can see the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge from the fort and it was lit up at night as we left for home.

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Angoon, Alaska; Watching the Bush Mail arrive by Plane


One of the biggest complaints of many Alaskans is “Why does XXXX company not include free shipping to Alaska, we are part of the United States.”  If USPS is the mode of shipping it costs NO more to the sender to send anything to AK.  It costs the same to mail something 10 houses down the street from you or 10,000 miles away to rural Alaska.IMG_0176IMG_0182IMG_0184

However, there IS an additional cost to get items to our small rural towns.  There is a Bush Mail subsidy that costs millions of dollars each year.  The Post Office must work with small airlines to deliver to our rural communities.  This is also how groceries are sent to our communities that don’t have road access.IMG_0186 IMG_0185 IMG_0187 IMG_0188 IMG_0189

I was in Angoon, Alaska this week and got to experience watching the mail come in on the plane I was due to fly home on.  As I watched the plane off load I saw many interesting items.  Everything from a shot gun (for hunting no doubt), decorative hooks for a newly decorated room, a large flat screen TV, and many, many, many boxes that had been mailed from different parts of this country.IMG_0191 IMG_0193 IMG_0192

Most people take getting mail for granted, but in rural, AK mail is the lifeline to many items that others may take for granted.  Think about waiting for mail to get fresh fruit or veggies?

Angoon is part of the Chatham School District and is the only community on Admiralty Island.  It is the 7th largest island in the US at 90 miles long and 35 miles wide at the widest point.  Only about 500 people, mostly of Tlingit heritage, live here and it is about a 45 minute small plane ride from Juneau.   Angoon ak.angoon

My husband works on Admiralty Island as most of the island is part of the Admiralty National Monument. Kootznoowoo (fortress of the bear) Wilderness  is known for the large number of brown bear that live on the island, about 1 bear per square mile.  He works at Pack Creek a brown bear viewing area.IMG_0196 IMG_0194