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

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