Wednesday, July 27, 2011


JenniferJuly 4-6, 2011: The Women's World Cup of Football was in Germany this year. Don't worry, Gentle Readers, I shan't bore you with endless details of the sport I'm passionate about (not yet, anyway); this post will only be about non-sport-related tourist activities. The games were in Wolfsburg, a small town nearly devoid of tourist stuff, so my friend S., who was also going to a few games, thought it would be fun for us to spend some time in nearby(-ish) Hannover, a larger city with a much better reputation for touristic sights and activities. So off we went, in search of gardens and good beer...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Those must be some mighty fine neighbors*

* That was supposed to be a Frost reference, but with walls instead of fences…
Yes, fine, I'll admit that it didn't really work. But I'm leaving it anyway.
JoeFor my last day in Istanbul, I still wasn't feeling the whole "crowd" vibe, so I opted to do something a little off the beaten track, namely to walk the land walls. The Theodosian Walls, to be more precise: 6.5 km of double wall, completed in the early 5th century AD, and so ridiculously successful at protecting the city that they helped to keep Constantinople inviolate long after the power of the eastern empire had waned. Indeed, the city was taken only twice in the thousand years that followed the completion of these walls (first when the Fourth Crusade sacked the city by breaking through the medieval replacement wall at the northern end by Blachernae Palace; second when Mehmed won the 15th century arms race by punching a great big hole in the middle of the wall with a cannon).

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Peaceful Moment

JoeWhile the splendors of Istanbul are obvious, its charm has proved to be more elusive, buried beneath a thick veneer of overly friendly carpet touts and pushy restauranteurs. But today — sitting in the cool evening breeze outside one of the dozens of fish places under Galata bridge, sipping wickedly strong tea from a tulip-bulb glass, and watching dolphins cavort around the ferry boats that madly ply the waters of the Golden Horn — today I see it.

My new found sense of harmony with the place is partly a reaction to the peace and quiet of being the restaurant's only patron at the moment, as the dinner rush won't start for another couple of hours. The solitude, while welcome, was not my intent; I'm here early because I unintentionally skipped lunch today. I was quite ravenous by the time I got here—but that's getting ahead of myself.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Just like Byzantium, but with more carpet (sellers)

JoeI've been fascinated by Istanbul, née Constantinople, née Byzantium, for years, so it seemed foolish to come all this way and not drop by to say, "Howdy!" Thus, my weekend in Istanbul. I've been doing my best to make it a weekend in Constantinople, actually—nothing against Istanbul or the Ottomans mind you, I just wanted to start with the place that was, and work my way up to the place that is, if you see what I mean.