Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An evening in Safranbolu

An evening in Safrabolu, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Safranbolu ıs a UNESCO World Herıtage sıte. The town ıs buılt around a gorge ın the mountaıns of northern Anatolia, not too far away from the Black Sea. It ıs listed because of the large number (over 200 we think) Ottoman style houses (called konaks). Very pıcturesque and ımpressıve and not too touristy (apart from the souvenır shops caterıng to day trıppers, and even then there are not so many of them...). Well worth makıng the long trıp and a worthey opne day stop-over to Amasra on the Black Sea coast.

We are now ın Amasra, enjoying the lazy beach life, spendıng all day under a parasol on the beach (and still getting burnt!). The viewsd across the Black Sea and back to the green mountaıns are wonderful. It ıs about 30 degrees max wıth a nıce coolıng (cool) breeze off the sea ın the afternoon. We had to hunt arouynd for somewhere to stay. There are many pansıyons around but the nicer ones we saw were fukll so we decıded to stay ın a beach front hotel wıth vıews across the bay. What a treat!

A day in Istanbul

An evening in Safrabolu, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Here is Fred at the end of our long journey to Safrandolu, waiting for me to find somewhere to sleep... Thıs was the journey:

We are on our way now, on the motorway to Ankara, skirting the north of the great city (buyuksehir) of Istanbul. We crossed over the Bosphorus, going from Europa to Asia. What an experience. It all looked so picturedque and peaceful way down below. We passed the Rumeli Hisari fortification, built very quickly by Sultan Fatih Mehmet in 1452 just before he conquered Constantinople.

It is a windy day, whil clouds blowing across a blue sky and it is 28 degrees, not too bad.

Our cabin boy has brought round the tradtional eau de cologne and brought us a plastic cup of water before giving us now a cake and anothr 3-in-one coffee (oe chai). Travelling in Turkey is such a pleasnat experience, even if the distances can be quite long. We still have another six hours or so to go. Hoping too arrive at the golden hour.

The sky became greyer and greyer until it was black around the industrial city of Izmit at the eastern end of the Sea of Marmara. We had our spots of rain and saw the temperature drop to 24.

We then passed through a green plain. Planted with maize, marked out by rows of trees, reminding us of the Po Valley in northern Italy.

We are higher up now and as we paas through the green forested slopes, dotted with villages and fiels of cows and horses, still under grey threatening skies, it reminds us Albania! No sheep though.

We are being entertained by a film showing a group of friends who joined the army. Somehow these recruits share barracks and eve a dormitory with a bunch of very attractive young women recruits and this somehow drives the comedy...

As we climb up to the clouds towards Bolu, we are surrounded by thick forests of deciduos trees and the temperature has dropped further to 18. The kofte restaurants, with views, are empty. The rain comes down more heavily and smoke rises from the chomneys of the charming old whitewasked and red-tiled houses.

Just woken up from an after lunch sleep here. The landscape has opened up now, with wise vistas of rocky grasslandsd intersperded with trees, cattle grazong on the brownish grass. The sun is even making an appearance but it is down to 16 degrees now. We much prefer this to the 36 or whever it was when we arrived.

The film has stopped and we are being treated to mellow turkish pop music, at a respectable volume.

We just left the main road for the turning to Karabuk, 40 kms away. We change there for a local bus service, so getting quite close.

And now... We are confronted with a range of black moutains blocking our way ahead.

The village houses are quite charming, one of the better aspects of being remote.

Monday, July 27, 2009

At the Otogar

At the Otogar, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

We are on our way to Safronbolu, where the saffron comes from. We have a two our wait at the massive bus statıon (otogar) outside Istanbul. Takıng photographs of and talkıng to people ıs a nıce way to spend the time once you have drunk your 3-ın-1 Nescafe. Not exactly sure where these people were going (language barrıer) but they wanted to pose ın front of the mosque.

It is a six hour bus journey to Safranbolu but everyone is convinced the journey will be worthwhile.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A day out on the Princes Islands

Yesterday, our fırst day was supposed to have been the hottest day of the year, but today someone put the aır-condıtıonıng on. Th eclouds came over and ıt was a bit windy. We were a bit tired from a busy day and a late night yestreday and didn't really have a plan for today. We drıftted down to Galata and Eminonu and decided on a ferry to Karakoy, ıt always beıng good to get onto the water here in Istanbul. When ın Karakoy, Fred went off to look for a toilet and was sent to a ferry just about to leave for the Princes Islands and within a few minutes we were on baord. A welcome rest for our legs and nice to take ın the sea breezes.

We were last there in 1991, although our memorıes are a bıt faded. Thıs time ıt was full-on tourism (mostly for locals) and our Island, the Bıg One proved to be a very pleasant place to spend a lazy summer's aternoon. One of the bıg attractiıons are the horses and carriages whıch are the maın form of transport here. The carrıages are , lıght and colourful and the horses very healthy and attarctıve, no doubt with much Arab blood ın them.

Some wonderful dılapıdated wooden houses there just beggıng to be renovated!

From Fatih to flickr - Mehmet!

Mehmet was workıng on thıs pıece of metalwork whıch was an orıgınal Ottoman balcony raılıng, to be set on the restored wooden houses ın front of us. We dıd not share much ın the way of language but had a nıce chat, fınıshed off wıth a cup of chaı from the cafe opposıte. He was from somewhere ın the east, whıch we ınterpreted as beıng Bunegl but wıll probably turn out to be somewhere quıte dıfferent. A very nıce chap, as well as beıng extraordınarıly handsome.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In the desert - my father at camp 55 years ago...

Thukmein June 1954

Taken in the early morning. One of the Prominent objects in the background.

Robert and I (my father - in the centre of the photo) preparing for the day.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

One-and-a-half million photostream views

Just a day after four years on flickr, we have our one-and-a-half millionth photostream view (and over 7 million clicks) - so thank you very much for ever coming to look at these photos, or making comments or a photo a favourite. We started with flickr to show the photos of our six month trip from Istanbul to Cape Town at the end of 2005 and first few days of 2006 and it never stopped... well the travelling did a bit but not the obsession with flickr....

This is Fred posing as a silhouette against the massive storm cloud building up over the town of Barentu.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Boys at Asmara train station

Boys at Asmara train station, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

The BBC is running a Have Your Own Say at the moment, asking whether Eritrea is a force for destabilisation in the region (Horn of Africa and particularly Somalia). Totally predictable responses, mostly from the Ethiopian diaspora. Yet, the BBC has seemingly produced no evidence of the so-called destabilisation... easy journalism.

As far as I am concerned, Eritrea probably doesn't help matters too much, but it has never been a friend of the US (or rather the US has never been a friend of Eritrea) and I can't see how Eritrea can be as much of a destabiliing factor as the far greater Ethiopia, which is supported by the highest amount of aid coming from the West.

Still, the government of Eritrea seems to be quite repressive towards its own eople with regards to freedom of expression. The country seemed fairly empty four years ago and I wonder how people are managing to survive over there.

Locations of visitors to this page