Saturday, August 31, 2013

Demonstrating against the killings of Kurds

These people were demonstrating against the killings and disappearances of Kurds in Turkey.

In the meantime, the situation for the Kurds acros the border in Syria has become far worse with the sectarian racist war being waged by the Al Qaeda affiliated jihadist Al Nusra Front - as detailed in this horrifying report on Open Democracy:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Back in Mardin - looking across the Mespotamian plain towards Syria

Repeating one of my favourite photos from our trip here in 2006. But now the situation across the border has become so much worse, with thousands of foreign jihadist fighters, paid by Saudi Arabia and Qatar causing havoc to the good people of Syria.

Hodja and his donkey

Hodja and his donkey by CharlesFred
Hodja and his donkey, a photo by CharlesFred on Flickr.

As seen in the mainly Christian grape-growing, wine producing Tur Abdin area just south of Midyat.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Backstreet kids of Diyarbakir

Bringing back the spirit of our 2006 trip to Diyarbakir.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Multi-coloured fields of Bismil

It is harvest time in south eastern Anatolia.

We took a car down from Diyarbakir this morning, across beautiful countryside to the oil-producing city of Batman, then across to Hasankeyf before the site is flooding with the waters of the Tigris (and financial support from the Chinese now the Europeans have backed off - or so we heard) then down to Midyat and along to the white city of Mardin with its views across the Mesopotamian plain towards Syria, just 20 kms to the south.

A beautiful day.

Two cats of Diyarbakir

Two cats of Diyarbakir by CharlesFred
Two cats of Diyarbakir, a photo by CharlesFred on Flickr.

This decoration is found on the outside of the Syriac Church of St Mary, which dates back to the 3rd century AD, being built on the site of a Roman temple.

Two cats of Diyarbakir

Two cats of Diyarbakir by CharlesFred
Two cats of Diyarbakir, a photo by CharlesFred on Flickr.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to the Back to the Black City - Diyarbakir - the recently restored Armenian Church

Diyarbakir used to be a home for many Armenian Christians, many of whom were disappeared in the early 20th century and some more again who left in recent years, finding homes in other countries. The state of Christians in Turkey has been well recorded by William Dalrymple in his book 'From the Holy Mountain'. However, things are getting slightly better such that at least this church has been able to be restored with contributrions paid for by (mainly) expatriates.

It is sad to see that the Americans are increasing the tone of their rhetoric against the Syrian government with talk of sending cruise missiles into Syria. The consequence of the fall of the Syrian government is bound to be annihilation of the Christian communities in Syria, either through more bloodshed at the hands of the jihadists or a long term exodus. Yet in the book, it was clear that the strongest Christian communities left in the Middle East, the birthplace of the religion, were to be found in Syria.

Back to the Black City - Diyarbakir

We are back in Diyarbakir after an absence of seven years, having been one of our most favouritre destinations of our 2006 trip to Turkey. There have been some chnages some positive, some less so. The positive ones include the restoration of the Armenian church (see previous photo) and the opening up of some older Diyarbakir houses and the castle within the walls. Less positive are the fact that some of the children in the backstreets shout for 'money money' nowadays and there are fewer old men sititng around with their wheelbarrows on the streets. Still, the people are very friendly and one spends the day being offered to sit somewhere and join people of glases of tea, just like old times.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A brief sojourn in Malatya, apricot capital of the World - dried apricots!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Divrigi site

The Divrigi site by CharlesFred
The Divrigi site, a photo by CharlesFred on Flickr.

Divirigi is the site of a remarkable building, namely the Ulu Mosque and Hospital, built almost 800 years ago. It is a UNESCO site and is apparently one of the least visited in the world, owing to its remoteness in the rugged hills of central Anatolia.

We took a car out for the day and drove down to Kangal, famous for the sheep dogs of that name, before turning right ont the road leading to Divrigi. After looking around the site and having a delicious lunch at Palanddoken Kebab Salonu, we drove back through Zara before joining the Erzican-Sivas road back to Sivas, a round trip of some 300 kms and six hours driving, including photo stops.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A blue day in Tokat - blue door

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Continuing yesterday's colour theme - a wedding carriage in the backstreets of Tokat

Amasya though is the place for weddings and the weks after Eid represent the height of the wedding season. Typically we would see three or four newly-weds being photographed on the streets of Amasya, with its beautiful backdrop of the old houses on the banks of the river.

Even in Istanbul, we saw a few newly-weds on the backstreets, one bringing a party of friends to our local Turku Bar (the Munzur Bar) for drinks and some ecstatic dancing.

Towels drying outside the Ali Pasha Hammam in Tokat

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcome to Tokat

Welcome to Tokat by CharlesFred
Welcome to Tokat, a photo by CharlesFred on Flickr.

We arrived in Tokat this afternoon after a rather wasted morning in Amasya, where at least we went to visit the local museum.

The weather had turned a bit by thye time we arrive d in Tokat, being a bit cooler, cloudier and windier. It took a while to get into Tokat but after a walk up the hill to stunmble across the recently restored old buildings and the local Tokat Museum, as well as spending a pleasant hour chatting to a chap called Aykut who is trying to pass his accountancy exams, we returned to the hotel feeling much better about the place.

We have a full day here before moving on to Sivas on Friday morning.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Amasya, as seen from the Pontic tombs

Amasya turns out to be the birthplace of Selim the Grim.

Selim is known also as the "Butcher of the Alevis", a she tried to convery them to Sunni Islam in around 1520 and slaughtered many who refused.

This action is very current in Turkey at the moment, home to some 15 million Alevis, as the Sunni Prime Minister and his Islamist friends decided to name the third bridge over the Bosphorus after this Sultan, thereby being deliberately provocative.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Classic view of the old Ottoman houses overlooking the river in Amasya

We arrived in Amasya today, after taking a flight to Samsun and a bus from there. Good to be getting out and about in Turkey again, visiting some cities new to us and a couple of old favourites. Amasya is very very pretty, especially with these old houses overlooking the river.

In the meantime, Amasya is how to the best and tastiest apples in Turkey and, possibly, the world...

A pity about the local cuisine but at least we ended the day listening to some beautiful Turkish music being sung live in a Turku Bar.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Tomb of Selim II, by Mimar Sinan

Selim II (Ottoman Turkish: سليم ثانى Selīm-i sānī, Turkish:II.Selim; 28 May 1524 – 12 December/15 December 1574), also known as "Selim the Sot (Mest)" or "Selim the Drunkard"; and as "Selim the Blond", was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1566 until his death in 1574.

He was born in Istanbul,a son of Suleiman the Magnificent and his favourite Ukrainian wife, Roxelana.

Selim died in the Topkapı Palace after a period of fever brought on when he drunkenly slipped over on the wet floor of an unfinished bath-house, getting a head injury.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A pro-Morsi Brotherhood demo in Eminonu

There were thousands of (boisterous) people demonstrating outside the Yeno cami in favour of the deposed Islamist President of Egypt, Morsi. Not a ingle policeman in sight.

Last night when we arrived there were about 200 peaceful Kurdish people having a sititng demonstration outside the Galatasaray Lycee - with about 300 hundred riot police standing (very) close by.

Now what does this say about the state of Turkey today?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sailing on the Loosdrechtse Plassen

We spent a nice weekend with our friends Mariette and Arnaud, joining them at their campsite near Loosdrechtse Plassen, where they keep their boat.

It was a windy weeknd and we were very lucky not only to have a strong wind blowing us down there on the Saturday but an even stronger wind blowing us back on the Sunday!

In the meantime, we were taken out on their boat on the Sunday morning, as seen here.

Monday, August 05, 2013

At home on a sunny Sunday morning in early August, introducing the new b...

Sunday, August 04, 2013

August sky over Zandvoort

August sky over Zandvoort by CharlesFred
August sky over Zandvoort, a photo by CharlesFred on Flickr.

The amazing summer continues... although this is the first time I have made it down to the beach, having done most of my swimming at the local pool.

Not for the Wahhabis!

Not for the Wahhabis! by CharlesFred
Not for the Wahhabis!, a photo by CharlesFred on Flickr.

As seen at the Amsterdam Canal Parade.

But be careful not to laugh too much - there is a fatwa against that...

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Mum and Charles

Mum and Charles by CharlesFred
Mum and Charles, a photo by CharlesFred on Flickr.

Yesterday was the occasion of the funeral of my Aunty Marci who sdaly died suddenly and unexpectedly recently.

The funeral service was a celebration of her colourful life and her joyful personality and her boys did very well with their readings.

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