Take a two hour flight from a major metropolitan area to a small town, then drive for two hours, then get on a boat for another hour and a half. You're now in one of the most remote places on Earth: the Amazon jungle.

Everything made by humans is out of place here. From the slate and rusty steel sheet roofs alongside colorless thatch above to the black tar roads below, it all perpetuates a monotone existence. Only the occasional smear of paint - inevitably an advertisement - bucks the trend.

Everything else is green. Greens along the river bed so yellow they're chartreuse. Greens in the canopy so kelly they summon unbidden memories of St. Patrick's Day. Greens on plants imbued with silver, with earthy brown, with every imaginable shade in the spectrum.

And then the long road opens up to show the full Amazon river, not those tiny tributaries we've been skipping over. This is a behemoth. A leviathan moving so slowly you might not notice, but incessant, utterly unceasing. Once we're far enough down it and away from civilization, I know with cold hard certainty that this river has committed murder. Without the right supplies and preparation it would kill an unwary traveler mercilessly. And it had. Countless times.

So we treat it with the respect it's due. Once you accept that this is not something to be tamed or conquered, it opens up to you. Its branches are the original roads, exposing the whole Amazon basin to quick and easy travel. We go and go and go for what feels like forever and around every bend something new delights: pink river dolphins jumping and splashing, falcons on lookout in the branches, jaguars heard yet unseen behind heavy vegetation. I was Harrison Ford in Apocalypse Now.

When we finally arrived at the Treehouse Lodge it's apparent where the architect got their inspiration: we are walking into a fully functional Ewok Village.

Rope bridges connect the rooms, and one starkly missing amenity is walls, with only nets to keep the bugs out. The humidity is smothering. But we made it to our destination. The adventure had begun.

See All Comments (0)

We began our final day in country by going to the Galata Tower. It's expensive to get in, but it has some of the best views you can get of the European side of Istanbul, considering that it's a tall tower built on top of a hill. We got there early because we had walked by several times before - it's somewhat centrally located - and there was always a huge line. Our foresight proved prudent and we only had to wait a couple minutes before taking the elevator up to the top.

Galata Tower

Galata Tower at night, with lights projected on to it. You can even see the moon to the left!

Galata Tower View

Dizzying heights looking down from Galata Tower.

Once we'd had enough of gazing at the city we made the short hike to a noisy fish market. There were numerous vendors and cafes trying to sell us the fresh catches of the day. We opted for a quiet place on the water where we ate fish kebaps and drank Turkish coffee served with the typical Turkish delight candy.

We proceeded to wait in a long line to visit the Basilica Cistern, a hugely popular tourist site that once served as the reservoir for the city. You might recognize it from the Bond film From Russia with Love. It's all underground and feels like a wet cave. And it's enormous! The fact that 1500 years ago people made something this big underground and it's still structurally sound is terribly impressive.

Basilica Cistern

The three-story tall main hall of the Basilica Cistern.

Basilica Cistern Upside Down Medusa Head

The famous upside down Medusa head in the cistern. Why is it there? That's a mystery that's never been solved.

Basilica Cistern Cracked Column

An artistic shot of a cracked column in the cistern.

We wandered around town for a bit before hopping on a ferry to our final tourist destination: the Maiden's Tower. This tower is on an island in the middle of the river, and there are a ton of myths and folk stories that surround it. Most of them involve a maiden or princess being shuttered inside - nominally for her own protection. As such, the tales behind a lot of Disney movies, including Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Rapunzel, can trace at least part of their origins here. In real life, the Athenians used it as one end of the giant chain they stretched across the river to control trade and help win naval battles. Yes, the idea of using a giant chain to block off a body of water is real. I thought it was just fiction in A Clash of Kings.

Istanbul Street Art

Cool street art we randomly found off the beaten path.

Maiden's Tower

The unassuming Maiden's Tower.

Maiden Tower View

The Maiden's Tower isn't that tall, but the view is unobstructed.

With all our touring done we went back to our hotel, the Rixos, and had drinks at the bar on their roof. Upon getting outside I realized we could see the restaurant we had eaten at our second night in town, as it was right next to us, and the view from this rooftop was almost identical.

We searched online for the best place to eat dinner in the area, and arrived at Ficcin, a family owned and operated restaurant with simple but tasty fare. I ordered a meaty pide, one of their signature dishes, and was very pleased. It made for a memorable local meal that despite the very high quality surprisingly didn't break the bank.

We eventually made our way back to my favorite bar in the city, Parantez, to finish the night. There we met Swedish business exchange students and had some hilarious conversations with them. It just goes to show how international of a city Istanbul is.

See All Comments (0)

After a final decadent resort brunch we flew back to Istanbul. Our first stop was returning to the Süleymaniye Mosque, which if you recall is the largest mosque in Istanbul. This time we took our shoes off and went inside. It's enormous, with high vaulted ceilings that reminded me of the Hagia Sophia, long hanging chandelier included. There was even an English speaking tour guide who was there to answer questions. Everyone inside was very quiet, and the place had a serene, peaceful feeling to it.

Süleymaniye Mosque Interior

Inside the Süleymaniye Mosque.

Süleymaniye Mosque Ceiling

Intricate patterns on the Süleymaniye Mosque ceiling.

Outside, we explored more of the complex around the mosque. We found the tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent, the sultan responsible for building this imperial mosque. That's a moniker applied only to mosques commissioned by sultans, and they are distinguished by having four minarets instead of the usual one or two.

We then hopped on a boat tour of Bosphorus, that massive body of water diving Europe and Asia. Other than getting a unique view of both halves of the city the highlights included seeing the ferry building and Rumelihisarı, a castle fortress on the European bank of the river.

Bosphorus

The big blue Bosphorus.

Rumelihisarı Fortress

The three towers of Rumelihisarı. It was built to help the Ottomans when they besieged Constantinople. Now it's a museum and sometimes a location for festivals.

Bosphorus Bridge

Directly under one of the huge bridges spanning the river.

After disembarking we walked along the bottom of the Galata bridge, where a multitude of restaurants and bars compete for the attention of passers-by. We stopped for a glass of Efes and watched the sunset on the water.

Galata Bridge

A lively view of the waterfront. You can see the Galata Bridge on the left, restaurants spanning its bottom half, as well as ships to the right, including one of the enormous cruise ships that stopped in while we were there.

Bosphorus Sunset

Sunset on the water as seen from the Galata Bridge.

We moved on to dinner at Lale Iskembecisi, a recommendation from a local friend. The proprietor of this restaurant did not speak English, and it featured tripe as one of its main dishes. In a word: authentic. Having had a remarkably bad reaction to tripe in Prague, I chose a safer lamb kebab dish. It was creamy and delicious.

Leaving at around 9 PM I noticed that the salons were at their busiest of the whole day, full of groups of young men getting cleaned up while they chatted and laughed with each other. Some sort of pre-going out ritual? As that's something American guys never do it stuck out to me.

We finished the night by hopping around the bars in the pedestrian-only back streets, including stopping at an awesome hostel named simply "Raven," and a place with live music called "Bar Rasputin Live." I got a chuckle out of that one. It was the most European-feeling part of town yet.

Istanbul Street

This is a good example of what the pedestrian streets look like in Istanbul. The tables and stools are very low, and the establishments bleed into one another. You can easily have a conversation with someone across the street. Simultaneously exposed and intimate.

See All Comments (0)

We began a big day with brunch at the hotel before a long drive through country roads meandering between tree-lined hills. We eventually arrived at the ruins of Ephesus, a city that had been at the center of the economic and cultural life of antiquity. It was eventually abandoned as the river to its harbor dried up. Now it's a great example of what a prospering city was like back then.

While not as large as Pompeii or even Bet She'An, it does have some buildings in better repair, and some almost fully restored, making it a must-see for any tourist in the region. In particular, the theater and the library were major highlights I really enjoyed.

Ephesus Street

The main commercial street in Ephesus, which connected the upper and lower parts of the city. Shops would have lined both sides. Rich merchants lived above or behind their shops, so this would have been a classy neighborhood.

Ephesus Temple

The Temple of Hadrian, showing Roman influence.

Ephesus Bathroom

Public bathrooms. Not much privacy!

Ephesus Library

The Library of Celsus, which sits at the intersection of the merchant street and the theater street. It's a really impressive building that's had some nice restoration work done. There might have even been a third story above the two still standing. You'll notice that the upper story is shorter than the lower - this was a purposeful design to create the optical illusion of the building being taller than it really was. Lots of statues and inscriptions can still be found throughout.

Ephesus Theater

The view from the top of the theater. This was the main source of entertainment and social life for the Ephesians. It's massive - bigger than any other ancient theater I've been to. You can also see the long road heading out to where the harbor was.

Ephesus Theater

This is looking back at the theater. The huge building is the first thing a boat entering the harbor would see.

Once we finished wandering through the ruins, we went across the street to the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the seven wonders of the world. Sadly, it's mostly an empty swamp right now. There are a few pillars partially standing, but the site really has nothing noteworthy about it. This convinced me that visiting the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus - the last of the ancient wonders I hadn't been to I could possibly see - was not worth it, as that building is reportedly in even worse condition.

Temple of Artemis

The remains of the Temple of Artemis, a lone column standing in the middle of a swamp.

Beyond the temple lies the ruins of the Basilica of St. John the Apostle, which includes the claimed final resting spot of that man. It was built by the Byzantines about 1500 years ago, making it the youngest ruin in the area.

Basilica of St. John the Apostle

One of the entrances to the Basilica of St. John the Apostle. The building must've had some pretty impressive domes, but the roof is totally gone now.

It was a great day for exploring the history of the region, seeing firsthand how the economic, political, and religious powers throughout time influenced the architecture of different buildings in such close proximity.

See All Comments (0)

We left Istanbul on a domestic flight to Izmir, the country's third most populous city. The flight was delayed while we were taxiing on the tarmac due to another plane making an emergency landing. One of the engines actually burst into flames. Thankfully, the plane made it down successfully and everyone was fine. I found a video of the flight in question if you want to see it for yourself.

Shipping in Istanbul

Once in the air we got to see Istanbul from the sky, including the hordes of shipping vessels that were awaiting their turn to dock at the port.

When we landed a short time later, we discovered that the Izmir airport was virtually empty. It clearly had a capacity for thousands more people arriving and departing, but we were in the off season, so most of the airport was vacant.

We then found a driver to take us out to Çeşme (pronounced chesh-may), a sea-side town an hour outside the city that caters to tourists looking to get away from it all. We were staying in a big, fancy resort with all sorts of amenities we never used, including a spa and a movie theater. The resort seemed just as empty as the airport.

Çeşme Hotel Staircase

One of the staircases inside the hotel. Yay favorable exchange rates!

Çeşme Hotel View

This was the view from our hotel balcony. We began each morning sipping coffee and gazing out at this.

In Çeşme we found our first doner kebaps for lunch. Both Joe and I are big fans of this particular Turkish food in its transplanted-by-immigrants version in Berlin, so it was exciting to finally get it straight from the source. We had pide for dinner, which is a kind of stuffed flat bread shaped and cut like a pizza. Its consistency is somewhere between pita and pie crust. The word pita may even derive from pide.

The next day we explored the Alacati neighborhood and it felt like being in a Mediterranean version of Martha's Vineyard. It was also very similar to some of the towns on the Greek islands I visited, although those were more plain visually, dressed consistently only in that country's white and blue. Here we walked through small, winding pedestrian streets surrounded by colorful buildings. There were many restaurants and shops and even hostels to choose from.

Alacati Windmills

The Alacati windmills are a famous landmark. We couldn't figure out why exactly, but a lot of locals were there lounging or taking pictures, including several weddings using the spot as a backdrop.

We had drinks and dinner in Alacati, doing as the locals did: just enjoying ourselves and the amazing clear weather surrounded by the smell of salt coming off the ocean. The meal was fish and chips, but it was fresh fish caught locally, specifically, bream.

Dogs in Çeşme

There were a lot of stray dogs around Alacati and they liked to watch everyone eat. Although they mostly relaxed in the sun and moved about lazily, I did see one chase off a bird for a piece of calamari that fell on the street.

Back at hotel we witnessed a spectacular sunset. Çeşme really delivered when it came to the idea of a beach vacation. And although it was still a bit cold to enjoy the water in April, being there in the off season meant we had the place to ourselves.

Mediterranean Sea in Çeşme

The sun starts to set over the Aegean Sea, as seen from the hotel room.

Çeşme Sunset

Full sunset on the beach.

See All Comments (0)

I took so many pictures in and around the Hagia Sophia that it seemed a waste not to share more. So here's an extra post that's focused on just that. Enjoy!

Hagia Sophia Door

This is big, beautiful door is the main entrance into the central chamber.

Hagia Sophia Library

These are some really ornate windows separating the main hall from what was the library.

Hagia Sophia Modern Art Exhibit

As I mentioned in my last post, there was a modern art exhibit in the side halls while we were there. This was my favorite piece.

Hagia Sophia Chandelier

The chandeliers are just massive. And they're hanging from that incredibly tall ceiling by only a single cable. Impressive.

Hagia Sophia Empress Lodge

This is looking up at the Empress' Lodge, so called because it was her private viewing location. The rich got box seats, even back then.

Hagia Sophia Shadows

With only the chandeliers to complement the natural lighting some areas didn't have much ambient light. It made some artsy shots like this one possible.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque seen from inside the Hagia Sophia

There's a window on the top floor where you're high enough to actually see across the rooftops and catch a glimpse of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque poking out.

Hagia Sophia

One last exterior look. The Hagia Sophia is so solidly built and proportioned that it sometimes felt more like a fortress than anything else.

Stay tuned for next time when the fun continues in Turkey but we leave the big city behind!

See All Comments (0)

The Hagia Sophia. It was the main stopping point on our whirlwind single-day tour and we dedicated the rest of the afternoon to it. This 1500 year old building went from cathedral to mosque to museum, and has influenced a lot of other buildings both in Istanbul and around the world. It was the seat of the Eastern Orthodox church and at the center of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire for a millennium. It's hard to overstate just how impactful such a place could be.

Hagia Sophia Exterior from the South

The main entrance to the Hagia Sophia. Lots of tourists and locals jostling each other for a place in line. Pro tip: you can skip most of that line if you're willing to use an automated machine. Just like going to a movie theater it baffles me why so many people wanted to stand in line just to talk to a human to buy a ticket.

Hagia Sophia Exterior from the East

Another shot of the Hagia Sophia from the side. Since there wasn't an entrance here the area had very few people milling about.

We walked into the center of the main floor first, staring upwards at the high vaulted ceilings and twirling around, trying to take it all in. I don't remember any other domed building I've been in being this old. To think that the roof here stood the test of time when so many others fell. It was a staggering moment.

Hagia Sophia Interior from Upper Floor

The inside of the Hagia Sophia. You can see some of the restoration projects on the left and the massive hanging chandeliers in the middle.

Hagia Sophia Altar

This is the focal point of the main floor inside the Hagia Sophia. It's where the sermons would've happened. A Christian altar would've been in the center back area now replaced by the Muslim mihrab. And you can see the staircase on the right leading up to the minbar, what would be called a pulpit in English. Finally, you'll note the mosaic visible in the dome up top - the original cathedral had tons of impressive mosaics throughout. Sadly some were stolen and the rest plastered over during the conversion to a mosque. Restoration efforts have improved the state of a lot of them though.

There were museum pieces aplenty, including a modern art exhibit. But really we were there for the building itself and to feel close to the history it had seen.

Hagia Sophia Byzantine Emperor Coronation Spot

This unadorned, unassuming spot in the middle of the floor is where the coronation of the Byzantine Emperor happened for a thousand years. It's hard to imagine a micro-location with more historical weight behind it.

Topkapi Palace Gardens

Just to the north of the Hagia Sophia is a huge, sprawling garden filled with flowers, statues, and water features. Originally, the verdant acres could only be enjoyed by the royals of the adjacent Topkapi palace and their guests, but it's now a public park. That conversion from private, exclusive space to something anyone can experience for free really impressed me.

When we finally departed it was to meet up with Eric, an American friend I made on the flight over, who was doing a solo version of the same trip we were. We tried to find a rooftop restaurant but ran into the same problem with addresses and maps that we had the first night. After several failed attempts we walked up six flights of stairs that were only wide enough to fit one of us at a time, past heaps of junk, in an utterly silent building before emerging into what was clearly a restaurant, complete with white linens and a great view to the West. But it was empty of people except for a single patron nursing a tall beer at the bar. The proprietor eventually appeared and greeted us in a different accent than we were used to hearing, a minor mystery he solved when he identified himself as Kurdish. We started with grilled calamari served with hummus and yogurt to dip in for an appetizer. Dinner for me was a sizzling hot lamb stew with mushrooms and peppers, a dish that reminded me a lot of the food in Hungary.

Istanbul Sunset from Terras 6/Wonder Roof

This is the sunset as seen through the window of the restaurant we dined in, called both Terras 6 (it's on the 6th floor) and Wonder Roof, depending on which website or map app you're checking.

Eric departed as we left for drinks at what became my favorite bar in Istanbul: a tiny wooden corner off of Istiklal sporting American beer signs and license plates called Parantez. There we had Bomonti, a domestic light beer that goes down smoothly.

We then hit our first - and only - recommendation of the night, the James Joyce pub. An Irish pub in Istanbul? Of course. The atmosphere and drinks were what you would expect - glorious Guinness was available and we were surrounded by shelves of classic books - but the highlight happened as we were thinking of leaving. A live acoustic band started playing covers of 80s and 90s American music, focusing (much to our delight) on the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And they nailed it! We stayed far longer than we had intended just to listen to them keep jamming.

We finished off the night at a place called Pasha with another Turkish tradition: hookah. It was low-key and the servers hung around to talk to us when we seemed amenable to learning more about their culture. As the night waned they pointed out some of the rarer sights: punks and drag queens started walking right by our table while pop music could be heard thumping from a nearby club. In that moment we could have easily been in any Western city. The miracle is that we weren't.

See All Comments (0)

Our second day in Istanbul was hugely ambitious. We walked to most of the major tourist sites on the European side, cramming in everything we could until our calves threatened to not walk up another hill. One of the city's nicknames is "the city of seven hills," an affectation borrowed from Rome. By the time the sun was setting my feet and my shoes could attest to the truth behind that name.

We started the morning with Turkish coffee, which is dark and chalky and almost always served with sugar-coated, soft Turkish delight taffy, much to my...delight. We had found a sparsely populated cafe where the owner was only too happy to regale us with dubious tales of his exploits the previous night. His impressions of the girls he claimed to have met were so outrageous that it made me not care if his stories were true or not. I'll grant an eccentric middle-aged cafe owner his tall tales told for the amusement of tourists.

Bosphorus Istanbul

The Bosphorus from the European side looking south. Here you can see the New Mosque across the water. It's called that because it's one of the youngest big mosques in the city, sitting at around 350 years old.

After a long walk across the river (the first of many) we hiked up to the Süleymaniye Mosque. It's the largest mosque in the city and one of the most easily spotted from afar because it sits on top of a hill pretty much by itself; its silhouette was a constant companion on the skyline. Services happened to be going on so we didn't venture inside (although we did return to do so later), but the grounds and exterior plus the views looking back at the city proved well-worth the trek.

Süleymaniye Mosque

The Süleymaniye Mosque seen straight on from the front.

Süleymaniye Mosque View

The view from the grounds of the Süleymaniye Mosque looking back at where we came from. A popular spot for locals taking selfies.

Back at the bottom of the hill we wandered into the Grand Bazaar, another landmark famous for its age and size. The sprawling market contained almost any kind of shopping we would want to do - from clothing to electronics to food to specialty shops. I bought some honey pastries as a snack and they were sticky but delicious.

Istanbul University

The main entrance to the Istanbul University is right near the bazaar. We saw more diversity in the kinds of people around it than anywhere else in the city.

Exiting the bazaar to the south we found a meal at an outdoor restaurant. Typical of what I remember from lunch elsewhere in the Middle East there were only two choices: chicken with salad or lamb with salad. It was quite a bit of food despite the affordable price. While we ate the proprietor was trying to facilitate connections between the few tables he had populated, and managed to find another set of American tourists for us to converse with in unaccented English.

Continuing downslope along the road Divan Yolu - a major commercialized thoroughfare complete with a light rail tram and lined by tons of shops and restaurants - we happened upon the Tomb of Sultan Mahmut II. It was the first place we had to take our shoes of in Turkey, but certainly not the last. It was a brief but fascinating look at how royalty was treated once they were gone.

Sultan Mahmut II Cemetery

The cemetery around the Tomb of Sultan Mahmut II. The gravestones are cylindrical, which isn't something I had seen before.

We finally arrived at the bottom of the hill in the center of the Sultan Ahmet district, which is dominated by a park of the same name. Crowds of both locals and tourists lazily meandered the flowered and fountained concrete. There happened to be a display of a large carpet of tulips that caught a lot of attention. It was an ideal day for such a place: clear blue skies and a light breeze couldn't be argued with.

Obelisk of Theodosius

This is the Obelisk of Theodosius in the Sultan Ahmet park. It was erected in 390 CE, which means there aren't a lot of things still standing older than it. For reference, Byzantium became the Eastern Roman Empire's capital - which included the name change to Constantinople - in 330.

On one end of the park was the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, the structure that lent its name to the neighborhood. It was absolutely packed and the line to go inside looked far too long, so we contented ourselves with exploring the area outside.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque seen from across the main fountain in the square.

We eventually made our way to the opposite side of the park to find our main attraction for the day. I have enough to say about it to warrant its own post, so you'll have to wait until next time.

See All Comments (0)

This past spring I had the pleasure of exploring the Byzantine empire - a part of history I've been fascinated with since I was young - on a week long trip to Turkey with my constant friend and travel companion Joe (you'll remember him from my first time in Berlin and subsequent adventures in Scotland and Ireland). In the time leading up to takeoff I was constantly singing the appropriate They Might Be Giants cover to myself:

Because of the exchange rate we were able to live like kings and eschewed our normal hostels for five star hotels. We checked into the Divan in Istanbul, conveniently located on the northern end of the hip Taksim Square neighborhood. This is where a lot of the best Istanbul nightlife happens and we purposefully stayed there based on multiple recommendations. Thank you friends, you were not wrong, it was a great neighborhood to stay in and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Istanbul from 360 Restaurant

My first view of Istanbul from above at the restaurant 360. (Note that I did not have my camera with me the first night, so these are all cell phone pictures.)

Wandering down the main pedestrian thoroughfare of Istiklal street we were surrounded by the smells of food on carts and in stalls: macaroons, pretzels, and kebabs dominated. We were arriving right at the end of the work day and the beginning of dinner time and the crowds were nearly unnavigable. It was as dense or worse than any popular street in London or New York. So if you have claustrophobia when it comes to crowds it's best avoided. More surprising was that all the men seemed to adhere to a single dress code: black leather jackets, dark jeans, and identical haircuts among the locals made us even more conscious of our tourist status. Amid the thronged chaos I was struck by how clean the cement and cobblestone streets were.

Istiklal Street

Istiklal street with tons of people and lit up nicely.

We eventually found the address for another repeated recommendation: dinner at 360, a posh restaurant known for panoramic views of the city. But the building looked like it was just another normal apartment building, easily inconspicuous and unremarkable from the outside. This would become a common theme in Istanbul: addresses were unreliable, and even if correct often failed to denote a floor or suite. We gambled and walked inside despite our misgivings, and were paid off by an elevator ride to a barren looking staircase with a cloth barrier. Passing through the threshold we were immediately bombarded by the sounds of dinner guests eating and clinking drinks. We were in the right place - and they had English menus.

360 Restaurant

360 Restaurant: expensive, but worth the food and views.

Dinner at 360 included some light entertainment - a few songs sung and danced to by a couple of young women in silver dresses and white wigs, with makeup I can only describe as Egyptian. One decided to dance only a few inches from me, so snapping a picture would've been extremely awkward. We drank raki cocktails - it's a local licorice-flavored liquor comparable to ouzo - and ate beef samosas with fig jam, cheese stuffed calamari, and pizza with Turkish cheese and pepperoni. It was delicious by any measure.

Aslan Lion Drink Menu

In this drink menu at 360 I was shocked to learn that "aslan" simply means "lion" in Turkish. C.S. Lewis named the lion in his Narnia series Aslan - that's the lion of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe fame. I thought it was a cool name he made up, but it's just a literal translation. Childhood: shattered.

After dinner we went back in the direction of the hotel, but stopped at the Istanbul Intercontinental for drinks. Their top-floor bar is called City Lights, and it delivers precisely that at night. We enjoyed the local beer, Efes, in several different varieties. It's named after the shortened form of the famous ancient city Ephesus, which we would visit later.

Istanbul from City Lights Bar

The Asian side Istanbul across the river as seen from the Intercontinental's City Lights bar.

It was a great evening to start the trip, and we had big plans for exploring more of the city on the morrow.

See All Comments (0)

Staying in the town of Lahaina on Maui was a very purposeful decision during the planning process because it's on the Western edge of the island, and thus ideally situated for viewing spectacular sunsets.

I took a ton of sunset pictures, so rather than throw them in sporadically throughout all the Hawaii posts I decided to collect my favorites together in a sunset mega post. They're ordered chronologically, are a mix of phone and camera pictures (can you spot which is which?) and were taken either at our resort, on the beach in Lahaina, or from the ship in the harbor. None of the pictures have been edited other than resizing to fit them here.

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

If you're still here you'll notice that the last three are very similar shots. I wanted to show how quickly the colors and clouds can change. It felt unreal to watch it unfold in real time. There's something...majestic about a sunset.

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I enjoyed taking them! I'm happy to provide high quality print versions privately upon request.

See All Comments (0)