Day 526 In Beijing: Blue Tour In Cappadocia, Goreme Open Air Museum.


Just imagine living in these homes.

Just imagine living in these homes.


The last stop on our tour was to the Goreme Open Air Museum.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures here because we were pretty tired and there are a lot of churches.

Most the churches in this area don’t allow pictures inside so we only have pictures of the outside.

There are many paintings, and frescoes, on the Church walls and they are quite impressive.

However, many of them have the saints eyes scratched out through vandalism.

Also, the Muslim religion forbids the depiction of the human form, or icons, and supposedly they were afraid of the “evil eye.”

Considering how old these paintings are, and that they are not from the dominant religion in the area, it is rather amazing they are in the shape they are in.

We actually made one more stop, after the Goreme Open Air Museum and stopped by a Jewelry store.

Jill and I had wanted to buy her a ring and we wanted our guide, Sukru, to help us with the bargaining and make sure we weren’t ripped off.

We bought a ring, with a Zultanite stone, and it was gorgeous.

I’ll post some pictures of it, in the near future, as it is a stone that changes color with light (up to 6 colors that we’ve seen so far) and is only mined in Turkey.


Day 517 In Beijing: Blue Tour In Cappadocia: Sukru Scaling The Steps.


Jill, Sukru and me on our tour.

Jill, Sukru and me on our tour.


Sukru was our guide on the blue tour and did an amazing job.

He was getting married about 2 weeks after this tour and felt his joy and excitement as he told us about his life.

He had also lived outside of Turkey, for a few years, and spoke some Spanish.

It is always nice to meet up with other travelers, who understand how magical this world is, and want to see it as much as we do.

As Sukru showed us the little handholds that go up to the third level, he gave a small demonstration of how they would climb up.

Realize that this is about 10-15 feet, straight up, and they were monks.

I would guess they weren’t wearing robes, but maybe they were, and that would make it even more impressive.

There is a second way to go up, but one has to climb to the second floor first, and I’m guessing they would use this to save time, and if being attacked, be able to escape, as quickly as possible.

It would also be easy to defend from above because anyone coming up would be unable to protect themselves and be slowed by the armor, swords, and other gear.

I was tempted to climb up and see how difficult it would be and then realized we are hours away from a hospital and common sense took over my ego.

For that, I’m thankful.


Day 515 In Beijing: Blue Tour in Cappadocia. The Holy Cross Church.


The view from inside the church.

The view from inside the church.


One of the truly amazing things about Cappadocia, and humanity, is the will to survive and prosper no matter what is thrown at them.

I think of Victor Frankl, who lived through the holocaust, realized that humanity is based in kindness and hope, and wrote a book named Man’s Search For Meaning and became a psychologist.

He saw the worst of humanity and made something positive out of it.

I think of how I work as a psychotherapist and hope I do the same for my clients.

I know I’ve never experienced anything that comes within 1% of the horror that Frankl did but I hope to learn from him and help my clients do the same.

I actually recommend his book to my clients as a way to look at what seems to be a negative experience and then use it to find a way to better themselves and change their way of life to change or accept the circumstances and their emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

This is a tiny little church, named the Holy Cross Church, and it was amazing to think of what the inhabitants of this little town would have felt when they were praying.

This is not an easy place to survive and I have to imagine they had many doubts and questions but their faith probably helped to keep them alive in the worst of times.

I’ve never been much of a believer in anything but I’m guessing, as humanity tries to survive in places like this, faith makes a difference and eases so much worry and fear.

The pits in the ground also were used for wine and for fires.

If you notice, there is soot all around the ceiling of these rooms.

I appreciate that wine, light, and a gathering of people made their lives just a little bit easier.



Day 514 In Beijing: Blue Tour In Cappadocia, Part 1.


Another wide view of Zelve Open Air Museum.

Another wide view of Zelve Open Air Museum.


Jill had booked a few different tours for us while we were in Cappadocia.

She’d been on one or two of them before and wanted me to be able to share the experience with her.

I usually hate tours, as does Jill, but since she recommended we do these, I trusted her.

The tours were set to only have about 6-10 people in them and to have a guide who spoke English, Turkish and usually another language or two as we’ve found we often got put in groups with people from other countries.

We loved that this happened because we were able to meet more people, from all over the world, who were traveling and enjoy Turkey as much as we were.

One this tour, we met a wonderful family from Colombia.  We all bonded and had a great time talking about the world, what we want out of life, and how to achieve your goals and be content.

We talked a lot and the parents, who are in their late 50s or early 60s, invited us to come and stay with them whenever we visit Colombia.  I grew up in the countryside of Healdsburg and Spanish was spoken a lot.  I was very used to listening to it and speaking it, a little.

When they said, “Mi casa es su casa” I knew that were were like family since it means, “My house is your house.”

We told them that if they ever visit China, or somewhere else we are living, we will extend the same honor.

The daughter, Andrea, and her brother, Camilo, are living in Germany and we became friends very quickly.

It is one of the joys of having small tours in that we can spend time with interesting people, not be rushed, and learn about new places, new people, and share the excitement of seeing something that sparks ours, and their, dreams.

Trust me, Cappadocia sparks dreams.

Imagine living in a place like the Zelve Open Air Museum, hidden from the rest of the world, so you can stay safe and not be attacked or killed for your belief system.

And imagine living in a place like this for hundreds of years and it changing from Christian to Muslim through that time period depending on who is ruling the area.

It is truly fascinating beyond belief.






Day 457 In Beijing: Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Part 2.


Probably my favorite display in the whole museum.

Probably my favorite display in the whole museum.

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, Jill’s and my trip to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum was cut short.


Because I turned off my cell phone, with the Turkish SIM card in it, and didn’t realize that when I did that, and then attempted to turn it back on, it would lock me out if I didn’t enter a pass code.

Now, I’m guessing that pretty much every single person in Turkey knows this, which is why they didn’t tell me about this, but since i’m a foreigner, I didn’t.

It is actually a fairly smart way to stop people from using your phone if they steal it since they wouldn’t know the pass code to get in and your SIM card would then be worthless.

They could still sell your phone, or put in their own SIM card, but it does make it slightly more of a hassle than in the USA where they don’t have automatic kill switches or locked SIM cards at this point.

I believe they are trying to pass a law to make automatic kill switches in cell phones in the USA but the phone corporations are against it and putting lots of money towards killing it.

Which means, of course, it would be beneficial to everyone except the phone companies since they wouldn’t have as many consumers having to buy phones when theirs are stolen.

In other words, it is only common sense to have a kill switch which is why the phone companies are against it.

But I digress.

We continued the tour around the museum for a bit and then headed down to the Turk Cell store to figure out what to do.

When we arrived, the salesperson that helped us yesterday was there and helped us right away.  He laughed a little bit at our predicament and was very kind.

We then prepared to head back but realized our ticket was for single entry and we weren’t going to be allowed back in.

At this point we were pretty tired and decided to take a break.

We knew we’d be heading out to see Jill’s friend, Kaan, in a few hours and just made the choice to head to the ferry early and take our time and enjoy the clean air, beautiful blue skies and blue waters.

All in all, I think we made the right choice.


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Day 456 In Beijing: Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Part 1.


The beautiful sarcophagus.

The beautiful sarcophagus.

After lunch at the Sefa Restaurant, Jill and I headed over to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

Jill had told me that this is one of her favorite locations to visit because the buildings are gorgeous and the displays are amazing.

We were quite excited as we climbed up the hill and entered through the gates.

Sadly, however, it is mostly under renovation and so the buildings were mostly covered in scaffoldings and tarps.

We pressed on and went inside and checked out the displays.

Again, they were under renovation, and some seemed jammed into places where they wouldn’t ordinarily be, it was still very powerful and moving.

My personal favorite was the massive onyx sarcophagus right after we entered the museum.

It was at least 4 feet tall, 7 or 8 feel long, and it was as impressive as anything I had seen up to this time.

I stood there and just was amazed at the power and strength of it.

Sadly, I didn’t seem to take pictures of the cards next to any of the art pieces and so I don’t have many answers as to who they were made for, why they were made, or when they were made.

Hopefully, next time we go, we will be able to have more time to see each art piece and note where they came from and why they were made.

Our time in the museum was cut short and I will explain this in the next blog post.

Until then, enjoy the amazing pictures.


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Day 448 In Beijing: Hagia Sofia, Part 5.


The mirror over the exit reflects the mosaic.

The mirror over the exit reflects the mosaic.

Jill and I have back in Beijing for 2 weeks and we keep finding more and more amazing pictures of our trip as I write these blogs.

It is actually making us itch for another trip as soon as possible and rekindles our desire to live in both Turkey, and Greece, in the not to distant future.

There is just something about the people, the culture, and the land that calls to us.

I have lived in a lot of different places ranging from Healdsburg, to San Francisco, to Albuquerque (home of Breaking Bad!), to Edinburgh, Scotland, to Sendai, Japan and now to Beijing, China.

For some reason, Turkey and Greece just seem like home already.

Maybe it is just because we are on vacation but Jill lived in Turkey for 3 months, 3 years ago, and she absolutely felt like it was home.

This will be the final Hagia Sofia post for this trip, unless I run across more pictures and have to throw them in, and I hope you have enjoyed seeing this magnificent building through our eyes and lenses.


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Day 447 In Beijing: Hagia Sofia, Part 4.


The scaffolding and the interior of the Hagia Sofia.

The scaffolding and the interior of the Hagia Sofia.


Jill and I decided that the pictures were not quite enough to show the beauty of this amazing structure.

We decided we’d do a quick video.

It really is hard to comprehend all the work, time, and architectural knowledge that went into making a building like this about 1500 years ago.

I hope you have enjoyed visiting it and might even be tempted to go to Istanbul and see it yourself.

Trust me, as you will see in the next few weeks, this is just the start of places, and things, to see in Turkey.



Day 446 In Beijing: Hagia Sofia, Part 3.



The view of the dome through the chandelier.

The view of the dome through the chandelier.

Jill’s and my journey continues.

You would think that one blog post about the Hagia Sofia would be enough.

However, it isn’t even close to enough.

I’ve got hundreds of pictures that I could post but I’ve decided to limit them.

I’ve cut it down to about 40 or so and they barely even touch the surface of the amazing Church/Mosque/Museum that is the Hagia Sofia.


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Day 445 In Beijing: Hagia Sofia, Part 2.


The dome.  Notice how it is not perfectly circular.

The dome. Notice how it is not perfectly circular.


Jill and I continued our tour around the Hagia Sofia.

We were both in awe and could barely talk.

I know, this doesn’t happen that often.

Enjoy the moment.





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