Day 511 In Beijing: Evening Call To Prayer In Goreme, Turkey.




After Jill and I relaxed on the balcony at our hotel, we heard the call to prayer start again.

When I write again, it is because the call to prayer happens 5 times a day in Turkey.

I’m guessing this is true in all Muslim countries, but since I haven’t been to all of them, I can’t state that.

We didn’t hear the call to prayer in Malaysia, when we visited there two different times, and we were in major cities with lots of mosques.

We may just have been too far away from the mosques to hear the call but I doubt it.

There is something so relaxing, so calming, and so hypnotic about the call to prayer.

I love listening to it and just letting my mind wander.

The owner of the Village Cave House Hotel told Jill and me that he believes his grandfather worked on that mosque and another one that is near the hotel.

As you listen, you will notice you can hear the call to prayer bouncing off itself as the different mosques’ speakers played it just a second or two apart from each other.

It may have also been perfectly synchronized but the distance between the mosques, and our hotel, may have caused the delay as the sound may have reached us at slightly different times.

Either way, it was magical and a perfect way to be welcomed into Goreme and our stay at the Village Cave House Hotel.



Day 510 In Beijing: Night View Video From The Village Cave House Hotel.


The night view from our balcony.

The night view from our balcony.


Jill and I loved just sitting on our balcony and hanging out.

We had a nice bottle of Turkish wine, and if you didn’t know, the Turks make some great wine, our favorite Turkish white cheese, and some crackers to enjoy along with the view.

We knew we were only here for a few days so we wanted to make sure to take advantage of the peace, calm and tranquility as much as possible.

so we did.


And cheers!


Day 467 In Beijing: Prayer At A Mosque.


I love the little girl eating food.  She probably has not reached puberty so she doesn't have to cover.

I love the little girl eating food. She probably has not reached puberty so she doesn’t have to cover.

Jill and I walked out of the Harem and started to walk up the hill to the Grand Bazaar.

We happened to walk out during prayer time even though we had no idea.

It wasn’t until we walked by this mosque that we realized that we were in the middle of prayer time.

We decided to wait, and just watch, as the prayer continued.

Up until this time, every time we’ve seen a prayer service, the people have been inside and the mosque had enough room.

This time, and maybe because it was Ramadan, it was overflowing with followers.

We thought it would only be in the courtyard but then we walked on and noticed that it was in the yard beside the mosque and it was fantastic.

There is something impressive, and moving, to seeing a large crowd of people, all moving in unison, as they stand up, sit down, bow forward, and then get up again and disperse as the prayers ended.

You can see the Blue Mosque in the background of one of the pictures and I love how it brings everything together and makes the picture seem finished.

About 2 minutes after the prayer ended the park was empty and everyone had gone back to what they were doing.

Thinking of it now, I probably should have gotten a photograph of it to show how different the park looked during and after.

Maybe next time we are in Istanbul I will do just that.


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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 453 In Beijing: The Blue Mosque, Part 3.


The dome of the Blue Mosque.

The dome of the Blue Mosque.

The Blue Mosque has an amazing history.

It was built in just 7 short years, from 1609 to 1616 during the reign of Ahmed 1.

It has a tomb for the founder, a madrasa and a hospice inside it.

It is both a major tourist attraction and a working mosque, therefore it is closed to visitors at least 3 times a day because of daily prayers.

As you’ve seen, women must cover their heads, their shoulders and down past their ankles.

Men must cover their knees.

It seems unfair but that is the way it is.

Much of Malaysia, when we visited there, had the same rules in the mosques.

It is made up of over 20,000 handmade tiles, which you can see in many of the pictures I’ve posted here.

There is also over 200 stained glass windows.

It is truly a sight to behold and to have seen the Hagia Sofia, the Basilica Cistern, and the Blue Mosque, all in one day, was almost too much.

Next time we go, we will take more time and really take in each place more carefully.

Hopefully we will be living in Turkey, or Greece, in the next few years and will be able to go more often, and therefore, not have to just be tourist, but an actual resident that can relax and go when it isn’t as busy.


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Day 452 In Beijing: The Blue Mosque, Part 2.


The prayer area of the Blue Mosque.

The prayer area of the Blue Mosque.

Even though Jill doesn’t like having to cover, we both loved the Blue Mosque.

For your information, mosque are called “Camii” in Turkish.

This would seem to be easily pronounced as “Cami” like a girl’s name, but it isn’t.

The letter “C” is actually pronounced as a “J” in Turkish.

So, “Camii” is actually pronounced “Jamii” or in English as “Jammy.”

This isn’t that hard once you figure it out.

The weird part is the pronnouncation of Jill’s name.

People in Turkey are totally confused by it.

Since “C” is pronounced as a “J” there is no letter “J” in Turkish.

Therefore, everywhere we were booked in a hotel or for our tours, people were quite confused and couldn’t pronounce it on the first try.

I actually enjoyed this because “Aram” is an Armenian name, and a name also used in some Arabic countries, so people almost always pronounced my name with ease.

It was a very nice culture shock that I had forgotten from my last time in Turkey, about 10 years ago, and enjoyed greatly.

By the way, there is another “Ç” in Turkish, with a little hook underneath it, that is pronounced “Ch.”

There is a city in Turkey, called Çanakkale and our tour guide says they are constantly confused because tourists ask to go to “Canakkale” and not “CHanakkale” and they don’t understand where they want to go until they realize the tourist doesn’t understand that the word should be pronounced with the “Ch” sound.


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Day 451 In Beijing: The Blue Mosque, Part 1.


About to enter the Blue Mosque.

About to enter the Blue Mosque.

Jill and I ventured over to the Blue Mosque or as it is also known, the Sultanahamet Mosque, after we survived the two Medusa looking right at us in the Basilica Cistern.

We had been able to see the outside of it, but because of prayers times and not be allowed in as we are not Muslim, we had not been able to go inside on this trip.

We made sure that we would be visiting during a non-prayer time and wanted to see it before it got really busy.

The Blue Mosque is, like the Hagia Sofia, quite huge but it doesn’t seem to be as big inside and there is a lot more space saved for prayers, since it is a working mosque, and that means it gets quite crowded.

We headed over and got in line.

There were probably about 150 people ahead of us but since it is free, and one only has to cover up, and take off their shoes, the line moves pretty quickly.

I was lucky and only had to pull my shorts down a bit so they covered my knees.

Jill had to cover her head with a scarf, which they loaned to us, and since it was hot, she wasn’t particularly happy about it.  I don’t blame her but otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to go inside.

Once we got inside it was gorgeous.

It is much more ornate than the Hagia Sofia and beautiful in a different way.

I truly love the hanging lights, and the stained glass windows, with all the ornate tiles covering the walls.

There was some beautiful pieces of art dedicated to Mohammed and the Muslim religion on the walls and we took our time seeing it all.

One of the major differences with the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque is that the Blue Mosque is basically just one single large room: A mosque.

Therefore it is much easier to go in, look around quickly, and leave.

Since Jill was hot, and we were starting to get hungry, the Blue Mosque probably only took about 20-30 minutes total.

It would have been nice to have gone right when it opened, so it was less busy, and had more time to just relax.

Maybe next time.


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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.