Ryan Murdock

Writer, Traveller, Reader of Books

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Indulging My Bosphorus Obsession

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Soft afternoon light over the Bosphorus The latter half of my Istanbul trip involved a change of scene: from a hotel in Sultanahmet to a flat on the Bosphorus, from old Constantinople to modern Turkey by way of the T1 tram. The location was great — a short walk from Taksim Square, the pedestrian shopping strip of Istiklal Caddesi, and backstreet restaurants in Cihangir and Çukurcuma — but...

Walking the Theodosian Walls

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The Theodosian Walls stood impregnable for nearly 1,000 years Christmas passed largely unnoticed while I was in Istanbul. Traditional holidays don’t have the same glow when living far from friends and family. Instead, they’re a reminder of what we give up to live a life abroad.  I tend to spend December 25th walking. I don’t plan to; it just works out that way. On my last Christmas in Malta...

The Palace at the Centre of Ottoman Power

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In my last blog, we wandered through the echoes of Byzantium in Hagia Sophia, the summit of its civilization embodied in stone.  I’ll have more to share about this most venerable empire in an upcoming article, but first we must visit the world of the Ottomans. What better place to meet their shades than Topkapi Palace, home of Sultans and seat of government for nearly 400 years? Topkapi Palace...

A Dose of Holy Wisdom at Haghia Sophia

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Haghia Sophia, the pinnacle of Byzantine architecture As Omicron fears swept through the vaccinated and unvaccinated of Berlin, and the government threatened yet another series of lockdowns, I slipped off to our shambles of a new airport and caught a flight to Istanbul, the city that straddles Europe and Asia, both literally and metaphorically. My first stop of this Christmas escape could only be...

The Best Books I Read in 2021

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Best Books 2021 Do you have a book addiction? I’m here to make it worse. Another year has come and gone. Berlin’s still huddling beneath a pandemic sky, and I spent much of the past twelve months reading and dreaming dreams of freedom. I started a podcast this year, too. It’s called Personal Landscapes: Conversations on Books About Place, and given the topic, it’s added even more to my reading...

Christmas markets in viral times

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There’s still something to ho-ho-ho about A lot of friends have asked me if Christmas in Germany has been cancelled again this year. At first I thought the holidays were under assault by the deeply concerned and undoubtedly caring folk who have harnessed the power of online mobs to make the internet a kinder and gentler safe space. Were shock troops from the Diversity & Inclusion...

Dervla Murphy: Reflections on a lifetime of travel

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Dervla Murphy (Photo from ) Dervla Murphy has been described as a ‘travel legend’ and ‘the first lady of Irish cycling’. For five decades she’s travelled the world mostly alone, and mostly on foot.  Her first book, Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, was published in 1965 and over 20 other titles followed on places as wide ranging as Peru, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa, India...

Where the hell has the year gone?

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Foggy nighttime views from Berlin’s new palace 2021 has faded into a tedium of unmemorable sameness thanks to endless lockdowns and restrictions, which at this point have come to feel like helicopter parenting by a nanny state in charge of risk-averse populations determined to repress awareness of our own mortality. It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. But there really hasn’t been...

Nigel Barley: The Innocent Anthropologist (Episode #8)

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Nigel Barley Nigel Barley is the author of some 22 books, including White Rajah and A Plague of Caterpillars. He studied Modern Languages at Cambridge before completing a doctorate in Social Anthropology at Oxford. His first book, The Innocent Anthropologist, was based on his fieldwork in west Africa amongst the Dowayo people of North Cameroon. Barley left academia to work as a curator at the...

Byzantine travels in Thessaloniki

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Dinner views from the city walls We ended our brief Greek travels back where we’d started: in the second-largest city, with one foot in the Byzantine past. Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by King Cassander of Macedonia (one of those who squabbled over Alexander the Great’s empire). When the Kingdom of Macedon fell in 168 BC, the city was absorbed into the Roman empire. It soon became an...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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