Category

Europe

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...

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...

Jeremy Seal: Modern Turkey and the 1960 coup (Episode #7)

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Jeremy Seal Jeremy Seal is the author of six books, including A Fez of the Heart and A Coup in Turkey. He also contributes to a wide range of publications as a travel writer, journalist, and book reviewer, including the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and the Australian, and runs cultural tours to Turkey.   He’s been described as England’s pre-eminent travel writer on Turkey, a country he’s been...

Halkidiki’s picture perfect coves

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Early morning swim, with Mount Athos in the distance We’d climbed Mt. Olympus, and paid our respects to Zeus at his sanctuary in Dion. It was time to cross the Thermaic Gulf to the beaches of Halkidiki, whose three peninsulas pierce the Aegean like a trident just below the northern city of Thessaloniki. Our destination was the middle prong. Sithonia is just far enough from the city to avoid being...

Paying my respects to Zeus at Dion

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Dion I took a bit longer than normal to haul myself out of bed the day after we climbed Mount Olympus.  My legs had already begun tightening up, and my hip flexors felt like guitar strings. But there was no time for strumming with a three hour drive ahead of us. We had one stop to make on the slopes below the mountain before hitting the highway to Halkidiki. Dion was once the most important...

Hiking to the home of the gods

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At 2,917m (9,570 feet), Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece.  The three-peaked massif broods over the Thermaic Gulf and the three-fingered peninsula of Halkidiki in the Aegean distance, on the border between Thessaly and the province (not the country) of Macedonia. Most choose to climb it in two days, with an overnight stop at one of the mountain huts that sit just above the tree line, but...

Philip II’s golden hoard

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I’m just back from a short trip to Northern Greece.  Thanks to this seemingly endless pandemic, I hadn’t left Berlin since last summer’s hiking in the Slovakian High Tatras. In fact, I only left my neighbourhood twice since I moved to a new flat at the start of December. It was strange to be on the road again — and strangely tiring after nearly two years of introverted lockdown routine...

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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