While I’ve travelled less this year than I had thought I would, there’s been no shortage of amazing moments! I’ve explored more of the amazing city of Istanbul, found the best boza shop, explored a handful of new provinces, and met all sorts of wonderful and interesting people! So, to wrap up an amazing 2018, here’s a few of my favorite shots from the year plus a few of my hopes and plans for the coming year.
Tea sellers outside Pertevniyal Mosque on a cold February day. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Canada where we don’t have this sort of monumental architecture, but I always love the juxtaposition of normal life against grandeur.
When my family came to visit a while back my dad took a shot just like this. It took me over half a year to get a day where the skies were interesting and fishermen weren’t being chased away by the cold and rain in order to recreate it.
The porters, or hamal, of old Istanbul were one of the early inspirations for the Caravan Podcast part of Art of Wayfaring. The idea that there are porters, cobblers, blacksmiths, and silversmiths whose trades are on the verge of disappearing in the face of modernity is a fascinating thing that we still want to explore more. This hamal is sitting beneath a statue built to commemorate the historic trade.
I just love the architecture of Beşiktaş. Much of Beşiktaş was built in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire when the royal family was bankrupting the empire with outrageous building projects in new architectural styles.
All around the Grand Bazaar are massive crumbling buildings that are still being used as tiny factories and storage units. They’re dark, dingy, and incredibly mysterious. This is a silversmith in one of these old han buildings, polishing a stack of plates. When I asked if I could take some pictures his friend said yes and promptly left, leaving me with this guy who didn’t seem quiet as keen. This well placed mirror was my only hope of getting a shot of this rather begrudging subject.
A man in the small town of Iskilip hand-stitching shoes.
Getting a tour of our friend’s village and the buffalo by tractor with the family. Not being from the city myself I find it strange to be raising my kids in a place as crowded as Istanbul and I’m always thankful for the chance to get the kids out into nature and let them at least see village life.
We were brought to the memorial of someone who had died a year before in a village in Balıkesir. This particular area is famous for making Keşkek for all special occasions. This is one of the local ladies showing off one of the giant pots of keşkek leftover after serving around four hundred people.
The ruins of Çanlı Church looking out towards the old volcano of Mount Hasan. It was the job of the man we had tea with in the cave to make sure that people don’t come to loot the old church and surrounding caves.
I hope your 2018 has been a great one too! Here’s some of our travel hopes and plans for the coming year!
1. Ani Ruins – Kars
This has been on my wish list of places to visit since I first moved to Turkey. I’ve been holding off going so that I can see the vast plain of ruins when the ground is green, and the stones of the crumbling cathedrals are red. But then Çıldır Lake will have melted and I won’t see horse-drawn sleds racing across the ice! Tough decisions to make this year.
2. Lake Van – Van and Bitlis
Lake Van is Turkey’s largest lake and its shores are full of amazing sights. The most famous is the monastery on Akdamar Island. Like the Ani Ruins I’ve been holding off, wanting to go in the spring when the almond trees are in blossom, the grass is green and the mighty Mt. Van is still covered in snow. Other than Akdamar there are the giant gravestones of Ahlat, the Nemrut Crater, a handful of other ruined churches and monasteries, castles, kids doing backflips off of water buffalo into hot springs and so much more.
3. The World of Pigeon Pageantry – Istanbul
There’s a secretive world of pigeon breeders, trainers, and sellers in Istanbul. Apparently there’s a pigeon market and you can’t take pictures there but I intend to find a way to get permission. Just need to find them first and work on my pigeon related Turkish vocab.
4. Rumkale and Halfeti – Gaziantep
On a cliff-faced peninsula that juts out into the Euphrates river is the ruined fortress of Rum Kale. It was founded by the Romans but was in continuous use for quite some time afterwards. The peninsula was partially cut away from the rest of the land to further fortify the site. From the opposite bank, the sweeping curve of the canyon and river are reminiscent of Arizona’s Horseshoe Bend, only, this being Turkey, there’s castles, caves, inscriptions in different ancient languages, and treasure hunters’ pits.
5. Perşembe Plateau – Ordu
High in the hills of Ordu is a stunning plateau of brilliant green grass, snaking creeks, and flocks of sheep. All the pictures I’ve seen of it look amazing!
6. Silyon – Antalya
Antalya is overly-touristic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great things to see. Silyon is one of those sites that has managed to not be turned into a museum simply because there are too many other museums in the region already. But Silyon is different. I went there a few years ago before I had a camera and it was such an incredibly striking place. The old Greek city was built on an acropolis, the sides of which were falling off. This meant that the upper half of a theatre stood intact while the bottom half had fallen sixty feet off a cliff! In the boulders below you could see cisterns that had once been in the ground now split open and exposed at the foot of the cliff! The most recent earthquake that caused this destruction only happened in the 1990’s.
7. Sooooo many Ruined Churches – Artvin
In the far east of Turkey’s Black Sea region, there are dozens of ruined Armenian churches tucked into the deep green valleys. Between the churches and the setting they look absolutely stunning!
These are my top seven for the coming year. There’re 757 places left to visit on my Google Maps “Want to Go” list (when I open Google Maps its just a green blur of pins) and who knows which ones I’ll get to this year. All I know is that I won’t be running out of options soon!