Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Buyukada - Princess Islands

For the last two days the weather in Istanbul is fantastic.Just like summer. But I think these are the very last of the good weather days as TV news started to show the snowy scenes from the eastern parts of the country. So we decided to take a very small vacation as we could not leave the puppy alone for a very long time. So all we needed was a 45 minutes of sailing to feel a bit of holiday time on an ordinary day..Destination is Buyuk Ada - Big Island. Largest of the 9 so called Princess islands in the Marmara Sea. So take a boat..
When you reach the island you have to find yourself a way of transportation if you want to explore the island. Easiest one is to rent a horse carriage, but if you feel fit to do it you could also rent a bicycle. Motorized vehicles are forbidden. Well, as we are a bit lazy, we chosed to rent a carriage.For almost 2 hours we either enjoyed the beautiful scenery or the lovely houses

For a late lunch before returning to the city, A glass of wine with a simple fish dish is the best alternative to end the trip. So in almost 5 hours we had a lovely vacation..

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shibam - Yemen

Before passing to other subjects, let me take you to a very interesting town in Yemen.You may have a tendency to associate New york with its skyscrapers but there are others in the world who built skyscrapers much before New York. Shibam is located in the Hadramut Valley and known as the oldest skyscaper town in the world.
While the town has existed for around 2000 years, most building are originated in the 16th century. There are about 500 tower houses in Shibam, some rise as high as 40 metres. And if you read my previs posts now you can easily guess that they are all built by mud bricks.
Although there were many tourists and a French TV crew the day I visitied the city, life goes quite ordinary for its citizens. Men were enjoying some games and chat in the shades of the town center and women probably in their daily routines at their homes. I could only locate a group of them outside the town.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Places from Yemen

Today Yemen notes are continuing with places from Yemen. I first landed to capital city Sanaa. I remember I was anxious but did not know what to expect but definitely I was not expecting to see the beautifully decorated houses in the old part of the city..

A fascinating place near Sanaa was the residence of İmam Yahya in Wadi Dhar. Yemen ruled by İmams after Ottomans left the country in 1919. Their rule lasted until 1962.

Style of the houses are very much defined by the geography of the country. In higher areas, stone is the main component in buildings.

However as you go to lower areas, people utized what they have for centuries: mud. Houses made with mud bricks . Valley of Hadramut

Deserted city of Magrib

It's not only the houses. Palaces were build out of mud bricks as well. The most famous one is the Palace in the city of Seyun, the biggest mud palace in the world.

Another city in the Valley of Hadramut famous with mud palaces is Tarim. There are more than 30 palaces in this city, majority of them once belong to famous merchants family of Al Kaf. Palaces were nationalized during 1970-1971 when Yemen Democratic Peoples Republic was founded. They were all deserted and were rather in a sad situation during my visit..Neglect of time and people were everywhere..

So did I stay in a mud building. Well, of course. I stayed in a lovely hotel in the city of Seyun. It was the 5 star Hawta Palace Hotel. Beautiful traditional building. It was like a jewel in the desert..

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Faces from Yemen

In one of the previous posts I gave you a glimpse of Yemen. In the coming couple posts I want to take you to this amazing country. First let's start with some faces. As most of the women were behind the veil and not want their photos to be taken, almost all my faces from Yemen are either men or children.

When I decided to travel to Yemen. My family and friends were worried about my choice as it was quite an unknown destination. To tell you the truth first it was scary to see all the men carrying big daggers or some kind of rifle. But in the 10 days I spent there all I met were very peaceful people. I did not face any problem.Our Bedouin guide who helped us pass the desert. His navigation talents in a place where all you can see sand and dunes was very impressive..As it is the same everywhere in the world, children loves posing for the photos. You dont need any permission. However the gentleman on the picture above kindly let me take the photo of his entire family. It was a very nice gesture in a place where it is very difficult to photograph female figures.And finally a happy female figure from Yemen. Check out my beautiful necklace. There were very good Yemeni artisans who produced silver jewelry. The ones I bought there are still my favorites..

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Festival of Sweets

Today is the second day of Eid or Ramadan Festival or Festival of Sweets as we call it here. After the Ramadan,- a month of fasting- is over, there are three days of vacation. Traditionally we visit elder family members and relatives. We bring sweets as gift, and they offer us candies and some other traditional sweets, mainly baklava..As you can imagine this is the favorite festival for kids as they are ''eat as much candy as you can'' days for them. These are the days parents are a bit tolarable to candy consumption of kids. It is also customary to offer some small gifs to children. When I was a child handkerchiefs were popular gifts, but I loved receiving money where I could spend whatever I want later. So remembering those days I like to give small amounts of money to kids. As for the grown ups, this year I am offering almond paste and home made cherry liqueur.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Windows - Yemen

It's another rainy and grey day in İstanbul. Our little puppy Hera is spending the day at the Vet. Her kennel cough is not getting better. Since morning I am trying to spend time at the balcony, there is not much to do. I keep looking at the windows of the apartments around us. They are all different, reflecting the souls of the people living inside.

Some has not been cleaned for months,hastily closed with faded curtains. Maybe sign of a soul, who does not care much about life. Not happy? Depressed? I dont know...There is another one on the left side. I keep seeing a cat who is spending long hours watching the street..Sign of care and love. Probably..There are also couple others displaying lots of flowers. I like looking at them. Very colorful. I imagine joyful and lively people living inside. They are all my neighbours, but I dont know them. Curse of living in a big city.

I made one of my most memorable trips to Yemen in 2006. As most of the Yemeni women were behind the veil, I had very limited contact with them. Where ever I go I always wonder about other women, how they live, what they feel?? I remember trying to understand Yemeni women by looking at the windows, just trying to get a glimpse of their soul... So today, please walk with me in the narrow streets of Shibam and let's write stories together.


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