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It’s Just An Ocean

Did New York really happen?


Did we really just spend six weeks there?

It’s hard to believe we criss-crossed the expansive Atlantic in such a short time span, dabbling in diverse cultures as we went. From the dusty beauty of Morocco to the neon brilliance of New York (complete with familiar comforts of home), and now, the mysterious world of Turkey. Our exhausted minds were awhirl as we landed in yet another new country, hearing strange words, once again adjusting to a different perspective.

“Here is the New Mosque,” our taxi driver said as he drove into the heart of Istanbul, pointing out one of the many mosques that speckled the cluttered view outside my window, “it finish in 1665.” He rattled off dates for several buildings as we passed them, making him our unofficial tour guide on our first official visit.

“The New Mosque?” I asked rhetorically, “That’s older than the whole country of Canada.” He repeated my statement with laughter, shaking his head. He continued to point out more landmarks along the way, flexing his English and chuckling at our feeble attempts at Turkish.

We were beleagured from our long journey, but jacked with anticipation. For as impressive as New York was, we were once again whisked away to somewhere new and exotic.

And we were awestruck.


Our brief exploration of Istanbul transported us back many centuries, starting with the stunning Hagia Sophia, which has been many things to many different generations. Since the sixth century it has been an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, a Catholic Cathedral, again an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, an Imperial Mosque, and now a musuem.



Hagia Sophia 1


Hagia Sophia 2


Hagia Sophia 4


In the heralded Blue Mosque we quietly loitered, taking in every bright color and complex detail. While it still functions as a traditional mosque, it is open to tourists when not in prayer.

Blue Mosque 2


Blue Mosque


On the streets, snow swirled around us with the bitter wind. We prolonged our wandering as long as possible despite frozen noses and numb feet. Vendors approached us to sell carpets, waiters to guide us into their restaurants, their warm cocoons of unfamiliar smells and lively foreign chat. On the back street near our hotel, we were greeted with friendly recognition of the maple leaf on our backpack.

I remember living in our cozy suburb home years ago, dreaming of such foreign places as Turkey. In those days I was sure that the world was too wide, the space between, impenetrable. But now, our quick jaunts traversing oceans and continents prove that the world can indeed be a small place, if one chooses to make it so.


69 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. No matter how many Mosque photos I see, they always look amazing when someone who knows what they’re doing takes them. Istanbul was overcast when I was there, and the photos turned out rubbish (the outdoor ones).

    • Thanks Ian! :) Our outdoor photos were hard to take as well, it was completely overcast and our fingers were freezing trying to use the camera! But we do have a couple that we will post on Friday.

  2. These are incredible photos! I love the lighting and post processing. Inspired me to visit Istanbul (the entire Middle East/ Orient is a rich palette). Thanks for posting.

  3. One of my favorite city! Love everything about Istanbul – food, people, shopping, nightlife – the perfect blend of old and new. Great city. Awesome shots!

  4. Oh wow this photos are amazing although I have a feeling they don`t capture how overwhelming it must be to see it in person.

    Why do you tease me with all these gorgeous places, I need to stay home a few months!
    Ayngelina recently posted..Pigging out in Playa del Carmen

  5. Your Photos continue to amaze me as to the beauty in this world of ours

  6. It’s amazing everyone used that word. I was thinking the same thing as I enjoyed your photo’s.

    I would love to camp out in those mosques for a week or so & soak up all that architecture.

    Beautiful,beautiful !!!!!!

  7. Wow, how long will you be in Turkey? Did you see there was a housesit a while back in a cave house in Cappadocia?
    jan recently posted..BAC HA MARKET TOWN

  8. Lovely photos. They look so much better than mine. Ashamed to publish mine now. Glad you like your first introduction to Turkey. Looking forward to reading some more of your posts.

  9. We’re heard so many good things about Turkey and Istanbul — I can’t wait until we make it there! Are you guys housesitting in the city?
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Photo Essay: Elephants in Thailand

  10. Your photographs continue to be stunning Pete. (And Dalene?!) But what I love most is the way you express the wonder, yet smallness of the world because I truly know exactly what you mean and I love that we are able to experience it doing what we do. I simply can’t fathom living an other life.
    Kirsten recently posted..Learning Acceptance in Costa Rica

    • Thanks Kirsten, and yes Dalene is definitely part of the photography :) We choose to live this life of travel and I don’t think I can think of living it any other way either. See you soon!

  11. Wow – snow! It was really warm when we were there last year so I can’t imagine that.
    Andrea recently posted..Spring in Amsterdam

  12. Beautiful shots! I’m back to NYC (my former home, too) next week–sad I missed you!

  13. The age of the places ‘across the ocean’ continues to baffle me. Canada really is such a baby in comparison. You gotta wonder if foreign people ever really take us seriously? :)

  14. I love your pics. The New Mosque doesn’t seem to be that new after all and I found the comparison with Canada hilarious :)
    Laura recently posted..Las Fallas Food Tour. The Biggest Party In Valencia Is Delicious

  15. Your gorgeous photos really take me back to those breath-taking sites. Can’t wait to hear about your further adventures in Turkey. Are you going to the Turquoise Coast or Cappadocia?

  16. check out Chora Church while you are there. It is so impressive!

  17. Fantastic photos as always :) Looks like you’re going to have your hands full with exploration :D
    Laurence recently posted..Six weeks in Australia – an itinerary from Sydney

  18. Amazing Photos! The last photo is my favorite!

  19. Isn’t that cool – we also did Morocco and Turkey recently – Marrakech back in March and then Istanbul (also Ephesus/Kusadasi and Bodrum as part of a cruise) in August. Istanbul is just another world.

    I spoke to a woman who is part Turkish on Monday night at work – she was saying how for her Istanbul is too much like New York for her to feel a culture change – she feels it when she goes out into the countryside. So you, my friends, are definitely getting the true authentic Turkish immersion. I hope you enjoy yourselves, and look forward to hearing about your adventures!

    And yes, your pictures are stunning! But it is hard not to make places like the Haggia Sofia and Blue Mosque amazing!

  20. such breathtaking mosques! love the photos!
    Maria D. recently posted..Fun & Affordable Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

  21. I am so happy that you are enjoying Turkey and that, I will have you as house guests in my beautiful town tomorrow. We have so much to cach up since Banos, Ekuador. I just can’t wait to go into the kitchen and start cooking together and I can’t wait to show you around. And I have loads of questions to ask, I have a lot to learn from you. Have a safe journey tomorrow.

  22. Gorgeous! Andy and I will be in Istanbul in a few weeks, and I’m getting so excited looking at your photos!
    Ali recently posted..The Great Ocean Road and a Bit of Parrot Poo

  23. Spectacular photos of the mosque. Wow, seeing this really brings back memories of when I was there! Thanks :)
    Wanderplex recently posted..Get some pre-flight R&R at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

  24. I spent weeks in Istanbul and never saw the beauty in the mosque quite like this! How gorgeous!

  25. I’ve seen pictures of that place and I’ve been DYING to go. I think I would take hundreds of pics of just details alone.

  26. 1665? Wow. It’s still breathtaking how many centuries later. This keeps in awe of the talent and creativity of our ancestors. Great shots and thank you for sharing!
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..A Perfect Day Up North Down Under – Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia!

  27. Wow, amazing photos, guys! We were hoping to get to Turkey on a press trip in May, but it looks like that has fallen through. Have a blast and take LOTS of pics so we can live vicariously through you!

  28. I have never been to Morocco, but I sure want to visit it. Everyone is always telling me about how beautiful things are. I’ll just wait a bit until my baby is a bit older and able to appreciate all that beauty.
    Marina K. Villatoro recently posted..What To Do in Monteverde, Costa Rica – How about Ziplining, Hanging Bridges in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde

  29. I just love that you guys are still on the road, still experiencing new things, still loving it. Your posts are an inspiration!

  30. What a beautiful post – pictures, words, everything… We are so lucky to live in a time where the world is really accessible. Thank you for sharing a part of it with us.
    Kate recently posted..Around the Web: Travel Roundup Tuesdays

  31. So amazing that you went from NYC to Turkey. I too dream of going there! Can’t wait to catch up properly on my Stumbles and read more of your adventures!

    And so nice to meet you in person at TBU! =)

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