Europe

Ancient Turkey

Ancient Turkey

…When it comes to Ephesus, I’m not just tossing around the word ancient. Established more than 12,000 years ago (that’s 7,500 years before the pyramids, folks!), the biblical city of Ephesus has a long and storied past. Once a major port for ships plying the Aegean Sea, Ephesus was second only to Rome, in size and populace during its’ heyday. Needless to say, prime location and immense riches made Ephesus the target of marauders for eons; from the Greeks to the Persians to the Romans and (even) the Egyptians, not to mention the Byzantines and Ottomans. In short, throughout its’ formidable history Ephesus was continually wracked by war, burned to the ground many times over and decimated beyond recognition by earthquakes (and overzealous home builders).

Magical, Mystical Cappadocia

Magical, Mystical Cappadocia

First mentioned in text more than 8,000 years ago, central Turkey’s Cappadocia region has been a major player in world history for eons. Literally. And while it’s predominately Muslim today, Cappadocia has at one time or another been Greek, Roman and Byzantine, a conquest of Alexander the Great and a sanctuary for early Christians. Encompassing an area of approximately 40,000 square miles Cappadocia is one of the most visually exciting places that I have ever been. Mile after mile reveals a kaleidoscope of snowcapped mountains, lush fertile valleys and fairy chimneys…

Istanbul Calling

Istanbul Calling

Straddling the mighty Bosphorus Strait, connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, Istanbul is both a commercial powerhouse and a small riverside community. Passenger ferries ply the waterways connecting east to west dodging sailboats, crude-laden Russian oil tankers and the occasional swimmer along the way. Did I just say swimmer?? Oh yeah… that guy was nuts!! Not that there is anything wrong with being nuts.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The final stop on our magical mystery tour of The Netherlands is Amsterdam because, trust me on this, you can’t say you went to Holland and chose to skip Amsterdam. Seriously, people will get whiplash snapping their head around to look you in the eye… “Say what!?”

Panorama Mesdag

Panorama Mesdag

Really? An entire museum dedicated to one (1) painting? How could such a thing warrant an entire afternoon in The Hague, I scoffed. I have never been more wrong. Panorama Mesdag is a magical, monumental painting of miraculous charm and kaleidoscoping beauty. And without a doubt, my new favorite artwork in the world.

Keukenhof Gardens – A World in Bloom

Keukenhof Gardens – A World in Bloom

Keukenhof, on the outskirts of Lisse, southwest of Amsterdam, was once a 15th century estate that belonged to the Countess of Holland, Jacoba van Beieren. In the 19th century, a German landscaper decided something much more grand was in order… and man oh man, did he deliver! Literally, Keukenhof Gardens is the largest flower garden … Continued

Delft

Delft

Imagine a tiny Amsterdam, but with smaller canals, narrower bridges, and fewer people, and you have the essence of Delft. First established in 1246, the name Delft is typically associated with Delft Blue Porcelain, the local work inspired by Chinese Porcelain brought to the area by Dutch East India (Tea) Company about 400 years ago. … Continued

Queen’s Day in Den Haag

Queen’s Day in Den Haag

I arrived in The Netherlands, a.k.a. Holland, very early Queen’s Day Eve to meet my new friend Karen and her dashing husband, Arthur. After extending a warm hello, we dined al fresco in the enchanting garden of their 1860s abode and then… we were off and running.

And by that I mean… running. At a bare minimum we moved briskly at a fast trot, but Karen and Arthur, like all other people living in those healthy, northern European countries (You know who you are, Finland and Denmark) referred to it as… strolling. Once they even called it “going for a walk.” Ha! But I knew better.