Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing all peace, harmony, good health and good cheer at Christmas and throughout the coming year.
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Red Rivers Writers - new e-magazine

With an eclectic mix of writings by new authors, some published some not (yet). Book reviews, book previews, writing tips, a travel column (by yours truly), and much more. Check it out!

Red Rivers Writers is part of Robin Falls magazine, which has a section on new writing for kids, anther sections on all manner of recently published books, a third on blog radio shows.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mahatma Gandhi

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. -- Mahatma Gandhi

An apt quote for those of us in a position to help others in the Philippines, Indonesia, Samoa, or anywhere else in the world.

Oct 2, 2009 marks Mahatma Gandhi's 140th birth anniversary.

"Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth." Albert Einstein

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Typhoon Relief in Manila - How to Help

Manila and the island on Luzon were battered by a typhoon and incessant rain on Saturday (Sept 26), claiming close to 60 lives and flooding many people out of their homes.

Sunday morning dawned bright – and dry – in Manila, but many, many families are still coping with their loss. We cannot bring back their loved ones, but we can at least help them get through the next few difficult days.

For those living in Metro-Manila, the blog PH Best Deals provides useful information that will help them find a centre close to their home to drop off food, medicines, blankets and other relief items.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More Pictures from Bali

Early morning in Sanur
Rice fields in Ubud
The garden in Ubud

It's a bird, it's superman... no, it's just a rather large kite! Flown from the shore at Sanur.

A Balinese music hall - this one at Sanur.

And dances at our villa in Ubud.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bali - Island of the Gods

Just back once again from the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. It is the perfect vacation destination for me - low, rolling hills; green rice fields that calm the heart and bring peace; magnificent volcanoes; seaside; and wonderful, friendly people.
More to follow soon about my latest trip there...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Terataii newsletter, July-Sept 2009

Email for your copy of this electronic newsletter on Reiki, holistic healing and spirituality.

This issue includes an introduction to mantra meditation, wise words from the Dalai Lama and others, a discussion of Reiki's 5th principle for daily living, news from the Terataii Centre in Manila (Philippines)...

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Burmese Buddha for Postcard Friendship Friday

Postcard from Bagan, Burma

This beautiful and intricate sculpture depicts 8 important events from the Buddha's life. It can be seen in Bagan museum (in the city of the same name) - which has some absolute gems on display even apart from this one.

Check out Postcard Friendship Friday on Marie Reed's blog.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

W for Wanderlust, weddings, Wandering Pam

ABC Wednesday at mrs. nesbitt's again! This time the letter is W.

W is for this blog - Wandering Pam!
W is for the wanderlust that leads me to travel and to write about my travels on this blog.
W is also for something I saw quite a lot of on my last major round of travels - weddings!

This one I was actually invited to. The bride is Italian, the groom Indian, the ceremonies - mixed and a lot of fun! This is the Indian bit after the wedding vows exchanged in church.
This one I happened upon outside a castle in northern Italy. The couple are leaving the wedding - in a tuk tuk!
And this couple is leaving in a gondola! Where else - of course in Venice.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quotable Thursday #9 - June 18, 2009

Please go over to Terataii to join this meme with a favourite quotation of your own. And read another quote from Nehru there.

Meanwhile, here's my quotation for this blog, also by Nehru:
Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.
-- Jawaharlal Nehru

I couldn't agree more. And one way to widen the mind and the spirit is to travel, so I think this is a particularly apt quote for a travel blog.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The 3 Vs Tour: Verona, Venice, Vienna

ABC Wednesday. I'm posting early for V coz I'll be out of town and away from my main computer (with my pix) until after next Wednesday. Check out other entries at mrs. nesbitt's on Wednesday.

Last summer (2008) my husband and I did what we called our 2Ms and 3Vs tour: Manila (where we live), Milan, Verona, Venice, Vienna and back (via a faboulous town called Bergamo, near Milan, but that only happened because our flight from Vienna landed there rather than in Milan).

Verona is a beautiful old city steeped in history and culture, which come together in the annual summer opera festival held at the Arena, a Roman amphitheatre which becomes an immense open-air theatre. An opera such as Aida is such a visual treat in this fantastic setting that one almost forgets to enjoy the music! Verona is also the city of Dante (who wrote the Divine Comedy) and the setting for two of Shakespeare's plays.

Venice is known for the beautiful buildings on the Grand Canal, and the naorrower canals navigable by gondolas. But above all, it is a city of water, with its buildings anchored in the ocean, its beautiful churches and companiles (church towers) built on tiny islets.

And Vienna - a city of music, of opera, of beautiful old architecture. The city of Johann Strauss and the Vienna waltz.
The city of the Hapsburgs and their palaces, such as the Schönbrunn, built by Emperor Leopold I in the 17th century as a hunting lodge, with over 1,400 rooms! Austria’s much-loved Empress Maria Theresia had it expanded and redecorated in French Rococo style in the 18th century. The palace’s prominent visitors included Napoleon, who married Maria Theresia’s grand-daughter Marie Louise (as his second wife).

Friday, June 5, 2009

Postcard Friendship Friday

I'm joining Marie Reed's Postcard Friendship Friday this week with a card I just received from a friend. Do check out the other posts for this Friday at Cpaphil Vintage Postcards.

In this age of instant messages, it's rather nice to receive the odd postcard the old fashioned way, via snail mail. My friend Karishma is the only person I know who regularly sends postcards - I send them sometimes when from my travels. This is Karishma's latest, a picture of a Tibetan Tantric painting. The postcard doesn't tell us much about this painting, I'm afraid except to credit "Surendra's Tibetan Thanka Treasure" for it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Quotable Thursday No 7 at Terataii

If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
-- Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice)

This quotation shows that all human beings - of whatever race, community or religious persuasion - are basically alike and, by implication, equal.

Go to Terataii Reiki and Counselling to join this fun meme with a quote of your own, or simply to read what others choose for today.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quotable Thursday #6 at Terataii

Go to Terataii Reiki to play along!

"A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?" - Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sun, sky, squirrels and sunflowers

It's ABC Wednesday over at mrs. nesbitt's and the letter this time is S.
S is for so many wonderful things...
Like the sun setting behind Buddhist stupas in Bagan (Myanmar/Burma)...

a sunflower in Cameron Highlands, a tea-growing area in Malaysia...

or another sunset - this time over Lake Inle, also in Myanmar/Burma.

S is for the colourful skies one often seas over Australia - this one in the Blue Mountains.

Back from my travels, S is for the squirrel that visits me every morning at 7 o'clock just outside my window at my home in the Philippines - even though, I'm told, squirrels are not indigenous to the Philippines.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Vinita Karim's next exhibition (Metro-Manila)

Some wonderful oils on canvas by Vinita Karim. Those of you in Metro-Manila, come check them out May 29-31 in Makati. Reception 28th evening.
I love Vinita's paintings and am the proud owner of two of them, one of which hangs in my Reiki room.
See details on the poster (above).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

R is for Rangoon, Rani Lakshmibai, and more...

Join Abc Wednesdays with R today - over at mrs. nesbitt's place.

I like R. It stands for some wonderful people and places and, through some of them, for some great childhood memories too. R is for Raju, my husband and life partner. R is for Ranikhet, where I had 3 fantastic vacations as a kid with my oldest friend in this world, my cousin Abhilash. R is for Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, my childhood heroine. Here's what I've written about her on my Pamposh Dhar blog:

A 23-year-old woman on horseback, sword in hand, her young son strapped to her back, leading an army into battle against a mighty but unjust empire.What’s not to idolize? Lakshmibai had everything I could possibly want to see in my hero/ine: courage, strength, leadership, a refusal to be bound by convention, and a determination to fight injustice both in her own behalf and on behalf of others.
Read more about her here.

Also tied up with my childhood are my memories of Ranikhet, a beautiful town in the Himalayas, commanding a fantastic panoramic view of a whole range of snow-clad mountains. These include Nanda Devi (or Godess Nanda) and the three mountains that together make up Trishul (which means Trident, a weapon with three points, associated with Lord Shiva). My uncle and cousin lived in a large, double-storeyed wooden house atop a small hill – I think it was the highest point in the town. I remember waking up early, before 6 a.m., to get a clear view of the mountains from the balcony before the mountains got shrouded in mist. Go here to see a photo on the Net.

R is for Rangoon, also known as Yangon, which I visited for the first time in 2005. Rangoon is the capital of the unfortunate country of Myanmar, formerly Burma. A beautiful country with a long history, it is now ruled by a ruthless military junta.

The country's most famous political prisoner is Aung Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 13 years and is now threatened with a prison term. Suu Kyi (pronounced Su Chi) leads a peaceful movement for democracy. She is charged with "receiving an unauthorized visitor," reports the New York Times.

Rangoon is known for its gilded stupas, its Buddha statues, its wandering monks and nuns, its gem bazaars (fabulous rubies and emeralds), and its gentle, peace-living people - all except the murderous generals in the junta that is.

Buddhism is very much a part of daily life. And monks have to eat too, you know:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Right post, wrong blog! (rueful smile)

It was bound to happen sooner or later, I suppose. I've just posted a Wandering entry on my Terataii blog!! Terataii is my blog on holistic health and spirituality. Well, and now, also on travel and art! Well, art is spiritual, so that's OK, I guess. Come to think of it, travel is too.

Anyhow, if you'd like to check out a few pix to do with Montmartre, Paris, just go wandering over to Terataii Reiki and Counselling.

Have fun. Don't forget to wander back here eventually!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quotable Thursday #4 at Terataii

Check it out. Join in with a quote.

And here's my quotation for this week, once again from the poet Robert Frost:
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
- from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Here's the full poem:
Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Abc Wednesdays - Q

Q truly makes life interesting - q is for the questions that lead one to explore new things, for the quest that takes one to one's destiny, for the quirky and quaint things that make life fun.

I'm going to focus on the quirky stuff I've come across in my travels. Do please wander over to mrs. Nesbitt's place to many, many more variations on the Q theme.

The first picture is from the northern Italian town of Verona (made famous by Shakespeare and known for its summer opera season). No, this is not a play or an opera - simply an honest citizen directing traffic on a very hot day.

Meanwhile, the lady's showing off an unusual hat at the Sunday market in Hobart, Australia. (No, it's not an actual animal on her head.)

Here's an unusual wedding party in northern Italy, along the shores of Lake Garda. The bride and groom emerged from the wedding on the local castle grounds licking yummy Italian gelati (ice creams) and made off in this three-wheeler, all decked out in flowers. I wasn't the only person photographing this interesting scene.

This photo of kids in the Philippines - where I live - is not my own. It comes from a UNICEF calendar. But it was simply too good to leave out!
And lastly, here's a picture I took in Australia showing a harsh punishment commemorated on a sidewalk in Tasmania. The slab tells us about a Michael Readon, age 21, from Hyderabad, India (well, presumably posted there - not exactly an Indian name, is it?). Young Michael was apparently sentenced to 7 years in prison for stealing bacon and shipped off to Tasmania.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Delhi as Capital of the British Raj

Guest Column by Som Nath Dhar
He has been a journalist, media person, diplomat. Now, at 83, Som – of Som’s blog – is an avid blogger. He is also my father. This is his description of New Delhi in 1936, written for his own blog and reproduced here with his permission. Read more interesting stories about pre- and post-Independence India on Som’s blog.

Delhi Darshan 1936

Father re-married in the summer of 1935, only six months after my mothers’ death in Campbelpur, the headquarters of Attock District on the border of the North Western Province of British India. He brought his new wife and me, his son, to Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir state. We had a very big house, a wonderful cook, a maid, and a night guard. Father was fond of lavish living and eating in style.

Soon father decided to take a break and travel a bit. It was the winter of 1936/37. We left Jammu by train and got off at Amritsar, where we went to see the Golden Temple. The temple built in a pool, with a gold canopy, overawed us. Inside the singing by granthis was melodious and very pleasing to the ears. After paying obeisance at the temple we went for lunch to a vegetarian restaurant in the heart of the city. We were served thalis which had twety five katoris [vegetarian dishes] in each of them. The meal lasted for more than an hour.

Next morning we arrived in Delhi [the imperial capital]. Outside the railway station was a big ‘hotel’ in which we were given a suite, comprising a hall, a bedroom with an attached bathroom and a small ante-room. Here we were treated as real VIPs, breakfast with eggs to order, ham, jam, cheese, butter and toast with tea or coffee. Lunch and dinner were one non-veg, two veggies, rice or biryani and tandoori roti. For all this board and lodging we were charged Rs.18 a day.

Father called for a taxi to show us around. The day-long trip took us to Kutab Minar, the tower built by Kutbuddin Aibak before the advent of Mughul rule. The tower has 365 stairs and I climbed them all to reach the top. Next to the tower there is an Ashoka pillar dating back to Emperor Ashoka’s time. Though it is made of metal there is no rust even after so many centuries.

Next we saw Humayun’s tomb, a beautiful mausoleum, where the last Mughal emperor, Bhadur Shah Zaffar, retreated after Delhi was captured by the British in 1857. Its sprawling lawns and terraced gardens are very beautiful.

From here we went to Lal Qila, Red Fort, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who also built the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra. Red Fort reminds one of the grandeur of the Mughals who ruled India for more than seven generations. Dewan-e-am and Dewan-e-khas are halls where the kings used to hold court, Dewan-e-am for the general public to hear their petitions etc and Dewan-e-khas where he conferred with his courtiers, generals and advisers. The famous peacock throne was in one of these halls. The harem where the begmat lived has a hall with mirrors studded in the walls and the ceiling to enable the court ladies to see their dresses from all angles of their body. There was arrangement for bathing in hot water.

It was an ingenious arrangement as water came into a small pool to enable the bather to relax in hot water as one can do today in a bathing tub. During the Mughal days a canal ran through the fort. Water in the canal came from the Jamuna.

The fort has much more to offer, the small museum where there are royal dresses, and Col Niclson’s uniform with the bullet hole that killed him. Inside the compound there is Moti Masjid where the king used to offer nimaz. It is a very beautiful mosque and during Moghal times it was studded with jewels.

The famed mena bazaar has small shops selling, itars [Indian perfumes], jewelry, artifacts, and ivory goods. This bazaar exists from Mughal times.

From the fort the taxi took us to see the Secretariat, the vice-regal palace [now Rashtripati Bhavan], Parliament House and Cannaught place [the main shopping centre of New Delhi]. On our return to the hotel Father asked for the bill for going round. It was Rs15 including the charges for the guide. When father paid the driver he said “Sir, some Baikshish for me and the guide”. Father gave him Rs 5. He was overjoyed and gave Father a ‘furshi salam’ [a bow almost touching the ground].

I was very impressed with the grandeur of New Delhi and wished I lived there, a wish fulfilled in 1947, more than a decade later, when I joined Nehru’s staff .

In 1936 Delhi had an old world charm and people were very polite and helpful. The language was Urdu and it was full of polite phrases. What is your name, was ‘ap ka ism-e-sharif?’

Where are you from was, ap ka daulat-khana kahan hai’? Similarly no-one said ‘sit down please’ but ‘tashrif rakhian’.

Today Delhi has become part of Haryana culturally, linguistically and emotionally. Indiscipline, rudeness, road rage, the craze for partying, drinking and brawling has become part of Delhi life. God be praised.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quotable Thursday at Terataii - #3

It's time for quotations once again at Terataii Reiki and Counselling. This is only the third week and the response could be better. Do join with a favourite quotation of your own - put it on your blog, then go to Terataii to link up with other players. If you don't have a blog, leave a quotation in a comment on Terataii.

Meanwhile, here's my quotation for the day:
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Makes My Heart Smile Awards

You may remember that some time ago Barbara over at Barbara's Meanderings was kind enough to give me this award for two of my blogs: this blog and Pamposh Dhar. You can read about that here.

I have now given the award to other bloggers who make my heart smile. :) Please check out my favourite blogs over at Pamposh Dhar.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Please join Quotable Thursday

over at my Terataii blog with a favourite quotation of your own. Post the quotation on your own blog, then wander over to Terataii and click on the Mr. Linky widget there to link your blog to Terataii and to other participating readers. Read my chosen quote too, from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Rumi: When the mirror of your heart

When the mirror of your heart becomes clear and pure,
You will behold images from beyond this realm of earth and water.
You will see both the images and the image-Maker.
Both the carpet of spiritual existence
And the carpet-Spreader.

- Rumi

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yunus Emre: My life came and went...

My life came and went
like the wind, between the opening
and closing of an eye.
As Truth is my witness
the soul is the body's guest.
A day is going to come when
like a bird, it flies out of the cage.

The poor sons of Adam have sown
their seeds across the earth.
Some grew and some were lost.
My insides burn in the world,
my essence is afire. Some die young,
cut down like wheat still green.

If you visit the sick
or bring someone water,
tomorrow you'll be served
the wine of Truth.
If you give your clothes
to the poor, tomorrow
you'll be wearing astral clothes.
Yunus Emre, they say only two people
stay in the world forever--
Khidr and Elias, who drink the water of life.

-- Yunus Emre, 13th-14th century Turkish Sufi poet. From The Drop That Became The Sea, translated from the Turkish by Kabir Helminski and Refik Algan.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quotable Thursday

A quote for my Terataii blog
I'm joining Quotable Thursday over at my own blog (c'mon, why not?) over at Terataii Reiki and Counselling with this quote from one of Robert Frost's poems:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(from The Road Less Taken)

Please join the meme with a favourite quote of your own. There's no theme, it should just be a quote you like. This is how it works: You post the quotation on your own blog, then go over to Terataii and link your blog thru the mr. linky widget there (at the bottom of the Quotable Thursday post). Now all of Terataii's readers can easily come over and visit your blog too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Orient Express - Destination Istanbul

Somehow or the other I never did manage to meet up with the crowd over at Muse Swings. This virtual travel is harder than it looks... Still, we - you, my readers, and I - continued our own journey on the Orient Express, and now here we are, approaching our final destination.

The train will soon pull into the fabulous city of Istanbul. Founded in 667 B.C.., the city has been the capital of both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. It has been known at various stages in its history as Byzantium, Constantinople and, finally, Istanbul. It is a city that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia, separated by the Bosphorus, which links the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara.
Istanbul – a name that conjures up images of the exotic orient, of cascading domes and minarets, of intrigues in old palaces, of bazaars and spices and jewels. You can lose yourself in this city, visiting its mosques and churches, shopping at the 15th century Grand Bazaar, enjoying the luxury of a hamam, crossing the Bosphorus into Anatolia and Asia, munching on kebabs and sipping Rakı or Turkish coffee on the shores of the Golden Horn... You can stay here for weeks and see new things every day. It is just as well that this is the last stop on our journey – you are free to stop here as long as the city holds you in its thrall.

You can start discovering Istanbul, and Turkey, at the railway station itself. The Sirkeci station was built in 1881 especially to welcome passengers arriving on the Orient Express, which had started running the previous year. The station is built in a style known as Islamic eclecticism, influenced both by traditional Islamic architecture and turn-of-the-century European styles.

For a dose of Turkish Sufi culture, please make your way to the spacious hall (originally a waiting room) beside Platform 1A to witness a sema, a performance by the world-renowned Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order founded by Sufi Master Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi in the thirteenth century.

Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn off the bandage.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance when you’re perfectly free.
-- Rumi

What an uplifting introduction to this city steeped in history and culture. Now let’s move to another of Istanbul’s glories – the Aya Sofiya or Hagia Sophia. This is one of my favourite places on the planet. It is architecturally brilliant and spiritually inspiring.

This sixth century structure has been both a Christian church – in its day, the world’s largest cathedral – and a mosque, and is now a museum. When the church became a mosque, a mihrab was added to it to point out the direction of Mecca. But the main dome behind the mihrab still shows the Madonna and other Christian figures in beautiful mosaic. Other mosaics in Aya Sofiya show both Mother Mary and Jesus. Christian and Muslim symbols blend harmoniously together into a beautiful whole. Would that the world’s communities could blend so beautifully together as well.

Facing Aya Sofiya is Istanbul’s other pride and joy, Sultanahmet Camii, better known outside Turkey as the Blue Mosque. More than a thousand years after Aya Sofia was built, Sultan Ahmet I commissioned the architect Mehmet Aga to build a mosque to match the magnificence of the cathedral (itself a mosque by then).
Despite their domes and minarets, the two are very different, both on the outside and the inside. Which is better? Neither, in my view. Both are magnificent. We are simply spoilt for choice.

The Blue Mosque is so called because of the lovely blue tiles in its interior. Its walls are lined with about 20,000 Iznik tiles from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries with designs of flowers, trees and fruits. The ceiling and walls also have Arabic inscriptions and abstract designs. Light streams into the mosque from 260 stained glass windows. The huge dimensions of the mosque create vast calm spaces where people worship or sit quietly in introspection or in personal communion with God perhaps.

Unlike the one, two or four minarets of most mosques, Sultanahmet Camii has six (four of them can be seen in the photo above). According to legend, the Sultan directed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, which was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets. This turned out to be quite a faux pas as the Haram Mosque in Mecca, considered the holiest in the world, also had six minarets. The problem was solved by adding a seventh minaret to the mosque in Mecca!

After relaxing for a while in the beautiful park in front of the Blue Mosque, let’s take a bus to Taksim square to experience a mix of old and new Turkey. From the square, we'll stroll down the fashionable Istiklal Caddesi (avenue) towards Tünel (tunnel). Check out the designerware on offer here – shoes, handbags, beautiful Turkish scarves…
If you’re hungry, there are a host of cafés and kebab shops to choose from, with evocative names like Haci Baba, my personal favourite because of the stories of Haji Baba of Isfahan I had heard growing up in Delhi (India). If you get tired, you can take the old tram that runs the length of Istiklal, at the end of which it dissapears briefly into the tunnel. The tram is the only form of vehicular traffic allowed on the street.

The most famous site in this area, a little bit off Istiklal, is the Galata Tower. But there are other treasures to discover on the way to the 14th century tower. Walking down Istiklal from Taksim square toward the tunnel, you will see a gate and some steps leading down to a beautiful old Armenian church to your left. As it happens, we come upon a large family group in celebratory mood near the church today. The star of the group is a young boy all dressed up for his circumcision.
Back to Istiklal after exploring the church and walk down a ways, admiring the high fashion shops on both sides of the avenue.

Off Istiklal, to our right, are shops selling kilims, cushion covers in kilim designs, Turkish tiles and more.

Go back to Istiklal and let's walk on till we come to Galata Mevlevihanesi, now a museum of Ottoman literary works, but including a dervish tekke (hall) where members of the Mevlevi order perform semas twice a week. Musical instruments used in the sema are on display in the tekke every day.
And back again on the main avenue, past a Turkish hamam – don’t worry, we will try a hamam, but now just yet.

And finally, a little off Istiklal, the Galata Tower. As the highest part of the fortifications surrounding the Genoese citadel of Galata back in the 14th century, the tower served as a watchtower when it was built.
After the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the tower became a prison and naval depot. During the 19th century it was a fire lookout post in order to quickly detect frequent fire outbreaks in the city’s mainly wooden houses.
The nine-storey tower offers a great view of the Golden Horn, one of the four bodies of water around Istanbul.

Once back on Istiklal Caddesi, we can take the tram back to Taksim square and the Marmara Hotel for some old-style luxury. We'll visit their pastry shop to sample dozens of sweet and savoury delicacies with our coffee, including, of course, Turkish Delight and halwa.

Sightseeing can be tiring in a city with so many sites to see! Let's end the day with a relaxing Turkish bath in the 18th-century Cagaloglu Hamamı. Those who've experienced the luxury of these baths before us include Franz Liszt and Florence Nightingale. After the hamam, you can relax over a cup of Turkish coffee in the beautiful old courtyard.
We have moved through several centuries today, from the 6th century Aya Sofiya to the high fashion of our own times. But we've only just begun our Istanbul experience. Stick around, there's much more to come!