Happy third birthday to my blog!

Snowdrop flowering in Stromovka Park © Ricky Yates

Today my blog is exactly three years old. My first ever blogpost was published here on 4th February 2009. So today is both a time for a little celebration as well as an occasion for some reflection on what I’ve written in the past as well as what might appear here in the coming year.

For any of my readers who are statistically minded, this is post number 163. In my first year, I published 73 posts, in my second year it was 48. In the past twelve months, I’ve published a further 41 as I will deem this post to be the first of my fourth blogging year.

The reason for the disparity in numbers stems mainly from my prolific period of writing and posting in November and December 2009 when I wrote in detail about . . . → Read More: Happy third birthday to my blog!

Št’astný nový rok! – Happy New Year

In my last post of 2009, I did promise to start blogging again about ex-pat life in the Czech Republic rather than our October journey to Turkey and back. However, this afternoon, I had a brainwave as to how I could produce a map that I could put online to show our journey. So here it is! I hope it will help readers understand better my previous twenty-one posts about our trip.

Št’astný nový rok! Happy New Year!

Farewell to Turkey

Galata Tower, Istanbul from the Bosphorus © Ricky Yates. Christ Church Anglican Church is located in a street leading off the square that surrounds the Galata Tower.

After our three nights in Cappadocia, we then began our return journey to Prague. On Saturday 17th October, we drove around 750 km from Ürgüp to the outskirts of Ankara where we joined the motorway that then took us all the way to Istanbul. As we approached the edge of the Istanbul conurbation, the fine dry and very warm weather we had experienced throughout our time in Turkey, suddenly broke as we drove into an extremely heavy thunderstorm.

We stayed for two nights in Istanbul with a young Turkish couple who we had first met when they couchsurfed with us in Prague earlier in the year in June. In Istanbul, we had our first experience of being couchsurfing . . . → Read More: Farewell to Turkey

Turkish women wearing the hijab

Blue Mosque in Istanbul at sunset © Ricky Yates

Over the past fifteen or so years, there has been a marked increase in the number of women from Muslim families living Western societies, who have taken to wearing the hijab or headscarf. This trend, which I have previously observed when living in the UK, was very evident on the streets of Turkey during my recent visit. As I remarked at the end of my last post, this is a very obvious outward sign of the increasing Islamization of the supposedly secular state of Turkey. It is also the source of much tension and controversy within the country.

The usual explanation offered as to why most Islamic teachers insist that Muslim women should wear the hijab, is that the Koran states that women should ‘dress modestly’. This raises a number of questions. Who decides what is or isn’t modest? Why . . . → Read More: Turkish women wearing the hijab

The Islamization of Turkey

Aya Sophia in Istanbul © Ricky Yates. Originally built as a Church, it was converted to a mosque with the addition of minarets, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In 1935, under the government of Ataturk, it was turned into a museum and some of the original Christian mosiacs and frescoes uncovered and restored.

Before I continue describing and illustrating our journey back to Prague from Cappadocia in central Turkey, via Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Croatia again, Slovenia, Italy and Austria, I want to post a more reflective piece about Turkey and the tensions and issues that it currently faces. In many respects these are a microcosm of what increasingly divides the West, with its culture and values that are Christian in origin though becoming increasingly secular, from those countries in the Middle East, the Gulf, other parts of Asia and North Africa, where Islam is . . . → Read More: The Islamization of Turkey