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 . . . → 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? . . . → 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 . . . → Read More: The Islamization of Turkey

Cappadocia – The Ihlara Valley

Ihlara Valley © Ricky Yates

After an interesting week here in Prague with the events marking the twentieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, I shall return to writing about our trip last month to Asia and back.

The final place we visited in Cappadocia was the Ihlara Valley. This lies about 40km south-west of Derinkuyu and was somewhere I had not visited during my 1975 trip. It is located near Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz, two of the now extinct volcanoes whose past eruptions have left Cappadocia covered with volcanic lava and ash. The Ihlara Valley or Gorge has been formed by the Melendiz River cutting down through this soft rock to depth of around 100metres over a distance of some 14km.

There are a limited number of access points to the valley. The one we used was about 4km from the village of Ihlara, adjacent to a . . . → Read More: Cappadocia – The Ihlara Valley