Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Sleeper train!
We got back this afternoon after too many hours of flying -- leaving a snowy Istanbul for a slushy Boston!

View of Istanbul from Topkapi Palace
It was, needless to say, an amazing trip. Once-in-a-lifetime, really!

My wife and I took a mock 'Orient Express' from Munich to Istanbul, stopping in Vienna, Strasbourg, Bucharest, and Budapest.

That took about three days -- my first time on a sleeper car, and it was interesting! -- and then we met up with my in-laws in Istanbul.

Temple to Trajan in Pergamon
Among the highlights -- the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace and the harem -- my in-laws indulged my lit geek nature and went out for drinks with me at the Pera Park Hotel. It's where, allegedly, Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express!

Our guide and I at Süleymaniye Mosque
After spending a week in Istanbul, we toured many of the huge Greek/Roman ruins along the coast before nipping up to Cappadocia, including Ephesus, Pergamon, Hieropolis, and Çatalhöyük.

Once in Cappadochia, we spent two days exploring the cave cities used by Byzantine Christians in Göreme including an entire underground city that went down nine levels.  (Insane/awesome!)

90 feet underground!
Some fun stats from our trip: we visited 4 of the 7 churches of the Book of Revelation, 5 of 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Turkey, one Wonder of the Ancient World, and one Oracle of the Twelve Sibyls of antiquity. Not bad, I say!

Tomb for Mevlâna (Rumi)
Grateful for the memories and eager to get back to my regular routine -- and my reading. (Sadly, I was often too pooped after dinner to really read -- I just passed out most nights!)

Reviews and giveaways to come in earnest now!

How is 2013 treating all of you?


  1. I always wanted to try the Orient Express (I did do the Trans-Siberian already!). Do you think it would be doable with a baby? Istambul is probably my favorite city in Europe, visited three times already, can't get enough.

    1. Oh, I'm so envious you did the Trans-Siberian!! I'm totally a train addict now! My wife and I were observing that we found the trip very baby-friendly -- esp if you splurged on the 1st class sleepers as they had two bunks and are otherwise private.

      However, We timed everything to be on the trains at night to maximize day time sight seeing, and as a result, our sleep was disrupted a bit due to passport control, customs, etc as we did border crossings. That might be rough with an infant.

      I want to move to Istanbul. We just fell in love with Turkey. :)

  2. Such an adventure and such great pics to go with it! I took one look at that sleeping car and thought of Agatha Christie.

  3. I wouldn't worry about reading on a trip like that! It does sound like the trip of a lifetime. I've always wanted to get a sleeper car - I bet the rhythm of the train lulls you to sleep.

  4. Sounds and looks like a wonderful experience. Love that you shared some photos with us. Welcome Back.

  5. Amazing! I long to travel to Istanbul one day. Thanks for sharing this tidbit.

  6. Sounds like an amazing trip and pictures are great!!

  7. How marvelous! The photos are wonderful, sounds amazing.

  8. Wow, this sounds like a great trip!!! I would love to take a train ride like you did!

  9. This sounds like it was a most excellent trip, and I am really glad that you had such a great time and got to see so much!! I would love to take a trip like this one at some point, and like Meg, I would love to ride the train!! Glad to have you back though!

  10. How fun and awesome! So glad y'all had a great time -- can't even imagine all the fabulous sights you beheld. There is something nice about coming home and getting back into a routine, though... which is why I rarely like to travel for more than a week. It seems strange that you'd be so tired on vacation, but it definitely happens!

  11. Sounds like you both had a marvelous time, and saw some truly wonderful sights! Welcome back! Cheers! Chris

  12. What a fabulous trip! I'm glad you had such a good time and the pictures are fantastic.

  13. Oh my gosh! I knew you were leaving town but had not idea you were *really* leaving town! What an amazing trip. I'd love to see more photos if you're up to sharing. Glad you guys had such a fun time.

  14. If I could go anywhere tomorrow, it would be Istanbul. I'm so glad you had a great time.

  15. What a wonderful trip! It sounds like you have a great time. I'd have wanted to see where Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express too!

  16. Looks like a wonderful place to visit. Glad you had a great time, and thanks for sharing the pics!