Who's got İhsanoğlu-mania?!?

June 17, 2014
The opposition parties in Turkey have chosen a presidential candidate: it's Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu!

Who? What?  
The first round of the election will be on August 10, and will proceed to a second round if no one wins more than 50% of the vote. While Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan has not yet formally declared himself a candidate, pretty much everyone expects him to run--and win. 

Misreading Iraq, reading the world

June 15, 2014
One of the many unpleasant aspects involved with reading about the current crisis in Iraq undoubtedly relates to having to subject myself to American press coverage of the Middle East.

Such was the case with a video appearing in the Washington Post the other day. The video, produced by senior national security correspondent Karen DeYoung, purports to 'explain' the 'Sunni-Shiite divide' in the span of just a couple of minutes.

Predictably, the story it recounts begins a long, long time ago....

Media coverage of non-western countries tends to focus upon the alleged timelessness of contemporary conflict. 

The Iraq Crisis: What it could mean for US, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan

June 13, 2014
On the flight back to the Borderlands Lodge from Istanbul yesterday, I read with great interest about the recent developments taking place in Iraq. To say the very least, it was very disturbing.  
From the accounts I've seen, fighters from ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also sometimes known as ISIL—the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) had overrun Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an important oil-producing center. And now they are apparently advancing on Baghdad. 

Anatolian Express XVI: Back in the City of the Sultans

June 11, 2014
My day started very early in Bodrum on Monday, with the night clerk at my hotel calling me at 5:30 am to wake me up. I had a shuttle bus to the airport to catch in forty-five minutes and had barely slept a wink the night before. I blame this condition on a lack of alcohol, as I'd refrained the night before from indulging in the rakı and watermelon fest that had typified the rest of the evenings on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. Figuring I had to get up early, I'd toned things down a bit, but then wasn't really all that tired by the time my head hit the pillow. Serves me right for trying to organize things too much.
It was pretty cool walking through the streets of Bodrum in the early morning. Normally, everywhere is packed with sweaty grim-faced tourists running the gauntlet of Turkish touts shouting out their wares in English. At such an early hour in the morning there were no tourists to be found, though it's not as if the streets were deserted. A number of the shopkeepers were setting up for the day, one that wouldn't end for them until after eleven o'clock at night. 
I got to the airport without issue--other than the fact that our bus pulled over on the side of the highway for ten minutes while we waited for a late traveler to board. I was flying Onur Air, my old fave from the grand old days of the 1990s. The steward's badge indicated that his name was, in fact, Onur, which was vaguely amusing.

Traveling in style with Onur & Friendz

Anatolian Express XV: Bodrum, Gümüşlük & Yalıçiftlik

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I rolled into Bodrum on Friday after a three-hour trip from Marmaris. It was easy traveling on a little (one-buttock seats) but uncrowded bus. The weather was sunny and warm, and we drove through a nice new highway that took us through the mountains. As was the case with most of the trips I've taken during this past month, the ride was considerably shorter than my guidebook, published just seven years ago, indicates. It's testament to the degree to which Turkey's infrastructure has been developing in recent years.

From the bus as we pulled into Bodrum

Anatolian Express XIV: Marmaris and İçmeler

Thursday, June 5, 2014
On Wednesday morning I got up early-ish and had my final breakfast in Fethiye before hitting the road for Marmaris. Fethiye had been fun. I'd like the place where I was staying, especially as they had a nice veranda that had a view of the harbor and the hills beyond. I'd gotten into the habit of drinking rakı and eating watermelon there at night. Of course, people in Turkey would usually include white (feta) cheese as well, but I guess two out of three wasn't so bad in this instance.

The trip to Marmaris ended up taking about three hours on a little bus. We traveled through bright green valleys and attractive mountains not unlike those I'd seen between Antalya and Fethiye. The bus pulled into Marmaris in mid-afternoon, and within an hour or so I was installed at my hotel and ready to check out the town.

Anatolian Express XIII: Fethiye and Karmylassos

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Sunday was a long day. It started off in Gaziantep at four o'clock in the morning with my alarm clock ringing. As fun as my trip through the southeast had been, it was time to get moving. I had a plane to catch in a couple of hours.

When planning this trip, the idea had been mainly to see places I'd never been to before. I therefore ended up seeing some places--like Sivas--that some might consider just a wee bit prosaic, while other destinations during this voyage--such as Urfa and Mardin--are fascinating but off the beaten track, at least as far as Turkey is concerned. After the past few weeks of travel, however, I figured I could use a little time resting and relaxing in the sun. That is what has brought me here to Fethiye.

I think Fethiye is actually a bit farther east than this map indicates, but you get the general idea

Anatolian Express XII: Feeling nutty in Antep

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I'm not much of a 'foodie.' Something about that term has always rubbed me the wrong way. I guess I've just met too many Americans whose only interest in foreign cultures related to eating.

In a place like Antep, however, eating is the thing to do. The place is widely considered to have some of the best food in Turkey.
Antep is also known as "Gaziantep"