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Thoughts reverent and irreverent from the road in Turkey

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At the entrance to what was once the Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia in İznik I feel my footsteps faltering. Beside the door stands a big new sign. Aya Sofya, it says, this being the Turkish rendering of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), but beside it in smaller letters it also...
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Once upon a time there was an Ottoman princess. Actually she was the queen mother which made her more than normally important. But now the princess had fallen ill and nothing the physicians could do would restore her. Then along came a local miracle-worker called Merkez Efendi who whipped up a...
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There I was in a newly opened museum in Konya that was entirely bereft of other visitors, no doubt in part because it was called the Sahipata Vakıf Müzesi, a name that gave no clue, specially to a foreigner, as to its contents.  Admiring some hanging porcelain ornaments, I raised...
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“Berbat, çok berbat (awful, really awful).” Despite the appalling weather I’d managed to make it to the kar güreşi (snow wrestling) in Veliköy, near Şavşat, on Saturday. The only problem was that I now needed to get to Ardahan to have any chance to getting up to Çıldır on a...
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  “Berbat, çok berbat (awful, really awful).” Believe me, these are not the words you want to hear when attempting to cross the Çam Geçidi (Pine Pass, 2460m) between Ardahan and Şavşat in the depths of one of the worst winters Turkey has had for years. I’d had a sneak preview...
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