One Last Ocean Visit Before Heading Home

Since we were staying at the Belvedere, subject to demolition, we decided to check out its Coffee Shop & Diner for breakfast. It’s a small space so we had to get there early. There’s usually a line outside the door until closing time in the afternoon.

We were fortunate in getting what the hostess/waitress called the front row seat. It’s like a half-booth with one section cut off by the wall and window overlooking the beach. It’s designed for two people, but we somehow were able to fit two and a half.

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Spending the Day in the Virginia Beach Sand and Sun

Fortunately all the rooms at the Belvedere were ocean-facing. Not only for the view of the beach and ocean but the sunrise.

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Arriving at the Belvedere Beach Resort Club in Virginia Beach

With the summer slowly coming to a close, the ladies and I finally made our near annual trip to the beach. This year we chose Virginia Beach and decided to make it more than just a day trip. Initially we were going to pick a cheap(er) hotel further inland, perhaps a Holiday Inn or something. But the thought of having to trek it back and forth from the beach, pay for parking, riding back to the hotel with sand in our butts — we picked a place on the beach.

We left early in the day, before the afternoon rush hour, thinking we would make good time. Somehow, thousands of people thought the same thing and after crawling with traffic our of the extended DC area, we finally made it to Virginia Beach after the sun set.

Najwa, thinking the beach was around the corner, was harassing us, tripping about the sun going down, not leaving us enough time to play on the beach. As the the sky started to darken at dusk, she even told us to turn around because we were taking too long.


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Countries and State We’ve Visited

It’s always cool to get a visual of where you’ve been. Here’s an up-til-today map of the United States and the world of all the states and countries we’ve visited [as opposed to just drove through]. Not all of them we’ve both been to, but if one of us has been there, it’s on the map.


27 states (54%)


14 countries (6.22%)

I’ll update them as new states and countries are added; or when Nduku let’s me know I forgot one.

Visiting Portland’s Sister City Suzhou While Still in Portland

Because of another conference being held after the conference we were at, the hotel was at full capacity. Meaning we had to check out at 12 noon. Meaning we had about five hours to kill before leaving for the airport.

So, though it was misty/rainy outside, I just bought a light jacket, Googled things to do in Portland, and headed east to the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Chinatown.

Rainy Portland

Much different city when it rains

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Walking Portland, Burning Calories After One Serious Burger!

Work took me to a conference in Portland [Oregon, not Maine] for a few days. I heard a lot about Portland, about the Pacific Northwest in general, mostly about the rain, how much people like outdoor activities, and that they don’t do sweet tea like it’s done in the south.

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SW Hawthorne Bridge crossing the Willamette River.

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Passing by the Mercedes Superdome

I was in New Orleans for work and had a moment to walk around. I didn’t take many photos, though. But I did stop by the Mercedes Superdome.

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The Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia seen from the Bosphorus Strait

Several years ago I read a book about the Ottoman Empire, one of many that talked about Hagia Sophia. The more I read about it, its history which predates the Ottoman Empire by several centuries, the higher it climb my bucket list.

With just a one day layover in Istanbul starting around 1:00 pm, in which the line to visit Hagia Sophia wasn’t realistic, I made it a point to rise early the next morning to make sure I got to get inside before heading to the airport to come home.

Though the Blue Mosque looks so much more compelling physically, there’s no denying the extraordinary history of Hagia Sophia.

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Bosphorus Boat Tour

Bosphorus Boat Tour Meetup

After waiting a little longer than I would’ve preferred, we were finally on our way to the boat for the Bosphorus Boat Tour. As a mob, we started walking. And walking. And kept walking. And walking so much that Najwa insisted on being carried. So I picked her up [somehow lost sight of Nduku in the mob], but kept walking. And walking.

Apparently Hagia Sophia isn’t quite right on the water.

Eventually we made it [and found Nduku]. And how thankful I was that most of it was downhill. Then it become a mosh pit on the little dock we were standing on waiting for the boat to pull up. Surely there were people eager for the tour, but it was getting later in the day, meaning the temperature was falling, so I’m sure many people just wanted to defrost. Nduku being one of them.

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Fortunately, as the boat was pulling up, obviously not big enough for all of us, there was a call for English speakers since the boat was giving the tour in English.

 

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We finally got underway, but many others were still waiting for the next boat.

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Walking Around Sultanahmet Square Looking for a Place to Warm Up

After visiting the Blue Mosque, we walked around the tourist area, checking out the other landmarks. In the plaza area near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, there are these obelisks and other cool structures. One was the Obelisk of Theodosius, an Ancient Egyptian obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III re-erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople (known today as At Meydanı or Sultanahmet Meydanı) by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in the 4th century AD.

Theodosius Obelisk Istanbul Turkey

The obelisk was first set up by Thutmose III (1479–1425 BC) to the south of the seventh pylon of the great temple of Karnak. The Roman emperor Constantius II (337-361 AD) had it and another obelisk transported along the river Nile to Alexandria to commemorate his ventennalia or 20 years on the throne in 357. The other obelisk was erected on the spina of the Circus Maximus in Rome in the autumn of that year, and is today known as the Lateran obelisk, whilst the obelisk that would become the obelisk of Theodosius remained in Alexandria until 390, when Theodosius I (378-392 AD) had it transported to Constantinople and put up on the spina of the Hippodrome there.

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