Tag-Archive for » Mosques «

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.

Bosphorus Boat Tour

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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Visit to the Blue Mosque

The main attraction in Turkey is the Hagia Sophia. For me at least. When we finally made our way around the corner to visit the historic site, well, about a hundred or two other people beat us to it. It wasn’t so much that the line was so long — and it was hella long — but it was freezing cold and standing still wasn’t going to help.

So, we meandered across the way and greeting us was an even more impressive, albeit less historic, site — The Blue Mosque. Magnificent [and I don’t usually use that word].

Blue Mosque - Istanbul, Turkey

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Wandering Around Kitui On My Own, Learning New Survival Skills on Accident to Prevent an Accident

 

While the rest of the family went back to Nairobi, I wanted to spend another night in Kitui. Since it was Christmas and there wasn’t any room at the grandparent’s house, I spent the night in Kitui Town at a hotel called Talents Guesthouse.

At first I was apprehensive. Downtown Kitui is not like downtown Washington, DC. Or Nairobi for that matter. But to my surprise, the hotel was actually quite clean, mosquito free and really quiet. Just a block away it was one huge party, people, mostly teens and young adults, all over the place, music blasting, people everywhere. One street over and it was quiet. I would’ve ventured out there, but I was worn out from being stared at all day already.

Though the hotel was nice, it had it’s peculiarities. When I noticed the complimentary flip flops, looking like a hundred people had already worn them, I passed on them. The bathroom was interesting too. It was a shower, with the standard wires wrapped around the shower head and running down the wall. The wires connect to something that heats the water, which requires a wall switch to turn on. All I kept thinking about was how electricity and water usually don’t mix. more…

On The Road From Watamu to Nairobi; Most of It Spent Stuck Just Outside of Mombasa

After a few days of fun in the sun, we started our long journey back to Nairobi. Between Watamu and Mombasa in Kilifi is the regional office for Plan International, the NGO that Nduku works for. At first Nduku just wanted a photo, one of those “I was there” moments, from the street, but it’s a bit off the road so I hopped out the car to get closer.

And closer. And closer. And how often are we going to be here? So I just rolled up on the building.

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Touring the Ruins of Gedi

Though we were staying in a paradise, we had to get out and explore the surrounding area. And just around the corner was what was left of a Swahili town called the Ruins of Gedi.

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With Resort in Rear View, We Headed Out to Watamu and Malindi

We ventured out of the resort to get a feel of the local scene. On the way out we made a stop to get some drinks when we heard dancing, singing and music behind Neema Shop. It was a community meeting with some of the women performing a traditional dance.

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The Grand Tour of Kenya’s Capital City — Nairobi

Just as Hollywood has done an amazing job convincing the world that all of us in America are rich [except the blacks who all live in the ghetto — except Oprah Winfrey], Hollywood has also convinced a lot of Americans that all Africans live in a country called Africa. And they’re all poorer than the blacks living in the ghetto.

Of course my photos from Mlolongo, Kiambu and Wangige doesn’t help the stereotype. And Mombasa, though it has amazing resorts, isn’t quite the most modern city in the world.

But Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is another story.

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300 Miles of Kenya’s Countryside from Nairobi to Mombasa

Just as soon as we were recovered from 16 hours of traveling with a restless child, we were back on the road for a 6-7 hour road trip to Mombasa. Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city, a resort town on the coast. The road there, Mombasa Highway, is a highway that you want to traverse before the sun goes down. Freaks don’t come out at night on Mombasa Highway; bandits do.

We rented a minivan, piled in nine deep and hit the road. With Nairobi in our rear view, I was looking forward to see Kenya’s countryside. How does the country look away from the hustle and bustle of the city? How do people live away from the skyscrapers and matatus [I’ll explain them later in this post]? How are we going to last with two two-year-olds who seem to like each other one moment and fighting the next?

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Things To Do In Kenya In Only Two Weeks

As I go from one website to another looking at all the things to do in Kenya, I’m developing analysis paralysis. There’s simply way too many things to do and even two weeks isn’t going to be enough. Especially considering I want to make sure to spend as much time with Nduku’s family as possible not knowing when will be the next time we’ll meet.

The most important goal is for Najwa to meet her family in Kenya. They’ve seen photos, videos and heard stories, but I’m not sure if they know what they’re getting themselves into. Then again, Nduku was their child and I know she wasn’t an easy one!

But in between the family time, I’m hoping to see as much of Kenya as humanly possible. Some of what I want to do I know isn’t going to happen [Turkana anyone?], but there’s still going to be too many wants to fit in the two weeks. Here are just a handful in Nairobi with more things to do coming.

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