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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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Our First Full Day In Mombasa — Old Town and Fort Jesus

Never in my life did I think I’d be at a beach during the holidays. But since Kenya straddles the equator, winter in America is summer in Kenya. Instead of near freezing temperatures, we were being scorched in 90 degree heat with enough humidity to make showering moot once you stepped out.

Severin Sea Lodge - Mombasa, KenyaSeverin Sea Lodge, the resort where we were staying, is an oasis in a city that still looks like poverty is rampant. The palm trees, the ocean breeze, the free meals with bottomless mango and passion fruit juices for breakfast and exotic entrees for dinner, you almost forget that just down the street people still live in mud homes with grass roofs.

But in the gated resort, it was heaven. There were monkeys in the trees to give it an exotic feel, the decor was authentic and well thought out, photos of wildlife in the rooms, mosquito nets over the bed to remind you that the flu here is replaced with malaria.

The beaches are of fine, white sand. The ocean water is warm and because of the geographic feature, there aren’t any waves crashing on the beach, tipping over two year olds. It was a private beach so it wasn’t crowded. The resort grounds, I keep reiterating, were flawless.

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The Grand Canyon

While visiting my dad in Arizona, we took a trip out to the Grand Canyon. Postcards and documentaries don’t do it justice.