Sultan Ahmed Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque should not be missed by any tourist in Istanbul. Set on one side of the magnificent Sultanahmet Square, this vast mosque with high-domed ceiling is accessible to non-worshippers only at certain times of the day.
But don’t let the time of its closure put you off! The beautiful exterior can be considered one engineering marvel. It is tagged to be one of the most impressive monuments in the world. And its interior is a beautiful display that exudes peace, harmony and goodwill.
Can’t say much about this place for I was astounded by the massive beauty of the Blue Mosque. Let me just post numerous photos I took of this majestic world wonder.
VoucherCloud, a money-saving app, last year released a world map that identifies each country’s most popular tourist destination based on TripAdvisor’s top-rated “things to do” feature. Surprisingly and with a bit of disappointment, the stand out for my country, the Philippines, was Kayangan Lake. But where is that? I wonder how this lake beat and knocked out world-class destinations like El Nido, Boracay and Bohol.
But when I checked Turkey, I was super happy to know that this beautiful country’s top destination was the Hagia Sophia. Though they seem to be a flop in the Philippines, VoucherCloud and TripAdvisor are so correct with the Turkey result. I have recently been to Turkey and only a stupid, puny and absurd tourist will miss the majesty, grandeur and beauty of the great Hagia Sophia.
As one of Turkey’s most celebrated landmark, the great Hagia Sophia was a Byzantine church for 916 years. It was later converted into an imperial mosque by a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and stayed as such for 482 years. Then in 1935, it was transformed into a museum and was later considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. It may have a turbulent past but because of its rich and significant historical background, Hagia Sophia easily earns respect from all religions and occupations.
Though every nook and corner of this building seem to have an intense and loud story to tell and despite being the busiest and most visited attraction in Turkey, the Hagia Sophia still maintains its calm and peaceful effect towards its visitors.
I don’t have a tip on how to explore this ancient structure. The only advice I can give to all those who will be fortunate to visit this top Turkish destination is to breathe, digest and admire the bravura of the rich stories of this spectacular structure.
Only now that I realized that in the past 7 times that I have travelled to Japan, only few times did I went to a public art museum. Reason maybe is because Japan in itself is one whole country of a public museum. Everything you see, touch and feel seem worthy of being preserved, collected and exhibited.
When I go to a foreign country, I often set aside a day to visit either an art, cultural or historical museum. I call it my “cultural day”. A day when my soul is fed with art, history and culture. But being in Japan, everyday seem to be a “cultural day”.
Though it is my 8th journey to Japan, this visit is still something different. It is because I got to go and check on an actual museum. And what is so unique about it is that I myself seem to be part of the museum’s exhibit.
While my nieces and nephews settled to go to Osaka’s Universal Studios, accompanied by one of my nieces, I, my sisters and Nengkoy went to Osaka Museum of Housing & Living.
The whole museum is a replica of an old Japanese town, specifically during Japan’s Edo period. The cool thing about this museum is you got to rent and wear clothes of people during that era. Thus, visitors donned in kimonos and yukatas can interactively feel how it really was 200 years ago in Osaka.
Adding up the modern Japanese technology, the lighting and sound simulations of the whole museum would shift, in which visitors would get to witness how it is to be during early morning dawn, daytime and nighttime period of the Edo era. The awesome feeling was like stepping into the good olden days of Osaka!
The ultimate measure for the most favorite travel destination to a foreign country of a traveler is the number of times that traveler has returned. Intentions for such returns must be for leisure and never to count the reasons due to work, study, business or religion.
Me and Nengkoy’s most recent visit to Japan was our eight time. And Japan, Osaka in particular never ceases to amaze us. Both of us thought that we have basically done everything a tourist must do in Osaka and its nearby cities like Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.
We then decided to further plunged ourselves to the Japanese culture by attending and learning the Way of Tea, otherwise known as the Japanese tea ceremony. My niece booked us at Maikoya Osaka, a Japanese cultural experience center who fortunately holds some of their cultural classes in English.
We got to witness how the tranquil purification process was done along with the very elaborate and refined steps of the ceremony. The Way of Tea for me is like a transcendent ritual that truly demonstrate respect through grace, charm and poise along with the showmanship of how a high level of good etiquette should be carried out.
The Way of Tea ceremony is a total opposite from my being brusque, coarse and unmannered. The beautiful rite was so calm, serene and peaceful. It was so dreamlike, I wanted to lie down, sleep and snore right there at the tatami mat!
I thought my 8th visit in Osaka prefecture would be a bore but our first Way of Tea experience was such a refreshing encounter. It provided me reasons to come back and further explore beautiful Osaka and its nearby cities in the future.
There will come a point in our lives that we would fall in love with a song in which the lyrics are written in a foreign language not familiar to us. I have been feeling this for the past weeks. I have fallen in love not with one but with three songs. And what is so consistent with these songs is that these are all sang in Portuguese language.
There must be something special in the Portuguese language when sung. I don’t understand a single word of Portuguese but the emotion and sentiment of this language evokes something special. It’s romantic, it’s amorous, it’s passionate!
The expressive phonology, the sensual structure of words, the voluptuous syntaxes and the almost nostalgic vowels accentuates the feelings of passion and romance. Apaixono, cafune and saudade are examples of quixotic-ly structured kind of Portuguese words! People say that the unrestrictive airflow of spoken Portuguese words makes it ideal for singing songs of love and longing. Maybe these are the reasons why I easily fell in love with the following songs…
My nephew Luis was dancing to this tune the first time he heard it. Efemera by Tulipa
I first heard this song in a superb Brazilian movie. Vagalumes Cegos by Cicero
The 2017 Eurovision winner from Portugal. Amar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral
These are the only foreign language songs in my Spotify playlist. Some say its French, others say its Spanish, but for me Portuguese is the sexiest and most romantic language on the planet. Obrigado!
Bakit kasi walang letrang X sa wikang Pinoy? Ayan tuloy di tayo kaseksihan.
I am a big fan of art that are commonly found in museums. The forms of art I often marvel about outdoors would be magnificent architectures and massive infrastructures. But while having a walk along the Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, one massive piece of sculpture struck me. It’s the humongous bow and arrow monument in the middle of Rincon Park.
Upon google search, I learned that the title of this masterpiece is Cupid’s Span built in 2002. The artists who created this gigantic piece made reference to Eros, the Greek God also known to the Roman’s as Cupid who shoots arrows into its would-be-victims.
Unexpectedly discovering this cool piece of art was great! Perceiving and understanding the statement that Cupid’s Span makes – like any other piece of art – can be very subjective. It is open to the personal interpretation of the individual. You either like it or you don’t. I happen to love it! It blends well and stands out pretty impressive with the surrounding location. You can actually view Cupid’s Span from different angles, backgrounds and perspectives at different times. And this unique attribute of this masterpiece gives you different opinion and feeling every time.
It is one unique landmark in SF which I guess celebrates love and how an SF visitor’s heart can actually get stuck and held immovable by the beauty of the sights and culture of San Francisco. For me, it is an unflinching representation of the famous line, “I left my heart in San Francisco”.
And while taking photos of this massive masterpiece, I was gleefully unashamed singing Rachel Alejandro’s song, Mister Kupido! (click the LINK to that song) Hahaha!
Ba’t hindi panain, ang kanyang damdamin ng ako ay mapansin…
I am in San Francisco. And in keeping with my personal tradition of visiting a museum every time I travel abroad, I went to SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts). Like what I personally do in the past inside a museum, I let those pieces of art feed the cultural facet of my soul. And the one that most moved me will be featured in the Nengkoy blog.
I thought that it would be the works of Andy Warhol that will most fascinate me. Though seeing his works is one of the highlights of my San Francisco adventure, it was actually this that nudged a silvery spur into my little brain:
I was easily entranced by the work of William Allan. This big piece of acrylic painting on canvass is entitled Traveling in Strange Circles done in 1973.
An old lady who was with me inside the gallery, I guess saw some glow spilling out from my body, she involuntarily volunteered and asked if I would want a photo with the piece of beautiful art. I of course obliged. She too was so impressed by the works of William Allan it took quite a lot of time before both of us left that specific section in SFMOMA.
Before I left the William Allan gallery, I told the old lady, “I want that piece in my room!” while pointing to the great piece of art. The lady then smiled and told me,”You then need quite a lot of fortune before you can own such an excellent piece of work”. Both of us laughed and bid each other goodbye.
Traveling in Strange Circles though made in 1973 is very modern and is very on with the times. It is a happy painting. I never imagined liking a piece of painting that centers a pair of sneakers in it. Or maybe the painting in a way represents me, a person who loves to travel.