Midwinter Turkey

I recently had occasion to dust down some travel articles I wrote on Turkey a few years ago – back before the bombings and shootings, the coup attempt, the opposition purges and all the other horrors sent the country spiralling – when my main concern appears to have been inventing…

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The Real Real Santa

‘Tis the season of St Nicholas, whose saint’s day is celebrated on December 6th but whose red-robed alter ego will be with us, trading tat and childhood wonder out of countless ply and tinsel grottoes, until Christmas Eve. In fact, the third-century Bishop of Myra has been attracting interest since…

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How to Spend It… This Life or the Next?

  As I reflect on this year’s tours to Turkey – we managed two, an achievement given the fraught political situation, both entirely without mishap and to rave reviews – I’m struck more than ever by an aspect of the country’s magnificent archaeology; that what tells us more than anything…

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Wondrous Winter

  Anybody who has seen Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s 2014 Palme D’Or winner Winter Sleep, a wrenchingly acute portrayal of an ageing hotelier in the depths of a Cappadocian January, will have been enthralled by this Turkish director’s Chekhovian vision.  What it won’t have done is make them rush to book a…

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Timewarp Turkey

Blame the heat, but I’m currently suffering from an aggravated case of goulette envy – I have adopted the French form in the hope it will go some way to eradicate the undeserving pronunciation abuses that dog these lovely Turkish traditional boats – even though I spent a week on…

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Keeping Turkish Tourism Ticking

  During a recent research trip to Turkey, I learned that this holiday season looks like being as dreadful as the last, with many hotels, travel agencies, restaurants and bars sure to close and a great many livelihoods lost.  The sector is realistic about its prospects and is not the…

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Saying it Right: Gulets

Goulette/Goélette (Fr.): schooner   At a time like this, when Turkey is in such turmoil, there seems precious little point in sweating the small stuff.   Like pronunciation. Except that, unlike the assassinations and the massacres, and the imprisonment by a shamefully craven judiciary of every dissenting voice, however original…

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Another Turkish Tour Operator Closes, But Its Spirit Lives On

Some of you will have heard that Westminster Classic Tours, a knowledgeable specialist tour operator with a glorious niche product, announced yesterday that it is to cease trading at the end of this season.  The small-group cultural gulet (Turkish schooner) tour company went down in characteristic style; which is to…

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The Prospect of Being Published in Turkey

Next month my first book (now approaching the 21st anniversary of its original appearance in English) finally sees its publication in the land that is its subject.  A Fez of the Heart: Travels Around Turkey in Search of a Hat (London, Picador) becomes, simply, Fes (Istanbul, Koton Yayincilik). Which, given…

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Life in the Ruins

With all the dire news coming out of Turkey, and this summer’s tourism prospects in tatters, what better time to recount a little tale, if only to remind all those holidaying elsewhere of what they’ll be missing? Some will have heard of Ara Guler, a distinguished Turkish-Armenian photographer now in…

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