Globalwanderings is the personal photoblog of Richard Cain showcasing some of the amazing places I experienced while working for the British Council between the years 1999 and 2009. In September 2009 I left the British Council to live a new life in deepest Portugal and its emerging story is told on the blog called Casa Azul. Me and my partner Jackie, who is an author for Macmillan Education, also run the podcasting site podcastsinenglish.com.
I spent a long weekend in Jerusalem in July 2009. It would only be a couple of hours drive from Amman with no borders but with the bloody-mindedness of the Israeli border guards to contend with means that the journey usually takes about six. It took me 5 hours to get there and 8 to get back. However, once there, there were no problems. A bit shocking seeing spotty faced youths carrying machine guns but apart from that security seemed very light. Anyway, enough of politics, I was here to see the architectural gems and ancient history of one of the most fascinating cities on the planet.
Turkey is rather a misnomer I'm afraid as it is only Istanbul and a trip up the Bosphorus. We had been on holiday to Portugal and having flown Turkish Airlines via Istanbul, we thought it only right that we spend a few days in this beguiling city. It's a place I've always wanted to go as I am fascinated by Islamic architecture and love wandering around local markets and Istanbul has both in spades. Combined with its magnificent situation straddling Asia and Europe how could anyone not be impressed? As expected we had a wonderful time. Having said that we knew it would be touristy but even so, I don't think I'd ever seen so many tourists in one place. No doubt because of that, the locals (including the government) were extremely accomplished in engineering methods to relieve those tourists of as much money as possible by fair means or foul. Even without the rip offs it was actually more expensive than we imagined with prices very similar to Western Europe.
We only spent a few days in Porto but it was enough to enjoy this beautiful city. Not as chic or as gentrified as Lisbon, Porto had a real old world charm. The down at heel suburbs by the river had an almost Dickensian feel to them. One of the highlights of the holiday was to sit on the waterfront sipping a cold white port enjoying the warm early evening sunshine.