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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

THEODOSIUS CISTERN - 2

FATIH, ISTANBUL, TURKEY



Istanbul regains an important and 1,600-year-old construction which is being opened to service with a solemn, rare and modest presentation today. 

We are starting to live the Istanbul, which we cannot apprehend when we read, today. Therefore, Istanbul begins to show itself. 

It is decorated with important works which carry the traces of old civilizations and beauties again.

– Realm of History

Monday, July 30, 2018

THEODOSIUS CISTERN

FATIH, ISTANBUL, TURKEY

The Theodosius Cistern, one of the most prominent ancient cisterns of Constantinople, has recently opened its doors to the public after an eight-year-long restoration project. 

Lying underneath the modern-day city of Istanbul, with its modern entrance located at Piyer Loti Street in Turkey’s Fatih district, the ancient structure has been restored by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB).

– Realm of History

Sunday, July 29, 2018

BLOOMBERG EXPERT: SUBSIDIZING STADIUMS A BAD IDEA 100% OF THE TIME

MIAMI CITY LEADERS: PAVING OVER PRECIOUS PARK LAND AND STRIKING SWEETHEART DEALS FOR A MALL/HOTEL/CONFERENCE CENTER MASQUERADING AS THE HOME FOR MLS...

SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT WAY TO REPRESENT THE TAXPAYERS
Thank you Willy Gort and Manolo Reyes for doing everything in your power to stop the ludicrous land giveaway in the name of soccer.

Thanks for not falling prey to hero worship and intense lobbying from the richest of the rich.

To the rest of you, please read this article and help campaign against the shameful paving over of precious, rare park space in the city that has the least amount of recreation space of in major city in America.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-07-16/four-reasons-taxpayers-should-never-subsidize-stadiums



Saturday, July 28, 2018

YOU KNOW YOU ARE LEARNING TURKISH WHEN….


THE GOOGLE TRANSLATE-DRIVEN TURKISH IS SO BAD, YOU SWITCH TO THE TN VERSION FROM EN VERSION AFTER READING:

"The process that you have the fullest while living in Bath, all of our guests can benefit from avoiding this quiet and peaceful atmosphere and the high volume of noise inside and we ask you to take pleasure."

Friday, July 27, 2018

THE SIMIT


So Much More than a “Turkish Bagel”



While working on an English version of a book originally written in Turkish, I came across the clause that explained a simit is a “Turkish bagel”

And yes, if forced to, I would translate “simit” as “Turkish bagel.” 

But it is so much more.

I love my New York style bagels, with a schmear, thank you.

But nothing compares to the texture, the vaguely sweet exterior of a simit.

Plus, simits are so sociable.

In Istanbul, you walk into any square, off a ferry, down a road – and there’s a simit cart.

You can smell them.

You hear people talking.

Even if you don’t understand what they are saying, you are part of the dialogue on politics, the weather, the Besiktas match, etc.

As tourists, we all have stopped at the carts in Manhattan, set up on a busy corner to sell bagels, hard rolls, donuts and breakfast sandwiches to rushed New Yorkers on their way to work. 

It is not the same.

You can get a simit all day.

I have stayed at hotels in Turkey with endless, fresh simits – and some wonderful homemade jams – at the free breakfast buffet set up on a beautiful terrace overlooking the Sea of Marmara. 

By the third day, I found myself walking the streets to buy a simit.

The air from the nearby Golden Horn and Bosphorus, the gulls diving in hope you have a crumb of dough to toss them, the sounds of Istanbul traffic – cars, people, trams – it all makes the simit taste like the most wonderful food from heaven.






Thursday, July 26, 2018

CAMELS...

...IN CAPPADOCIA
Much as I’d like to think these beautiful beasts are descended from mighty camels that traveled the Silk Road through ancient Anatolia, I fear these humped critters may well be in Cappadocia simply for tourists.

I’m pretty well-traveled. Like to think of myself as savvy and multilingual.

But when I left the very familiar confines of Istanbul for Urgup, Goreme and Avanos, I think I may have discovered camels imported purely to encourage tourists to stop for tented souvenir shops.

In other words, they are not even there so much for rides -- like mules for the Grand Canyon -- but to catch the eye of rubes like me.

I understand about a dozen camels are in Cappadocia, and somehow survive its brutal winters.

The ones I saw were extremely healthy.

My wife loves camels, so I was sure to take some pictures.


Süleyman, a 26-year-old bactrian camel, is the only two humper in the region.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

UCHISAR CASTLE -- 4

CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY



The main reason visitors go to Uçhisar is to climb to the top of the hisar, the tall rock outcrop via tunnels and enjoy the spectacular panoramic view, the best view of Cappadocia except for that which you get from a hot air balloon.

https://turkeytravelplanner.com/go/CentralAnatolia/Cappadocia/uchisar/index.html

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

DAVID MUIR = COMMUNITY HERO. WE'RE ROOTING FOR YOU IN COURT

Miami Attorney Sues City Over No-Bid David Beckham 
Proposal for Melreese Park and Recreation Land
Local attorney Douglas Muir filed the legal challenge in Miami-Dade Circuit Court this morning, arguing that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and commissioners violated the city's charter by negotiating a no-bid deal for the property with the soccer team. Muir is seeking an expediting hearing on the issue.

Muir is a third-generation Miamian who says he's a sports fan who supports the idea of an MLS team coming to town. But he says he wants Beckham's group to play by the rules.

Douglas Muir says a local judge has set a hearing on July 24 to hear his legal challenge to the stadium proposal.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Saturday, July 21, 2018

UCHISAR CASTLE

CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY


The natural rock citadel of Uçhisar is the tallest point in Cappadocia, visible for a great distance from the region's other towns such as Urgup and Avanos.


Friday, July 20, 2018

THEY PAVED PARADISE AND PUT UP A PARKING LOT

MIAMI MLS  MELREESE VERSION
They Paved Paradise and Put up a Parking Lot

…and hotels

...and a conference center

…and office space

…and entertainment venues

…and a mall bigger than Brickell CityCentre

…and restaurants

…and speculative development

…and driveways

…and a sports stadium as subterfuge

…and a way for the richest of the rich to get wealthier by exploiting taxpayer-held land

….and, oh the hell with it, the city with the least amount of park land in the U.S. sold out its people by giving away its largest piece of recreation land to a celebrity soccer star and a megawealthy family, for dimes on the dollar.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

VERY DISAPPOINTED IN MELREESE LAND GIVEWAY

NO GOOD DECISION IN HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE IN A SECRETIVE RUSH,
WHILE SHUTTING OUT THE PUBLIC

(Above depicts shopping mall on more land than Brickell CityCentre, a hotel-conference center in the flight path of MIA and a stadium for a minor league sport -- all paving over the largest inland parcel of recreation space in the city that shamefully has the least amount of park land in the U.S.)

The District Commissioner didn't want it, 3 of 5 Commissioners disrespected him and over ruled his vote.

Another Commissioner pretty much put on the record the exact argument of what we hope is a winning lawsuit to defeat this unwise vote: that the city broke tons of its own rules and rushed to get something on the ballot -- turning its back on careful vetting, neighborhood outreach, professional traffic and other studies and oh, a public hearing.

The argument that this lets the voters decide is pathetic.

Billionaire developers will now spend millions on slick campaigns -- in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole -- to promise the moon.

Out of work, this stadium will create a high paying job for you and your relatives.

Hate your work? Go to a soccer game (and watch alleged pros compete in a league where only 0.25 percent of the players are worthy of making a World Cup roster) and all your troubles will be resolved.

Afraid of the next hurricane making landfall as a Category 5, why this paving over of park land is scientifically proven to repel all tropical storms and hurricanes back into the Atlantic, far from here.

Stubborn belly fat?  Vote for this and those troublesome love handles will melt away.

You get the point.

The little guy, who loves recreation space and loathes giveaways to the richest of the rich, will have maybe $10,000 to hold a town hall and take at a couple classified ads.

The Mas brothers, Beckham, etc. will be on TV, radio, newspapers, internet -- maybe in hot air balloons -- selling the hell out of this deal because they stand to make a fortune on the out of scale development.

And apparently, even though they are supposed to be unbiased guardians of our precious natural resources, our mayor and a majority of commissioners will be leading the bandwagon for this debacle.

So it's really going to be a fair vote. 

NOT.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

DEAR CITY OF MIAMI OFFICIALS


HOW CAN I POSSIBLY FEEL LIKE YOU'RE REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF PARK LAND PRESERVATION & BEST BANG FOR TAXPAYERS'  BUCK
WHEN HALF OF YOU ARE ACTING MORE EXCITED FOR MLS DEVELOPERS THAN ITS PUBLIC RELATIONS TEAM?

I wish our city leaders could be even tempered, and not such cheerleaders for Beckham/MLS.

How can you be a bulldog at the negotiating table when you are giddy as a child on Christmas Day every time Team Beckham makes some impossible promise about what soccer does for a community?

Miami is a major city, with our without the MLS.

The sweetheart land scam is the real story.

And for the record, I wouldn't give park land to a combo of the New England Patriots-NY Yankees&Golden State Warriors.

Let them find an urban infill site, served by existing transit, that can uplift the community around it while not paving over green space.

I’m getting tired of elected officials acting like the MLS is the greatest thing since the polio vaccine.

Or the false premise that a lot of folks here rooting for their home nation in World Cup = instant sold out stadium for league where 99% of the players couldn't get on the field for a premier league team.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

HERALD, URBAN ENVIRONMENT LEAGUE OPPOSE MELREESE BECKHAM SOCCER LAND DEAL

JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY OPPOSES
PAVING OVER PARKLAND FOR PROFIT
MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD: Soccer stadium deal too big, too secretive. Tell them ‘Too bad,’ Miami commissioners. Vote No.

https://www.miamiherald.com/article214741810.html

The Urban Environment League of Greater Miami has been an unbiased voice for the people for more than two decades. The UEL is an advocacy organization that supports environmentally responsible development and smart growth. We work to protect the public waterfront, public spaces, and historic and natural areas in Miami-Dade County.


Resolution from the Urban Environment League

The UEL recommends that City of Miami Commissioners vote No on any City plan or resolution that involves leasing, selling or otherwise transferring City park land to third parties.

 Dated July 12, 2018 / Duly approved by the Board of Directors.

The Urban Environment League (UEL) supports parks and open green space within the City of Miami.

UEL acknowledges that the City of Miami ranks last or second to last in park space per capita for cities Miami’s size.

UEL supports the taxpayer owned Melreese Golf Course and the surrounding open green space.

UEL objects to the paucity of information provided the public and the media about the proposed takeover and destruction of the Melreese Golf Course.

UEL, believes the City has received an “unsolicited offer” for at least 78 acres of the Melreese Golf Course site.

UEL recommends that Commissioners vote to protect the Melreese Golf Club.

UEL recommends that City officials show respect for taxpayer owned property, especially our public parks.

For the reasons listed above, the UEL recommends that City of Miami Commissioners vote No on any City plan or resolution that involves leasing, selling or otherwise transferring City park land to third parties.


Monday, July 16, 2018

MAYBE MELREESE CAN SERVE A LARGER PORTION OF THE PUBLIC


WHILE RETAINING A 9-HOLE, OR COMPACT 18-HOLE PAR 3 COURSE
I say turn half the golf course into play fields.

Leave the rest a 9-hole course.

Maybe it could be reconfigured into a very tight 18-hole, par 3 course.

Use bond money to build it.

Find a proper home for soccer on an infill site.

The taxes from that development will still go to the City – even though soccer backers pretend like the Melreese site is the only one that will produced taxes for the City.

Don't pave over an inch of green space.

And stop pretending like handing over half the land -- for a mall and hotel conference center masquerading as a soccer stadium -- is the only possible way of opening up some of the green space to a larger part of the public.

If the mall-stadium are such a great deal, its billionaire backers will find private land, pay full price and the taxes from that development could fund a parks bond to pay for preserving as much of the golf course as possible while opening up some green space to other recreation uses.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

MIAMI CANNOT AFFORD TO PAVE OVER PARK LAND AND GREEN SPACE


RECREATION LAND SHOULD NEVER BE SACRIFICED TO DEVELOPERS
My wife and I and our friends dedicated three years of our lives to stopping a tennis center that would have paved over nearly all 2 acres of historic William Jennings Bryan Park in the City of Miami.

The issue wasn't whether more kids could have more fun with more tennis courts.
It was why the City would pave over a rare neighborhood green oasis -- when tennis courts could have been built on any of 100+ vacant, already paved over lots in that quarter of the City.

Don't ever be fooled into making this MLS vs. non soccer fans....golfers vs. non golfers.

Always stress the core of this issue: Miami has the least amount of park land and open space per person than just about any city in the western world.
We cannot afford to pave over a rare green lung of the city.

A stadium, parking, hotels, event center and offices should land in a location that does not forever diminish a huge chunk of our rarest natural resource.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

THE ISSUE IS NOT GOLF COURSE VS. SOCCER

IT'S PRESERVATION VS. DEVELOPMENT PAVING OVER GREEN SPACE

The issue is preserving the most precious resource Miami has -- its painfully small amount of green space.


The issue isn't whether one likes golf or soccer more.

The issue is whether one wants to live in a world of unbearable concrete paved from Ocean's edge to fringe of the Everglades.

Or whether we want to steer mega developments to areas crying out for redevelopment -- areas that already have public transit nearby.

In greater Miami, there are dozens of neglected urban sites that are already paved over and could benefit from development near multiple public transit options.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/208/208/596/help-us-put-kids-special-needs-and-many-more-before-the-building-of-a-soccer-stadium/

Friday, July 13, 2018

WHEN WILL MIAMI CHERISH?


ITS NATURAL AREAS?

I want to live for the day when park land and green space is untouchable.

A living, breathing thing that exists for the people is not an "asset" to be pawned off to the highest bidder.

Oops, well, the Beckham deal isn't even highest bidder.

It's an insider, unbid sweetheart deal.

But I would not pave over park land if the buyer offered $10 million for 100 SF of land.

I don't deal away the thing I have the least of and that my working families need the most.

Quite candidly, cities that start putting a price tag on every natural area and street hustling it for cash...well, that sounds like a park land pimp if I ever heard of one.

I, for one, would like to not prostitute public green space.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/208/208/596/help-us-put-kids-special-needs-and-many-more-before-the-building-of-a-soccer-stadium/

Thursday, July 12, 2018

MIAMI CITY COMMISSION MEETING ON MLS STADIUM

DON'T PAVE OVER OUR PARK



The issue is preserving the most precious resource Miami has -- its painfully small amount of green space. 


The issue isn't whether one likes golf or soccer more. 

The issue is whether one wants to live in a world of unbearable concrete paved from Ocean's edge to fringe of the Everglades -- or whether we want to steer mega developments to areas crying out for redevelopment -- areas that already have public transit nearby. 

The Overtown land is one, but by far from the only urban site that already is paved over and could benefit from development near multiple public transit options.

My wife and I and our friends dedicated three years of our lives to stopping a tennis center that would have paved over nearly all 2 acres of historic William Jennings Bryan Park in the City of Miami.

The issue wasn't whether more kids could have more fun with more tennis courts -- it was why the city would pave over a rare neighborhood green oasis -- when tennis courts could have been built on any of 100+ vacant, already paved over lots in that quarter of the city. 

Don't ever be fooled into making this MLS vs. non soccer fans....golfers vs. non golfers. 

Always stress the core of this issue: Miami has the least amount of park land and open space per person than just about any city in the western world. 

We cannot afford to pave over a rare green lung of the city -- when a stadium, parking, hotels, event center and offices should land some place in the County that does not forever diminish a huge chunk of our rarest natural resource.




Wednesday, July 11, 2018

DON'T PAVE OUR PARKS

MIAMI COMMISSIONERS:
WE HAVE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF PARK LAND OF ANY CITY IN THE U.S.
WE CANNOT AFFORD TO HAND OVER PRECIOUS PARK LAND TO DEVELOPERS

Melreese green space is our inland green lung for the city. 

When lungs are paved over, they die. 

Support the MLS team by finding a location that doesn't subtract precious green space from the city with the least amount of park land.

There are dozens of potential urban infill sites that would activate blighted land and be next to transit.

https://www.facebook.com/dontpaveourparksmiami

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

ANCIENT NICEA

NOW IZNIK, TURKEY


Ancient Nicaea, now called İznik, is a farming town surrounded by massive medieval walls set on the shore of a broad lake 63 km (39 miles) southeast of Yalova.

Two Christian ecumenical councils were held here, the 1st in 325, and the 7th in 787.

The Hagia Sophia Church right at the city center was the scene of the 7th council.

In 1331, Orhan Gazi had it converted to a mosque.

In the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, the sultan's great architect, Mimar Sinan, made some additions and modifications to improve its function as a house of worship.

Badly ruined sometime thereafter (perhaps by earthquakes), it was restored to its former shape beginning in 2007, and re-opened as a mosque in November 2011, which means you can now enter and get a good idea of the building's earlier Byzantine form.

İznik's Green Mosque (Yeşil Cami) is a fine Seljuk Turkish-influenced work. Across the street is an ottoman imaret (soup kitchen) that now houses the city's good museum.

--by Tom Brosnahan, Turkey Travel Planner -- the best travel website on the internet


Monday, July 9, 2018

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT 28TH ANNIVERSARY

CELEBRATED BY MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
INTERNAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT 
This July marks the 28th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by President George H. W. Bush.

The ADA is the most broad-sweeping federal civil rights law to protect people with disabilities from discrimination in many aspects of life, including access to local government services and programs.

In honor of this anniversary, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution declaring this July and every July hereafter as Disability Diversity Month.

To celebrate, the Miami-Dade County Internal Services Department is hosting an event on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 12pm in the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Center.

There will be special guest speakers, a disability history and culture display, artwork by children with disabilities and live music by the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind jazz ensemble.

"I'm proud to be part of this special event to honor the ADA, since disabled persons are the largest minority group in this country," said Internal Services Director Tara Smith.

This free event is open to everyone. 

Sign language interpreters will be provided.

Should anyone need an ADA accommodation to participate, please call the Miami-Dade County Internal Services, ADA Office at 305-375-2013 or by email: hjwrig@miamidade.gov

Media Contact: 
Heidi Johnson-Wright
786-564-5160



Sunday, July 8, 2018

170,000 READERS

THANKS FOR READING MY DAILY BLOG ON TRAVEL,
DISABILITY ADVOCACY, URBAN DESIGN AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Quite a bit has happened since our last readership milestone.

On June 1, we made our final mortgage payment on our historic house in Little Havana.

One June 10, I returned from the better part of a month in Turkey -- from my beloved Istanbul to the Bulgarian border to deep central Anatolia.

On June 11, I celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary with Heidi.

About the same time this blog will observe 200,000 unique visitors, our house near famous Calle Ocho will turn 100.

We hope you enjoy the photos -- I have posted well more than 1,000 of my original images from around the globe.

We know you enjoy the words -- my cumulative writings would fill more than four full-length books.


The images here are from the Turkish government, which is promoting accessibility for people with disabilities.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 11

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


I just checked Efendi and not only do they have dozens of reasonably-priced tours for Istanbul and the entirety of Turkey.

They also have a tour for people who require dialysis. 

As a longtime advocate for people with disabilities, that impresses me very much.




Friday, July 6, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 10

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL
The Day 2 tour took me all over the place, so I left having ticked every checklist item save for the (additional cost plus 3 a.m. wake up call) sunrise balloon trip.

I bought so many books on Cappadocia, that I even emailed Yusuf about Turkish Airlines policy on weight of bag.


I always go light and carry on, but when faced with a 200 USD cost of shipping home rare books from Istanbul and souvenirs for Cappadocia, I was figuring may check the bags was my option.

Yusuf, a highly trained tourism expert, assured me that while the carry on limit was 8KG, I had at least 20 KG of checked bag for free allowance for the journey back to Miami later in the week.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 9

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


With Efendi’s work to free my from my first day Cappadocia itinerary, I got to spend 4 hours in the Open Air Museum (the tour stop is only an hour) walking up hill at my own pace to favor my knee, and lingering till closing to get better light for photography.

I even got to wander the touristy, but worth a stop for food and shopping town of Goreme, about 1 KM from the museum.

With Efendi, I got the best of both worlds -- all the security, price point and seamless service of a package deal -- but the individuality to strike out on my own.

The entire taxis, park admission food on my own, etc. cost way less than 100 Turkish Lira, about 20 USD, well worth it to see the park on my own.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 8

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


Day 1 was a long hike and my knee was acting up. 

The weather for the next day called for storms.

I pictured my only visit to Cappadocia being marred by a sore knee and rain sweeping away photos I wanted to take in Goreme. 


I offered to leave the tour halfway into Day 1 and pay a taxi to Goreme.

The tour guide was polite, but balked at it.

I dialed Yusuf (he gave me his cell and told me to call 24/7) and quickly, the tour driver was depositing me in Goreme.


The understanding was that I would not have travel protection until I was back in the care off the Day 2 driver the next morning, that I would pay taxi home to hotel and that I was skipping the free lunch.

 I agreed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 7

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


Each day, I was picked up around 9:30 a.m. and taken around to all the key sites and museums. I must say, the buffet lunch was fairly mediocre, but no lacking for items. 

There must have been 100 things to choose from, which is good for the picky eaters.
Efendi and Yusuf even helped trouble shooting a problem of my own creation.


The number one thing I wanted to see was the Goreme Open Air Museum. 

We were supposed to see it on the first day, but the on-site tour operator switched my itinerary.

Monday, July 2, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 6

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


Breakfast -- 95% of Turkish small hotels, be they rural or urban, have a buffet spread in the morning -- had all the traditional Turkish white cheeses, breads, olives, pickles and dips -- along with enough warm food, jams and other items to appeal to the more western palate. 

The room at Yunak was spectacular, though it involved climbing very many outdoor, smooth marble stair cases. It had a very modern and luxurious bath.


There was a heater, but I never needed it.


Plenty of comfy sheets and blankets made me at ease with the constant 67 degree interior.

The room was large as a suite, stocked with free bottled water and amazing to sleep in, what with its carved niches from being an ancient cave home.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 5

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


The service at Yunak Evleri was superb, the finishes amazing, the common areas upscale, etc.

I feared the restaurant would be mediocre and expensive, since it was a bit of a hike into the ancient village of Urgup for a dining alternative.  

But it was the opposite a multilevel lounge deck -- with spectacular views of the canyon around us and the hotel's cliff facade -- welcomed with a fireplace, hip music (volume not too loud) and an array of items.  

Eating late and on the road, I opted for a simple margarita pizza and a gourmet, ultra-thin crust creation arrived with a price tag far less than you'd pay in the states.