Saturday, February 28, 2015

Baptism Site return

Another CLO trip to the Baptism Site.

DYK: The site was only agreed upon to be a preserved archaeological/religious site in 1997 and only opened since 2000 because prior to that they had to clear out land mines?  

THE Baptism Site, according to the Jordan side.

The Jordan River has water in it!

Greek Orthodox church, oldest church on the property.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A book to read: The American Mission

I read the excerpt on Diplopundit.

I think I have to buy it on Amazon.

Food in Istanbul

It's become clear that all the moaning I did about the weather in Istanbul last week was unwarranted.  Look at Istanbul now:

Last week today, we were standing right there.  It may have been cloudy and rainy, but it didn't shut down the airport at all and I didn't fear slipping my way down cobblestone streets.  Thank you Weather Gods.  Though admittedly my photos would have turned out prettier with snow instead of gray haze.

While in Istanbul we ate quite well.  TripAdvisor is a wonderful thing as we discovered that three of the highest rated restaurants in Istanbul were next door or across from our hotel.

Seriously.  I want to eat from these dishes All The Time.  Who wouldn't??  The restaurant is the Babylonia Garden and Terrace (#31) and had a fireplace.  Unfortunately the fireplace was right by the door, so the warmth was regularly replaced with a draft.

And what was under the cover was just as wonderful as the dish. Chicken over pureed eggplant.

TripAdvisor recommended the pumpkin desert.  I do not.  Chunks of raw pumpkin, frozen, and soaked in a sweetener with pistachio crumbles, along with a tahini sauce and a molasses sauce.  Unless that sounds awesome to you, give it a pass.

Wandering the streets one day, we bought a bagel-like bread spread with Nutella.  Nutella makes everything delicious.

That night we ate off more beautiful dishes with great food.  Albura Kathisma (#66) had mood lightening and an awesome selection of seafood.  My meal of monk fish and Ian's of giant prawns...

Our friends went for the house specialty, a meal cooked in a clay pot over a fire, broken open and served right at the table.

With, of course, dessert of chocolate souffle and ice cream.  Because even though I couldn't finish my pile of monk fish, there's always room for dessert.

What really makes the restaurant great is that, like Amman, you can't dig anywhere in Istanbul without hitting ancient ruins.

Part of the restaurant has a glass floor....

...and the ruins are remarkable.  It's a slow process unearthing the rooms and arches, but worth seeing if you have the opportunity to pop down for a visit.

Hello Snow!

It seems that every week the weather gurus claimed another blizzard was on the horizon.  While last night's snow wasn't quite a blizzard, we did get about 9 inches on the ground, and 13 inches on stuff like tables.

Snowy day calls for fresh bread.  This is the second attempt at making bread this month and it finally turned out.  It smells great and we're waiting to cut into it.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Home from Istanbul

The kids survived :)

And so did we!  I present... a few photos...

Tour guide took this one.  Not sure how this shows
the Hagia Sofia!  Though we look pretty cute.

The riot police prepping before the student protest, outside the
window at lunch.

The Grand Bazaar, which was totally awesome.  Especially
if you get off the main drags.  Lots of very cool alleys to explore.

One of our favorite spots, the Basilica Cistern.  With carp!
And Medusa!

The Suleyiman Mosque.  Look close and see the
ostrich eggs, which were historically used to
attract bugs and spiders.

Had a GREAT trip with Erin and Jason.  Thank you so much for
letting us crash your party!

"Hagia Sofia with Funky Tree."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hair cut achieved.

Haircut, done.

Braces are still on.  Should be out of them by the end of the year. Al hamdalila.

When they come off, new glasses and another haircut.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Jordan is in Mourning

It's no surprise that the best writing on the tragedy that has hit Jordan comes from Donna.  Donna doesn't live in Amman anymore, she's off to grayer pastures in Moscow, but living in Amman for 4 years leaves a mark.  I don't care who you are, you leave here changed.

Jordan fights, and fights hard, to stay moderate and peaceful.  It's not an easy job, and it's certainly not getting any help from its neighbors.  Look around, people, and recognize what Jordan has overcome year in and year out, look at the pressures from all sides to NOT be moderate.  To NOT be peaceful.  In fact, Jordan takes in nearly 1 million refugees, a strain on everything Jordan has, but the King reinforces that those who need help will not be turned away.  The support will not be stopped, and neither will the constant refusal to be pulled one direction or another, away from being a peaceful and solid country. I have much greater respect and understanding now than I did in Aug 2013 of how remarkable Jordan is and how much it needs to be protected and supported.

Jordan is a miracle, really.

So do me a favor and read Donna's post on The Evil and The Good.  Those barbarians don't represent faith, or God, or Islam.  The don't represent the people of the Levant or Iraq or Syria.  And they certainly don't represent the people of Jordan.

Our coworkers (I should note: both Moslem and Christian) are stunned. They are angry. They are hurt. Today the people of Jordan mourn the horrific loss of one of their own. And we mourn with them. Because that's what humans do.