Category Archives: My Backyard

How Do You Get to Sarajevo City Hall? Practice!

The United Nations sponsors musical education in Bosnia. Students, professors and administrators from participating universities, gathered at Sarajevo’s famed City Hall for the weekly Monday Concert. The UN rep gave the opening talk in American English with Bosnian translation. Even the mayor was there.

Sarajevo City Hall the ‘Temple Mount’ of the “European Jerusalem”

Situated at the intersection of three major streets in Sarajevo, the City Hall is a monument to the multiculturalism of Bosnia. Built between 1892 and 1894, the pseudo-Moorish building honored the Muslim background of this Austro-Hungarian territory. The façade is based on Mamluk-period buildings in Cairo. The building has been used for various municipal purposes since its construction, including as a city court and parliament house, which it was until 1948, when it became the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 



Sarajevo was the city of four religions: Catholics, Orthodox, Muslim, and Jews. The Jewish population made note of this, naming the city “The European Jerusalem.”  Settled in prehistoric times, followed by Ottoman rule in the 15th century, Austro-Hungarian rule in the 19th century, Yugoslavia’s communist rule in the 20th century, and finally today’s democracy.

August 25-26, 1992, the City Hall was hit by heavy artillery and incendiary bombs. The hall was set ablaze and the entire library holdings were lost. The fire caused severe damage to the structural and decorative elements of the building. In 1996, the government of Austria funded an initial restoration effort that focused on load-bearing walls and masonry. The European Commission followed in 1999 with funds to continue restoration of structural elements


The edifice was designed by Karel Pařík in a stylistic blend of historical eclecticism, predominantly in the pseudo-Moorish expression, for which the stylistic sources were found in the Islamic art of Spain and North Africa. His epitaph reads: “Here rests the builder of Sarajevo. Czech by birth, Sarajevan by choice. – A thankful Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

In May 2014 the building reopened with a public ceremony. The restoration was completed in time to mark the centenary of World War I, triggered by the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand as he left a reception at the building in June 1914. The building now houses the national and university libraries, the city council, and a museum. November 2014

The lower level museum presents the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.
Jane Marie and I would not do well on a ‘Jeopardy’ former Yugoslavia geography quiz.
Slovenia (Melania Trump) and Croatia got all the goodies on the coast, Bosnia got Sarajevo (the Muslim Jerusalem & tourist Mecca) and Serbia got all the Serbs in all the wrong places.

Way to Go Sarajevo


The oldest pyramid in the world is in… Bosnia

Who said there was nothing to do in Bosnia? An amateur archaeologist claims to have discovered pyramids in Bosnia, but scientists say that he is lying. Inhabitants of the small town at the foot of the pyramid believe him, but not necessarily for scientific reasons.

Amira Kilalić places pita bread on the table, wraps her headscarf tighter around her bright, dyed red hair, and steps outside. Her shop is a small wooden house that stands on the mountainside. If she looks down, the 83-year-old with a wrinkled face can see Visoko, the town at the foot of the Visočica mountain.

Buy now in Visoko, if they offered Amira 250,000 Euros for her cottage, location, location, location. We’ve all heard of Sarajevo but Visoko? Com’on.

There, women wear high heels to fetch cigarettes, and in the mornings, the men are already sitting in the cafés and betting shops on the main street. If she looks up, Amira can see the castle ruins on the mountaintop.

That’s where the director of the town’s local history museum took a Bosnian entrepreneur, who visited Visoko in 2005. Back then, the ruins were the town’s only sightseeing destination. But when the director mentioned the symmetry of the mountain, his visitor stopped short, got out his compass, measured the angle of the mountain’s slopes and suddenly became certain that he was standing atop a pyramid.

After our hour tour inside the tunnels under the pyramid we drove through the village up to the exterior North Face entry. I took the picnic table opt-out option while Jane Marie started hiking up the side.
Even Jane Marie called it a day at this point. The group ahead is looking at some extraterrestrial depression, not berries or onions.
If you’ve seen one pyramid, you’ve seen them all.

Not just a mountain in Bosnia

For centuries, the mountain was just a mountain. It wasn’t until 2005, when the amateur researcher came to visit, that the mountain became “the highest and oldest pyramid in the world”. He called it the ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ (Piramida Sunca). At the time, the people of Visoko laughed and called him crazy. Today, they are proud of the find, which has brought them fame and money. “It’s so nice that the pyramid is right here,” Amira says, with a satisfied smile.

The discoverer is called Semir Osmanagić. He makes his living from a metal business in Texas, where he goes by the name Sam Osmanagich. For years, he used to visit the pyramids of the world in his spare time, wearing a wide-brimmed white hat and a cotton shirt. The 57-year-old says that since his discovery, he’s the happiest person in the world. His business has since become a side project; he visits the company four times a year, dealing with any problems over Skype. He can call himself Dr. Osmanagić because, in 2009, he wrote a PhD thesis about the Mayan civilisation at the faculty of political science in Sarajevo.

“I was here in July and took some tunnel water with me. I drank it regularly, and in October, it turned out that I’m free of tumours.”

To Amira, he is simply “Semir”. He began excavations in spring 2006. Every day while doing so, he came by her wooden house – which has neither heating nor a water supply – with his helpers. She gave them apples from her garden and observed how more and more Bosnians and foreigners with hiking boots and cameras were pouring in. When she counted over a thousand people one sunny weekend, her husband decided to open a café. They built a long timber house with a clay floor and large windows, from which Amira now sells coffee and homemade pita, woollen socks and smoked cheese.

Visiting Gobekli Tepe in 2016, led us to read “Magicians of the Gods” by Graham Hancock but the ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ in Sarajevo has put us on the occultist bus.


A place of pilgrimage for occultists

The pyramids create jobs, urgently needed in a country with an unemployment rate of almost 30%. Those who can tend to rent out rooms, sell souvenirs or earn money as taxi drivers for the tourists. Since 2005, around 100 new accommodation spaces have sprung up, and pyramid-shaped pizza is easy to find. Osmanagić even formed a Pyramid Foundation, financed by tourism revenue. The foundation employs 38 people: guides, craftspeople and guards. Osmanagić isn’t there very often though, he now gives talks around the world about his discovery. He manages the Visoko team via email.

The amateur archaeologist invites international excavation teams and journalists with him. On the pyramid’s slope, he has exposed stone slabs, and says they are man-made.

Even the head of the European Institute for Archaeology paid the site a visit. He said the find was “a pseudoscientific lie”, and that Osmanagić should stop digging. But the amateur researcher didn’t back down. Instead, he went on to discover three additional, smaller pyramids and a tunnel that – he believes – leads you to the Pyramid of the Sun. But the alleged passageways are still barricaded by stone.

Jane Marie “laying on of hands,” occultist style.

The accessible part of the tunnel is visited by around 45,000 tourists each year. “We witness miracles here: the highly ionised air in the tunnel, the extraordinary quality of the water, and the vibrations all have positive effects on people,” Osmanagić says over Skype. The entrance fee for foreigners is 10 Euros. There is tunnel water for sale in tiny 100ml glass bottles for the same price.


Armenia – You Can’t Get There from Here


Gata is an Armenian sweet bread, often about 12-14″ in diameter and about 1.5″ thick. The inside is soft, chewy and very sweet. Gata is sold at most bakeries in Armenia, and can be purchased at small road-side stores and tourist attractions outside the cities. At Geghard Monastery the name “Geghard” is written in Armenian on the Gata.
Armenia has more cathedrals than McDonald’s – matter of fact. we didn’t see any big or little Mac’s
Monastery with a view at Lake Sevan
Walking tour of the Armenian Capital – wait, wait don’t tell me – Yerevan.
Yerevan is pre-gentrified interior upgrades only requirement for occupancy
Hostel rooms start at $3/day
Mountain & very tall hill retreats are everywhere. Thanks to Jane Marie’s research we were lucky guests at the Palma B&B high above Alaverdi
The four hour drive to Yerevan makes stops at three famous cathedrals, Sanahin was our favorite

Garni-Geghard-Pokr Vedi

Garni has a five time restored Greek temple, next to last time Emperor Nero wrote a check
in 66 AD
What I liked best about Garni was the Lavash bread hot out of a real tandoor oven.
I wanted to know if any of the Apostles had been to Geghard. No but Kim Kardashian and Kanye were here in 2015
Notice when they get back in their van the Gata bread take-out
Yes that’s Mt. Ararat, Kohr-Vepi in the foreground and the Russians guarding the valley border between Turkey and Armenia
Jane Marie befriending the path builder on her way to the Kohr-Vepi cathedral, where St,Gregory was imprisoned for twelve years.

Vagharshapat – Etchmiadzin

Etchmiadzin Cathedral the Vatican of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Offering unsolicited advise on oil painting landscapes, while Jane Marie checks out the
Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Vagharshapat, Armenia

Georgia On My Mind


Georgia, Georgia
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)
I said Georgia

Hard to live in Turkey very long without visiting Tbilisi, Georgia
Jane Marie & I had a two-week educational, insightful, geo-social-political, and skilled Georgian home cooking stay with our new Family

Georgia Invented Wine


Georgia
A song of you
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you


Chateau Mukhrani, most entertaining winery in Georgia, with US & European wine aficionados serenaded by Georgian folk music.
Clay pots with removable tops, so the wine guy/girl can push the grape stuff to the bottom every so often to let it ferment back up, so he/she can push it down again.
Georgio, our fast-talking guide, showing off Chateau’s stainless steel lined concrete shell experimental clay pot.

Jane Marie’s Tbilisi Pics


I said Georgia
Ooh Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
Whoa, Georgia


According to legend, the city of Tbilisi was first founded in the mid-5th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali, who encountered numerous hot springs while hunting in the area and was so impressed by them he decreed that a new city be built on the site. The water still runs clear, so much so that you can drink out of the tap.
Tbilisi is another great place to invest your Gentrification dollar
Tbilisi Tartar Vegan antidote
Freedom Bridge good, Fallopian tubes interesting as a curiosity
Nexus carpet shop – Persian, Armenian & Georgian and bring cash
Intelligentsia Graffiti
Foot-long cheese or bean burrito blast furnace bakery on every corner
Re-purposed Lada
Georgian equivalent of eggs Benedict
Best street art exhibit
Got to be one of the only places on earth where George ‘W’ and Dick Cheney are heroes.

Did you say Monastery?


Georgia
No peace, no peace I find
Just this old, sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
I said just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
Songwriters: Hoagy Carmichael / Stuart Gorell
Georgia on My Mind lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

Jane Madonna Marie Kennedy and her Acolyte
Two hats are better than one at the Mtskheta Holy Cross Church
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral Spy
Jvari Monastery

Kate Clow Lives in the Hood

My Queen of Diamonds friend was paying her first visit to our home, when she recognized that Kate Clow, founder of the Lycian coast trail lived in the neighborhood, We thought living next door to the mayor was pretty impressive but who is Kate Clow?

       

Kate Clow lived in the UK until 1989, when she took a job selling computer systems in Istanbul. In 1992, she moved to Antalya and started freelance work. This gave her scope to explore ancient roads, which form networks linking the centers of ancient civilizations of Turkey. Convinced that Turkey needed long distance walking routes, she connected a series of old roads to make Turkey’s first long distance walking path, the Lycian Way.

The ancient region of Lycia is now famous for walking, hiking, trekking, whichever! The establishment of the Lycian Way, Turkey’s first long distance footpath was set up during the nineties by Kate Clow an ex-pat residing in Antalya. The project won a conservation competition set up by the Garanti Bankasi and part of the prize was sponsoring the implementation of the route. Today people arrive from all over the world to hike the trail either independently or part of a package tour, bringing a boost to alternative tourism and local village economy.

Geographically, Lycia is a walker’s paradise with the limestone peaks of the Taurus Mountains sweeping down to a rugged shore of forested capes and secluded coves. Warm turquoise waters invite the intrepid trekker along coastal paths and ruins of ancient empires glorify the spectacular landscape. Snow melt gushes down narrow defiles to irrigate fertile plains and grazing goatherds define a biblical scene. Rock hewn paths connect forgotten cities and shepherd trails ascend to the ‘yayla’ summer pastures hidden amongst the mountain scree. Whether one wants to stroll through a meadow colored with red poppies or climb a ten thousand foot summit in snow and ice, Lycia has it all.

That 509 km translates to 300 miles, truth is if it was 3 mi we’d still go by car.  We went fours by bus from Antalya to Kas, Everybody must go to Kas, if it wasn’t 4 hours to the airport, we would move there.

Roy & Kay liked Demre, so much so, Roy had some kind of an epiphany viewing the tomb of Santa Claus, aka St. Nicholas. Those in the know say Finike is the place to be, only no expat’s going to brag on Facebook, they’ve been to FIN – e- Kuh.

We hired car/driver for almost 12 hours from Kas to Tlos (up at the top of the map under Taurus) for $75. Had to visit Tlos, home of Pegasus, but Patara, Xanthos, and Saklikent were way more interesting. Oh, when you come to visit, I want to take the ferry (25 minutes) from Kas to this little Greek island that starred in award winning Italian movie.

A Conscious Decision on the Path of Least Resistance

 

Coming to Antalya, Turkey is the first time I have wandered off the path of least resistance. Did I want to go in the military in the Vietnam era – are you kidding me – Nixon made that decision for me. Did I want to get married? Of course not but did I want an open marriage, of course not. Did I want to be a goat farmer and live in the countryside? I hadn’t thought about it but at the time it seemed like a good idea, so why not. Did I want to be a widower? No way Jose. Did I want to go to China, well it was either that or sleep on my sister’s couch. Did I want to move lock, stock & barrel to Turkey? Never had it on my expat bucket list but when Jane Marie came back from Seoul with the suggestion, I was all for it.

First time ever for an unforced decision. I didn’t have to send out 500 CV/Resumes to get one offer to go to Egypt. The personnel office didn’t call me up and ask me to move to Sao Paulo. I didn’t haft to go to Cleveland for six miserable winters to atone for my fiscal sins in Brazil. What a scary thought, a no back-against-the-wall critical choice to make on which way to go. Scarier still, no employer or place to live at the end of the path but Antalya here we come with our 40 boxes of stuff.

We left Yantai, China, February 13th, on Azerbaijani Air leaving our friends to oversee loading our household effects aboard the good ship, Hansa Augsburg. April 16th it docked in Istanbul and after we paid the $2,000 ransom our 40 boxes decorated our hallway for Mother’s Day. Our conscious decision journey from China to Turkey was complete, now what do we do?

I know, let’s do ESL and Toastmasters. That worked well in China, where only 0.73% speak English, there are almost 600 Toastmasters clubs and every Tiger mom wants her single child in an English as a Second Language training school. Wikipedia says that 17% of the Turks speak English; there are two Toastmasters clubs in Ankara, four in Istanbul and praise Allah, a Turkish Toastmasters club in Antalya.

Old Town overlooking the bay

 

The secret ingredient, in our new Secret Ingredient Soup, is Antalya is a super-affordable, international Scottsdale, Arizona – that is after you get your stuff off the boat and out of customs. Our new ex-Navy neighbors from Ft. Worth, sold their 20 year career collection of goods in Albuquerque, packed their bags and moved to Antalya with three daughters because, “It is the nicest best place to retire on a military pension.” Therefore the secret ingredient this time around the ESL-Toastmasters barn, is expats want to retire here, unlike Cleveland or China.

Jane Marie and I are in our fourth year of Turkish Residency and moving to Antalya was the best idea collectively or individually we ever made. The ESL teacher gig or work in any form soon disappeared with the arrival of direct-deposit SSA/Pension checks. The Toastmasters get to know the community idea, may be in the distant global reset Antalya gets 12 million tourists a year but we have only one local American friend. In China we had a dozen Yankee friends and zero tourists.

Youngest daughter Tamara

Jane Marie has made the decision to exercise her artisan talents in collage art and I have reframed my “fortune-telling” penchant as Astro-Psychometric analysis.
Some reasons why you should come visit us:

Some of the most well-known Christian sacred places in Turkey;

  • St.Nicholas’ Birthplace, Patara, Antalya
  • St.Nicholas Church, Antalya
  • Ancient Nicea, Iznik, Bursa
  • Early Christian Settlement, Cappadocia
  • Seven Churches of the Revelation (EphesusPergamon, Smyrna, Laodicea, Sardis, Philadelphia, Thyatira)
  • Assyrian Orthodox Church of Virgin Mary, Diyarbakir
  • Bulgarian Church of Sweti George, Edirne
  • St.Peter’s Grotto, Hatay
  • Orthodox Patriarchate and Cathedral, Istanbul
  • Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
  • Hagia Eirene, Istanbul
  • Chora Church, Istanbul
  • Theotokos Pammakaristos Church, Istanbul
  • House of Virgin Mary, Selcuk, Izmir
  • Deyrulzafaran Monastery, Mardin
  • Mor Gabriel Monastery, Mardin
  • Alahan Monastery, Mersin
  • St.Paul’s Well, Tarsus, Mersin
  • Sumela Monastery, Trabzon
  • Hagia Sophia Museum, Trabzon
  • Akdamar Church, Van

 

 

Thinking Outside the Country

Thinking Outside the Country

My Backyard – Antalya, Turkey 2015 to Present

Where ever an American Expat or an expat from any country resides outside his home nation they instantly become street smart economists. I had never been west of Chicago until the US Marine Corps gave me a 12 month all expenses paid tour of Japan,  the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Teg, we’re not in Cincy anymore and why don’t you find a job overseas, when you get out?

Edificio Bretagne 949 Avenida Higeninopolis, Sao Paulo, Brasil 1975 – 1978

The Lobby was the best & when the elevator broke the 16th floor was a long ways to go

Good idea, I followed my bliss, first to Brazil  where I tried to live an American lifestyle on a beer budget. However, Buenos Aires, Machu Picchu, boat trip down the Amazon were worth the stay.

Ismailia, Egypt rented villa one block from Suez canal 1985-86

My second opportunity to think outside the country was a short 13 month stay in Egypt  as a free-lancer (on-the-economy) begging for consultant crumbs from the US Agency for International Development. Got to visit all 45 agricultural research stations from Asawan to Alexandria, took sailing lessons on the Nile and the Aswan to Luxor Nile cruise. Got to see how the civilian side of the Federal government works or doesn’t.

Zhengzhou, China 2008 to 2014 ESL teacher

After 2008 I found out that I couldn’t afford to live my ‘bliss’ lifestyle any place in the US on Social Security and my dinky pension. I exercised my one marketable job skill – speaking English with an American accent – seven years in Mainland China.

Pontificating to our Kiwi friends, overlooking Bohai Bay, in Yantai, Shandong (home of Confucius) China. 2014 -2015

My good looking partner with her JD Law creds, became disenchanted with being a shill for Chinese ESL training schools so we began looking for greener, affordable pastures. India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Korea were ruled out in favor of Antalya, Turkey, San Diego weather at one third the US cost of living.

At the base of those mountains Alexander the Great wintered his boats in 333 BC

In China we lived on wages, now we live on my SSA monthly check and save 30% of that, if we avoid Euro-Dollar countries. When I bragged to a Bostonian lady that we paid $300 for a 3 bed 1.5 bath apartment one block from the Mediterranean, she was impressed. Due to the currency exchange rate of the USD/TRY  we started off at $327 in March 2014.  Today, the US/Turkey political relationship has knocked our rent back to $250.

It cost us $20,000 to move from China and establish residency in Turkey.

What if the coming global financial Armageddon puts my pension on the Venezuela payment plan? That’s the problem in not only My Backyard but in 98% of the neighborhoods in the world. There are articles of living in Portugal or Ecuador for 30 years on $200,000, but what if your $200K turns into Zimbabwe bucks overnight?

My Backyard Strategy: Stay in Antalya, rent don’t own, bank accounts in TRY, EUR and USD, 5-10% savings in Gold.

MY BACK YARD – Phaselis

Alexander the Great spent the winter in my back yard 2400 years ago.

Phaselis is an ancient city ranged on a peninsula surrounded by three small, perfect bays, now protected within the grounds of a beautiful national park. Located between Kemer and Olimpos. It is 58 kilometers from Antalya it’s a perfect spot for a quiet rest and a splash in the sea from one of the small pebbly beaches. Excursion boats and yachts often drop anchor in the southern harbor for lunch, a swim, and a walk through the ruins.

Phaselis was an ancient Greek and Roman city on the coast of Lycia. Its ruins are located north of the modern town Tekirova in the Kemer district of Antalya Province in Turkey. It lies between the Bey Mountains and the forests of Olympos National Park, 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) south of the tourist town of Kemer and on the 57th kilometer of the Antalya–Kumluca highway. Phaselis and other ancient towns around the shore can also be accessed from the sea by daily yacht tours.

The town was set up by the Rhodians in 700 BC. Because of its location on an isthmus separating two harbors, it became the most important harbor city of eastern Lycia and an important center of commerce between GreeceAsiaEgypt, and Phoenicia, although it did not belong to the Lycian League. The city was captured by Persians after they conquered Asia Minor, and was later captured by Alexander the Great.