Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Musings - the Wonders of Turkey

Flying into Istanbul was surreal. I'd studied Constantinople in school, and of course, I'd seen photos of the Blue Mosque, with its six minarets dotting the landscape. But nothing prepared me for the actual experience of being there.

local bazaar
local bazaar
Our hotel was a good distance from the area of the city where you can see the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, but we had a lovely view of the Bosphorus Sea. As we explored the neighborhood, we found ourselves in a local bazaar - simply streets lined with vendors. Here, no one spoke English and there were no touristy items for sale. It was the real deal. I was starving, so we went into a shop and I simply pointed at the stuffed grape leaves. I needed a napkin, though and the server didn't get what I meant when I mimed. Then hubs saw a napkin by the cash register, so he went and got it - they got so excited, told me the Turkish word for it and demanded to know the English word. I had to repeat it several times. It was a delightful experience.

View of Palace from Bosphorus
That night, we were invited to the home of a man who had been a foreign exchange student in my husband's hometown in Texas. His wife made several traditional Turkish dishes and it was a lovely way to begin our Turkish adventure.

Day one of our sightseeing began with a visit to Dolmabahce Palace, the opulent home of the 31st Sultan, Abdulmecid I. It was built between the years 1843 and 1856. It is the largest palace in Turkey and was home to six sultans from 1856 to 1924, the year after Turkey became a republic.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey enacted some of his most important deeds here. One is not allowed to take photographs inside the Palace, so here are some pictures, courtesy of Wikapedia.

Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern, an ancient underground water supply was next.  

Entrance to Grand Bazaar

Then it was time to visit the world's first shopping mall - the Grand Bazaar. One must have very sharp bargaining skills in order to make good purchases. I got a little bit better as I went along. Biggest secret. At one point, I decided not to make the purchase and started to leave. The vendor came down so low, I ended up buying. And it wasn't even a ploy on my part.

More tomorrow...

P.S. I'd like to thank Donna Shields http://donna-realworldwriting.blogspot.com/ for passing along the One Lovely Blog award to me. I am very grateful and you should all check out Donna's lovely blog. But I have decided not to participate in blog awards anymore. They are a lovely way to find out about new blogs and to honor each other, but they are so so time-consuming and I'm struggling with managing my time online. So thank you, Donna. I really do appreciate you thinking of me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Olympia and the Delphi Oracle

Temple of Hera
The original Olympic stadium
Did you know the Olympics began in 776 BC? I didn't. I also didn't know that the ceremony began with a Priestess doing a ritual at the Temple of Hera. The flame was lit. It represented peace. That was the message the Olympics was trying to convey. At the end of the games, the Priestess did another ritual to close the proceedings.
The altar where the flame rested

Apollo's Temple at Delphia
Site where prophecy was delivered to one who asked
One of the things I most wanted to see on this trip was the site of the Oracle at Delphi. In ancient times, kings, as well as civilians, would travel to the Oracle to receive answers to questions in their lives. I'd always assumed a Priestess was the one who foresaw the prophecies, but we learned it was the God, Apollo, who prophecies. He would then transmit the information to a Priestess, who told the Priest, who communicated it to the one who asked the question. Ancient telephone.

We concluded our land tour of Greece with a visit to Meteora. Monks built monasteries atop magnificent rock formations. The icons and frescoes were spectacular, but unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs inside the monasteries. Here are a few shots of the monasteries, though.

Last, but not least, on our last night in Athens, I was lucky enough to meet author and fellow blogger, Jessica Bell http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com/. Jess is stunningly beautiful and, as I found out during the one hour we had together, she's as lovely inside as she is on the outside.

Jess and me at the rooftop bar of our hotel
That's all for now. Hope everyone has a lovely weekend. Stay tuned for Monday Musings - and some thoughts on the wonders of Turkey.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Telling the truth Tuesday - I love history

Before I continue with my adventures in Greece, I'd like to ask you to visit Michelle Fayard's blog today http://michellefayard.blogspot.com/. She was kind enough to interview me about my memoir and some of you might find it interesting and/or helpful, if you are contemplating writing a memoir.

Do you remember certain things you studied in school - things that stand out in your mind? I do. And there are places I've always wanted to see out of history. On this trip, I fulfilled many of those wishes as our land tour of Greece included several, including the Theater of Epidaurus. Here's some background, courtesy of Wikapedia.

Me as audience member
The theater was designed byPolykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC. The original 34 rows were extended in Roman times by another 21 rows. As is usual for Greek theatres (and as opposed to Roman ones), the view on a lush landscape behind the skênê is an integral part of the theatre itself and is not to be obscured. It seats up to 15,000 people.

The theatre is marveled for its exceptional acoustics, which permit almost perfect intelligibility of unamplified spoken word from the proscenium or skênê to all 15,000 spectators, regardless of their seating. The rows of limestone seats filter out low-frequency sounds, such as the murmur of the crowd, and amplify/reflect high-frequency sounds from the stage.

Agamememnon's tomb
Lion's Gate
Next, we visited Mycenae, once a mighty kingdom of Ancient Greece. As you walk through the Lion's Gate, you can imagine the drama and feel where myth and history combine. The kingdom was ruled by Agamemnon, whose tomb we got to see. Here's a bit of his story:

 When his brother Menelaos beautiful wife Helen was abducted by the Trojan prince Paris, the history of Greece was to come into one of its most famous phases: The Trojan War. But there were many events preceding the above. The founder of the Mycenaean kingdom was the hero Perseus. When the last descendant of him, king Eurystheus - the one who had ordered the labours from Heracles - died, the people voted for Atreus to be their new king. When Atreus brother Thyestes seduced his wife, he took his revenge by killing Thyestes two sons, and then serving them to their father. Filled with rage and disgust, Thyestes cursed Atreus and his children, and only unhappiness was to haunt them thereafter.
Atreus two sons were Agamemnon and Menelaus. Agamemnon, who was the oldest, inherited the kingdom of Mycenae, and Menelaus became king of Sparta. They married the two sisters Clytemnestra and Helen respectively, and were at first very happy. This was not to last, though. When the Trojan prince Paris was called to decide who of the three goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite was the most beautiful, they each tried to bribe him. Aphrodite had promised him the most beautiful woman in Greece, and when Paris chose her, Helen was his prize. With the help of the goddess, Helen went to Troy with Paris, leaving the outrages Menelaus to declare war on the Trojans. He asked his brother for help, and together they raised an army of Greek kings and heroes.

You'll hear more about Troy when I post about the Turkey part of our journey. My truth today? I left a little piece of my heart in Greece.
On Friday....Olympia and the Oracle of Delphi


Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Musings - more on Greece

Me on Patmos
The Greek Islands are far more beautiful than pictures can show and far more beautiful than I had imagined. The mainland is very green and mountainous. We began our journey with a four day cruise, as I mentioned Friday. After Mykanos and Patmos, we visited Crete, Rhodes, and Santorini.

coming up to Santorini 
The photo on the right was taken from a small ferry, which was the only way one can get to Santorini from the cruise ship. We didn't know there were two ports on the island, one that goes to Ia, which has all the white buildings with blue domes, and the other side of the island, which is beautiful as well, but not what you usually see on the postcards. This was our first few of Santorini from the ferry.

Some say Santorini is the remains of the lost city of Atlantis. I tend to believe it. It is mystical and magical. The photo here shows the caldera formed from the volcanic eruption that is believed to have caused the demise of Atlantis.
Quite the sunset, don't you think?

One of the things Santorini is known for are its beautiful sunsets. What do you think?

Athena's Temple in Lindos on Rhodes
We had an entire day to visit the island of Rhodes, unlike the other island stops, where we only had a few hours. We did an excursion off the ship, which included a bus ride to the city of Lindos. Here you can see the remains of Athena's temple. I have always been fascinated by the Greek Pantheon, which engendered a deep interest in Gods and Goddesses of many other cultures as well. This trip enabled me to see
where much of that began.

Palace of Knossos
The island of Crete is located in the center of the eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe. It is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean sea. Crete's biggest modern town is Heraklion.The inhabitants of ancient Crete were the Minoans and we had the opportunity to visit a ruin called the Knossos Palace. In order to get there, we had to debark the cruise ship, find the local bus, make sure it went to Knossos, and make sure we knew where to catch it coming back so we could get back to the ship on time. It was an adventure, to say the least.

Frescoes in Knossos Palace
According to Wikapedia,the Minoans had developed significant naval power and for many centuries lived in contact with all the major civilizations of the time without being threatened by external forces. Their commercial contact with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia undeniably influenced their own culture, and the Minoan civilization in turn appeared as the forerunner of the Greek civilization. The Minoans are credited as the first European civilization. Archaeological evidence reveals habitation since the 7th millennium BC. After the 5th millennium BC we find the first evidence of hand-made ceramic pottery which marks the beginning of the civilization Evans, the famed archaeologist who excavated Knossos, named "Minoan" after the legendary king Minos.

In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a creature who was part man and part bull who lived at the center of a labyrinth. King Minos of Crete had received advice from the oracle at Delphi (which we also visited and you will see more of in later posts) and thus ordered Daedalus and his son, Icarus, to built the maze-like structure. The Minotaur was eventually killed by Theseus, an Athenian hero. Minos had required that seven Athenian young men and seven virgins be sent every ninth year to be devoured by the Minotaur. Here is a bit from Wikapedia about that.

When the third sacrifice approached, Theseus volunteered to slay the monster. He promised to his father, Aegeus, that he would put up a white sail on his journey back home if he was successful and would have the crew put up black sails if he was killed. In Crete, both Minos' daughters, Ariadne and Phaedra fell madly in love with Theseus. Ariadne, the elder, helped him navigate the labyrinth. In most accounts she gave him a ball of thread, allowing him to retrace his path. Theseus killed the Minotaur with the sword of Aegeus and led the other Athenians back out of the labyrinth. On the way home, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on the island of Naxos, and continued with Phaedra, his future wife. He neglected, however, to put up the white sail. King Aegeus, from his lookout on Cape Sounion, saw the black-sailed ship approach and, presuming his son dead, threw himself into the sea that is since named after him, thus committing suicide.[13] This act secured the throne for Theseus.

When the cruise finished, we headed back to Athens. One of the most fascinating sites there was this ancient Roman Agora. Here you can see what's left of Hadrian's library.
More tomorrow...

Friday, October 21, 2011


Hi everyone,
 Library at Ephesus
It's so nice to be home. Traveling is a magical, wonderful experience, but it's always so good to be back in one's own bed. We began our 3-week adventure in Athens with a two-hour delay in landing because of an air traffic controller slow down. I was determined not to let anything interfere with my enjoyment of the country, and I succeeded. Well, except for a few little hissy fits here and there.

Day one of our cruise
We had one day in Athens before boarding the Louis Majesty cruise ship for a 4-nite sailing around the Greek Islands. One of the highlights of the cruise was a stop at Ephesus, considered to be the best preserved Roman ruin. We were lucky to revisit Ephesus again during our Turkey  tour. At right are the remains of the library. Our guide told us that there was a tunnel from the library to the house of pleasure - hence the term, I'm going to the library."

At our next stop, Patmos, hubby and I had the best pizza ever (and I come from New York!!) with a lovely glass of white wine, sitting on a beach looking out at the Aegean Sea. So romantic.

More Monday....


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm home.....

Back from Greece and Turkey, but totally jet-lagged. I hope to virtually see you all tomorrow and have a new post up by Friday.