Special Post: Photos of Istanbul, Frankfurt, Rome, Casablanca, Lisbon, and Athens

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year!

Enjoy! 🙂

Beautiful Casablanca

Beautiful Casablanca, Morocco

The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Bozdogan Kemeri (Aqueduct), Istanbul, Turkey

Bozdogan Kemeri (Aqueduct), Istanbul, Turkey

Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey

Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey

Cruising the Bosphorus, Istanbul, Turkey

Cruising the Bosphorus, Istanbul, Turkey

Miniaturk, Istanbul

Miniaturk, Istanbul

A model of the Fortress of Europe, Istanbul

A model of the Fortress of Europe, Istanbul

The smallest mosque in the world lies in Miniaturk, Istanbul

The smallest mosque in the world lies in Miniaturk, Istanbul

The ancient Turkish city of Marmara: larger than (em, in) life

The ancient Turkish city of Marmara: larger than (em, in) life

If you don't eat your hotel's continental breakfast, there are plenty of stray kittens in Istanbul who will!

If you don’t eat your hotel’s continental breakfast, there are plenty of stray kittens in Istanbul who will!

The stunning Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul

The stunning Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Beyoglu, Istanbul

Beyoglu, Istanbul

Looking out on the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Looking out on the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Roemer Square, Frankfurt, Germany

Roemer Square, Frankfurt, Germany

More of gorgeous Roemer Square

More of gorgeous Roemer Square

Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany

Not something you see every day... in Frankfurt, Germany

Not something you see every day… in Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt Hbf (train station)

Frankfurt Hbf (train station)

Foro Romano, Rome, Italy

Foro Romano, Rome, Italy

Having fun in Rome

Rome: This is what I look like with no makeup and too much alcohol.  I have no idea who the woman is to the right

The Coliseum, Rome

The Coliseum, Rome
Foro Romano, Rome

Foro Romano, Rome

The Foro Romano

The Foro Romano

The Spanish Steps, Rome

The Spanish Steps, Rome

The view from the Spanish Steps

The view from the Spanish Steps

The Piazza di Spagna, Rome

The Piazza di Spagna, Rome

The Imperial Fora, Rome

The Imperial Fora, Rome

What Rome looks like when you're really jet-lagged

What Rome looks like when you’re really jet-lagged

I have no idea what this is! (Rome)

I have no idea what this is! (Rome)

A final shot of the wondrous Coliseum

A final shot of the wondrous Coliseum

Hassan II Mosque

Hassan II Mosque

Another view of the gorgeous mosque, right on the shores of the Atlantic

Another view of the gorgeous mosque, right on the shores of the Atlantic

Outside the medina in Casablanca, Morocco

Outside the medina in Casablanca, Morocco

The urban scene in Casablanca, Morocco

The urban scene in Casablanca, Morocco

People-watching in Casablanca

People-watching in Casablanca

The beach scene, Casablanca

The beach scene, Casablanca

Suburban mosque, Casablanca

Suburban mosque, Casablanca

Closest thing you get to a boardwalk in Casablanca

Closest thing you get to a boardwalk in Casablanca

Casablanca

Casablanca

The courtyard of Hassan II Mosque

The courtyard of Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca

Casablanca

Fishing off the African coast

Fishing off the African coast

The beach scene, Casablanca

The beach scene, Casablanca

Downtown Casablanca

Downtown Casablanca

Another view of Hassan II Mosque

Another view of Hassan II Mosque

Mohammad V Airport, Casablanca

Mohammad V Airport, Casablanca

Aerial of Casablanca

Aerial of Casablanca

Approaching Lisbon

Approaching Lisbon

The Golden Gate Bridge doppelganger: the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge, Lisbon, Portugal

The Golden Gate Bridge doppelganger: the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge, Lisbon, Portugal

The Monument to Discoveries, Lisbon

The Monument to Discoveries, Lisbon

Baixa District, Lisbon

Baixa District, Lisbon

The Lisbon tram

The Lisbon tram

Jeronimo Monastery, Lisbon

Jeronimo Monastery, Lisbon

Torre Belem, Lisbon

Torre Belem, Lisbon

Lisbon

Lisbon

Lisbon

Lisbon

Aerial of Lisbon

Aerial of Lisbon

View of Athens from Filopappos Hill

View of Athens from Filopappos Hill

You don't really go to "the park" in Athens -- you go to "the rock"

You don’t really go to “the park” in Athens — you go to “the rock”

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View of the Acropolis, Athens

View of the Acropolis, Athens

Here I am after climbing to the top of Lykovittos Hill, Athens

Here I am after climbing to the top of Lykovittos Hill, Athens

Aerial of Athens

Aerial of Athens

The Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens

The Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens

A final look at Athens and Lykovittos Hill

A final look at Athens and Lykovittos Hill

Phobias vs. Fears: Which Control us More?

At some point in our lives, most of us will develop a phobia.  Some of us will develop a few of them, actually.  Phobias come in so many forms, and many of them are so common, that most of us don’t have a problem talking about them — and they kind of ride along with us through life, like a minor sore on the back of our head.  We even joke about phobias; they’ve become part of the popular culture.   Claustrophobia.  Agoraphobia.  Arachnophobia.  Many of us would rather talk in terms of “our phobias” instead of “our fears” or “our anxiety.”  Phobias, being very specific in nature, usually have a good justification  — something that most people can relate to and talk about without needing (or wanting) to go into three hours of miserable backstory of how they “got this way.”  I have a real phobia about…  yes, that just sounds so much healthier to describe the things that, well, freak us out.

Can you name your phobia(s)?  Probably.  But can you name all your fears?  That’s undoubtedly a longer list.  We develop fears before we can even spell the word, after all.  And fear is an overused word.  I fear this, I fear that.  Technically speaking, “fear” is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.  An emotion.  Interesting.  So what exactly, is a phobia?

Well, there are lots of long-winded definitions.  But a phobia is basically a fear that impairs your life.  Your unpleasant emotion had mushroomed into an aversion.

If you fear something,  you can do it, see it, or live with it anyway. If you have a phobia about something… you can’t.  You avoid it at all costs, even if you know you’re overreacting.

So would you still rather talk about your phobias than your fears?

The fact is, we can function just fine through life with a phobia or two.  We can also live normal lives with a number of fears.  But how do we tell when a particular growing fear has become a phobia?  When does that fear lead to a condition where we’re shutting down a small part of our life — or making our lives more difficult?

I knew a woman from Toronto who wouldn’t drive at night, for any reason.  She had to travel back and forth to Miami a lot for her job, and one fall afternoon her flight got delayed and she landed in Toronto at 7:30 pm.  It was a calm, dry evening, and she was staring at her car in the lot, debating.  She just had to drive to her small farm about 55 miles outside the city — a route that she knew well.  Could she do it?  No.  She wasn’t even thinking about what had caused her fear, and eventually her phobia: a friend hitting an animal at midnight some years ago, and waking up in a ditch paralyzed.  All this woman could think was: NIGHT: DRIVE: NO.  Could she have taken a cab?  You bet.  But she walked to the nearest airport hotel, and put herself up for the night.  Did this woman have a phobia?

I’ll compare her to a guy I sat next to on a flight from Casablanca to Lisbon last month. He was originally from Mali,  mid-20s,  loved to fly — and could tell me everything about the Boeing 767 we were on, bragging about the safety features as if he’d designed them himself.   He admitted, though, that he had a real “hang-up” with flying over populated areas, and explained that’s why he loved our particular flight — because it was “all ocean.” I had to inform him that no, we were going to fly — pretty low, I might add — over the entire city of Lisbon before landing.  He didn’t believe me until we blazed right over the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, close enough to tell SUVs from cars.

Well, this guy went into a bit of a panic.  Switching seats with me, so he could be in the aisle seat, didn’t help.  But what could he do?  Nothing, except live through his phobia, and wait for the plane to not suddenly clip a building or a power line.   I thought about how, sometimes, not knowing everything about what we’re going to do is sometimes good, because you can end up looking your phobia right down the throat before you’re wound up in that anticipatory dread that helped turn the f-word into your aversion in the first place.

I didn’t tell the man this.  I asked him to think about what our plane must look like to the people on the bridge, and the roads leading to the airports.  Some of them had to fear that our plane would crash, inexplicably, into their paths, and end their ultimate journey.  But they were still driving down there, even though there were plenty of places to pull over.  They weren’t stopping.

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