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

Special Photo Essay: How Stress Affects the Way We See Places

It’s no secret that stress and anxiety affect how you perceive your environment — particularly when you’re somewhere unfamiliar.  Your surroundings can look blurry, distorted, dull, glassy, and just plain intimidating when you’re nervous and overwhelmed.  The question is, just how different do things look when you’re under stress?

While in Istanbul a couple weeks ago, I stayed down the hall from a woman who didn’t leave her hotel room for two days because her journey was “just too much” and “not what she was expecting.”   She looked like she wanted to fall asleep in her bathtub with a good book and a glass of wine, and forget all the “adventures” just outside her door.  What did she — and other nervous travelers out there — see that others didn’t?  Here’s an exploration — and a reminder that our mind creates our own reality.

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1. People with a fear of flying can feel lightheaded and suffer blackouts, particularly during landing and take-off.  The world below can look dark and out of focus.  The reality?  Your plane window isn’t that dirty — and although it’s a lot to take in, that wonderful first view will be one of your longest-lasting memories.

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2. Surrounded by strangers and unfamiliar skylines, we may not get the full detail in front of us even if our vision is 20/20.  Why?  Our minds tend to “blur things out” to protect us from sensory overload.

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3. We tend to view people and our surroundings in more simplistic terms when we don’t understand the culture of the place we’re visiting.  Even though we know it’s not accurate, we can see only the outlines and colors of the unfamiliar instead of “the full picture.”

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4. Buildings we’ve never seen before can be intimidating and look distorted to us, while strangers may seem larger than life.

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5. We can struggle to bring even the most relaxing scenes into focus, and see only a clutter of dark objects in our ship’s path.

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6. We may be oblivious to detail even in less distracting environments — and may barely notice the sun shining down on us.

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7. Exotic locales can have a two-dimensional, mottled quality to them, like something we saw in a book long ago — and not quite real in front of us.

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8. We can revert to tunnel vision, especially when we see something that looks too precarious to be true.

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9. When we’re a bit turned around getting back to the hotel, we can literally feel pushed back or pulled forward by our surroundings — and we don’t even notice our reliable landmark in the distance.

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10. If just being at the airport stresses you out, you may see a tube of dread waiting out on the tarmac instead of the full picture.

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11. Know you have a stunning view outside your window? Look too hard, and you’ll see yourself staring back; relax, and you’ll be floating above the clouds.

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