America Monday: South Carolina’s Angel Oak

[ptcPhoto filename=”AngelOak800-1.jpg” title=”Angel Oak” caption=”The Angel Oak Tree – near Charleston, South Carolina” position=”center”]

This massive oak tree outside of Charleston produces enough shade to cover 17,200 square feet, and is one of the oldest living things east of the Mississippi. According to local folklore, the ghosts of former slaves sometimes appear as angels around the tree…although its name really comes from the original estate owners, Justis and Martha Angel.

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Snapshot Sunday: The Dome of the Blue Mosque

[ptcPhoto filename=”BlueMosqueSS700-1.jpg” title=”Sultanahmet” caption=”The main dome of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.” position=”center”]

Sultan Ahmet initiated the construction of his Istanbul mosque in 1609 when he was only nineteen years old. Its beauty was meant to rival that of neighboring Hagia Sophia, which was originally built over a thousand years earlier. Most would agree that the 20,000 blue tiles which give the Blue Mosque its name accomplished that goal.

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Snapshot Sunday: Turkish Coffee and Baklava in Istanbul

[ptcPhoto filename=”IstanbulSS700-1.jpg” title=”Sweet treats” caption=”Turkish coffee and baklava in Istanbul, Turkey” position=”center”]

Offered up in tiny cups all around the city, Turkish coffee is known for its strong flavor and a half inch of “coffee sludge” at the bottom of each serving. The grounds left over are sometimes used for tasseography, a form of fortune telling that dates back to medieval Europe.

Turkey, Greece, Syria, and Lebanon all lay claim to the original baklava, but there’s no doubt that the Turks have a pretty outstanding version of it. Perfect for a rainy day in Istanbul.

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Snapshot Sunday: Camel Rides in Wadi Rum

[ptcPhoto filename=”CamelSS700.jpg” title=”Camels” caption=”Riding camels through Wadi Rum, Jordan” position=”center”]

Wadi Rum (The Valley of the Moon) is a scenic desert valley in southern Jordan, made famous as the filming location for Lawrence of Arabia. After a sunset camel ride and a dinner of traditional Bedouin dishes, we camped out under heavy blankets and a sea of stars.

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Snapshot Sunday: Burning up in the Arabian Desert

[ptcPhoto filename=”WahibaSS-1.jpg” title=”Desert” caption=”The Wahiba Sands desert – Al Sharqiya Province, Oman ” position=”center”]

Formed by blowing monsoons and winds, the Wahiba Sands is a desert region that stretches out along 5,000 square miles of eastern Oman. They may look barren, but the sands are home to thousands of invertebrate species – along with many Bedouin tribes like the Wahiba, from whom the desert gets its name.

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