Sunday, June 17, 2012

Turkey Trip Day 2

Saturday June 16, 2012 Istanbul / Walking tour / Cruise the Bosporus
After breakfast at our hotel, we set off early on a comprehensive exploration of Istanbul; the historic city formerly called Byzantium and later Constantinople.
Istanbul is a sprawling city of ten million people, partly in Europe and partly in Asia, with its geography defined by three famous waterways: the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus Strait, and the Golden Horn ...
This morning, we'll discover some of Istanbul's most famous sites on foot ...
We will also stroll ...

Wake-up call at 6:30 am.
Breakfast on the 9th floor starting at 7 am.
Great way to start the day! Tea. Coffee. Buffet.

Our hotel is the CVK on Taksim Square in the Europen Istanbul Beyoglu section.
Meet the group for orientation at 8 am. We are 13 travelers and the guide Aykut (speak: I could). He is very nice, very caring and very hyper.

After the orientation he gives us 5 minutes to go to our rooms and return to meet and get going. The bus takes us to the old European Istanbul over the Galata Bridge that spans the Golden Horn.
We get out to see the Hippodrome.
It was built first in AD 203 and was a horse and chariot racing place. Three things seem to be left from it. When Aykut explained the Serpent Column I was destructed ...
... because behind him a man lowered a ladder into it because there was a boy down there. I took the picture when he just pulled him out. No idea how the boy got into it or why. That used to be the original level of the Hippodrome.
Besides the Walled Obelisk this Obelisk is the third survivor. It was actually brought from the Temple in Karnak and is 3500 years old. Aykut told us he saw the space in Karnak where it is missing.
This is the base of it telling the story how it was brought etc. but only the top 2/3 of it survived.
Then we walked to the Blue Mosque. It was built in 7 years and finished 1606. The architect/builder was Mimar Sinan of whom Aykut speeks very highly because he calls him a genius. And looking at the buildings we really have to agree.
Cruise ships were in and we had to wait in line a little.
Of course we had to take our shoes off ...
... and James (and others) had to cover his bare legs. Doesn't he look cute in a skirt?

We had a good view to the Hagia Sophia which we will see tomorrow.
We pass a lot of places where they want to build but find ruins and come to a hold because of it.
Before the entrance to the Palace is this fountain, a place which was erected in memory of somebody so when you draw water you will say a prayer for this person.
Topkapi Palace is a huge place. Lots of pictures could be taken but it is difficult to give you a total impression. Lots of different buildings in 4 court yards.

Here Aykut explains the Ottoman Empire and Turkey today. Very interesting.
A model of the palace.

 One patio with a gorgeous view.
Gorgeous. The view, ha-ha.
Looking towards the Bosporus. 
That's were we had lunch on our own. I took a little video here.
 And somebody else took a photo of us.
We were told we should go into the Baghdad Pavilion, built to commemorate the battle after 1638. With mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell in-lay a sight to see.

The sultan's private area in the 4th court yard.

Here the view was across the Golden Horn in the direction of our hotel.

The walls inside the Circumcision Room (or Summer Pavilion) were covered with rare specimens of Ottoman tiles. Built in 1640 by Sultan Ibrahim and it was used for the circumcision ceremonies of the crown princes.
The guard inside insisted of taking my picture.

 The Revan Pavilion was equally elaborate.
Even the walls of the high roof windows were painted.

Here were some textiles displayed and I could take pictures. In some buildings (were there were Sultan's cloth) I was not allowed to take photos ... a pity.

 A throne cover of the Audience Hall embroidered end of 16th century with golden wire and silk threads on brocade with pearls, rubies, emeralds.

A not so good close-up.

Velvet Curtain from end of 16th century
embroidered with golden wire and silk threads on dark red velvet and ornamented with pearls, rubies, emeralds and bejeweled golden plaques.

Close-up of the shield from the next picture (bamboo I think)

Suit of ceremonial armor 18th century.
Just after I took this picture wanting to take a close-up of the chain-'fabric' I was told "no pictures".

There was one place where there was absolutely NO PICTURE taking ... very seriously. The place supposedly had holy relics like
Moses' staff (which turned into a snake and parted the red sea)
Mohammed's' mantle
Abraham's pot
Joseph's turban
David's sword
scrolls belonging to John

And this is the Imperial Court Hall. That window is very important because you could listen from the Harem side. The sultan's ministers never knew whether he was there or not.

On the way to the exit. Here is a fig tree living inside a mostly hollow but still alive cyprus tree.
And then we went ... you guessed it ... to the bazaar. This was the main (and definitely tourist) bazaar. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world with about 1200 shops in 58 streets.

We had one hour but weren't really in the spirit of shopping. Too soon. So James and I could be persuaded to sit down for a beer (J) and 'Americana' coffee (me). Not bad at all.
And then we were taken to the boat for a Bosporus cruise which was really lovely. Especially since the weather was perfect the whole day.
 First we went along the European side.

Another palace on the left.
Looking forward to the Asian side on the right.

The first bridge built to connect Europe with Asia by land travel.
For 13 people and 1 guide (2 crew) there was plenty of space to walk around and see what you want to see.

 A Ford on the European side.

The second bridge was as far as we went towards the Black Sea and then we turned and went back close to the Asian side.

Plenty of  rich peoples houses, palaces, restaurants.
A little lighthouse on a tiny island opposite the entry to the Golden Horn on the right.
On the right in the back ground is a flat building in which Florence Nightingale started her nursing career. 
After that a visit to another mosque. This is the  Suleiman Mosque also built by Mimar Sinan. Construction took 8 years and was finished 1558, so it is older then the Blue Mosque.
Taking the shoes is serious business because you can't take yours off and then walk barefoot to the entry. You should take one shoe of right at THE edge, step over and then take the other off making sure not to put it down first.
There is no doubt that both mosques are incredible to see. One has to be in awe.

Aykut explained all the different things a mosque has to have and why.

Dinner was with the group and just a very short walk away.
The building actually is as old as the mosque itself because it used to be were the poor were fed. I had to laugh because now tourists are fed and afterwards poor ha-ha.

While we were sitting at a table in the court yard, a bridal party arrived and set not far. 

I forgot to take pictures of the food but it was very nice. We had stuffed grape leaves as appetizers called 'dolma'. I told Aykut after the meal that I was "dolma" (stuffed) and he thought that was funny.

We walked a little way to the bus and as we passed this ice cream vendor Aykut got excited and decided that Stephanie (a young girl of 18) was the victim. 
He ordered an ice cream (orchid pettle flavor) but these vendors are known for making fun of their customers by trying to trick them so the customer can't get the cone.
He tried several different ways and we all had fun.

I don't know about Stephanie having fun except may be when she finally could taste it.

The Suleiman Mosque with the sun going down.
This is the bottle of champagne which I had received from the airline steward in its plastic bag how I had carried it to the hotel. 
After all the walking and the information overload we very much enjoyed it ... and had a good nights sleep.

Our guide Aykut took lots of pictures and told us that he would give us a CD at the last day. Well, I am editing my blog now (July 4) because it is our last day and we have the CD. I think that is a great idea and a nice thing to do for us because there was so much information to absorb that (quite frankly) some got lost in my memory somewhere.
Thank you, Aykut.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From Aykut's CD:
Day 2 Saturday 06.16.2012 (Istanbul)
  • Breakfast at the Hotel
  • Briefing/Introduction
  • Tour to Sultanahmet Square
  • Hippodrome (Septimius Severus 197 AD)
  • Obelisk (Theodosius I 390 AD)
  • Serpentine Column (Constantine the Great 4th C AD)
  • Stone Pillar (Constantine the Great 4th C AD)
  • Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque) Visit (Built in 1609-1616)
  • Topkapı Palace Visit (Mehmet II, 1453 AD)
  • Lunch on own
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Bosphorus Cruise
  • Süleymaniye Mosque (Built in 1550-1556) (Not in the Program. Learning & Discovery)
  • Welcome Dinner in a Local Restaurant (Daruzziyafe Restaurant)
  • Port talk about the following day’s Program
Overnight at CVK Hotel, Istanbul

1 comment:

  1. es ist schoen, doch an eurer reise teilhaben zu koennen...besseres internet als in germany...sowas...geniesst eure reise - den sekt von tag eins habt ihr sicherlich schon weg...alles liebe & viele kuesschen...von maren