Today was the last of our tour-type activities.
We had the same start as yesterday including the bus ride over the sea and back again to first visit the Spice Bazaar, which was quite interesting and colorful to see. There wasn’t just spices there,but souvenir items, scarves, jewelry, etc.
After that, we got on a boat for our half-day Bosphorus cruise, which means about 1.5 hours on the boat. Sadly, the weather was not great – in fact, the worst we have had since we arrived that we had to be out in. So, although the cruise could have been quite beautiful, it was just okay.
Our tour ended with a drop off near the Grand Bazaar since it was closed yesterday.So, after a quick warm-up coffee at Starbucks, we explored the bazaar. For some reason,I expected it to be very chaotic and with stalls everywhere, but in fact, there are lots of small shops and it was fairly organized. People weren’t even that aggressive to try to sell us things, so that was a surprise.
After a few quick purchases, we had lunch at one of the shops and then meandered our way back to the hotel.
I had a Turkish hammam treatment and massage, which I had been dying to have since we got here. It was rather expensive for what it was, but it was still relaxing and a nice change. I need to have another one when I get back….
We went back to Istiklal Street for dinner at The House Cafe. We road the tram again and then got on the second oldest and shortest ‘subway’ ever.It was quite fun for an experience. 😀
Now, we are back for an early night in to relax. Tomorrow is a free day, so we will relax and return to explore Istiklal street more in the daytime. 😉
I am actually looking forward to going home in a day as the weather is starting to get to me and I need to just relax in my own space….
– T 😀
We had a very early rise again (5am) to be ready to leave on a ferry across the Marmara sea to Gallipoli.
Gallipoli is famous from the war for the Australian and New Zealand forces coming to the aid of the British in an attempt to control the waterways and ultimately Istanbul. It was a rather brutal fighting ground where many, including Turks, lost their lives.There is an Australian film about this, I think. So, it was interesting and both sad and sweet to read the tombstones of both young and older men who sacrificed their lives in war.
From Gallipoli, we stopped for lunch on our way to Istanbul. We got a bit of a taste of the horrible traffic that is well-known in the city. Luckily, we still got to our hotel early enough in the evening to go out and explore Sultanhamet more.
We walked around after finding a decent restaurant to eat dinner at. It was nice to finally have some real food. I think that my stomach has revolted from all of the crappy food we have been eating the past week and very little exercise. So, after dinner, we walked up near the Topkapi castle, which also faces Hagia (Haya) Sophia. It was lovely. The area is very touristy as R had warned me and so many store workers were trying to get our attention –
“Ladies, may I ask you a question?” “Can I talk to you just for a minute? – No? – Why not?” “You’re so beautiful and sexy.” “Don’t talk this guy because he’s very horny.” (This is my favorite one). “Excuse me, I am not dangerous. I own that store over there…” “Girls, you dropped something…”
The tactics are creative and persistent. Some more annoying than others…. 😉
So passed our first night back in Istanbul’s Old City area. We will be touring it more tomorrow at a more decent hour of the morning!
So, I had started to post on my days in Turkey, but then I decided to postpone them until I can put up pictures, otherwise, it isn’t as good to just read about it. Besides that, I need to have an abbreviated version of my pics since there are going to hundreds of photos to get through and most will be bored by them all without some explanation or shortened version of my travels. 😀
Anyway, the tour has been both good and less than good. The food has sucked in general except when we can go out on our own. The bus was horrendous and I am still sore from it – searching for a decent place to get a massage…. However, the sites were fairly interesting, though not that awe-inspiring compared to Egypt, Jordan or Peru. Still, it has been nice to see a variety of aspects to the country.
Being in Istanbul now is great and although I do not think I could ever live here, I do see how people love it.
Just another couple of days left, then I will work on updating with pics as soon as I can. 😉
Our last big archaeological tour stops were rather disappointing….
We headed first to Pergamum, which is one of the seven churches in Revelations, but there was not much of that aspect at the site. Mostly, it was a lot of rocks and ruins showing where buildings might have been. The most restored were the columns and theatre, but even that was not all that impressive.
From there, we headed to Troia or Troy. On the way, we got to watch the film starring Brad Pitt, which was nice just for the main reason of passing the time on the pass. Like Pergamon, the ruins for Troy were very unimpressive. Even the legendary Trojan horse was under construction, so we were not able to see that. Luckily, the one used in the movie was on the waterfront, so we got some pics of that.
We got to our hotels in Canakkale (chanakale) and then went out to explore the small city a bit. It was nice to have another evening free to walk around and see the city. We had dinner at a place on the main road and tried Izkender Doner, which was meat over bread pieces drizzled with tomato sauce with a side of two dallops of yogurt. It was tasty and definitely better than what we have been eating.
So, it was a good ending to the day after another long bus ride and disappointing sites. We are up early tomorrow, so….
We had a little bit of a later start this morning, which was nice. It also meant that we were finished sooner, but don’t let me get ahead of myself.
Our first stop was to the Basilica of St. John. Apparently, the body of John is buried still under the ruins, but they have yet to excavate it says our guide…. I’m not sure how much I believe him. The more interesting part was to consider the various locations of Ephesus.
From the basilica, we headed up the mountain to the supposed house of the Virgin Mary. The story is something like since Jesus told John to take care of his mother John built her a house up on the mountain. It was a simple and small house. Then, some nun seemed to have a vision confirming this was Mary’s house. So, not sure but it was a nice visit.
After that, we headed to the ruins of Ephesus Antique City where there were a number of amazing sites. The largest outdoor theater was impressive. Also, the temples, library and terrace houses with mosaics of ancient times were quite a sight.
At first, I wasn’t wholly impressed with the city ruins given my travels elsewhere, but upon hitting the main road to the library I was duly impressed. So, I had to take back my doubting.
After almost missing our tour bus to lunch, we headed to a carpet center for our lunch and a showing of carpets. That wasn’t great, but it is part of the tour.
Thankfully, we were given the afternoon to relax and be on our own. So after a rest in the hotel, we headed out to explore the city. We walked along the waterfront, stopped in a few stores, had dinner in town to avoid another poor buffet meal, and saw the sunset. Overall, it was a nice change of pace.
Sadly, we have another long day in the bus tomorrow, but it is our past big stretch on our way back to Istanbul. 🙂
After our first-off morning dip and such, we were back on the ‘most uncomfortable bus’ for another long day of fun.
Our first stop was still in Pamukkale at the Hierapolis Antique City and Pamukkale’s limestone pools. The city was very impressive in terms of wide spread space with ruins from days of old. In fact, there was a recent article about archaeologists finding the mythical ‘gate of hell’ in this area. We tried to find it, but considering it brings death, we didn’t try too hard. 😉
There are a ton of pics from here as the ruins were nice. Sadly, the weather wasn’t as nice as it has been. I still sort of expected more from the ruins after seeing Jerash in Jordan and the temples in Egypt. Turkey is supposed to be older and more impressive I think, but I haven’t yet had that feeling. Maybe I’m too spoiled from my travels….
Anyway, we also walked a bit on the limestone with pools from the hot springs. They call Pamukkale the cotton castle due to the limestone formations. It is pretty impressive, though rather unsafe to walk around barefoot and no guard rails.
From there, we drove a good distance before stopping for lunch at a nice place. It was probably the best meal we have had on the entire tour so far. After lunch, we walked around Aphrodisias, which is a city named after Aphrodite. The ruins here were more impressive perhaps because of the architecture or a full and happy stomach. 😉
Our final highlight of the day was an amateur leather fashion show. It could have been an amazing parody on a SATC episode where the ladies attend Fashion Week shows. It was a mix of comedy and entertainment as a creative sales pitch to get us to buy their leather goods. If I lived in a cooler climate I might have considered, but instead I am saving my money for jewelry purchase. Haha 😀
We ended our day with our arrival at our hotel in Kusadasi (kushadasee) where we will stay for two nights. Phew…
We had a very long day in the bus on the fourth day of our trip. From Kapidokya to Pamukkale, it takes about 12 very long hours.
Along the way we made a few stops to see a few things. For example, we stopped in Konya for a visit to the Turkish whirling dervish temple. The whirling dervish is a type of Muslim sect where the whirling causes a meditative state. Nowadays no one formally trains but it used to be a formal religious activity like joining a nunnery or something like that.
After that we stopped every two hours for a leg stretch and lunch at a crazy wedding hall place. I bought potato chips to survive the rest of the day. 😉
We finally made it to Pamukkale and our hotel. There was a thermal bath there, which helped to wash away some of the soreness of the bus ride. Unfortunately, all 23 of us from the tour group were in the same hotel and all of the other tour buses arrived at the same time so the bath quickly filled up! Still, it was a nice refresher and made me miss Japan’s onsens!
In the morning, we got up for another quick dip before Day 5 began in full.
Our third day of our Turkey tour started a little later, which was a nice relief after the long bus ride the day before.
We had our less than delicious breakfast at the hotel with me barely caffeinated with the coffee. There’s no kettle in the room so I had to make do.
Later, we met the rest of our group and went off to see the sights.
We started at the Goreme Open Air Museum, where we could see the church frescoes and dwellings of the Greek Orthodox in the rock caves. It was interesting, but full of people lining up to enter very small spaces. It actually reminded me of the tombs in Egypt.
From there, we made a few sightseeing stops to see the fairy chimneys or come-shaped rock formations that many people in the area have made homes.
We also stopped at a jewelry shop where I ended up buying more items that I don’t need, but liked. 😉 Then, we had another less than appetizing buffet lunch.
After that we went to an interesting pottery and ceramics shop where they demonstrated their methods for creating and painting their pots. I found some ideas for some future projects.
Our final stop for the day was at an underground city where people used to live in hiding from their enemies. It was cool to see, but not for the claustrophobics!
The day was quite a lovely one and I really enjoying seeing some scenery that has colors and shapes.
Tomorrow will not be nearly as pleasant…
It was a very early start as we headed to the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen airport or the domestic airport. We joined a few more people on the same tour.
Once we arrived at the airport we were left to our own devices to figure out how to check in and on the plane. Luckily, we had enough time and experience to sort it out. Still, that is one strike against the company….
The flight was a short 40 minutes and after arriving in Ankara, our group got bigger. We headed into the city of Ankara. Our first stop was at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum.
Then, we headed to the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemul Ataturk or Anitkabir. It was such a lovely day to walk around and enjoy the sights.
From there, we headed to lunch on the way to Kapidokya. It was an okay meal – nothing spectacular. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the bus…4 long hours later we arrived in Kapidokya. After dropping everyone off at their various hotels, we finally settled into our room.
We tried the Turkish bath, which is a huge stone slab in the middle of a room much like a Japanese onsen. The slab is heated. Usually you might get a scrub or something like that, but we didn’t pay for that.
So, it was a good end to Day 2.