23.09.2009 - 28.09.2009
23rd September 2009/b]
We fly out of Luxor at 8.30 am, about 40 minutes late but this is quite common in Egypt, the next plane is waiting for us in Cairo and then another 2hr flight to Istanbul and a Turkish guide is waiting for us at the airport After our arrival it takes a further 2½ hours to get through customs and pay for a visa, now we are running very late and the guide is not happy. The end of the holiday season so everyone is trying to get back home and of course there is only one custom booth open. We head to the Centrum Hotel where we are staying, I feel much safer in Turkey than in Egypt. The hotel is situated in the centre of the older part of the city and near the water so much cooler but very noisy, I go for a walk to the town area after tea as the shops are always open to a very late hour. At least you don't have to barter here and the shop owners don’t pester as much.
[b]24th September 2009
Early start for a walking tour to the Saltan Ahmed Mosque. My knee length shorts are too short and I appear to be showing too much leg so have been offered a blue wrap around skirt to put on before I can enter the mosque. This historic mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built from 1609 to 1616 during the rule of Ahmed. Its surrounding buildings contain a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice but the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is still popularly used as a mosque. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque has one main dome, six minarets, and eight secondary domes. The design is the culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque development. We then wander to the Hague Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum. It is stunning inside with ceiling paintings from the 7th and 9th century. At the Topkapi Palace we stop for some lunch and have free time to wander around the grounds and the Baghdad Pavilion which was built in 639 by the architect Koca Kasim. This pavilion is eight sided, and surrounded by marble columns supporting a broad overhanging roof line, in a circular portico, the lower walls are of marble and the upper walls of tiles. The mother - of pearl and tortoise shell inlay work in the doors, window frames, and closets in the interior are excellent examples of Turkish workmanship. The wall spaces throughout are totally covered in tile. From the heavily decorated dome hangs a gold - leafed sphere. Seating divans line the wall insets covered in velvet fabrics. The solid bronze fireplace blends with the massive tile bird figures on either side. After lunch we walk to the world renowned Kapalicarsi Grand Bazaar, it is much bigger but not as pushy as those in Luxor. There are so many stalls but so many are selling the same or similar items. I just browse and buy nothing. Across the walkway from the hotel is an open air restaurant so we sit on the large cushions displayed and order a meal. Turkey is known for its cats and kittens, they are everywhere but we have been told not to touch them—it is so hard not to pat them.
25th September 2009
Another early start by bus to the Battlefields but think I feel we should have started earlier as it is a five hour drive and this will only give us a very short time there before we have to catch a ferry. Really looking forward to the visit as I have two family members who are buried in the Gallipoli cemeteries, it is like a pilgrimage for any Australians. A chance to catch up on some lost sleep and a quick stop at a restaurant overlooking the olive fields. The Gallipoli Peninsula is located in Turkish Thrace, the European part of Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles straits to the east. Gallipoli derives its name from the Greek meaning "Beautiful City”. It is especially famous for the failed Allied offensive on Turkey in 1915 in World War I known as the Gallipoli Campaign. You can sense the excitement as we get closer and then we see the ANZAC monument above the waters edge. All we want to do is get out of the bus and dip our toes in the water and waste some time on the beach. The guide is getting a bit upset with us as we all casually take our time getting back to the bus. No one wants to leave as we have not had much time there and this was the main reason for my being on this tour. Onto the Beach cemetery, a small cemetery situated at Hell Spit, was used from the 25 April 1915 until near the end of the campaign. The cemetery was very dangerous as it was within range of the Turkish gun called “Beachy Bill”. The tour members help me find my family member and I place a small cross on his grave and then we search for Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, the man with his donkey. He was one of the soldiers at Gallipoli who used donkeys and mules to assist men with leg wounds to reach medical assistance. After he died from a sniper shot, he became an Australian icon for his work. We now move onto a few other smaller cemeteries and the trenches at Chunuck Bair, then the One Pine Memorial. At the Lone Pine Cemetery on the Gallipoli peninsula, a solitary pine was planted in the 1920s to symbolise the original Lone Pine. This tree was inspected in 1987 by an Australian botanist and confirmed to be a Stone Pine. On the walls of the memorial is mentioned Private John Martin, died at the age of 14 years 9 months, KIA at Gallipoli. From here you can see the views of Suvla Bay, absolutely breathtaking. Onto the Turkish memorial and a quick look around. Then a dash to the Gestas Ferry which will take us across to Canakkale where we are to spend the night. The water is calm so the trip across is smooth. The guide is not happy with us. Our Iris Otel (Hotel) is built on the beach so lovely and so peaceful.
26th September 2009
We start at the City of Troy which was both factual and legendary, in northwest Anatolia south of the southwest end of the Dardanelles and northwest of Mount Ida. UNESCO World Heritage listed in 1998. The ruins, the symbolic replica of the Wooden Horse. The Trojan Horse is a tale from the Trojan War about the subterfuge that the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and end the conflict. The horse is rather large and you can go inside and have a look out one of the several openings. From here we walked to the ruins to view the excavations which have revealed several cities built in succession and the diggings are still current. The day is starting to warm up so glad to get back to the bus and onto the next archaeological ruins of Pergamon Acropolis, the Sanctuary of Athenia, the Temple of Tragan and the Pergamon Theatre. Pergamon was an ancient Greek city in Aeolis, currently located 26 kilometres from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus. Today, the main sites of ancient Pergamon are to the north and west of the modern city of Bergama in Turkey. On the way to the hotel we stop at the Turkish Education Weaving Class, the girls fingers are so nimble and so quick at what they do. Then the big sell of their carpets, some are $6000. I am not interested in purchasing but it was lovely to just watch the girls for awhile but we are soon ushered onto the bus again, the Turkish guide is determined we are not going to disrupt his itinerary again. The fields are full of Olive trees.
27th September 2009
Last night we stayed at the Otel Axan (Hotel) and after another early breakfast we are on our way to the ancient City of Euphesus where our walking tour takes us through many ruins. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city built on site of the former Arzawan capital and later a major Roman city, on the coast of Ionia, near present-day Selçuk. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period Ephesus had a population of 33,600 to 56,000 people, making it the third largest city of Roman Asia Minor. It is recorded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among the ruins are the Temple of Artemis (Diana), who had her chief shrine there, the Library of Celsus, and its theatre, which was capable of holding 25,000 spectators. This open-air theatre was used initially for drama, but during later Roman times gladiatorial combats were also held on its stage, with the first archaeological evidence of a gladiator graveyard found in May 2007. The Library of Celsus, the façade of which has been carefully reconstructed from all original pieces, was originally built c125 AD in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, an Ancient Greek who served as governor of Roman Asia (105–107) in the Roman Empire. The Temple of Hadrian dates from the 2nd century but underwent repairs in the 4th century and has been re erected from the surviving architectural fragments. There is much history here one could stay all day but we are hustled onto the bus and the next tourist stop which is the House of the Virgin Mary and situated at the top of a very steep hill. The House of the Virgin Mary, is about 7 km from Selçuk, and is purported to have been the last home of Mary, mother of Jesus in the Roman Catholic tradition, based on the visions of Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich. It is a popular place of Catholic pilgrimage which has been visited by three recent popes. There are armed guards everywhere. We slowly descend the hill and onto a leather factory, again very expensive and the attendants are very pushy which I do not like so have a look and go outside and wait for the tour. Onto the hotel Aksan in Kusadai which overlooks the Agean Sea and is absolutely beautiful. An amazing sunset for our last evening in Turkey, tomorrow we cross the waters to the Greek Islands. A walk down a very steep hill to the town, a lovely meal beside the pool and an early night as we have an early morning ferry to catch.