Published: September 18th 2006September 10th 2006
Church of the Divine Wisdom
Took a 45 min flight from Rhodes to Athens followed by a 1 1/2hr flight from Athens to Istanbul - uneventful. After checking into the Cordial Hotel (great locatýon, nice mgmt, very simple) I headed back to meet Mom and Dad at the airport. We spent (3) nights in Istanbul making the most of our location, all the sights were within walking distance. From the moment we landed on Turkish soil the generousity and politeness of the Turks was evident in everyway. On the tram, the young men darted out of their seats to give them up to Mom and Isabel without hesitation.
Istanbul is a vibrant city and is as westernized as any city and has the advantage of having some remnants of the past way of life. The city offers numerous monuments, mosques and museums which tell the story of a rich history deeply affected by its geography. Extending to Asia in the east and Europe to the west, Istanbul is the only city in the world to span (2) continents offering a unique combination of Oriental and European influences. The city is surrounded by water, of which the blue waters of the Bosphorus actually divide Europe and
In the Hagia Sophia
Asia. On the European side you have Old Istanbul - Sultanahmet where you find the Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque), Aya Sofya, spice bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. Crossing over the bridge you are then on the Asian side full of fashionable streets such as Istikal Caddesi as well as the old jewish quarter.
If one was ever worried about not being able to consume alcohol in this Muslim country - think again. Beer is everywhere and it is certainly not just for the convenience of the tourist! The Turks like their beer - good on them! There isn't anything you can't get in Istanbul that you can't get at home. One of the highlights of the city is the Grand bazaar which houses some 4,000 souks (shops) - a maze of alleyways selling anything and everything from carpets, leather jackets to jewerly and trinkets. It is a great way to spend a few hours and get the feel of how Capitalism is meant to work. Mom and Isabel certainly enjoyed the ability to go to numerous shops to check out the same trinkets before settling! The spice bazaar is a wee bit smaller and as well as having
spice shops it has numerous shops selling Turkish Delight, which is to die for if you have a sweet tooth.
Having spend day (1) seeing the sights in Sultanahmet, we took a ferry ride up the Bosphorus Strait, a body of water that divides Europe Turkey from Asia Turkey. Besides being an extremely strategic waterway militarily, it is the gate way to Russia via the Black Sea, the Bosphorus is a beautiful body of water with it's shoreline filled with opulent homes. It is also a great way to see the city from a different perspective. Another great way to get a feel for the city layout is to go up the Galata Tower - provides awesome views of both sides of Istanbul. Istanbul is huge, having a population of 18 million people.
Food - enjoyed the Turkish food which ranged from doners to Turkish pizza. The beer - Efes & Toburg was refreshing -what else can we say. Ironically enough, our best dinner was at a Kurdish restaurant - damn good! Of teh 78 million people that make up the population of Turkey, the 12 million Kurds are the largest minority (wow 12 million is minority!!).
After getting our way out of Istanbul we were off to Cannakle. The drive, or adventure, took a long and very adventurous (6) hours. Upon looking at the road map and deciding which route we would take, we thought it best to take the road less travelled - the scenic, touristy road!
According to our road map we would be travelling along a paved, surfaced and earth road. However, (10) minutes after turning onto the "scenic" route the we were on a very bumpy gravel road - resembling that of a newly constructed logging road. We thought we were definitely on the wrong track and decided to turn around. While turning around, we got stuck which resulted in (3) of us pushing the car up the steep hill until there was enough room to turn around and back track from where we had come from. While making our way back down the logging road a truck coming in the opposite direction slowed down....thought this may be a forest ranger or something. As the truck approached us Dad jumped out and started to communicate in broken english with the driver, showing him on the map where we wanted to go
and whether this was the right way. With a nood of his head and a stern point of the finger, it turned out that we were indeed on the right road and heading in the right direction before turning around. The Turkish fellow was extremely helpful and guided us through the 1 1/2 trip through the mountains, around blind corners and gingerly by the 400 foot cliffs that dropped off right into the ocean. At one stage we came to a point where the side of the mountain was being riped down by heavy road building machinery. We had no choice but to stop and wait for the construction crew to stop doing what they were doing - but they would have none of this and insisted we turn around. There was no option but to go straight ahead, turning around was not possible, we would have had to drive backwards around blind corners, etc for a good few kilometres. Our Turkish "road guide" would have none of this and jumped out of his vechile to have a chat with the crew - while all this was going on the machine operator continued to tear down the side of the
mountain, with massive boulders following within a few meteres of us, we just couldn't believe this, we were sure that one of those were going to land on the hood or roof of the car while we sat and waited for the situation to be resolved. After a few words with the crew we were back on our way - only after barely getting by from tearing the under carriage to pieces. Good thing the rental car company probably will not check the underneath of the car. After surviving the road trip the Turkish fellow insisted that we stop at the pickup point for his vineyard and sample his grapes.....after a few grapes, pics and more bags of grapes than we could ever think of eating we were on our way, independently - tour guidelist!
Stayed (2) nights in Cannakle - Anzac Hotel (nice mgmt but very dirty rooms). We stayed (1) night to many in Cannakle, however it did allow us to visit the ancient city of Troy, with the legendary Trojan Horse and then head down to the small fishing village of Assos for a bite to eat before visiting the small výllage of Behramakale. The Troy
ruins, as most tourists say, are not that impressive and require a great leap of faith. We can now say we have been there and done that. The drive down to the small fishing village of Assos was eventful to say the least. The street was just wide enough to fit (1) vehicle with a lot conjestion coming and going. Our lasting memory of Assos will be the drive into the wee village and paying a small fortune for lunch. On the hill overlookýng Assos is the the famous temple of Athena that provided great views of the Aeagan coastline. In making our way up to the temple we stopped and walked through the small village of Behrmakale which is on the opposite of the hill from Assos.
Well, Mom has shown nerves of steel as she has and will continue to be behind the wheel for the duration of our trip. Dad will contine to play the role as the navigator taking over from Isabel who did a fine job on day (1). I will continue to provide some constructive backseat driving tips and Isabel - well she will continue to think to herself - how did I
get into this mess!!!
There are more photos below