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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul August 20th 2015

Last day in Turkey. Up and finalised bags then checked out. Booked a car to take us out to the airport then head off for some more touring. Go to the cisterns which are underground water storages. They are pretty amazing, over 200 stone pillars and some interesting carvings as well. There are fish in the water as well. Our timing here is perfect, straight in and not too many in there either. Finish the cisterns then we have decided to take the tram to the end of its route just to see what is around. As we walk up the road to the tram stop we pass 4 people from the cruise. Stop and say hello, they have a 2 week Turkey tour coming up. Can't go anywhere without bumping into people.... Get our tram ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul August 19th 2015

Wake up and I decide to do Troy this morning rather then the British landing at Gallipoli. Not really interested to see where they landed and failed but nothing was made of that one...... We drive down the side of the Dardanelles we stayed on to Troy and arrive after a huge history lesson of the world as it stands now. All this was meant to lead us into the story of the Trojan horse and Paris and his life. Much more educated now. Wandered around the site which is actually very interesting, especially the parts where the city has 6 levels, based on each level being destroyed by earthquake then rebuilt on top of the old city then another one appeared. Anyway, pics of the horse and off we go back to Istanbul. We cross ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul August 18th 2015

Today began with a visit to Hagia Sophia…Holy Wisdom…something that we all seek for a lifetime, here in Istanbul remains a shrine named after this ever so evasive virtue. May this visit to Holy Wisdom inspire me to continually seek holy wisdom along this pilgrimage we call life… This Christian basilica (and later mosque, now museum) was originally built in the 4th century from materials gathered from throughout the Roman Empire (rebuilt in the 5th and 6th centuries and regularly undergoing restoration). It was built by over 10,000 masons and before it was raided by the Crusaders in the 13th century contained over 17 tons of silver and 34 tons of gold. A most impressive structure, to say the least. Two years ago in my Christian History class at CTU, we were taught that part of ... read more
Hagia Sophia from outside the steps of the Blue Mosque
Iesus Xristos
Central Dome (Hagia Sophia)

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Gallipoli August 18th 2015

Slept well in much cooler room, and even had a nice hot shower. Down to check out and leave a case behind as we are going to Gallipoli this morning for a 2 day tour. Breakfast is happening, we are due to be picked up by our guide at 0830. A Mercedes mini bus pulls up at the hotel and the porter says this is our taxi. Hmm, no English speaking guide so not too sure what is going on. He moves bus out of the way as anothe bus wants to get past, not much space out the front. Try to communicate but the driver doesn't have any English. The driver is on the phone and next thing the bag is in the back. Still not sure what is going on when a guy comes ... read more

Middle East » Syria » South » Damascus August 17th 2015

One of the journeys that marked my life was a 2004 three week holiday to the Middle East. It was my first time outside of Europe, and it turned out to be an amazing journey full of adventures. The fact that most places I visited do not exist anymore, makes me value my experience even more. Today Syria is facing one of its most difficult times, and perhaps this story can give some insight into the background of the current conflict. The day I entered Syria I noticed its distinct vibe. I did expect it to be culturally different from the places I had visited before, but not to such an extent. The border post, a large concrete building, was crowded with people without no order whatsoever, you literally had to fight your way to get ... read more
Church of Saint Simeon Stylites
Citadel of Aleppo
Citadel of Aleppo

Middle East » Iran » North » Tehran August 17th 2015

This blog has been quiet for many years. In fact I think at the time of the last entry I was single and ready to mingle and boy has that changed! I am now married (nearly 7 years) and have two boys (5 and 3 years old). Travelling has continued and not at a lessened pace either. Since our wedding, my husband and I have lived in Australia, in England, returned to Hong Kong, in Portugal, in Uzbekistan and now in Iran. Our travels have imparted a sense of wonder in our children and an open mindedness that is second to none. Despite what people might think I actually really detest packing and setting up a-new all the time but I love the opportunity for exploration, those initial fumblings of giving the correct amount of, what ... read more
Chai Bar
Chai Bar
Chai Bar

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul August 17th 2015

Mosaics and Frescos from the Chora Monastery (built and rebuilt since the 5th century) View from the Bosphorus Strait, which splits Istanbul into the only city on two continents. More reflection tomorrow...must get sleep...... read more
Turkish Flag
One City...Two Continents
Chora Monastery (Chora Fresco)

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul August 17th 2015

Well guess what. My predictions from last night came true. No air con and bloody HOT. Not a lot of sleep, and to make matters worse, no hot water either. Cold shower helped relieve the heat sweatiness a little, but then it got colder so NOT HAPPY JAN.......... Got down to breakfast and our smiley man on the counter had booked our day tour, but then we dropped the bombshell in his lap. Think he got the message and offered to get the hot water fixed in 15 mins so we could have a shower - no time before trip anyway. He did say the air con should also be fixed - here's hoping..... Little bus arrives at 0830 and we climb aboard. Quite a few others. We drive through the streets and then turn into ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul August 16th 2015

We wake up later than normal but still in time to catch up with others who are leaving at 0900. Catch them before they leave on their personal tour of Romania (including Transylvania). Quite a few still here today. We catch up with the birthday girl and wish her well. Lots of familiar faces having breakfast this morning. We sit outside in a courtyard surrounded by trees. Very pleasant. Eventually get out after more farewells, then to the bags. We have decided to take one bag that we will use from now on, and the other has dirty washing, stuff we don't need, etc. Hopefully we get under the 23 kg limits. Clothes shuffled, remembering we need jeans, etc. for the cold Melbourne welcome and packed. Weights come in under 23 kg - just. Finally out ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul August 12th 2015

So, who, exactly, decided Suleiman was magnificent? Was it his mother? His wife? She had good reason to think well of him. Maybe one of his concubines? We know he had at least three. Who was this guy? I got interested in Suleiman because of the mosque named for him. Suleiman wanted to turn Constantinople into the jewel of the Ottoman Empire, and to that end he had Mimar Sinan, one of the greatest architects of all time, design a resplendent mosque on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn. You can see this mosque quite clearly from the Beyoğlu side of the Galata Bridge, and it looked pretty, well, magnificent. And big! I decided this was to be my destination for the morning, and while I had a general idea of how to get there, I ... read more
courtyard fountain
minbar
interior3




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