Turkey is a wonderland full of surprises

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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What I did
Saw some amazing sites

Flag of Turkey  ,
Monday, September 19, 2011


 Turkey map and journey route
 
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12-hours after I landed home at SFO from my journey to Turkey, I was on another plane out of SFO to Mexico City for my second journey to Cuba this year. I must be out of my mind, but its pure pleasure!  On October 31, I'm off to Poland, and a cruise from Prague to Hamburg. That's the reason why my blog on Turkey was delayed until now.TURKEY is a land of many wonders and history. 97% of Turkey sits in Asia.  It's not possible to share all we have learned during our 17-days in this wondrous land, because its history is amazingly long and complex. 

 A short chronological summary will provide some perspective of its history.
 7500 BC: Earliest known inhabitants
 1900-1300 BC: Hittite Empire; wars with Egypt
 1250 BC: Trojan War334 BC: Conquests by Alexander the Great
 279 BC: Celts (Gauls) invade and establish Galatia near Ankara (current capital)
 330 AD: Constantine dedicates the “New Rome” of Constantinople
 527-565 AD: Reign of Justinian, greatest Byzantine emperor (construction of Aya Sofia –      largest church in the world)
 570-622 AD: Prophet Mohammed's birth
 1037-1109 AD: Great Seljuk Turks empire based in Iran
 1000-1200 AD: The Crusades1288 AD: Birth of the Ottoman Empire
 1453 AD: Conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II
 1520-1566 AD: Reign of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent
 1923 AD: Proclamation of the Turkish Republic
 1938 AD: Death of Ataturk (hero of Turkey)

Some observations about today's Turkey: 
This was my third trip to Istanbul and Ephesus, and for the first time visited inland Asia Turkey, but am ready to return for more, because this country never ceases to surprise with its history, sites, food, and its friendly people. Although the per capita income in Turkey is $20k/year, the standard of living is much higher than people would expect. Yes, doctors earn considerably more, but the impression one gets from visiting this country isn't represented by their income levels. Turkey continues to develop and construct new apartment buildings in most of the major cities, and construction and repairs of roads are seen everywhere (unlike the US).    I did not see any “old” car in Turkey, and they pay close to $10/gallon for petrol. The cities are clean with no debris in its streets or sidewalks. The only place our Tour Director asked us to be careful was in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; otherwise, I felt very safe walking its streets alone in the cities and villages we visited. 
Cumhur, Our Tour Director
 
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SEP 20
: Most of our group of 37 arrived in Istanbul in the early evening while one couple arrived the day before, and checked into the Titanic Hotel in the Taksim District (hotel and restaurant area). Our Tour Director, Cumhur (pronounced Jumeher) provided us with a orientation tour around our hotel. The rest of the evening was on our own to unpack and have dinner. 

SEP 21: We visited the standard tour sites of Aya Sophia (largest church in the world), the Hippodrome (circus and social center of Byzantine Constantinople), Topkapi Palace (primary residence of the Ottoman Saltans), Egyptian spice market (built in the 1660's & one of the largest covered bazaars), Blue Mosque (built in 1465, and it's not “blue”), and the Grand Bazaar (largest and oldest bazaars in the world with over 4,000 shops).


BLUE MOSQUE: was built in 1616.
 
 
 
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Hippodrome: Political and sporting events during Byzantine times.
 
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AYA SOFIA: Was the first imperial mosque of Istanbul, and Hagia Sophia Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  
 
 
 
 
 
 

  
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TOPKAPI PALACE: was the official and primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for some 400 years.
 
 
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Grand Bazaar: One of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world.
 
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Other Istanbul sites.
 
 
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EGYPTIAN SPICE BAZAAR: It's called "Egyptian" because most of the spices were imported from Egypt.
 
 
 
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SEP 22: Today was an optional tour to Dolmabahce Palace (mid-19th century) located on the shores of the Bosphorus, and built by Sultan Abdul Mecit I. The reception salon with 56 columns and a huge crystal chandelier is an astonishing site to see, and considered one of the grandest in the world. The design has European influences, but it also contains Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Ottoman architectural styles blended into what is unique in this world of palaces. The construction cost the equivalent of 35 tonnes of gold – half of it used in the palace. If anyone plans a visit to Istanbul, I would highly recommend the optional tour to this palace.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside the palace.

We boarded a private boat for a cruise on the Northern Bosphorus with lunch at a seafood restaurant. 

Bosphorus Cruise:
 
 
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More pictures may be forthcoming, but it depends on quality from the over 500 pictures I downloaded today, Oct 22.

 
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