A Travellerspoint blog

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Istanbul, not Constantinople

We arrive in Turkey...

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DAY #1 in Istanbul

Noreen and I arrived in Istanbul through JFK via Delta Airlines. We were greeted in New York by Noreen's Aunt Kathy, Cousin Keren, and her daughter Kiera. Jim and Shirley had a less enjoyable route due to plane mechanical troubles and a near miss for their connecting flight. We all arrived safely at the Istanbul Intercontinental Hotel located on the Taksim - the European side of Istanbul.

Our first evening was a dinner at the Borsa Restaurant patio overlooking the Bosphorus River as it flows into the Agean Sea. While watching the sunset, a squall blew in rain from the north. The staff scrambled to move our table and squeegee out the standing water. Just as we finished dinner, the rain stopped and it was all a fitting entry to an exciting and energetic city!

Auntie Nowy and Kiera

Auntie Nowy and Kiera

Our room at the Intercontinental

Our room at the Intercontinental

"Girls just wanna have fun!"

"Girls just wanna have fun!"

Borsa patio with Steve, Noreen, Shirley, and Jim

Borsa patio with Steve, Noreen, Shirley, and Jim

Noreen and Steve

Noreen and Steve

Boshphorus River looking into Asia Minor

Boshphorus River looking into Asia Minor

Bottoms up with Turkish Raki

Bottoms up with Turkish Raki

Shirley and Jim

Shirley and Jim


DAY #2 in Istanbul

After breakfast our tour guide named Korsey led to Istanbul's old town where we toured the Blue Mosque (built 1616) named after the rich blue tiles that decorate the interior. The rugs, calligraphy, rose (Muhamed) and tulip symbology (Allah) were insightful. We then toured the Topkapi Palace (built 1470 after Sultan Mehmet conquered Constantinople) which served sultans for over 400 years to follow. Topkapi translates to "Cannon Gate". Some of the holy relics within the palace include Moses' staff, St. John the Baptist's skull, Mohammed's footprint and beard, former gold cover for the Kabaa Stone. The views from the garden was beautiful. On the way back we walked through the Hippodrome where chariot races and other forms of bloodletting took place. Fortunately there was none spilt today! Dinner was at Hunkar Lokantasi.

Here comes the Watermelon man!  Hot Day

Here comes the Watermelon man! Hot Day

Topaki Palace remains well armed

Topaki Palace remains well armed

Roman vase in Topkapi courtyard

Roman vase in Topkapi courtyard

Topkapi Congress entrance

Topkapi Congress entrance

Ancient signs removed during WWII for preservation

Ancient signs removed during WWII for preservation

Roman remnants within Topkapi Palace

Roman remnants within Topkapi Palace

Flag of Turkey

Flag of Turkey

Daughter and Mom

Daughter and Mom

Inner wall of Topkapi

Inner wall of Topkapi

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

View out to sea

View out to sea

Our guide leads us through the Hippodrome

Our guide leads us through the Hippodrome

Who knew the Ottomans had ice cream?

Who knew the Ottomans had ice cream?

Shirley and Jim Bishop

Shirley and Jim Bishop

The Blue Mosque is named for the tile within...

The Blue Mosque is named for the tile within...

Jim Bishop

Jim Bishop

Blue Mosque's dome

Blue Mosque's dome

Calligraphy

Calligraphy

Blue tile

Blue tile

Here are the Bishops of the mosque

Here are the Bishops of the mosque

Shirley and Noreen

Shirley and Noreen

Blue Tile - Blue Mosque

Blue Tile - Blue Mosque

Minaret of the Blue Mosque

Minaret of the Blue Mosque

Posted by AZClyde 06:33 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey istanbul

Mytiln and the Island of Lesbos

Nothing to do with Lesbians.

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We arrived at the Mytiln Port via the SS Mariner's tender boat. Jim and Shirley saved our seats as we almost missed the launch, fortunately they made new friends from Scotland and we made it aboard just in time.

We arrived in the port under the watch of a local medieval castle where we embarked on our tour of Lesbos. We visited a local Orthodox Church and made a longer pilgrimage to a quaint village deep in the interior of the island. Once there we walked around the narrow streets and toured another Orthodox church which I would describe as exploring the attic belonging to a wealthy, eccentric, and crazy Aunt.

A clanging church bell and the chatter of the villagers was the backdrop in the streets shaded by overhanging grape vines. We bought baklava from a local baker and drank Turkish Coffee that was brewed over a charcoal pit. Lesbos has more olive trees than anywhere in the world, around 29 million at last count. Noreen and I spent the afternoon swimming in the Aegean Sea, avoiding Sea Urchins, and making new friends from Ireland who were also on our boat. For dinner we had lobster and watched a Broadway musical before retiring for the evening.

Summary: Lesbos is a wonderful visit if you love olive trees, Greek Orthodoxy, cigarettes, and orzo...but know the Aegean Sea is always there to take a break with an invigorating swim.

View from the tender boat - 11th century castle

View from the tender boat - 11th century castle

Greek Orthodox

Greek Orthodox

GreekOrthodox

GreekOrthodox

New converts greeted at Greek Orthodox

New converts greeted at Greek Orthodox

Herbs

Herbs

Taking a stroll through a village

Taking a stroll through a village

village life

village life

Noreen

Noreen

Baklava and Turkish Coffee - Yum!

Baklava and Turkish Coffee - Yum!

We won a free studio portrait!

We won a free studio portrait!

Steve

Steve

Noreen

Noreen


Posted by AZClyde 13:39 Archived in Greece Tagged greece mytiln lesbos

Ephesus via Kusadasi

Mother Mary, Temple of Artemis, Library of Celsus and St. John's Cathedral

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Today was a very warm day but also a reminder of how much I love Turkey. The port of Kusadasi was beautiful.

We first visited Mother Mary's home where she lived out her final days after Jesus entrusted Paul to care for her by Jesus. Well, that is according to a stigmatic nun as there is no factual record of this. Ephesus on the other hand was a key city of the time, including in the Bible where Paul mailed many of his letters. The Library of Celsus is the most prominent image of Ephesus, but there a many notable structures including baths, stadiums, promenades, and cemeteries. The city size is massive, 3.5 mile circumference all of ruins, many of which are not excavated.

After a short bus ride, we visited the ruins of St. John's Cathedral which, if still standing would be the 7th largest dome in the world. It was created by the same architect as Hagia Sophia in Istanbult. John's tomb sits empty, probably taken and reburied during the crusades. We had a fabulous Turkey lunch (IE - not actually "turkey") and spent time at a wonderful resort overlooking the coast of Kusadasi. Noreen bought a pair silver earrings.

Dinner was at the ship's "Signatures Restaurant" where we shared a table with an IN couple (Alan and Jo G.). They had many connections with us all and it was a wonderful evening. We had drinks with an alumnus from Providence College (Patty), where Noreen attended and remains on their board. A great day!

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Posted by AZClyde 21:33 Tagged ephesus

Rhodes - Acropolis of Lindos and Knights of St. John

Add to your Medieval Bucket List!

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Our first destination on the island of Rhodes was the Acropolis of Lindos, a magnificent temple built at the top of a mountain overlooking the Agean Sea. The structures are ancient Greek fused with medieval strongholds, on an island that was never taken by force during those times. Thousands of statues once dotted these grounds, made as offerings to various gods. Unfortunately, they've been stolen over thousands of years and only footprints remain in their marble bases. You'll have to travel to Great Britain, France, or the US to see these original statues now. Steve and Noreen filled in the best they could. It must have been an amazing sight when all the statues were here.

Jim and Shirley enjoyed a culinary tour of Rhodes which took them to a monastery and many of the ancient sites of the walled city. They continue meeting new friends everywhere they go.

St Paul came to the city of Rhodes to spread Christianity. Rhodes was a medieval stronghold of great wealth and importance, evident in the massive castle walls built by the Knights of St. John, treasury buildings, and moat fortifications. The Street of the Knights funneled massive treasures into the city, linked the Christian Cathedral to the Palace of the Grand Masters, and brought together leaders from many lands to discuss issues and trade of the day. The castle conjures up scenes from Monty Python's Holy Grail movie and should be a bucket list for anyone interested in medieval history.

Jim and Shirley continue making new friends. Tonight they enjoyed a marvelous dinner with Jo and Allen, and then took in a show at the Constellation theater. The food and entertainment aboard the SS Mariner has been fantastic. The weather and sunsets are amazing and we've had no rain since they first squaw in Istanbul.

"Bring out the burning oil!!!"  - It wasn't this crowded on our way up

"Bring out the burning oil!!!" - It wasn't this crowded on our way up

They only stole the good statues!

They only stole the good statues!

The Acropolis of Lindos

The Acropolis of Lindos

Noreen overlooking the Aegean Sea

Noreen overlooking the Aegean Sea

The streets of Lindos are meant to be confusing to both enemies and tourists

The streets of Lindos are meant to be confusing to both enemies and tourists

St Paul's harbor offers safety to ships with a natural land bridge

St Paul's harbor offers safety to ships with a natural land bridge

Noreen and Steve

Noreen and Steve

Noreen explores the Castle of the Knights of St John, built some time before 1317

Noreen explores the Castle of the Knights of St John, built some time before 1317

Castle

Castle

Avenue of the Knights

Avenue of the Knights

Rhodes Medieval Castle

Rhodes Medieval Castle

The Moat

The Moat

Posted by AZClyde 03:52 Archived in Greece Tagged greece knights rhodes medeival

Mykonos - It's not just for clubbing anymore

My favorite stop in all of Greece.

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Mykonos owns its name to the son of the King of Delos, Mykonos. The history of Mykonos in antiquity is much connected to the history of the neighboring island, Delos. Mykonos is known for many things including white buildings with blue roofs, windmills, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, vespa scooters, Little Venice, and a vibrate club scene with revelers visiting from around the world. Most interestingly of all, Mykonos is in the shadow of the prosperous and spiritual island of Delos, City of the Dead. Delos is where Leto was believed to has given birth to god Apollo and goddess Artemis. An ancient law still in affect that states no one is allowed to be born or die on the island of Delos, only archeologists stay overnight on this island.

Delos was my favorite destination of our entire trip. As the day started, we could have missed this wonderful area, instead spending a leisurely day in port. Fortunately for us we continued every shore excursion available aboard Regent Seven Seas. The impact of Delos was unexpected, our access was nothing short of spectacular.

The impact of walking the streets, houses, markets, and theaters puts you in direct contact with the Ancients. Regardless of our current politics, technologies, and religion....we share the same emotions and experiences....work, laugh, cry, give birth, experience loss, and die. Our lives are no different at that core human experience.

Back at the port we enjoyed shopping, gyros, and getting lost of the streets of Mykonos. We found a cowbell wind chime which reminded me of a cowbell that my Dad always carried to football games. Of course I had to brought that home to them! Noreen found earrings and other treats for her friends.....Bravo Delos!!!

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Posted by AZClyde 11:57 Archived in Greece Tagged greece mykonos

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