Taking advantage of a Travelzoo coupon to save $1100 off of a 13 day Treasures of Turkey tour, we’re heading across the pond once again. Have heard good things about Turkey, despite political upheaval from time to time.
  • Oct28

    JFK

    October 28, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Despite leaving 20 minutes late from Istanbul we arrived at JFK about 40 minutes early but it took us 30 minutes to get to the gate. We got a chance to use our new global entry and that was really sweet. Cruised through in about 2 minutes. Waiting forever on our luggage now We have a separate flight on American leaving out of terminal 8 in about 4 hrs so will have to catch the air train. Air train took about 10 minutes to Terminal 8. Got our bags checked and were done by roughly 2:15. Flights goes out at 4:50. Ah, some McDonald’s burgers!!

    Got on the plane at 450 and everyone was just about settled when they had us all deplane to investigate a bird strike on the wing that must have happened to the plane when it had been coming in. After being off the plane for 20 minutes, they reboarded us and we took off at 5:45, about an hour late. My watch tells me it is now 1225 am Istanbul time. Been up for 21 hrs now
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  • Oct27

    At the airport (IST)

    October 27, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Up at 3:30 departed at 4:45. 30 minute drive to the airport. Security is insane. Basically went through 3 Security checks before sitting down at the gate. Once you’re seated, you’re stuck. You can’t exit to shops, restaurants - nothing. No drinking fountain, no trash can. Rock hard plastic seats. Fortunately the hotel gave us a lunch box before we left. At the gate at 0630.
    Not so good IST.
    Took off at 8:30 , about 20 mins behind schedule. Seating is 2-4-2 so Janet and I got lucky. Had a decent breakfast onboard. Watched a movie about the sinking of the Russian submarine , “the Kurst” back in 2000. True story. Then listened to Turkish instrumental music whole typing journal notes. I like their instrumental music. Janet and I bought a couple of CDs for $6-7 each in a museum shop. Good memories of a great trip despite my nasty fall.
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  • Oct27

    Final Dinner

    October 27, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Good time at final dinner. Director even bought in a 2 person band (singer and guitar player). More pics to follow

  • Oct27

    Chora Museum (Kariye Museum)

    October 27, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    The building was originally known as the Church of the Holy Saviour Outside the Walls (Chora literally means 'country'), reflecting the fact that when it was first built it was located outside the original city walls constructed by Constantine the Great.
    What you see today isn't the original church. Instead, it was reconstructed at least five times, most significantly in the 11th, 12th and 14th centuries. Virtually all of the interior decoration – the famous mosaics and the less renowned but equally striking frescos – dates from circa 1320 and was funded by Theodore Metochites, a poet and man of letters who was logothetes, the official responsible for the Byzantine treasury, under Emperor Andronikos II (r 1282–1328). One of the museum's most wonderful mosaics, found above the door to the nave in the inner narthex, depicts Theodore offering the church to Christ.

    It cost us about $10 (50 lira) to catch a cab from our hotel to the museum. The hotel arranged the cab. On the way back, I tried out the Uber app which was an interesting experience. It identified cabs with a number, but when we saw cabs, they had big numbers on the side of the car and that is what we were looking for. All the license plates started with the same number and we weren’t really paying attention to that. So one driver who claimed to be at our location, we never saw, even though he actually tried to call us (big fail in communication). Eventually, we figured out we needed to be looking at the plate number and a guy showed up. What was a bit spooky is that the Uber app didn’t tell us what it was going to cost, but since we were in a hurry to make it to the Final Dinner, we just said, oh who cares and jumped in. The guy seemed to be heading in the right direction (rather than driving us to an Isis encampment!), but as we neared the hotel, he got stuck in some nasty traffic and then didn’t seem to know where the hotel was (even though he had 2 GPS units running!). He even stopped once and leaned out and asked another cabbie where the hotel was. Finally, after driving around and around in the same vicinity, we finally begged him to stop and let us out, which he did. You could tell he felt bad and he only charged us 50 lira which turned out to be about $7 on our credit card. Of course once out of the cab my gps on the phone couldn’t get a signal (too many buildings), so although I knew we were close, I didn’t really have an idea which way to go, so we ducked into a cafe and asked the guy there who gave us the general direction. As we headed that way, as fortune would have it, we bumped into two folks from our tour group who knew where the hotel was and pointed us that way. An adventure!
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  • Oct26

    Departure for Istanbul

    October 26, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Up at 5 am. Breakfast at 6 on bus at 7. Went across from the hotel last night for some kebabs and a beer. Pretty spicy!!

    Hotel was quite swanky. Not sure how Gate 1 delivers such nice hotels and great tour directors for the price but it is hard to resist. This tour covered some long stretches on the bus but we had plenty of breaks and the landscape and the social/history lessons from our tour director kept us entertained. Pretty nice bunch of people, no major whiners fortunately Not having to worry about luggage or much of anything becomes a blessing the older I get. Could we do this on our own? Absolutely, but could never have covered all that we did when you consider the logistics, language, etc

    Drove past the presidential palace on the way out of town. Damn - makes the White House look like a shack. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Complex?wprov=sfti1https://maps.apple.com/?ll=39.931130,32.798873&q=Presidential Complex&_ext=EiQpiSmRRC/3Q0AxJlRweEFmQEA5iSmRRC/3Q0BBJlRweEFmQEA=

    Janet and I are planning to take a taxi to a church to check out some amazing mosaics. Was thinking about Uber, then I read this - https://www.quora.com/Is-Uber-available-in-Turkey. Think we’ll stick to the taxi!

    Spent some time writing out thank you notes in Turkish to our bus driver and tour director. Thank you Google translate!

    The Chora Church we will visit this afternoon - https://www.lonelyplanet.com/turkey/istanbul/attractions/kariye-museum-chora-church/a/poi-sig/402174/360887

    As a commentary on what I’m seeing in tourism, I’m thinking of writing Apple and Samsung and suggesting that they develop software that limits the number of selfies you can take in a day to 5. I can understand someone wanting to have a picture of themselves somewhere but 50 in the same place? How do you find time to look at what you came to see? (You don’t). It would cut crowds down considerably because everyone would leave after their first selfie. I know I sound grumpy but it drives Janet and I both insane. I can see why tourists are annoying to locals. The tour director makes no comments about it but that must drive him (and other tour directors) a bit bonkers when he is trying to educate the group.

    Some 50 miles east of Istanbul we are in the earthquake zone that killed 17000 back in 1999. ( see map with caption)

    As we pull into Istanbul about 1:30pm, I spot Krispy Kreme so to my WINSTON friends, they are alive and well in Turkey!
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  • Oct26

    Mövenpick Hotel - Ankara

    October 26, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Dinner on our own tonight. Trying to do some packing. We bought much more stuff than usual so now trying to cram a bunch of stuff into our two carryons and ship them as regular luggage. We each get 2 bags free on Turkish Air ( hopefully I’m reading that correctly!). So we can take our backpacks and 2 bags full of goodies on the plane. Janet is taking this on as a master challenge.

    Tomorrow we travel 5 hrs to Istanbul and have the rest of the afternoon off before doing dinner at 7. We’re skipping the 90 minute Bospherus cruise
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  • Oct26

    Museum - archeological

    October 26, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Ancient civilization museum. I think my brain is blasted by this time but here are a few pics to demonstrate just a few of the treasures in here. Bought a few Turkish CD’s of instrumental music - cheap too - like $6-7. And that’s from a Museum shop where nothing is ever cheap!Read more

  • Oct26

    Ataturk memorial

    October 26, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    https://www.planetware.com/ankara/ataturk-mausoleum-tr-an-aam.htm

    A monument to the founder of the Republic. The Turkish people wish he were still alive. 85% of Turks don’t like the current ruler Erdigan who represents the religious right. Atturturk, who founded the Republic in 1923 was a secularist which most Turks preferRead more

  • Oct26

    On the road to Ankara

    October 26, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ 🌙 5 °C

    Our Plan for the day -

    “Saturday - Travel to Ankara, Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk
    This morning depart for Ankara, the capital and the second largest city of Turkey. Upon arrival, visit the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder and first president of the Turkish Republic. Leading up to the Mausoleum, view the vast brick courtyard and monumental avenue lined with Neo-Hittite stone statues and cenotaphs beneath its colonnades. The most noted cenotaphs within the complex are those of General Ismet Inonu, a close comrade of Ataturk's and that of Ataturk himself, beneath which lies his tomb. Continue to the Anatolian Civlizations Museum - built in two Ottoman buildings located near Ankara Castle. The Museum's unique exhibits feature Anatolian archaeological artifacts dating back to the Paleolithic Age
    Overnight: Ankara Meals: Breakfast

    Up at 5:30

    8:40. Saw hundreds of balloons riding this morning as we headed out of town. Traveling note through the high plateau- Open farmland, distant foothills (see pic).
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