Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Turkey Package Tour : Day 1 and 2 (13-14 July 2017) Istanbul, Blue Mosque, Hagia sophia, Topkapi Palace, Bolu.

 Waaaahhhh! I have not blogged in ages, and I had better get my Turkey blog off  while it is still fresh in my mind!!!!  Our grand Turkey trip took all of 10 days, (plus travelling time) and we booked it from Parlo Tour at Matta Fair at a discount, a good deal we thought.  However, it was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of interest and guests, but we found it out the hard way, and in the nick of time too, as we managed to shop around for an alternative agency and found our package at SA Tour.

 So we found ourselves travelling on Turkey Airlines, (picture below) and we were pampered to the hilt after being treated like paupers on Air Asia!

Besides 30 kg luggage each, and inflight movies and music, we were given pillows, blankets
and 2 meals (dinner and breakfast) menu, MENU??? below: 
 This is how I travel, with my walking stick that you can fold our into a chair, and, yes, I sit anywhere, like here, in the middle of somewhere!!!

 Because.....daughter had spied Jo Malone!!! where she had worked as a temp at Pavilion shopping mall, and she could not resist popping for a visit

 She used to be able to name and sniff out every Jo Malone scent....but she could not afford any!

We are nearing Istanbul after nearly 9 hours.
Getting our luggage...note our fellow tour mates....5 Malaysian Chinese (3 of them us) and the rest Malaysian Indians.
We plunged into the tour proper right away but being driven to the BLUE MOSQUE.
This is Kaan, our Turkish tour guide. He speaks English well, is a Muslim with a Christian girlfriend. 
We are soon to find out that Turkey has lots of stray dogs which are well fed, disease-free (treated by the state) and tagged after being declared clean, healthy and vaccinated, neutered, dewormed, etc.

We are at the Hippodrome, which is a huge courtyard surrounded on all sides by arched galleries and a lattice-work fountain at the center.  You have to gaze around and stand for a while here to fully appreciate the architectural symmetry and grandeur of the place. 

Once we are inside nothing  "can detract from the serene calm of 

this epic place of worship. 

Even when full of people, the scale of the interior can’t fail to 


Supporting the huge structure are 4 “elephant feet pillars”, so called

because of their 16-foot diameters which dominate the interior.

The eponymous blue tiles rise up from floor level and  nearly glow with light from the heavens filtering through some 260 windows"
Did you know:
The Blue Mosque tiles were all made in the small town of Iznik. Given that there are over 20,000 of them, the volume of the order was so great that it nearly exhausted the capabilities of the famous ceramic-making town as it was being fulfilled. 

"The large panels of Caligraphy on the inside of the Blue Mosque Dome depict verses from the Koran and the names of important caliphs (religious leaders). They were originally the work of the famed 17th century calligrapher Seyyid Kasim Gubari, but have been heavily restored over time."

Gosh, all that walking and gawking at the immense architecture, got us all hungry and this little cart selling Turkish pastries were our life-line to stave our hunger.

All the Indian uncles and us biting into dough rings and doughnuts!!
Next we are going to visit the Hagia Sophia! The Blue Mosque was built to rival the Hagia Sophia, so now we are going to find out whether it is unsurpassed .
Hagia Sophia is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now a museum, Hagia Sophia is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world.
It is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture, rich with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings.

 Hagia Sophia remained a functioning church until May 29, 1453, when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered triumphantly into the city of Constantinople. He was amazed at the beauty of the Hagia Sophia and immediately converted it into his imperial mosque.

Hagia Sophia served as the principal mosque of Istanbul for almost 500 years.

In 1934, under Turkish president Kemal Atatürk, Hagia Sofia was secularized and turned into the Ayasofya Museum

From a church, it became a mosque!!!! Note the picture of Madonna and Child and the Quranic calligraphy side by side!!! There are mosaics  too of the caliphs and archangel Gabriel. Then it became a museum due to secularization of Turkey. Since it is a museum now, we do not need to wear head scarves. 

Next we have to walk to Topkapi Palace, and I was tired, and together with 2 other Indian uncles, we opted to have Turkish coffee and tea instead while the others went ahead. Just as well we did not go!  It was closed on Mondays!!
 Turkish coffee
Turkish tea....Loved the turkish glass, and I bought some home!
Mine had gold rims and embellishments, this one is plain. 
Topkapi Palace visit will have to be "done" again on the last day when we come back to Istanbul,  We will be heading for Bolu after lunch.
Lunch is at Serbethane Cafe, and it looked very Turkish to me, with cobble stones, brick walls, it had a "Mediterranean feel " !! was to be our staple for the next few days, variants of salad, dips and flat bread.
 My bread with all the dips: yoghurt, mashed chick peas etc, etc, I don't know their names!
 Main dish, garlic butter rice, potato gratin, bbq chicken or beef.
 with bbq beef
 for the vegetarian uncle
 This is a combo of beef and chicken, the Indians had only chicken.

After lunch, we set off for a long journey to Bolu, just as well, we are ready to snooze off after that meal!
Some of the scenery from the window through sleepy took us a few hours to reach Bolu, which will be my next post!

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