Sunday, November 8, 2009

Istanbul, October 29th -30th

This morning was different, yes our breakfast came ... but we were not moving slowly into a port. Actually we had about 4 more hours until we reached the Istanbul port.

It was cooler on the balcony, it could have been the speed we were moving - but it felt about 5 degrees lower then the rest of the trip. This is what we saw while eating breakfast ...

this is behind us.
We had left the Mediterranean (Aegean) Sea, passed through a narrow channel and we are now in the Sea of Marmara (meaning Marble) ... This body of water connects to the Black Sea on the OTHER side of Istanbul.
So we enjoyed breakfast and began packing our bags. They would need to be packed and outside our rooms by Midnight. We would be heading home the next morning.
Around 11, we headed up to the deck to check out the lunch options and the view ... we were getting closer to Istanbul.
the shore line looked quite different then the previous ports ... these shot were taken through the window at our table during lunch:
the 6 minarets(the spikes), indicate that is the Blue Mosque:
the 4 here, Aya Sofya ...

Topkapi Palace...
the other side, actually Asia ...
This is the bridge that connects Europe and Asia
Sorry for the rail in the image
On our way to the dock
Once we docked, our group met in to prepare for our city tour, again we would be loading on to busses and show around. I was not exactly sure where we were headed, but that was typical. We then learned that October 29th is Turkish Independence Day, like the 4th of July. This was a big time day of celebration. That accounted for the number of flags we saw on the ride in, but that also meant the Grand Bazaar was closed. Aaron would not be getting a Genuine Fake Watch. But our tour would now include the Blue Mosque.
It was a drastic difference getting on the bus in this thriving metropolis compared to the other ports.
The water used to come right up to this wall ...
From the bus, the blue mosque
From the bus, AyaSofya
AyaSofya, was initially built by Justinian as a christian church. Then it was converted into a mosque as the rulers changed - now it is a museum.

Aaron is standing next to one of the columns of Marble - HUGE
When Aya Sofya was built it was a church .... there are christian images and mosaics all over. When it became a mosque, instead of tearing out and destroying the images - they covered them with thick plaster. In essence preserving them!
the alter in the front ... the center window would be center, notice the alter to the right, facing EAST. When it was transformed to a mosque, the people had to pray facing east ....
Self portrait, by the alter ...
aaron trying to surprise me ...

walking over to the Blue Mosque
courtyard of Blue Mosque
to enter the Mosque, we had to take off our shoes, and we thought Aaron might have to wear a skirt wrapped around his shorts ....
He was cleared, his shorts were long enough ....
the carpet was so soft ...

inside the Blue Mosque ....
The inside - it was a prayer time ....
columns ...

shoes back on ...
but should he have sat here ... if you can read on the steps it says "Do Not Sit Here"
After the Blue Mosque our bus took us to a small shopping area, but again because of the holiday most were closed. So we headed back to the ship, ordered room service (coffee and hot chocolate - awsome mixed!) and got prepared for dinner.

For the final night, RTV6 planned for us to go out on the town for dinner. We ate at Zeyrekhane (i have no idea how to pronounce it!) "Turkish Cuisine at the heart of Istanbul"
We did not just dine, RTV6 rented the entire place, it was ours to hang on the terrace over looking water and the city - wonderful views ....
a mosque lit up ...
on the terrace, sipping "fig juice" it was not the best ..... must be an acquired taste?
The beacon lights are close to our ship ...
inside the restaurant:

at our table :
Aaron made a special friend:

special music
special dancer, from what we could understand, this belly dancer was one of the top in Turkey!
Dinner, Authentic Cuisine ... this was beef wrapped in a pastry, like Beef Wellington .... and a large sprig of lettuce

main dish .... my dad's comment: i looks like someone already ate it.
But it sure did taste good!
dessert ... Sultans Fingers .... not so good (to me)

chocolate cookies, i was too full for even a taste, but Aaron liked them

Hot tea, with an apple flavor, i did like this!
the tea came with small spoons .... Aaron was up for the challenge

Karen and Paul, Mr McDonalds!

Jacki and I ....
Then it was back to the ship, our bags needed to be packed and ready for pick up in 1 hour!
We did not order room service for our final morning, instead we got all packed up, vacated our room and headed to the breakfast buffet ...
When it was time our "color" was dismissed from the ship. WE relocated our bags in the terminal and loaded up busses for the airport to head home ....
Drive to the airport ....
our ship across the "Golden Horn"
Fishing boats in the Sea of Marmara
It took about 45 min to get to the airport, then another hour to get through security and checked in ... then a second round of security at the gate - Turkey does not play!
We had a 3 hour flight to Munich, we raced through customs, another security check and right on to the next plane. For our 9 hour flight to Chicago ... granted we were gaining 6 hours on the flight it was still a long day!

We arrived in Chicago with no issues, glided through customs, found our bags, dropped our bags off and learned our 9:45 flight was delayed .... 2 hours!
We made our way to the gate and found Mr McDonalds was treating RTV6 to McDonalds:) I enjoyed a happy meal, Aaron ... had something. My mind is foggy.

It was nice to be "home - almost.

The flight from Chicago arrived in Indy at 2, my dad picked us up and we where in our bed by 3:15am .... 9 am in Greece! We slept about 5 hours, then began moving getting ready for Aaron's Dads Retirement Party .... 43 years with GM.

What a trip, this was simply amazing.
Aaron and I had not even IMAGINED that the Lord would have planned something like this for us. Even now, after being home two weeks, I cannot believe it.
The Lord is good, and he is true to his promises. PRAISE THE LORD!


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