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Turkey

Gate 1 Travel

March 24 ~ April 5, 2014

Our adventure to Turkey started out like with our drive to Syracuse,

then a flight to JFK.  Our flights to Istanbul were on time and

comfortable.  We found the trip advertised on Groupon.com last fall

and decided to take a chance on this tour company.  It was a great

experience!  We were very pleased with the 13 day Affordable Turkey trip. 

The Tour Manager, Mehmet Uzan, was terrific in every way.  He was

very attentive to our traveling needs and was extremely knowledgeable

about Turkey's history and current events.  He made every effort to see that

we had a successful travel experience.

 

Following are but a few of over 1730 photos we took on the trip. 

It was a great challenge to capture this great country in the few

photos posted on this web page.  But here goes!

It is breakfast time on March 26th and this is a view of

Istanbul from our hotel dining room.  The Galata  Bridge

is in the photo.  That bridge connects European Istanbul to

Asian Istanbul while crossing the Golden Horn.

Our first stop of the morning was the Hippodrome which encompassed

the Sultanahmet Square leading to The Blue Mosque.  Above are the

Walled Obelisk in the background and the plinth Obelisk with its

Egyptian hieroglyphics in the foreground.  Both were

imported to Istanbul by Turkish emperors.

Shops selling souvenirs were found along all our routes

for the day and at all other stops during the trip.

Above is the Mosque of Sultan Ahmat.  It is also known as

the Blue Mosque, a 17th century Ottoman mosque

famous for its six minarets.  After walking along a Sultanahmet

Square, we entered the Mosque.

The Blue Mosque is noted for its interior blue tiles.  Prayer

services are held here in the late morning each day. 

Men and women pray in separate areas.

A view of the ornate decorations inside the Mosque.

Carol is wearing a head covering as was required to

enter the Mosque.  This fountain serves a place

for the men of the congregation of the Mosque to

wash their feet before prayers.

Spring tulips were in bloom on the Hippodrome. 

The tulip is the flower of Turkey.

The next stop on our walking tour was The

Church of St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia).

The great Byzantine Basilica was built in the 6th century. 

It is located further down the Hippodrome.

A view of the interior of St. Sophia.  It was a very busy day with

many school children and others visiting the Church.

Beautiful decorations adorned the Church.

After our morning visits to The Blue Mosque

and St. Sophia, it was lunch time. 

We went to a nearby section of the Hippodrome area with

restaurants and shops for lunch.  As we walked along we

came upon this very interesting truck.  It is a trash

collecting vehicle.  The trash containers in this area are buried

into the ground with only the top of the receptacle showing. 

 This truck pulled the receptacle out of its location magnetically,

moved the container over the truck and emptied the trash in

the back as shown here.   Really neat way to handle

a serious city problem!

After lunch, we walked to the nearby Underground Cistern

where we spent some time exploring this cistern that was

constructed by Byzantium Emperor Justinianus.  Fish are swimming

in the fresh water.  A scene from "Russia with Love",

a 1963 James Bond movie, was filmed here!

It was a very interesting stop but hard to photograph.

The back door of the Cistern building.   We are now walking

to our next stop of the day, Topkapi Palace.

A vendor selling hot Turkish tea and coffee at

the gate of Topkapi Palace.

The  entrance to the Topkapi Palace.

A Chapel on the Palace grounds.

A view of the Bosphorus Sea from the Palace.

One of several buildings on Palace grounds.

One of the wings of the Palace where exhibits could be viewed.

Many ornate decorations were found on the walls of the Palace.

At the rear of the Palace you could see boat traffic on the

Bosphorus.  Above is one of the several ferry boats

that ply the waters between the European and

Asian Istanbul sections.

 

There was a pretty fountain in the yard of one of the

building at the back of the Palace.

Building at the rear of the Palace.

As we strolled along we came upon this group of workmen

planting flowers in the Palace garden. 

After this stop, we ventured back to our tour bus which

took us to our last stop of the day. 

It was at the covered Grand Bazaar in down town Istanbul. 

The next morning we checked out of our hotel and boarded our

bus for a drive along the Dardanelles to the town of Gelibolu.

We crossed the Dardanelles on a ferry boat like this one. 

It was about a thirty minute voyage.

The dock at Gelibolu were busy as many ferry boats used

this as a place to take on their loads.

This is the town of Lapseki  where we left the

ferry to drive on to our next stop.

As we sailed across the Dardanelles, we passed a

Turkish Coast Guard ship.

After leaving our ferry boat we drove to Canakkale where

we proceeded to the nearby classical city of Troy ruins.  

This replica of the Trojan Wooden Horse greeted our group

as we entered the ruins of Troy. 

Carol is waving from an upper window.

 The above ruins reflect this 4000-year-old city.  It was the

legendary center of the Trojan war,

made immoral by Homer's epic poem, The Iliad. 

The ruins, which were the result of earth quakes many

century's ago, were found through out the city.

A small amphitheater of the city of Troy.

Carol is standing by another fountain for preparing

to visit the temple of Troy.

The Akol Hotel was harbor side in Canakkale from which

we could view the beautiful Aegean Sea. 

The Hollywood movie Trojan Horse was located in a harbor

side park in front of our hotel.  It was very large and impressive.

The next morning we drove to Asclepion  the

ancient Roman spa center.

The amphitheater

An impressive display of ancient structures.

The location of ancient baths.

On a distant peak you could see Pergamon Acropolis and the

Temple of Trojan on a nearby hill. 

Note:  The large Acropolis on the steep hill is an

example of an inaccessible fortress.

Our hotel at Kusadasi.

Our first stop of the morning was at the house of the Virgin Mary. 

It is known that St. John spent the last years of his life in Ephesus. 

Jesus left his mother with John; therefore, it is believed that Mother

Mary came to Ephesus and lived here until the end of her life.  The

remains of a basement, found next to the scared spring, lead to the

belief that this was the final home of the Virgin Mary.  Above is

the small chapel at the site of the sacred spring.

The ancient sacred spring.  Note the messages of hope

attached to boards hung on the nearby wall.

A statute of the Virgin Mary on the highway near Ephesus.

A view of the beginning street of Ephesus.

The Odeon, built in the 2nd century AD, was the assembly

hall for administration of the city senators.

A view as one walks along the Curetes Way.

Another view as we walk down Curetes Way.

One of many reconstructed buildings along Curetes Way.

Community latrines in a reconstructed building. 

Water flowed below the seats.

Ephesus Celus Library, at the intersection of the Curetes and the

Marble Streets, was one of the leading restoration projects, not

only in Ephesus, but in the whole world.  The outstanding structure,

built in the 2nd century by a Roman Consul in memory of his father.

The Marble street.

The Amphitheater.

The entrance to the Basilica of St. John.

Reconstruction at the basilica.

Another scene at the Basilica.

In front of the Tomb of St. John.

The Castle of Kusadasi seen from the Basilica.

After our visit to Kusadasi we traveled the next day to Pamukkale,

Necropolis and Hieropolis.  Above is a picture of the Travertines.

Travertines, are the result of rich calcium content in the mineral

water from nearby thermal springs  that leaves behind amazing

crystallized land formations.

You could walk on some places in the formations,

but you could not wear your shoes.

The Theater of Hierapolis

The hot spring pool found at the rest center of Hierapolis. 

Interesting ruins at Hierapolis.

One of Turkeys snow capped Mountains.

An interesting building along the way.  Turkey is building thousands

of 4 and 5 story apartment building for their citizens.

Our next stop was at Konya, the home of the Cotton Castle. 

We had a day long drive from Pamukkale. 

Above is the Mevlana Museum (1274).

Grave markers in the courtyard of Mevlana Museum.

Sultanhani Kervansaray have been used since the 10th century.

Trade across Turkey in medieval Seljuk times was dependent on camel

trains (kervan, anglicized as caravan), which stopped

by night at inns known as kervansaray or caravanserai ,

literally 'caravan palaces'.

Inside of the Sultanhani Kervansaray located at Konya.

Gate 1 Foundation adopted Sehit Yumusak Primary School

in the of Sultanhani.  The Foundation has identified the most

crucial improvements that are necessary for an optimal

learning environment.  The school was established in 1995

and currently has 117 pupils attending the school.  Currently the

Gate 1 Foundation is building a cafeteria building next to the school. 

Previously the Foundation assisted in improving sanitary

facilities and general repairs to the school building.

A typical classroom.

Like American schools coats are hung in the hall ways.

Gate 1 travelers were encouraged to bring gifts to the

school for its students.  John was able to bring one of his unique

Kaleidoscopes for the school.  John is pictured with

some of the students and school staff.

The school principal with the kaleidoscope John gave the school.

On our way to Cappadocia we visited a rest stop with a MacDonald's. 

We did not visit the restaurant!

At the same rest stop we found these 8 ATMs to serve the travelers

needs.  It was very easy to use ATM in Turkey.

When we arrived in Cappadocia we went directly to visit a Carpet

atelier where we observed these ladies weaving carpets.

After demonstrations of silk processing and carpet weaving. 

We got the sales pitch for buying a carpet. 

Above is a photo of the many carpets that were for sale. 

As we drove along we stopped to take photos of this Turkish

Mountain.  It was a beautiful sight on a clear day.

The high point of this evening was a visit to a Whirling

Dervishes Performance.  The performance of Sufis is

called a Sema.  Part of the Sema ritual is a form of Sufi dance

that was born out of Rumi’s inspiration.  In the Sema,

the dancers are called “whirling dervishes”.

Due to the fact that temple where the Dervishes performed is

rather dark inside, and taking photos of their

dancing was difficult we have used two internet

photos to represent the performance we

saw rather than our dark photos.

Our second day in Cappadocia, we were up very early in

the morning to take a hot air balloon ride

over the the countryside of Cappadocia. 

Here is a photo of a balloon being heated up with

warm air prior to lift off. 

Our gate 1 group of fliers.

Hot Air Balloons everywhere, can you count them?

Our Balloon basket decorated for the post flight celebration.

Our balloon Pilot, Mustafa Aga, is toasting our successful flight. 

We were served champagne and cherry juice. 

This was one of those wonderful

once-in-life-time events!

Later in the day of touring in Cappadocia we visited a series

of underground caves.  This is the building to gain access to the caves.

Fairie Rocks found near Cappadocia.  They had interesting caps on top

of the various rock formations due to natural erosion.

More Fairie rock formations.

Camel rides were offered here.

More rock formations along the road we were traveling.

Our next stop of the morning was at the Open Air Museum.

One of the rock formations that were part of the Open Air Museum.

More interesting rock formations at the museum.

Our Gate 1 tour group being briefed by our tour Manager Mehmet.

Some of the original frescoes inside the carved out rooms

above are still visible.

There were several Temples were carved out of the volcanic

tufa rock formations in the park.

On day 11, of our trip we drove from Cappadocia to Ankara.

Carol is standing in front of Anitkabir. 

The Mausoleum of Kernal Ataturk, founder and first

president of the Turkish Republic.

There were honor guards from all four of Turkey's military corps

on duty at the Anitkabir where the Mausoleum.

Our next stop was at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum. 

The museum was built in two Ottoman buildings near

Ankara Castle.  The museum was experiencing a major renovation. 

Therefore the number of exhibits was very limited.

After our drive from Ankara to Istanbul we had an opportunity

to sail on the Bosphorus before going to our hotel.  It was a fun

experience due to the fact that the only passengers on the

boat were Gate 1 travelers.  We started our voyage from the

area near the Galata Bridge.

Stores and shops built in under the Galata Bridge.

The Mosque of Ortakoy

Bosphorus Boat Traffic.

Maiden's Tower.

The entrance to the Spice Bazaar near the harbor.  It was our

last stop of the day before our traditional farewell dinner. 

It was also Friday afternoon and the Bazaar was packed. 

Our farewell dinner was very nice and it was a pleasant

way to say goodbye to our newly made traveling friends. 

Tomorrow morning our group of 40 heads for their homes

in the USA and Canada. This was a terrific trip and a very

good travel value.  It is hard to imagine all the sights were saw

during our brief 11 day visit to Turkey.  We would recommend

this trip to everyone who wants to visit Turkey.

A last memory of a great trip to Turkey!