Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday 8th – Wednesday 9th September
Well, what an experience Istanbul was! We arrived in a heavy thunder storm early in the morning but due to the fact that the port is very busy and you have to wait your turn to dock, we were very late docking. When in Rome (in this case Turkey) you do as the Romans do. As a result of our late arrival all tours had to be adjusted to suite. We hadn’t booked as we have chosen to take a tour of our choice on stand by. That way, when armed with as much information as the tour lecturer gives we can decide shortly before a tour if we want to take it or do our own thing. At one stage we thought we might miss out in Istanbul but our luck held out and we got on one which was supposed to leave about 7.30 but it was more like 11.30 when we left. This three and a half hour tour lasted about 6 hours. This wasn’t because we saw any more that the tour indicated, it just meant we spent a hell of a lot of time stuck in traffic. We thought Naples was bad but Istanbul takes the cake, even worse than we have found in KL on a visit there. The place is full of tour busses, public busses and trams, people pulling barrows and private cars all wanting their share of the many narrow roads. We really admires the skill of the drivers as you see very few cars with dings in them. The bus drivers could go where, I’m sure none of our local drivers, would dare to go. What did we see? We crossed over the Bospourus (spelling?) from the European continent into the Asian continent to a coffee stop with a view from a very high hill overlooking all of Istanbul. We then came back and crossed the Golden Horn ( a natural waterway) into Old Istanbul, past the ancient aquaduct and a new dig where they were planning to put a station for the new unfinished underground system. In this dig they found (I think) 7 wooden ships in an ancient harbour so the station will be on hold for quite some time. Then we drove slowly past the Blue Mosque (not part of our tour) and on to a carpet factory outlet and enjoyed an apple tea while they showed us their wares and then to the Grand Bazaar. We were allowed about an hour at the Bazaar but didn’t see much of it. We were afraid we may get lost in there as it is huge and all under cover, so we stuck to the centre alley.
We met our tour guide outside at a designated location and then walked to St Sophia built in the year 300 and is under restoration. It took only 7 years to build with slave labour. It has been used for both a Christian church and a Mosque. The inside is all marble. Considering this area gets earthquakes regularly it is amazing that it is still standing in such good condition. There is too much to tell you about this church in this page but it’s worth looking into it’s history. We then had another 15 minute walk to get our bus and back to the ship. We missed lunch and did more walking than expected but it was a great tour. The GD managed to smuggle himself a bread roll out for his lunch. If he hadn’t he would have been in serious trouble.

Wednesday: I woke this morning with the aftermath of all our walking with a very sore knee – old Arthur playing up! Hope it improves for Rhodes tomorrow. We sailed into Anzac Cove this morning and there were two services held on the open deck, one at sunrise and another at 11am. We attended the very moving 11am service. We were only able to get within a mile of the beach but the monument was clearly visible and by blowing up our photos you could make out the white crosses. The sun came out just long enough for the service. Then the clouds moved in again and it has become quite cool.
There’s two more ports and then the Suez if all goes according to plan.

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