A Travellerspoint blog

Is The Wife of a Sultan called a Sultana?

Life in the Harem......

sunny 15 °C
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Today was our first full day in Istanbul and we have survived a gruelling day of touring. We have found that walking on 4 to 6 century old marble is very taxing on our feet and backs! However, that said, we had a great day.

Our hotel is located in Old Istanbul, just steps from the main tram line. As I write this post we can hear the trolley bell!

So it was off first to Topkapi Palace, which is essentially the National Museum. 16.5 hectares of land makes up the Palace. One of our stops was to the Harem where we gained a sense of of life in the palace. Women in the Harem were chosen for their special talents, singing, speaking multiple language, musical and artistic ability. The Sultan would walk down the Corridor of Gold, throwing gold coins to the members of the Harem. We suspect the most talented got the most gold!

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No visit to Topkapi would be complete without a visit to the Treasury, where we saw some of the most incredible diamonds, emeralds and rubies. While some found the favorite to be the 86 karat diamond, crusted with other diamonds my favorite were the emeralds that were bigger than golf balls and smaller than lemons. Oh, to have just one or two of those jewels.

We enjoyed a typical Turkish lunch with kebabs, lentil soup and baklava!!

No rest for this group - it was off to the Hippodrome (which no longer exist due to extreme earthquakes). The Egyptian Obelisk from 3500 years ago is still in tact.

Next our ladies donned our head scarves and the group headed to the Blue Mosque, the second largest mosque of importance after Mecca. Due to the design which incorporated six minarets, Mecca was required to build a seventh minaret so as to be the most important mosque! Over 20,000 distinct tiles adorn the inside of the mosque. It is pretty hard to describe but here is a couple of photos to try and tell the story!

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The group scattered, we witnessed a feeding frenzy of Muslim women eating corn on the cob from a vendor, bartered for ice cream cones (which proved hugely amusing) and some of the group visited the Basillica Cistern, an underground cistern that has been partially restored. A couple of even found a pub, a pint of cold birra and the Russia/Finland hockey game. Who knew the Turks are Russian hockey fans?

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Off to Gallipoli, Troy and Canakkale tomorrow. Thanks for reading our blog - today's entry was a joint entry from Carla, Sue and Jona!

Posted by jonaway 09:35 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

Istanbul....not Constantinopalis

overcast 11 °C
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Hello again. It is amazing what a few hours sleep will do. Everyone is up this morning after a bit of a sleep in. For the most part everyone should be on Turkey time!

Let me tell you a bit about our first impressions of Istanbul - we are in love with the city and the country and we have just barely arrived. Even at midnight the airport was buzzing with activity. After relieving us all of $60.00 USD for a Turkish visa we were through customs and being welcomed by our tour guide, Omer! It was on to our luxury Mercedes coach and in to the city.

The first impression of the city is that of a very modern city, not quite what I expected. Compared to Cairo, Istanbul is paved roads, modern apartments and, seemingly, quite clean. I was actually very surprised. As we rounded the corner we caught our first glimpse of the night-lit Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The minarets were all lit up and looked captivating.

Looking at the ancient walls of the 'old city' you might have thought you were in Quebec City! And then we really got our first taste of Istanbul. We were transported back in time as our very large coach moved through the narrow streets. We stopped to help push a broken down truck (see the photo below).

We arrived close to our hotel and unloaded all of our luggage. A short walk down another narrow street brought us to the Q Inn. A lovely little property in a great location. After after 20 hours of travelling the bed certainly seemed like the most appealing part of the room. However, we opted to check out the local bar for a well deserved beer. Did I mention how friendly everyone is in Istanbul? As we entered the bar we were invited to join a group of rowdy locals. Being the shy types that we are we opted for our own table. The beer was good and cold (and cheap - $3.00). Everyone came by our table to introduce themselves and invited us back again tonight.

This morning we were greeted with a typical Turkish breakfast; olives, cheeses of many varieties, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread (a Middle East staple) and Nutella. The only thing we are missing is coffee - the hotel serves very strong tea! Oh well!!!!!

We are off for a full day of touring - off to Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Pallace and the Hippodrome....there may even be some shopping as there are so many opportunities!

Later.

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Posted by jonaway 22:45 Archived in Turkey Tagged and street bus a down broken narrow Comments (0)

Travel Day

by Jona Way

Lyi sabahlar! Good Morning from Istanbul.

We have arrived safe and sound! It was no easy task to get out of Calgary, suffering through an almost three hour delay. Our group handled it very well. We hit some strong headwinds and arrived mid afternoon in London. The good news was that our four hour connection was down to one hour. We simply went through security and got on our next flight. And then, what a surprise...we were all upgraded to business class from London to Istanbul. Now it will be hard to go back to economy class.

Watch for another post on our first impressions of Istanbul going up soon.

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Posted by jonaway 22:04 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

Exams are almost done!

snow 0 °C

Our countdown clock shows 9 days till departure. Time to dig out that suitcase or backpack and bring out the summer clothes! It seems that Istanbul is having similar weather to Calgary right now although their precipitation is in the form of rain not snow. The forecast is for warmer, Spring like weather next week. It can only get better!

Our final planning meeting is today - I am sure this will increase the excitement level of all of our travellers.

Check back with our blog often. We hope to have regular posts along our journey.

Posted by jonaway 08:05 Archived in Canada Comments (4)

2 Months and counting

Welcome to the SAIT Travel and Tourism blog in which we will share some many of our upcoming adventure! Previously our students have ventured south to Central America, west to China and east to Europe and Egypt. This year we will be travelling with 26 students and instructors on a 12 day trip to Turkey, where East truly meets the West, where Asia meets Europe. I think this is described as the best of both worlds - what an experience awaits us!

We had a planning meeting on Friday and received our finalized itinerary:

May 7th - Calgary to Istanbul, via London, Heathrow - travelling on British Airways
May 8th - Arrival in Istanbul
May 9th - Full day in Istanbul, including visits to the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome and Haghia Sophia
May 10th - Our tour bus awaits and on to our first stop in Canakkale. Sights will include Gallipoli, crossing the Dardanelles (entering Asia) and on to Troy.
May 11th - Canakkale to Kusadasi - enroute we will visit Pergamon, the Acropolis, Temple of Trajan, Dionysos, Zeus, Athena and the Seven Churches of Revelation.
May 12th - Kusadasi to Pamukkale - stops will include House of the Virgin Mary in Selcuk, Ephesus, Temple of Artemis and the Antique City of Hierapolis and the calcareous hot springs. Our stay is at a thermal spa hotel!
May 13th - Pamukkale to Cappadocia, via Konya and Mevlana, home to the Whirling Dervishes
May 14th - Cappadocia - today we will visit the Underground Cities and the Goreme Valley. Stops will include a pottery factory and a carpet store.
May 15th - Cappadocia to Istanbul - travelling the famous silk and spice route back to the bustling metropolis on Istanbul.
May 16th - Istanbul - tour to Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar for some shopping
May 17th - a day of leisure with a optional trip to the Spice Market and a cruise on around Istanbul
May 18th - time to pack and check in for our flight home.

From the looks of our itinerary it may be a very good thing that we have two students, both history buffs, to help us with the significance of all we will see along our journey.

We are looking forward to a meeting with one of our students who is from Turkey. He will be helping us with all those necessary phrases in Turkish!

Jona

Posted by jonaway 15:20 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

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