Phil & Marian in Goereme Turkey 1996

PHIL AND MARIAN RAUP VISIT TURKEY
April 14-29, 1996

The following journal was written by Marian about the trip she, husband Phil, daughter Martha, and partner Dianne took with Cultural Folk Tours.
The photos linked to the log were taken by Martha.

Sunday, April 14 - Donna Senauer picked Phil and me up at 8:00 a.m. to go to the airport on our way to New York, and then to Turkey.  We took a taxi to the Hotel Beverly at 50th and Lexington in New York City--a 20 minute ride from LaGuardia.  Martha and Dianne Joseph arrived about 5:00 p.m. and were assigned a room on the 20th floor which had a balcony, but no desk (we had a desk, but no balcony).

 

     Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Coffee Shop, diagonally across the street, with Phil, Jr., Marjorie, Chris, Donna Hill, Martha and Dianne was a joyous reunion.  We had a rather isolated table and the noise level was not bad.  Chris told us about his new job as a mechanical engineer, and Marjorie told us about her new job at NYU Medical Center, which she took so she could go to graduate school in the evening without paying tuition.  We all were in good spirits, anticipating our great adventure.

 

Monday, April 15 - Free rolls, orange juice and coffee in the hotel breakfast room was a pleasant start to a long day.  We checked out of the hotel at 10:45 a.m., left our bags in storage at the hotel, and walked to the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd between 5th and 6th Avenues.  As we were walking back to the hotel, we saw some interesting street drama.  A big bus was trapped and couldn't get around a car parked illegally at the curb.  Finally several hefty men lifted up the front end of the car and moved it over closer to the curb, and the bus moved on, to the great relief of the honking cars waiting behind.

 

     When we got back to the hotel to pick up our luggage, we found that my bag had been damaged.  Phil filed a complaint, and we (Martha, Dianne, Phil and I) left in the waiting limousine--a 45 minute ride to Kennedy airport.  The flight on Turkish airline, Airbus 340,  was fine.  We had good seats,  two side seats, rows 19 and 20.

 

     Departure was at 6:00 p.m.  We were served dinner at 7:30 p.m. and breakfast at 2:30 a.m.- both above average for an airline.  We saw a good movie, "Now and Then".  One nice touch was that we were given a packet when we went on board, containing shoe horn, eye masks, toothbrush, and a comb. 

 

Tuesday, April 16 - We arrived in Istanbul at 3:45 a.m. NY time, and at the Hotel DIVAN at 5:25 a.m. (12:25 p.m. local time).  We changed $100 at the airport and received 7,250,000 lira, so one dollar is worth 72,500 lira.  A guide, Bora Aytun, from the Cultural Folk Tours met us at the airport.  He speaks excellent English, because he had lived in London during his high school years.  He is 27 years old and engaged to be married.  There are only two other persons on this tour - two black women from New York City - Ruby Scott and Georgia Peachey.  They were very congenial and we had a friendly rapport.  Ruby is retired from Director of Graduate Studies at Hunter College in NYC; Georgia is a professional singer.

 

     We had a good nap after unpacking at the hotel, and later we walked with Bora to the Hosir Restaurant for an excellent meal.  We had a fresh vegetable salad, a carrot patty with yogurt, a crepe filled with a chicken sauce, lamb cut from a spit, called Docker, served with a kind of noodle, lamb roast served with rice, and a choice of pastry for dessert.  Bread was "pide", unleavened. 

 

Wednesday, April 17 - It rained gently off and on all day, so this was a bad omen for seeing the color of the tiles in the mosques and the stained glass windows.  We started off the day with a superb breakfast-- a buffet with everything imaginable.  I had a bowl with stewed fruit (cherries, figs, pears), orange juice, tomato juice, dark bread, cheese, sliced tomatoes and the delicious Helva--made from tahin (pureed sesame seed), with pistachios.

 

     At 9:00 a.m. a bus took us to the Sultanahmet district, at the tip of the Saray Burnu peninsula, where the places we wanted to visit were all within walking distance.  There was the Egyptian Obelisk (impressive) and the Serpentine Column, the Blue Mosque with its 6 minarets- disappointing to me.  This mosque was built in 1609-16 for Sultan Ahmet I.  There were few colorful ceramic tiles on the walls, which I had hoped for, after having seen the beautiful mosques in Iran.  There were 4 massive, fluted columns to support the 70' diameter dome, covered with blue tiles.  Of course, we all had to take off our shoes and leave them at the entrance to the mosque.  The floor was covered with Turkish carpets.

 

     We walked a short distance to the Church of Hagia Sophia, a Christian basilica thought to have been built by Emperor Constantine.  It was destroyed by fire.  The present building was commissioned by Justinian, and completed in 537 AD.  The last Christian service was on May 28, 1453, the day before Constantinople fell to the Turks.  Mehmet converted the building to an imperial mosque.  In 1935 Ataturk proclaimed it should be a museum.  (Therefore, we didn't have to take off our shoes before entering.)  Little remains of the decorations that once covered the walls, but at the east end of the gallery are a few mosaics which I photographed--a 13th century mosaic showing Christ flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and on another wall are 2 mosaics showing Byzantine emperors and empresses making an offering to Christ on the throne (to the left) and to the Virgin and Child.

 

     Next we walked to the Basilica Cistern, built during the Byzantine Period- first half of 6th century by Emperor Justinian.  There are 336 marble or granite columns - the distance between them is around 4.8 meters.  The cistern was used to provide water to the palace and other official buildings during the Ottoman Period.  In 1985 there was a thorough restoration and walkways were built, so that visitors could view the interior of the cistern.  It is now a tourist attraction, not a functioning cistern.  Water is about 2' high, and there are fish in it to keep the water clean.

 

     We had lunch at a small cafeteria, Haci Baba, then walked to the Topkapi Palace.  This was the residence and seat of government of the Ottoman sultans from 1462.  It was a miniature city, supporting 4,000 people.  It was abandoned by 1909, since the Dolmabahçe Palace which was built in 1853, was now the official residence of the ruling Sultan.  Most of Topkapi Palace is devoid of furniture, but we went through the extensive kitchens, where beautiful Chinese china is exhibited, some Japanese china, as well as silver, and big cooking pots. 

 

     The Harem was closed.  We visited the Treasury and saw among other jewels, an 86 carat diamond necklace.  We visited some other fully tiled rooms, including the Tiled Kiosk (which I photo- graphed).  We returned to our hotel at 3:00 p.m. for a much needed nap.  Dinner was at a nearby restaurant--not distinguished.

 

Thursday, Apr. 18 - Another delicious breakfast, and a bus ride on a 40 seat comfortable bus to Ankara.  Starting out on a dull, rainy day, weather improved and the sun came out for awhile.  But we had to leave the superhighway at one point where they were building a tunnel.  It was a 2 lane road and not very good.  It started snowing when we stopped for lunch.  But after we had crossed the summit, the snow stopped.  We were then on an extended plateau, and the sun was shining.  (Still on the detour, I took a picture of a village mosque.)

 

     The bus trip took five and one-half hours.  Ankara is a city of four and one-half million people.  (Istanbul is 13 million.)  We were taken to the Merit Hotel.  Phil and I decided to nap, but the other four walked toward the city center.  After about five blocks, though, it started to snow, so they returned to the hotel.

 

     Dinner in the hotel dining room was elegantly served, with candles on our table.  We assembled about 7:15 p.m. at a round table.  It was quiet and we had interesting discussions until the music started--piano, bass viol and drum.

 

Friday, Apr. 19 - We visited the Anatolian Civilization Museum, an excellently displayed collection of prehistoric objects, from as early as the 6th millennium BC, to the Anatolian Civilization from 7th century BC on.  (I took a few photographs of this remarkable collection.)  Next we went to the Ethnographical Museum which had exhibits of clothing and ways of living. 

 

     We stopped at a Spice Market, where Phil and I purchased some dried figs and pistachios-very good.  (The military presence is prominent.  Turkey has 400,000 soldiers in its army, the largest in NATO.)  Lunch at a busy restaurant, Urfali, a pizzeria near our hotel.  I ordered a Turkish pizza.  It was thin, and Bora showed us how to roll it up and eat it that way.

 

     In the afternoon we visited the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, high on a hill.  We had a drive through the city, passed Embassy Row, and stopped for 45 minutes at the shopping mall adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel.  Dinner at the Hotel Merit was a good buffet.  We are eating too much.  Must cut back.

 

Saturday, Apr. 20 - It was sunny all day.  We left for Cappadocia at 8:30 a.m.  It was mostly on a two lane highway.  Phil likened the terrain to the wheat county in Idaho--green rolling hills.  People live in villages and farm communally.  We passed the large salt lake, Tuz Golu (highway 750 to Aksaray).  I took a picture of a mosque at Sereflikothisar, a small village.  Traffic was light in this area.  For a 20 minute period I counted 40 trucks, 27 cars, 2 buses, a man on a donkey, and 2 men on a motorcycle.

 

     We had lunch at a new cafeteria in Aksaray.  On Highway 300 about 30 minutes away from Aksaray, we stopped at the Agzikaraha Caravanserai, a safe haven built for camel drivers in 1231.  It was actually a fortress and no one was allowed inside after sundown.  There were merchants selling rugs and other attractive handicrafts.

 

     Twenty kilometers from Nevsehir we stopped to see the underground city of Kaymakli.  This is really fantastic, and the fact that Phil and I, two eighty year olds, could get through the 25 minute walk in the underground tunnels, much of it while bending double, going down four stories, then up four stories--well, we must be in pretty good shape.  There were lots of tempting handicrafts at the entrance.

 

     I took a picture from the bus, trying to show the solar panels on roofs for heating water in the newer houses.  Next we stopped at a local winery and sipped some of their wine (I didn't like their white wine, although the red was much better), before driving on to Urg_p (Cappadocia region) to the Hotel Dinler.  This was rated as a 4 star hotel, but in my rating only 2 stars, as it was shoddily built and only the necessities were provided.  Martha and Georgia took a Turkish bath here, but they said the masseur was much too rough.  Martha had black and blue spots the next day.

 

Sunday, Apr. 21 - It was cloudy, with a misty rain most of the day.  It was cold!  We went to Goreme to an Open Air Museum, where churches cut into the surrounding cliffs are amazingly preserved.  We visited the Church of St. Patrick, the Church of St. George, Church of St. Barbara, the Snake Church, the Dark Church, and the Sandal Church.   The frescoes in these churches, which date from the 9th to the 11th centuries, are truly amazing, and are some of the finest in Cappadocia.  The frescoes depicted Christ, the apostles and other Bible scenes.

 

     We lunched at Uchisar, then visited a rug merchant's shop.  After being served apple tea or Turkish coffee, they started laying down rugs for us to see.  I liked the first one, and after much negotiating, it was ours to carry home in a zippered bag which they provided.  It seemed like it weighed a ton, but when we weighed it at home, it was a mere 54 pounds.   Martha and Dianne also bought a smaller, but very fine rug.  Georgia bought some small ones, too.

Next we stopped at a village, Cavusin, and walked down the road a ways.  One of the boys playing in the road knew some English and wanted to talk.  Martha had quite a conversation with him and took pictures of all of them.

 

     In the evening we had dinner at the Hotel Yemeni in Uchisar.  They have a nightly folkloric program with dancing and a band.  Martha joined the crowd in dancing after the regular performance and had a great time.  Her partner, Tezcan Kayalar, was the 18 year old son of our bus driver, who came along on the trip to serve as porter and host (bringing us hot tea on long rides).

 

Monday, Apr. 22 - Sunny.  We left the hotel at 7:00 a.m. for Pamukkale.  We took Hwy 300 - Nevsehir, Aksaray, Konya.  Fields are often marked off by rows of stones, indicating the stony soil.  We stopped at a large, new Mobil station outside of Konya for a bathroom stop.  This was the first place where we did not have to pay an attendant 10,000 lira to go in.  Some of the restrooms have been messy, but this Mobil one was clean, with soap and an electric dryer.  My enthusiasm was dampened, though, when I found out there were no toilets, only a hole in a concrete block on the floor.  But, an improvement over the others; there was a pitcher under a faucet near the floor, so one could wash down one's elimination. [Marian got her shoes shined.]

 

     In Konya we stopped at the Melvana Museum.  It was carpeted   and, of course, we had to take off our shoes and wear a headscarf.  This is one of the most important Islamic shrines in Turkey.  We noticed many of the women wearing the Moslem dress- a head scarf and a long coat, called a salvar.  I wanted to take their pictures, but hesitated, usually getting a picture from the back.

 

     Melvana was born in Afghanistan in 1207.  He believed in equality of people, and he started Aksehir groups of believers called SOFI.  Martha said there are a couple of Sofi groups in San Francisco.  In the Mausoleum are 65 tombs that belong to friends and followers of Melvana.  There were exhibits of Turkish musical instruments and many illuminated Korans and other books.  An illustration of an old method of writing music was interesting to me.

 

     After Konya we continued on Hwy 300 to Aksehir, where we stopped for lunch.  Then on to Cay, in the mountains on winding roads, then to Dinar.  We have seen several horse drawn carts on the highway.  Planting trees is one of their priorities.  Almond and apricot trees are in bloom.  One sees lots of sheep and goats.  Farmers use small tractors, as well as horse drawn plows in the fields.

 

     Hwy 320 to Dzakiri, Cardak, to Pamukkale.  Here the first attraction was the 'petrified waterfalls" formed by hot springs containing calcium carbonate, cascading down the hillside.  It appears like white travertine.  There are places where one can bathe in the warm spring water.  Martha, Dianne and Georgia went wading in it.

 

     We checked into the Hotel Ergur.  Dinner was a buffet at the hotel.  They had a big dining room, and there were 6 or 7 bus loads of tourists here overnight.  About 9:30 p.m., after Phil was asleep and I was in bed, there was a knock on the door.  I didn't answer it.  A second, louder knock.  Just as I was getting out of bed I saw two young men come in the room.  I said, loudly, "Phil, someone is in our room."  They turned around and walked out.  I could see them plainly, because I had left open the bathroom door and the light was on.  Phil didn't even wake up.  Someone also tried to enter the room of Ruby and Georgia, but Ruby screamed.  We reported it the next morning.

 

Tuesday, Apr. 23 - The sun went in and out of the clouds, but it was mostly sunny.  We left on the bus at 8:30 a.m. to go to Hierapolis, which was quite close.  The ruins lie scattered on the hillside above the travertine terraces.  The city was first mentioned in the 2nd century BC, and prospered during Roman times as a commercial center and spa town.  The theater is exceptionally well preserved.

 

     Cotton is grown in this area.  We drove through the towns of Denizli, and Tavas, the wealthiest town per capita in Turkey.  There are only 7,000 people, but there are 17 mosques.  There is a custom in Moslem cultures, that if you build a mosque, you will have a good afterlife, so most of the modern mosques are built by private persons.  In the Maender Valley peaches and oranges are grown and garden vegetables. 

 

     We stopped at ruins of Aphrodisias, high on a mountain-ringed plateau above the Meander valley.  This city flourished from the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD.  It was noted for its school of sculpture, sustained by nearby marble quarries.  There was a large amphitheater.  Tobacco, grapes, and pistachios are grown in this area.

 

     We saw many unfinished buildings all over Turkey, which is a result of the 80% inflation rate--there is no cost for time.  We went to the Anatolia restaurant, whose specialty is trout.  There were flowering apricot or cherry trees in the yard. 

 

     Our afternoon route took us through Kuyucak, Buharkent, Buldan, Arigol, Alesehir, Salihi, Sardes, to Izmir.  Sardes is 60 miles east of Izmir.  The town reached its peak during the reign of King Croesus (560-546 BC)  It was the former capital of ancient Lydia, where the world's first coinage was invented.  Croesus attacked the Persians and was defeated.  The city became part of the kingdom of Pergamum.  We saw the Baths (Gymnasium-2nd-3rd century AD), the synagogue (the floor was once covered with mosaics, but only fragments remain).  There is a magnificently restored Marble Court, decorated with marble columns.  Note the striated walls of the Synagogue.  Lots of vineyards and olive trees.

 

     A couple of times during the trip Phil gave explanations of what we were seeing: (l) concerning inflation and unfinished buildings; (2) cutting of trees and siltation, which  caused the ports to recede.  Ephesus (Efes) was formerly a port city, but no longer is. 

    

     We arrived at the Izmir Hilton at 6:30 p.m.   It was such a treat after the minimum accoutrements of comfort offered by the Hotel Ergur in Pamukkale.  Dinner was a buffet in the 9th floor dining room, with a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea.  We met Bora's parents, who live in Izmir, when they came to have dinner with him.  Midway through our meal, the Turkish musical ensemble of 8 musicians began to play their loud and inharmonic music, so we didn't linger.

 

Wednesday, April 24 - We drove south about 50 miles to the site of Ephesus, which is about 10 miles inland from Kusadasi.  This is one of the best preserved of Turkey's ancient cities.  Originally, Ephesus had a fine natural harbor, but by the 3rd century it had silted up and the city went into decline.  The site was discovered by a British archaeologist in 1869 after six years of searching.  Most of the ruins date from the Roman period, between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD.  First we visited the Church of the Virgin Mary in the hills above Ephesus, then back to the plains to view the ruins of the Odeon (the council chamber) with its semi-circular seats, walked the marble-paved Street of the Curetes, past the Fountain of Trajan, and beyond it the Temple of Hadrian with its arched doorway, and viewed the mosaics in front of the terrace houses. 

 

     The imposing facade of the Library of Celsus, built in 110 AD, was restored in the 1970's.  Statues of the four virtues, Wisdom, Valor, Thought and Knowledge, are placed between the columns. 

Marble Street leads from the library to the Great Theater, which provided seating for 25,000 people.  This is the largest Greco-Roman theater in the world, with 3 levels of seats.  In the book of Acts in the Bible, it is mentioned that Paul stayed in Ephesus three years.  From the top rows of seats one can see the Arcadian Way, the city's colonnaded main street.

 

     We had lunch at an outdoor restaurant set up to serve tour groups, then went to the Ephesus Archeological Museum.  After that we were taken to a leather sales shop.  They sat us down to see a leather style show, but preceded that by serving us hot apple tea.  Three models, two men and a woman, showed their leather coats and jackets; they were very nice, but rather expensive.  We bought a man's billfold, but no one else of our group bought anything.  The sales people tried to high pressure us, which wasn't very effective.  After returning to the hotel, I went to the hotel beauty salon to have my hair washed and set.  They had a peculiar dryer, composed of three parts, which surrounded the head.  I thought it was so strange, I took my own picture, when no one was looking.

 

     Dinner at the Hilton was a good buffet.  There was quiet, western type music.  Phil and I walked to the Aegean coast (about 4 blocks) after dinner.  I was pestered by a man offering to polish my shoes.  It is pathetic that people are so desperate for money.

 

Thursday, April 25 - Sunny, about 65-70 degrees.  We left the hotel at 8:30 a.m.   The first stop was Bergama, whose ancient name was Pergamum.   This was about 60 miles straight north of Izmir, along the coast.  In the 2nd century BC, Pergamum was one of the most splendid cities on the Aegean coast.  One of the cities' greatest innovations was the use of treated animal skins for writing material.  This enabled Pergamum to amass a great library.  The skins of calves, goats and sheep were washed and depilated, then stretched on a frame and scraped to remove any remaining traces of hair and flesh.  The skins were then whitened with chalk and smoothed with pumice stones.  The finished material was called parchment; it was smooth, flexible, durable, and both sides could be written on.

 

     There are four sites that have been excavated at Pergamum.  We visited the Asclepion, which was one of the ancient world's leading medical centers.  The entrance to the site is along a colonnaded street, the Sacred Way.  On the right are the remains of the library, and a well-preserved colonnade which leads to the 3,000 seat theater.  We went through a tunnel to the recreation area; it was underground, and lots of arches were used to hold up the roof.

 

     Much of the road skirted the Aegean Sea; we passed salt settling fields for collecting salt.  There were lots of olive trees, some of them over 1,000 years old, and an olive oil factory.  Lunch was at Burhaniye on the Aegean coast.  The food was fine--a real Turkish experience.  We had been told that we were on our own resources for lunch.  We wandered into a supermarket.  Martha saw a boy, about 11 years old, and asked him if he spoke English.  He said "yes", so she asked him if he knew where there was a restaurant.  He smiled, said "yes", and led us to the outside door, and pointed out a restaurant across the piazza.  She took his picture; he was a nice looking child. 

 

     As we drove along the Aegean coast there were many, many summer homes.  Bora said everyone aspires to have a 2nd home on the coast.  We stopped at a wayside market, where spices, nuts, etc. were sold, so I bought a package of spices.  Leaving the coast, we drove into the mountains with a lot of switch-backs as we climbed.  About 20 miles south of Canakkale (pronounced sh-knock'kala) we stopped to visit the legendary city of Troy.  To date, nine different Troys have been discovered, all built one on top of the other.  This site was identified as Homer's Troy in 1871 by an amateur German archeologist, Heinrich Schliemann.  He stole a cache of gold jewelry which he believed to be "Priam's treasure", eventually giving it to a museum in Berlin.  It vanished during World War II, but reappeared in Moscow in 1993. 

 

     We, of course, saw the modern version of a Wooden Horse, made famous by Homer's Iliad; the ruse dreamed up by Odysseus to hide Greek soldiers in the belly of a wooden horse, and the sack of Troy that followed.  I photographed Martha and Dianne waving to me from a window in the upper part of the wooden horse.  The various levels of the ruins at Troy can be confusing  but we were shown part of the wall of Troy IX, and the massive fortifications of Troy VI; a ramp at the southwest gate of Troy II, now crossed by a wooden footbridge, is the place where Schliemann found the gold jewelry.

 

     Then back to the plains and to Canakkale at the Strait of the Dardanelles.  At the Akol Hotel we had a room with a beautiful view of the Aegean Sea.  Dinner was a buffet.  A noticeable difference with other buffet dinners was that there was only one dessert.  That was fine with me, because the wide variety of desserts is too tempting.  Phil and I walked along the boardwalk after dinner.

     

Friday, Apr. 26 - We left the hotel at 8:00 a.m., heading for Bursa, about 175 miles.  We drove along the coast, and stopped briefly at the point where the Allied forces were stopped in the First World War. It was a very bloody bayonet war that lasted nine minutes.  Bora attributed the Turkish success to Ataturk's command to the soldiers, "Go forward and die for your country".  This force of 2,000 were all killed.

 

     In Bursa we had lunch at a nice restaurant where the specialty was lamb cut from a perpendicular roasting spit, called donar, and fresh tomatoes on a pizza base.  It was well-flavored.  We visited the Green Tomb (an octagonal building), so called from the turquoise tiles on its walls, inside and out.  Then we went to  the Green Mosque (across the street), commissioned by Mehmet I in 1419.  The interior is decorated with Iznik tiles of blue, yellow, green and turquoise. 

    

     Next to the Green Mosque was a shop that sold a lot of good quality Turkish products; Bora suggested that we could get some good quality silk there, since Bursa is the major silk producing center in Turkey.  They weren't cheap, and they wouldn't bargain, but we got two scarves anyway.

 

     We checked in at the Kervansaray Hotel, outside the city center.  This hotel has been built on a steep slope, and is attached to an old Turkish bath built in 1511.  I would like to have  walked down the street we drove through, with the typical small shops for local residents, but it was too far from the hotel, and I didn't feel secure in taking a taxi.  So. after a rest, Phil and I walked outside near the hotel, then read our newspapers in the lobby.  As we were sitting there, people and flowers kept arriving for a wedding supper to be held downstairs,  I took a few pictures.  Dinner was a buffet in the hotel.  It is a good hotel, but the door had no security lock.

 

Saturday, Apr. 27 - Departure at 8:30 a.m..  I began getting a sore throat last night, and I have a real cold today.  At Phil's request we stopped at a cattle and sheep market at a town, Orhangazi, before we went into the mountains.  Our guide, Bora, said he couldn't stand the odor, and he returned to the bus, but he did some translating for Phil first.

 

     We stopped at a Shell Station for a bathroom stop shortly before getting to the ferry.  There was a woman at the entrance of the restroom, called a W.C., collecting 10,000 lira (about 15 cents), and giving each person two paper napkins.  Collecting a fee is standard, but getting toilet paper can't be counted on.

 

     We entered the ferry at Yalova, to cross the Sea of Marmara to Istanbul (the western part of Turkey, located in Europe, is called Thrace).  It was a smooth ride, took about 30 minutes,  but the weather was hazy, so we couldn't see very far.   The superhighway going into Istanbul is very good, but some of the secondary roads were really second-rate, and rough riding.

 

     The Suleyman Mosque was closed for prayers after we had lunch, so we were driven to the former church of St. Savior in Chora.  This is one of the best preserved monuments of Byzantine art.  The church was rebuilt, and the mosaics and frescoes date from 1310-1320 AD.  It was very impressive.  We then drove along the city wall and observed the Byzantine masonry, with rows of red bricks interspersed with the rows of grey stone.  We crossed a body of water called the Golden Horn on the Galata Bridge which was opened in 1992.  This is an inlet of the Bosphorus of 4.5 miles into the hills behind the city.

 

     We were then taken to the Military Museum.  This surprised me by being very interesting.  Some soldiers put on a parade demonstration, all dressed in lavish costumes, and sang and played their instruments.  The museum itself has a variety of objects besides swords.  Many tents, open on one side, were displayed, made out of Turkish carpets.

 

     Our bus driver, Birol Kayalar, took us to a restaurant for dinner near the Golden Horn, where he left us for another assignment.  His 18 year old son, Tezcan, who had assisted with our baggage, smilingly said goodbye.  Martha gave him a French kiss, as a special tribute to her congenial dancing partner.

 

     This was a fish restaurant, and we were served a variety of hors d'oeuvres and fish, capped by a plate of fresh fruit--pears, strawberries, and oranges.  Bora's fiancée had come to join us, a very attractive young woman who is an airline stewardess for Turkish airlines; she often flies to New York.  Bora's brother and his wife also came to the dinner.  The latter manages the Cultural Tours Istanbul office.

 

Sunday, Apr. 28 - After another delicious breakfast (including round rolls covered with sesame seeds, and the sesame sweet called Helva), we left at 9:00 a.m. to see the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent.  Here, again, we had to take off our shoes, to walk on the carpets which covered the floors.  The carpets are woven so there is a rectangular space just the right size for each man in a praying position, head touching floor.  There were some beautiful stained glass windows.  The stone arches, which had a slight point at the top, were made of alternating grey and brownish-red stones. 

     From there we had a ride on the Bosporus, the narrow strip of water which connects the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.  The boat was packed with a polyglot mixture of people.  I spoke with a couple from Argentina and one from Israel.  There are expensive villas along the water's edge.  As we were leaving we saw a woman who was dressed all in black and only her eyes showed.  She was wearing black gloves.  Poor lady!

 

     Bora had the bus leave us at our hotel and said we were on our own.  I said I wanted to eat at McDonald's, which was about 3 blocks from the hotel, so the six of us walked there together.  The hamburger and milk shake were very good.  For the two of us it was 465,000 lira, or about $6.50 (($1.00 equals 72,500 lira this week).  After that the other four went walking and shopping down the avenue. 

 

     Phil and I took a taxi to the Dolmabahçe Palace, built in 1853.  It is supposed to be a lavish monument to the reigning sultan in the Ottoman Empire, but it was closed, because this is a holy day.  After walking in the grounds, we had a cup of coffee/tea and sat on the terrace, watching the ships on the Bosphorus.  In the evening we had dinner with the other four at the same restaurant where we had gone the first night.  We had our dessert on the street--an icecream cone from MacDonalds--just as good as at home. 

 

Monday, Apr. 29 - Bora was at the hotel to pick us up at 8:00 a.m.  We unloaded our baggage at the airport, and he gave us each the French kiss goodbye.  We spent our lasts lira and were ready for boarding at 10:00 a.m.   The plane took off at ll:20 a.m., and we arrived in N.Y. at 9:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. N.Y. time - 7 hours difference)  We had a little difficulty at customs because of the rug.  Hand-made art works get in free, but utilitarian rugs are taxed.  They finally let us through without paying duty on the rug.  We took a taxi from Kennedy airport to LaGuardia.  We talked to Phil, Jr. and to Chris at the airport.  Chris said he had landed an even better job, with Brooklyn Union Gas, so we congratulated him.  We arrived in St. Paul about 7:00 p.m. local time, and took a taxi home.  Martha and Dianne had left from Kennedy, and their flight, of course, brought them home later.  We all agree, even Phil, that the trip to Turkey was an outstanding success.