Simone & Brent - Europe & more... travel blog

So where did we leave off last – oh yeah izmir. So from izmir we drove to Pergamum to see the acropol (like acropolis) which basically means that the city was built on the highest elevation in the area. The city itself was built on the mount and the residential areas were built on the lower grounds – some of the houses are still in place. So the acropol basically consisted of 7 palaces where the aristocrats lived, a library (which housed 200,000 parchments) which was eventually burnt out when the Islamic sultan came into reign and thought that nothing was worth reading but the koran. There was also at some stage the temple of zeus and a temple of athena which were sold to berlin when this same sultan took over the reign because he didn't want to give worship to idols – its paganistic. There was also a theater and a gymnasium as well as a temple of Trojan (which was barely standing).

In the afternoon we drove along the agean coast to Troy. The city of Troy was actually built 6 times due to wars and earthquakes and each time the city walls were expanded. So most people probably know the story of troy so i wont go into it, but basically battles, and a wooden horse until achilles is killed by paris then him and helen run away meanwhile the greeks take over Troy for like 500 years. So we got to see some of the remaining city walls from the 1st troy. Then we drove to our stop for the night in canakkale. Canakkale is beautiful its a beach town so we wandered along the beach front before calling it a day. On thursday the 17th we crossed the dardanelles to Gallipoli. It was really interesting to see anzac cove and see the ascent that our troops would have had to make which was pretty treacherous. It was also good to hear the stories of the anzacs interactions with the turks – there was no animosity towards each other they were all just doing their jobs, at night a guy called Johnson would entertain the aussie troops whilst a guy called Mehmet would entertain the turks, while the opposing sides (their trenches only 8m from each other) would swap coffee for cigarettes and enjoy each others shows until one day the turks asked the aussies 'where is your johnson tonight' and they reply 'you killed him today' the same thing happened with mehmet only days later. There was also Simpson who was known to have carried the wounded of both sides to medical care with his donkey. we also saw lone pine before leaving and driving the 3 hours to Istanbul.

On friday we said goodbye to our guide Senay and joined our new guide Mehmet (every second person seems to be called mehmet here its like the spiros of greece). First up we visited Topkapi palace this is where the sultans lived and it was huge – it had 4 courtyards, a treasury, an audience hall, an imperial council hall, a library, a mosque, a mass arse kitchen, fountails, a circumcision room, stables, a privy chambers of the sacred trust (where relics of the religion of islam are held) and of course the harem cos the sultan could have as many hussys as he wanted. This was clearly the most impressive place in the palace as it was covered in tiles and was very pretty with all the different rooms decorated differently, it was impressive. So then we went to see the blue mosque but being prayer time on a friday (the day that everyone is supposed to go to the mosque to pray) we had to wait until prayer had finished to we went to see the hippodrome instead which back in the day was used for chariot races etc but is now a garden with a fantastic fountain at one end – the roof of which is covered in gold tiles and at the other end are 3 monuments. One is an obelisk from the karnak temple in Egypt which constantine sent to constantinople (now called istanbul) when he was ruling half the world. The second is the tripod of plataea which is a bronze monument made from the shields of the persians with whom the turks had fought many times but this is to remember the one time that they won. and the third monument is the rough stoned obelisk which not much is known about except that it was covered in bronze back in the day which was ripped off during the 4th crusade you can still see the bolt holes that used to hold on the bronze. So eventually prayer time finished and we went to check out the blue mosque which is not only beautiful on the outside but also on the inside although it smelt pretty musty i think ive found the smelliest country in the world no one seems to want to wear deodorant here and catching the tram is a real test of your lung capacity. So anyway the mosque is so impressive because the guy that designed it wanted to out shine all the other architects in his time so the inside is painted blue (or was as now some is painted white) and is covered in tiles. It is definatley a sight to be seen.

So after the mosque we headed to the spice bazaar and got some turkish delight mmm then got our first glimpse at the grand bazaar – u want shopping they got it and they are so not as annoying as the egyptians they actually let u look in their shop without hassling you although the prices are a lot higher that i thought they would be, our money is pretty much dollar for dollar and everything is priced similar to at home u have to put your haggling skills into practice (im never gonna want to pay retail again). But they do have some pretty cool stuff here.

So then on Saturday we had another day with mehmet who firstly took us to the Aya Sofya which is now a museum but once was a magnificent mosque. The inside of the church is lined with the marble from the temple of Artemis (7th wonder). It also had magnificent tiling with scenes from the bible inside but when the turks invaded in the 15th century and turned it into a mosque they covered the tiles with plaster as a muslim is not allowed to pray in a place with dedications to idols as it distracts from their prayer to god. In 1935 the byzantine institute of the US removed the plaster when the mosque was turned into a museum.

After the mosque we jumped on a boat and went for a cruise up the bosphorus – this is the river that seperates the european side and the asian side of turkey. We saw the Dolmabahce Serayi which was built in 1856 for the sultan to move into because he didn't want to live in Topkapi palace. Dolmabahce is huge 285 rooms, 86 toilets, 6 bathrooms, 43 big halls and is decorated with 14 tonne of gold. It was turned into a museum in 1936. As well as this there were upto 10 secondary palaces where the members of the sultans family would live most of these are either hotels or schools now. These were all on the european side of the Bosporus whilst on the asian side are the yalis – little wooden houses built in the 17th - 19th century, there is still actually one remaining from the 17th century – these now sell for 1 to 30 million dollars. After our boat ride we went to St saviour of Chora. Which is also now a museum but has the same history as aya sofya – church – mosque – museum. The mosaics in this church were amazing they were so well preserved there are two halls one which has the mosaics telling the story of jesus life and the other hall tells the story of marys life (very rare) they were so beautiful and so well done they looked like paintings there was even shading in the faces etc. After st Saviour we went to Taskim square and walked down the shopping street bargaining for some sunnies etc before jumping on the tram to the blue mosque for more shopping before heading to the hotel.

So for the last three days we have had the same plan – sleep in – lunch – grand bazaar until our legs ache – hotel – dinner – bed. We head on our way home tomorrow – good bye istanbul.

Sorry there is no room for photos - and im sorry if it doesnt make any sense cos im pretty tired.

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