Last Post! Today we set off up to Galata Tower and caught the old tram to Taksim square and wandered back down Istiklal Ave which takes you back to Galata Tower. Istiklal Avenue is one of the famous avenues of Istanbul, frull of boutiques, coffee houses, music stores, restaurants, patisseries. We were able to take our time and do some last minute shopping on the way and have time to stop off for some very good coffee presented on a platter with side helping of fruit, water and a sweet treat. Certainly set the standard for a double shot flat white!
This afternoon we caught up with our cousin Susan and her daughter Ilyana again. It is incredible to think that we are meeting for the first time, a hundred years after our grandfathers (brothers) fought in Gallipoli. we so enjoyed their company.
We have had a wonderful fortnight, it has been a special time and now looking forward to coming home.
Love and hugs,
See you Sunday
Vicki and Liz xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Tuesday was our day earmarked for shopping. After a late start we headed off for Taxim square via the metro and funicular. Taxim was unremarkable just an ugly square. The shopping Mall was 100 meters from it. Fair to say it was like all shopping malls all over the world with similar or same brands,we had the list and were heading for set shops with some success I hope!!
Last night we went to a local restaurant called Karakoy Lokantasi and had delicious mezes like Tapas. We were surrounded by locals drinking Raki (aniseed liquor) They insisted on us trying which we did, disgusting! we were very happy to stay with our Turkish red. The food was beautiful we are enjoying the meze style of eating.
Today we headed back to Sultanahmet to see a couple more sights. First up was Sultanahmet Mosque ( Blue Mosque) named for the blue tiles adorning the walls of the interior. The mosque is still used so we had to adorn head cover and remove shoes. The interior is grand as you would expect the exterior is visually stunning. By contrast Aya Sofya's interior was incredibly beautiful the use of marble, tiles and the intricate craftsmanship was stunning, Incredible architectural achievement.
Meandered back to Beyoglu via some interesting streets. Walking down one street a young Turkish man calls out "You've dropped something". Lizzie turns round and looks down to see what she had dropped. Turkish man calls out "You have dropped my heart!" This is typical of what we have encountered.
We are really enjoying Istanbul, the city is so vibrant, the people are friendly and we feel very safe. Tomorrow is our last day so will explore some more.
We are now staying in Karakoy Beyoglu which is just across Galata bridge in a very central location.The hotel is very comfortable and a good base for next five days, and yes Maggie and Georgie shops close by!!
Yesterday we set off to visit some of the many sights on offer. First up was the Archaeology museums which consisted of the museum of the ancient orient, archaeology museum and Tiled Pavilion. You could spend Hours here, incredible detail on the artefacts especially the Sarcophagi.
Topkapi Palace was next what opulence the Sultans lived in. Incredible architecture and tiling though. On the way back we explored back alleys and found interesting little shops. Being Sunday it seemed like everyone was out doing the same. We feel very safe, the people are friendly and helpful. The men are charming as one said to me after I declined his invitation and told him I was taken said so was he that in Turkey we have a saying "we like to take honey from every flower".
Today we took a cruise up the Bosphorus to the Black Sea, with the aid of an audio guide to explain the sights on the way. We passed palaces, pavilions, mosques, seaside residences. I can assure you they were not baches. We ended up at the seaside village of Anadolou on the edge of the Black Sea. Great coffee and meze. The Bosphorus is one of the most busy waterways, Turkey has had to grant passage between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marama and that means there are 45,000 vessels vying for space carrying all sorts of cargos that present environmental nightmares should one stray off course.
Just off for a walk around the waterfront and dinner.
Love Liz and Vicki xx
Hi everyone, well this is the third time we have tried to post our Gallipoli visit. Due to technical difficulties we have been unable to save to the travel page, so hope you are reading this now.
We were picked up by Crowded House Tours and bussed to Eceabat on the Gallipoli Peninsula Thursday morning. Nice little coastal town on the western shores of the Dardenelles the strip of water that the campaign was all about. That afternoon we were taken on a guided tour of the Gallipoli battlefields. It was pretty amazing stepping foot onto Anzac Cove and giving us an insight into the enormity of what the Anzacs were up against. The terrain is steep, full of gullies and the undergrowth, thorny and much as it would have been 100 years ago. At the top ridge the view was spectacular, across to the Dardenelles on one side, and out over the beautiful blue Aegean Sea to the island of Imbros where General Hamilton had stationed himself, well away from the action! Following the tour we were taken back to Eceabat and ferried across the Dardanelles to Cannakale where we stayed in a skody hotel. Canakkale is the biggest town close to the battlefields and was in lockdown due to the number of dignitaries staying.
The next day before being dropped at Anzac cove we went to Troy an ancient city the subject of Homers Iliad and Odyssey and famous for the Trojan excavations which revealed there were nine cities built on top of each other. It was all very fascinating especially being able to see the layers of civilisation.
We then left for Anzac Cove only to be once again delayed by the organisation of the police in getting so many people to the Commemoration and focusing on the dignitaries, the result they closed the water passage between Canakkale and Eceabat and we had to be bussed another hour up the peninsula cross the water at Gelibolu then back down to Anzac Cove we learnt very quickly that nothing was going to run to to time.
Arriving at Anzac Cove at Dusk was beautiful clear starry night. We went through three security checks, two wrist bands, backpack check, x-rayed, and frisked fortunately we got to keep our clothes on!
We were lucky to get a seat as those on the grass werent allowed to lie or sit and were packed in like sardines. It was bitterly cold. Overnight we watched a reflective programme that told the story of the Gallipoli campaign and the bonds that have been established between Turkey and the Anzacs.
As dawn approached you couldnt even hear a pin drop except for the lapping of the water, it was a poignant moment especially with the naval fleet in the Cove silently passing. The service was so moving and the Last Post chilling.
Following the dawn service we climbed 6.5 kms up to Chunuk Bair via Artillery Road
gave us a look at the harsh terrain the soldiers had to deal with while keeping their heads down. There are still a network of trenches that are visible.
Chunuk Bair, the high ground where NZ briefly held the summit was the scene of the NZ ceremony. The memorial commemorates more than 850 NZ soldiers whose graves are unknown. It was nice to have our own service, the Australians had Lone Pine, we were outnumbered 1 to 4 by them.
Once again we had a good seat, looking straight at the VIPs. The large screen captured more than we thought, thanks for the snapchat Georgie! Harry was a hit, we can confirm he prefers blondes!
At the end of the service we laid a poppy for Grandpop knitted by Mum. It was certainly a once in a lifetime event, Dad would have loved to attend but we were remembering him on his anniversary, the 26th.
Getting off Anzac Cove was a mission, again the dignitaries took priority, with long waits, eventually back in Istanbul at 2 am.
Back soon, lots of love to you all,
Hi everyone, It is 2 am and have just arrived back at our hotel in Istanbul after an amazing and epic 3 days on the Gallipoli peninsula. No wireless and dead phones so haven't been able to communicate. We are just off to bed, but will update you all tomorrow with some good pics and news.
Love and hugs, Liz and Vickixxx
Hi everyone, a fantastic day visiting all the Gallipoli landmarks, limited wireless and battery so will contact you when we can. Troy tomorrow and then in for the big Anzac ceremony. Love and hugs, Vickixx
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Hi everyone we have been in Istanbul two days and after a couple of good sleeps we are feeling back to normal although still in the clothes we left in on the 19th! Yesterday after a hearty breakfast one has to be polite!! We set off for the Grand Bazzaar. On the way we made the mistake of pulling out a map like a couple of tourists. Before we new it we were hijacked by a charming Turk and off to his rug shop. There we were plied with Apple tea and pressured to buy a rug. Despite us resisting he took us to a local eatery and fed us beautiful traditional Kurdish food alongside the locals I am sure in the hope we would purchase the rug.
Eventually we made the Grand Bazaar, a maze of alleyways full of touts selling all the same commercial stuff, and pestering us to buy. We weren't that impressed really. In the end we bailed for a glass of wine on the terrace back at the hotel and an introduction to hookah smoking courtesy of two Arab women who insisted we try the rose inhalation.
The biggest joy of the day was walking back to our room to find our suitcases had arrived. So relieved.
Today , Wednesday is cold and raining with a clap of thunder. Big sightseeing day for us and lots of walking. Walked to the spice bazaar down by the Galata Bridge. So much better than the Grand Bazaar. Beautiful spices, dried fruit, teas, all sorts of foods plus the usual suspects, rug men, shoes, handbags and souvenirs. We did find some lovely linen places and have fallen for pomegranate tea. Delicious. It was another day of "firsts". First Turkish coffee and baklava. Devine. First Turkish pide (pronounced peeday) yum. Lots of smells and flavours.
We walked over Galata Bridge, a good vantage point to look back at the different architecture. There are so many mosques, all seem to be very grand. Architecture from Byzantine, Ottoman and Seljuk eras. So many different empires that are visible through Istanbul buildings.
Tonight we caught up with our grandfather's brother's granddaughter who is attending Gallipoli ceremony. We hadn't met before. She is here with her daughter. It was great to compare notes about what we all knew of our family history and lovely to meet up.
Well we are now packing up, an early start to head towards Gallipoli. A night in Eceabat and then to Anzac cove.
Looking forward to the next phase.
Vicki and Liz. Xx
Ps. Love your messages
Thanks for lovely messages, it makes us feel loved.xx
After sitting on tarmac on flight to Bejing for two hours we were advised to bail as chances were better out of Hong Kong to Istanbul rather than Beijing. At that stage we had a four hour wait and China had closed all airspace dure to "bad weather".
we found a loveloy Cathay Pacific staff member who got us on flight to Rome at 1 am. We were rushed onto flight, sat on tarmac for two hours and then 12 hour flight, at least we were asleep for some of that time. We were met in Rome and whisked through immigration and put on flight to Istanbul. Arrived yesterday afternoon minus luggage.
It was so nice to arrive at a lovely small hotel with a warm welcome and a horizontal bed! We are still in clothes we left in, (we have used both sides)! legs like tree trunks and black bulging slashes under the eyes! Never mind the looks! We are having a great time and we are hopeful of bags arriving today or before we go to Gallipoli.
Here are some pics taken from hotel terrace where we sit for breakfast.
Location: Hong Kong
Hi everyone, so far our trip has not got off to a good start . Our flight to Hong Kong was delayed 9 hrs then diverted to Manilla, as a result we missed connecting flights to Istanbul. Today we spent in HongKong. For me I was able to go down a bit of memory lane. I must admit I don't miss the pollution or the humidity but I did enjoy the familiar sights and smells.
Tonight we boarded the flight to Beijing and ended up sitting on the tarmac for four hrs due to poor weather on the flight path. Once again we have missed our connecting flight. We are sitting in HK airport waiting to be rebooked. Our bags are apparently off the plane. It is costing Cathay Pacific a bit. We are well looked after but lacking sleep and process is wearing thin.
Plan from here is for Cathay pacific to get us on first available flight out so who knows what country we will be visiting tomorrow!
We have had a few laughs. There are six of us in he same position.
Hopefully next post will be from Istanbul.
Vicki and Liz xx