Frankfurt, Germany | August 21, 2005
Nürnberg, Germany | August 22, 2005
Füssen, Germany | August 25, 2005
Graz, Austria | August 26, 2005
Pliskovica, Slovenija | August 28, 2005
Maribor, Slovenija | August 29, 2005
Ljubljana, Slovenija | August 30, 2005
Zagreb, Croatia | August 31, 2005
Split, Croatia | September 4, 2005
Korčula, Croatia | September 7, 2005
Dubrovnik, Croatia | September 8, 2005
Sofia, Bulgaria | September 10, 2005
Plovdiv, Bulgaria | September 12, 2005
Istanbul, Turkey | September 14, 2005
Selçuk, Turkey | September 20, 2005
Samos, Greece | September 25, 2005
Naxos, Greece | September 27, 2005
Santorini, Greece | September 29, 2005
Crete, Greece | October 3, 2005
Rome, Italy | October 7, 2005
Ales, France | October 10, 2005
Chamonix, France | October 18, 2005
Paris, France | October 21, 2005
Delhi, India | October 27, 2005
Mcleod Ganj, India | October 30, 2005
Rishikesh, India | November 7, 2005
Varanasi, India | November 12, 2005
Agra, India | November 15, 2005
Bharatpur, India | November 17, 2005
Delhi (Paharaganj), India | November 18, 2005
Bangkok, Thailand | November, 20 2005
Chiang Mai, Thailand | November 22, 2005
Pai, Thailand | November 25, 2005
Amed, Bali | November 30, 2005
Canberra, Australia | December 6, 2005
Holidays Point, Australia | December 14, 2005
Port Maquarie, Australia | December 15, 2005
Noosa Heads, Australia | December 18, 2005
Coolangatta, Australia | December 28, 2005
Sydney Airport, Australia | December 30, 2005
Nadi, Fiji | December 31, 2005
Boulder, CO | January 4, 2006

Istanbul, Turkey

September 14, 2005

We arrived safely in Istanbul this morning after a long nıght on the train. We went through Turkish customs in our pajamas at 3am. Just wanted to let everyone know we had arrived. We'll post more later. Istanbul is amazing though.

Day 2 Istanbul
Still just time to write a quick note. We're off to visit the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofia Mosque today. Then to the Grand Bazaar, and a turkish bath this evening!

Got some pics uploaded, slow connection here.

Again - I'm going to leave the details up to Nichole. Her updates are so much better - see the Plovdiv update for proof!

We did the Turkish Bath the other night - totally incredible experience! The Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia are totally stunning, and the Topkapi Palace is truely palacial! We saw the whirling dervishes last night which was really cool too.

Today we'll hit the grand bazaar and do some more exploring!

If anyone has any recommendations for places to see in Turkey, leave us a message. So far, we have Troy, Ephesus and Pamukkale on our list.

Added a bunch more pictures. We still have to write a real update with all the good details.

Also, here's a great link for the Topkapi palace for those who are interested: click here

We are a bit behind as I am writing this from the Greek island of Santorini (Thira officially).

We reached Istanbul on the overnight train from Bulgaria. We had our own compartment -- meaning no smoking for a change. (the eastern European trains do not enforce the no smoking cars like they do in the western countries) Our beds were comfy and we slept pretty well until we were awoken at the border by our car keeper. We needed to get off the train to get our visas purchased. We hoped off with the rest of the passengers and walked to the police in our PJ?s. After getting our visas we went back to bed and a bit later a knock at the door for them to check and stamp our passports. Our officer took my passport and said, ?American! This train goes to Iraq! Iraq?hahahaha.? It seems like humor is a bit lost between people when you do not speak the same language and he may have been, and probably was joking, but in the middle of night when we knew we were heading into our first nearly all (85%) Muslim country, we did know what to expect and it freaked me out a bit. We woke again around 6:00 am, while we were still in the Turkish countryside, to our first ?Call to Prayer?. It was so beautiful. It was a man calling out over a loud speaker system coming through the train windows as we rolled along. Neither Luke nor I had ever heard anything like it. We didn?t know what he was saying and the sound was very loud, even over the train. We would later find out it was because each town, village, city has many minarets to amplify The Call.

Istanbul has a wonderful, modern tram system linking the city together. We used this and our trusty feet to get everywhere we needed to.

Our hotel was in the Sultanahmet area putting us in the right spot to visit the Aya Sofya which began as the Byzantine Church of Divine Wisdom and was completed in 537 AD. It was the regarded as the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest in 1453 when Mahmet the Conqueror turned it into a mosque, which it stayed until it was turned into a museum in 1935. See the pictures for some images or as always google is good!

We also could walk to the hippodrome which was home to Kaiser Wilhem?s fountain, the Obelisk of Theodosius, the spiral column and the rough-stone obelisk -- some of which were brought over by Constantine from Egypt in 390 AD.

The Blue Mosque is next to the hippodrome and it is so amazing to see! It is still an active mosque meaning people still gather to pray here throughout the day and evening and admission is controlled around these times. As we entered the courtyard and bunch of white gulls flew over and it was breathtaking! We had to wait outside and until the prayer time was finished. The interior is beyond words and you?ll just have to check out the photos.

We walked through the gardens and took some pictures before heading for lunch at a small garden restaurant that sat in the courtyard of artist studios. Once a girl?s school, it now houses pottery, painting and ceramics studios. We meant to make it back to do some shopping but didn?t.

We took on the Grand Bazaar like champs. I turned out to be a great bargainer and we had a lot of fun picking up some mementos from our time in Istanbul. Sure we knew we were still spending too much money on them even with the haggled price but it was worth it for the experience.

Our Turkish Bath?oh my God! You can?t even imagine being this pampered. We were both a bit apprehensive since you are getting lathered up and bathed by a complete stranger but we figured we were leaving in a few days and what happens in Istanbul stays in Istanbul (just kidding mom ; ) Though there were quite a few to choose from, we went to one that was known for catering to tourists. We split up at the door ? men to one side and women to the other. All aspects of this Haman (Turkish bath) was gender separate. And women bath women and men bathed men. After dropping down to our skivvies you go into a glorious domed room with a massive, round marble platform. Here on the platform you lie and basically sweat. The room is warm and the air is very humid. The marble platform is heated so after about 20 minutes lying there, your body is like a stick of butter and you have pretty much melted into the platform. About this time your washer comes to greet you and you move to the edge of the marble platform where your washer can reach you more easily. First comes the scrubbing and I mean scrubbing?with a mitt. You are scrubbed like a potato! It feels great even for me and my sensitive skin. It is bit embarrassing how much dirt and dead skin they can get off you even when you?ve showered 5 hours earlier. You get up to get rinsed off and then back down on the warm marble again to be washed. I don?t what to say except it was the most bubble I have ever seen in my whole life! And they feel so great being poured over you! With the bubbles you get a cursory massage and then off the platform again for a rinse and then you sit off to the side where there are fresh water faucets and you are shampoo and you get your scalp scrubbed. Then another rinse and normally you could get back on the marble and melt some more but Luke and I spent the bit extra to get an oil massage to finish off our bath and that was 30 minutes of yumminess! The two women who cared for me were so sweet and gentle and I was very grateful for their attention and skills. Luke and I met up in the sitting area for tea about an 1 ? hours after leaving each other. We were both clean and shiny. We haven?t been that clean since we got bathed in the kitchen sink by our own mothers! Thanks mom!

The Tokapi Palace was another amazing visit we made. Complete with gardens and 4 large separate courts or areas. We went through them all and the area that served as the royal Harem. All of it was beautiful and larger than life. The palace is a museum housing many religious artifacts, both of Christianity and of Islam. I will touch on the weird stuff only because there was just too much to talk about. You?ll have to come yourself! In the museum was the skull and skeletal right arm of John the Baptist. Both were encased in gold and diamonds and other jewels. And so you could only see the top of the skull and the bones on the top of the hand. Weird! In another room of the treasury was a room that had items belonging to Muhammad, the Islamic prophet and whom Muslims believe is the last prophet of Allah (God). They had hairs from his beard, a jeweled box that was supposed to contain a tooth of his, (they didn?t offer a peek of this so we had to take their word for it) and some other items, letters and such belonging to him. We had wished that we both knew more about Islam so we could have appreciated it more. This was a very holy place for some people and watching these faithful people move around these items that were so holy for them was quite an amazing experience for us. Really moving?

We went to a Whirling Dervish exhibition performance one evening, since we were not going to be able to make the city of Konya and the Mevlana Monastery to see the real thing. I didn?t realize the connection between the poet Rumi and this whirling mediation and the Mevlana brotherhood. Luke and I used a poem, though modified a bit, from Rumi as our wedding blessing. After knowing more about this man and his life, we are even happier that we choose him and his words as part of our wedding ceremony.

Our last night in town we headed over the Galata bridge for dinner and take a peek at another, less touristy spot in town called Beyoglu. We found a place that our Lonely Planet guidebook recommended, Sofyali 9. We walked up on a busy Saturday night and a table for 2 that was outside opened up right before us. We sat down and our server walks up with a huge wooden tray covered with cold appetizers. We picked an octopus salad, aubergine spread, and couscous from the tray and a cheese pastry from the hot menu. Some wine and the great spot for people watching was nothing compared to the food. It was unbelievable! Luke and I both say it is the best food we have ever eaten in our lives and we both stand by that statement 100%.

So much more happen too to making this city so wonderful for us. You?ll all have to join us when we head back to Turkey for 3 months -- when we will see much more the country and a have a repeat visit with wonderful Istanbul!

From: mcfly

thanks a ton for the updates, guys! very cool to be able to join you on your honeymoon. i am glad we have separate rooms tho ;^)

From: aunt marian

I am so happy to share your trip around the world. Can't wait to see your pictures. Love you guys.

From: Kim

I love the fact that we get to see you guys travel the world, via the internet. We love you guys!!

From: obie

cool new message feature dude! - i think you guys should assign a different color font for who's talking - luke blue, nichole pink (or somthings)... have fun! (went downhilling at northstar today - thought of you)

From: Mom

the pictures are great!! thanks so much for taking the time to put them in for us. I am so happy for you both that you are seeing all this. WoW!

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