Thursday, January 29, 2015

Turkey - Istanbul We are back - Day 7

Good morning Bolu, the snow was still around and it is about 300km to Istanbul. Sekaan, the driver wasn't feeling well but thank goodness he was able to drive us
The white snow was still there as travel towards our next destination.

A break in our journey for toilet and refreshment.
I guess it is a popular spot to stop for a rest.
Generally 1 lira for a small glass of Turkish tea and snow is slowly disappearing as we approach Istanbul.
Here we are... Istanbul coming from the European side to the Asia side. The feeling of chaotic traffic jam began to effect the drive and it's really really bad just to cover a short distance.
The Bosphorus Bridge, also called the First Bosphorus Bridge or simply the First Bridge is one of two suspension bridges spanning the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul,Turkey;  connecting Europe and Asia (the other one is the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, which is called the Second Bosphorus Bridge.) The bridge is located between Ortaköy (on the European side) and Beylerbeyi (on the Asian side)
Our first stop in Istanbul was at the Galata Bridge for a lunch & a cruise at Bophorus Strait. Bosphorus is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia.
The Galata Bridge was a symbolic link between the traditional city of Istanbul proper, site of the imperial palace and principal religious and secular institutions of the empire, and the districts of Galata, Beyoğlu, Şişli and Harbiye where a large proportion of the inhabitants were non-Muslims and where foreign merchants and diplomats lived and worked. In this respect the bridge bonded these two distinctive cultures.
All daily city tours in Istanbul include this bridge as it is the passageway to the Old City of Constantinople.
Our lunch at Mio Galata Restaurant as part and parcel of the tour deal, eating here at your own accord would be rather adventurous. They don't seems honest I guess this is in the city just be careful.
Grilled mackerel fish with rice... I like it especially we have been over dosed with its typical Turkish food.
The bus will wait for us here at Galata Bridge while to continue to walk the the cruise boat.
The Bosphorus Cruise - Beyond the Bosphorus Bridge there's plenty more to see: Beylerbeyi Palace, the village of Çengelköy,Kuleli Naval Academy, Arnavutköy with its photogenic Ottoman yalıs (wooden Bosphorus seaside mansions), Rumeli Hisarı (the mighty Fortress of Europe), the town of Bebek with its pretty bay, and Bosphorus University.
The excitement on the boat on the upper deck.
Cruising the Boshpuros and enjoying the beautiful scenery full of history fantastic architecture and lovely weather.
I need fresh air and I cannot stand the choppy sea, I was at this rear breathing slowly trying to enjoy seeing the seagulls following us, As far as scenery is concerned it was awesome except the sea sick.
North of the Fatih Bridge, second to be built across the Bosphorus, is Anadolu Hisarı (the Fortress of Anatolia), Küçüksu Kasrı (a fine little rococo palace), the Hıdiv Kasrı (fine Art Nouveau villa built in 1900 for the Khedive of Egypt), the pretty restaurant village ofTarabya, the town of Büyükdere (with its excellentSadberk Hanım Museum), and Sarıyer (with a fish market and several seafood restaurants on the shore).

During our visit in Turkey we saw quite a number of water closet with hygienic toilet seat cover. This one was seen in the boat we took for the cruise.
At Eminonu Quarter, a place where people love to hang around, do marketing or pass their time in Istanbul. I love the sight.
The Spice Bazaar Turkey is one of the largest bazaars in the city it is located in the Eminönü quarter of the Fatih district, it is the most famous covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar.
We were here to buy saffron for a small package which cost US$50. We hope it's authentic and I believe it was. This guy impressed with his Malay Language and he picked it up from Dummies.
Even the locals visit this spice market, pricing is reasonable, people are helpful and we are assured of its quality and authenticity.
A business card from Aladdin.
Moving around the outside of the Spice Market and seeing the local market scene was awesome.
The Yeni Cami, meaning New Mosque; originally named the Valide Sultan Mosque (Turkish: Valide Sultan Camii) and laterNew Valide Sultan Mosque (Turkish: Yeni Valide Sultan Camii) after its partial reconstruction and completion between 1660 and 1665; is an Ottoman imperial mosque. It is situated on the Golden Horn, at the southern end of the Galata Bridge, and is one of the famous architectural landmarks of Istanbul.
The traffic situation in Istanbul was chaotic I think it's worst than Kuala Lumpur. We saw a impatient car going up pavement just to gain a short distance. And it surely took us a long while to reach the Grand Bazaar. 
The road to Grand bazaar was horendous and narrow we were late just made in time to enter the bazaar but no shopping was possible. At least we have been to Grand Bazaar......hehehe.
We were lucky to gain access into the bazaar. The Grand Bazaar (Turkish: Kapalıçarşı, meaning ‘Covered Bazaar’; also Büyük Çarşı, meaning ‘Grand Bazaar’) in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, it is listed No.1 among world's most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors.
The Grand Bazaar is located inside the walled city of Istanbul, in the district of Fatih and in the neighbourhood (mahalle) bearing the same name (Kapalıçarşı). It stretches roughly from west to east between the mosques of Beyazit and of Nuruosmaniye. The Bazaar can easily be reached from Sultanahmet and Sirkeci by trams (Beyazıt-Kapalıçarşı stop).
Let's forget the bus we shall walk to the restaurant and for the last night in Istanbul we shall have Chinese food.
Chang Cheng Chinese Restaurant is located near the Sultan Ahmed Mosque aka Blue Mosque. Well the food is Chinese no doubt but nothing like our own at home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Turkey - Kaymakli Underground City - Day 6

Yes! it snowing in Cappadocia and according to Kaan our guide we were lucky as our wish to see snow came true. What a wonderful thing on the 6th day. Everyone was very happy and excited about it especially we don't see snow in Malaysia, a place that is warm & humid.
It's beautiful. A white and cold atmosphere.
One thing for sure the kids really enjoyed the moment, making snow balls and having a great fun indeed.
Even the stray dog was getting herself comfortable in the hotel lobby.
It was snowing all the way to Kaymakli, the underground city. at least we had a change of scenery from the windows of our coach.
The journey from Burcu Kaya Hotel to Kaymakli is less than 30km and time to alight and face the cold winter again.
Kaymaklı Underground City is contained within the citadel of Kaymaklı in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. It was first opened to tourists in 1964.
Kaymaklı is one of the largest underground settlements in the region.
At last we were in a place that is warm and which we normally would not pick between warm and cool.
The houses in the village are constructed around the nearly one hundred tunnels of the underground city. The tunnels are still used today as storage areas, stables, and cellars. 
The tunnels are narrow with steep incline. There are four floors open to the public, the space is well organized with ventilation shafts.
The high number of storage rooms and areas for earthenware jars on the fourth floor indicates the economic strength of the region.
On the second floor is a church with a nave and two apses. Located in front of the apses is a baptismal font, and on the sides along the walls are seating platforms. The church level also contains some living spaces.
The third floor contains the most important areas of the underground compound: storage places, wine or oil presses, and kitchens. 
The depth of the ventilation shaft is about 80 meters in total.
The ventilation shaft can also be seen from the 4th floor. It is a vertical well and passes all floors down like on the elevator in an apartment. 
Such an amazing engineering effort of the olden days.
This underground city has not been fully discovered and only 4 floors have been found, it is definitely one of the largest underground settlements in the region. It is estimated about 3,500 people lived in this community.
That's a great underground city visit and it's back into the cold. I found it very interesting and would say it was one of the best places I visited in this tour.
After travelling nearly 150km from Kaymakli we reached Lake Tuz (Salt Lake) which is the second largest lake in Turkey with an area of 1,665 km2 surface area and one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world. It is located in the Central Anatolia Region
Cosmetics are being make from the water, salt and mud for skin softening treatments. Well, how good or effective one has to probe further. 
The display of some of the products made from the Salt Lake.
Lunch at somewhere in between Bolu and the Salt Lake, the bus broken down and time was lost while repairing it.
Beef cooked on iron plate (Taruk Sac Kavurma) with chilli and carrot which was served with rice, the only complaint was that the portion too small. As far as taste is concerned it was too too bad.
At least we were served with different kind of Turkish meal. Little did we know we have to wait a little bit longer for the bus repair which means we have to spend more Lira spent at the rest area.
Due the the bad winter weather we missed stopping at Ankara the capital of Turkey and we reached our next hotel at Bolu Termal Otel for another quick stay with dinner and breakfast included as usual. Another visit to a Turkish thermal pool in a hotel.