Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Sunday, November 4th, 2007 Finding Mass is not easy in Turkey!

Woke about 5:30 am and took more Sudafed for my cold. By seven Jim was up and we went to breakfast about eight; not nearly as crowded as yesterday morning. Sun is shining and it looks like a great day for seeing more of Istanbul. The air is still cold.

By nine o’clock we were checked out, luggage stored at the hotel and off to the tram stop located a block from the hotel; headed across the Bosphorus Straits to Kabatas, like a suburb to Istanbul. Along the way we crossed over the Galata Bridge and watched the shoulder to shoulder fisherman with ocean type fishing poles all across the bridge. We also had a great view of the new Unkapani Bridge that reminded me of the golden gate bridge in San Francisco except it was steel colored.

Kabatas was the end of the line and then we paid another token to ride the Funicular up the hill to reach Taksim Park. Kodak moment with the War Memorial and then after reading our map we starting walking in the direction of the Catholic Church; when we arrived it was Greek Orthodox and we decided to stay for the rest of the Mass that was in progress. There were less than a dozen people plus the priests that were officiating.

fter Mass we got our map back out and continued to look for the Roman Catholic Church. Up and down and around we went. People were wonderful and seeing our map would stop us to give directions. Met one fellow who was catching a bus to the French Catholic Church; he was originally from Philadelphia and also had lived in Los Angeles and San Diego. Now retired he lives here in Istanbul. He gave us directions also. Most of the foreigners who live in Istanbul live on this side of the bridge we’ve discovered.

After many more dead ends and directions we finally found St. Anthony du Padua, a beautiful Roman Catholic Church in the heart of the newer part of the city, one of the few that is not hidden in back streets. But, the ten o’clock mass was just ending and there wasn’t another one until noon. We paid a visit and then found our way back out to the pedestrian mall and walked back towards the funicular. Saw the McDonalds next to the Turkish fastfood place named Pud. There were also Pizza Hut, Burger King, etc. etc. etc. Saw a 1958 (I think) Chevrolet car, turquoise and white, fins and all in a restaurant. They were using it to attract customers and several young men were having their photos taken by friends as we passed by. Arrived back in the area of our hotel by noon but we stayed on the train until we reached the Beyazit stop.

Jumped off the tram and walked through the University area and over to the Suleymaniye Mosque. One of the most beautiful in the city; not quite as large as the Blue Mosque but very beautiful and the complex also housed the Tomb of a Sultan. There are so many that I have no ideal which one! Just know we had to take our shoes off to go inside the tomb; and again we had to take the shoes off to go inside the Mosque.

Back to the map and the tiny streets that wound their way down towards the Bosphorus. In some areas the shops were closed and the next street the shops were crowded with customers. Like many European cities, the names of the streets are rarely the same for more than two blocks. A detailed map is essential. Our destination was the old spice market or better known as the Misir Carsisi, a marketplace since 1664. We knew when we’d arrived as it was chaotic; the Grand (covered) Bazaar was a breeze compared to this one. I immediately took my backpack off and hung on for dear life! Everything imaginable was for sale in this area; and probably at a good price but all we wanted was the experience of walking through the Istanbul Spice Market!

Out of the market, we stopped many times with our map to find the directions to our hotel. Our last person was a young policeman and an old man; between the two of them they got us on the correct street and before we knew it we were back at our hotel again. Had some lunch across the street as it was now nearly 3 pm and we’ve still got a few hours to kill before going to the airport.

I decided to stay at the hotel to work on my journals and use the free wireless Internet while Jim went to find the Archeological Museum. Two hours later he returned after walking the entire time! The entrance to the Archeological Museum was not where we’d thought but a much further distance from the hotel; by the time he’d arrived it was due to close within minutes. The winter schedule was in effect and so he spent the rest of his walk returning back to the hotel; alas without having enjoyed any of the artifacts that are so special to this particular museum.

By 5 pm we were ready to go to the airport; a bit early but you can only sit in a hotel lobby just so long. Jim took some time to negotiate with a shuttle service and had them down to a fantastic price until he realized they thought he was talking about 6 am the next morning. They didn’t want to reduce their price for 6 pm this evening. So back to square one and we had the hotel call a taxi cab for our journey to the International Airport. He really wanted to try taking the tram all the way to the airport but I just wasn’t up to the challenge.

Don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it or not but two of the novels that I brought to read on the trip were unusually timely in their subject matter. Both were common romance novels but the first one that I was reading in Athens had the characters exploring archeological sites and the one I finished last night was set mostly in and around Istanbul. Who would guess when I picked these books up at the church rummage sale last August to read and leave or exchange with another tourist along the way that they would dovetail so nicely with our trip.

Arrived at the airport and had to wait for the counter to open for check in; when it did we soon realized the flight was full. They spotted our mini backpacks and required us to check the larger backpacks as luggage. Hadn’t planned on this and as soon as they were gone we realized our tickets for the cruise tomorrow as well as my packet of important information including extra credit cards were both in the backpack. A nervous two hours while we waited for the flight and then the hour plus of flying. A good flight and when we picked up the luggage everything appeared to be unopened. A bigger problem were my ears because of the cold; don’t remember when they’ve hurt so much from the pressure of going up and down. It was so nice to find our driver waiting for us outside of customs for the ride into Athens.

By the time we’d checked back into the hotel, picked up our extra luggage and arrived in the room it was midnight before we’d showered and hit the bed. Our wake up call in the morning was set for 7 am as we had scheduled a taxi to pick us up at 9 am to take us to the port to board the Cruise ship for our four day cruise of the Greek Isles.

No comments: