Our next stop was in Istanbul which is truly a unique city with so many iconic giant mosques and towers surrounding the city. We started our walk along the shoreline where we took a funicular to Taskim Square. There we enjoyed some Doners (pita bread with chicken, lamb or beef with sautéed vegetables and topped with a zesty yogurt and sauce) before walking through the shops and marveling at many of the delicacies that Istanbul has to offer. Along the way we sampled some baklava which is one of our favorite treats in this city. We went to the Galata Tower and marveled at how an ancient tower such as this could have lasted so long. We walked across the Galata Bridge watching some of the fisherman that had just begun fishing and viewed the seafood restaurants that lined the lower part of the bridge. When we got to the other side of the Golden Horn (waterway under the bridge), we looked at the seafood restaurants on the shoreline selling fresh fish sandwiches, roasted acorns, fresh bread and donuts being sold. As we walked away from the shoreline we entered the Spice Market, which wasn’t fully open because of a holiday being celebrated, but there were enough vendors selling their wares to appreciate the market and what it had to offer. Our walk from the Market was a little longer to get up to Hagia Sofia church and the Blue Mosque. Along the way we watched the Turkish women making bread stuffed with cheese and other fillings. We did have to sample one of these for our group. The Hagia Sofia church was the original church built by Emperor Constantine (when he made Istanbul, then called Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire). Even when the city was conquered, none of the Muslim leaders wanted to destroy the church because of its beauty. We wanted to go into the Blue Mosque but unfortunately it closed down for prayer 5 minutes before we got there and would not open up before we needed to begin our return to the ship. We went inside the walls of the mosque but could not get into the prayer area. It is truly a massive mosque and one of the most well-known mosques in the world. Along the way back to the ship we stopped for our last treat, a Turkish ice cream cone. Our departure that evening included a beautiful sunset over Istanbul.
Our third stop was in Mykonos which was a significant change from the other places we had visited. As opposed to being highly populated with millions of people, this small island only has 10,000 residents. We didn’t do a lot of sightseeing of various places as much as shopping and admiring the island’s beauty. We did catch Petros, the adopted pelican of the city, and watched as one of the restaurant owners fed the pelican a fish that he obviously wanted. This pelican walks along the city’s streets as if he owns them, and perhaps he does! We took many pictures of the famous Mykonos’ wind mills and the many churches along with the beautiful Bougainvillea’s that are visible in many of the walkways around the stores. This was a great place to shop and most of the women in our group bought jewelry and other souvenirs of the trip. We enjoyed some Sangria and beer as we relaxed a little at one of the sidewalk cafes. As we returned to the ship the sun was just setting.
Tomorrow we arrive in Naples where we have set up a private tour of the Amalfi coast, Positano, Sorrento and Naples. After that we will head to Rome, Florence, and Toulon before ending up in Barcelona. So far we have had perfect weather and hopefully it will continue for the rest of our trip.
Greg & Sharon