Istanbul is where east meets west across the Bosphorus Straight. Before coming we watched the Netflix series “Rise of the Empire”set in 1453, highly recommended. Also recommended is the book “Ataturk” by Andrew Mango, Ataturk, Mustafa Kemal, was the founder of the modern Turkiye after WWI.
We stayed in the old city, east side, in the Hilton Hagia Sophia Mansion up against the wall of Topkapi. The big three sites in Istanbul are Sofia Hagia built in 537, the Blue Mosque 1609, and Topkapi Palace from the 1460s. All are astonishing and reflect the history and power of this country. We had a wonderful guide Gamze Atrtaman for two days.
A special visit is required to the recently renovated Basilica Cistern dating from the time of Justinian in 532. This is one of many built during the Roman period of sustain the city in times of drought or siege. As usual we visited many parts of the city by trail, subway, taxi, and ferry.
Back to the airport for a couple of hour flight to Kapadocya (Cappadocia) where we stayed at the wonderful Taskonaklar Hotel. This is a very ancient area where people built their shelter from what was available, stone soft enough to create elaborate dwellings and cities in the mountainous environment. Ali Coskuner was our guide to the wonders of this area, after we took the early morning ballon ride.
The underground city that housed 3,000 people of weeks in times of danger and for much of the winter, monasteries carved into the rocks, fairy towers of stone pillars with hats. Please look at the pictures.
We were privileged to be here during the first round of the elections where the current president, Recep Tayyio Erdogon, (for 20 years) is being challenged for the first time. We were also fortune to have dinner with the owner of our hotel in Kapadocya Tolga Asarcali. We learned his story about returning to his native village and converting a family property into a small family owned high end resort. On his recommendation, we stayed at a number of similar facilities in our Turkish travels.
As a footnote, Dan visited these Turkey on business 20 years ago and had a several hour meeting with Recep Erdogon. Erdogon was new to office and held great promise for the country. Returning to the same locations, the natural magnificence has not changed. The country is clearly less secular, not surprising given that it is 90% muslim. It is clearly more expensive with much improved infrastructure. One striking example is the how sparkling clean the mosques are, particularly compared to the cathedrals in Europe.
Click on the photo to see the album of this trip