Note: Now that I have more disk space (thanks, Mike Bednar, Frank Miller, and probably Sam Stabile!) I was able to complete this page without cutting back on the details!
Our approach into Turkey was quite interesting, albeit very cold and windy for a change after coming from India! At about 2:00 or 3:00 this afternoon, we passed by the island of Lesbos off the starboard side, an island that sounded vaguely familiar. Perhaps Larry (either Butler or Dorosch) can tell us about its background at some future date.
Art History Professor Larry Butler, who specializes in Byzantine art and architecture, gave captivating presentations about this area. On our way into Istanbul, Larry gave of his time and stood in high, cold winds on the observation deck, providing interesting background of the Dardanelles. Our map shows the Dardanelles as a narrow area, populated by small islands, between portions of Turkey and Greece. The wind was drowning out much of what he said, but I heard enough to know that Troy was off the starboard side, the site of Helen of Troy and the Trojan Horse.
Not everybody who attended could get close enough to hear Professor Butler. Alli Polk, only able to catch a glimpse of a small part of his yellow coat in the center of the shot, seems to be saying "Well, I tried!" (This one's for you, Steve and Denise! Your kind words about my site went a long way!)
We got our first look at beautiful Istanbul as the tugboat pulled us in at about 8 AM. It was interesting when the first rope snapped and one segment flew from the starboard side to the port side, causing a "crack" sound as it snapped like a whip in the air before our eyes. This picture was taken just after they attached the second rope.
A helicopter did a fly-by, which reminded me of "Top Gun." We guessed that it was checking us out to make sure we were still under our own control and that we were not "Under Seige." Enough movie metaphors! Can you tell we've been away from Hollywood for a long, long time?
Here we are docked at Karakoy, at the edge of the Golden Horn, a body of water at the junction of the Bosphorus River and the Sea of Marmara (sort of like the junction of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers, with only one river). Hilly Istanbul is also called the City of Seven Hills, but I'll bet Pittsburgh has this one beat! This photo points north west.
We saw that security was tight as we left the ship on excursions. These guys were right in front of our gate toward the ship! Their big guns showed that these guys didn't want anything to happen to us. But why do their guns have to be so huge?
Musicologist extraordinaire Bob Brown (2nd from left) also has interests in food. While Carole and the girls went to yet another orphanage (yes, without me again!), he took a small group of us to a restaurant (previously a soup kitchen in the 16th century) called Darüzziyafe Turk Mutfagi. Master chef Ahmed Demircioglu (left) taught us how to cook old-style Turkish food (Ottoman) through an excellent, friendly, and warm interpreter Kamil Güller (far right). They pose with the restaurant owner/manager Israfil Kizilcim.
A few days later, a larger group ended up again at the Darüzziyafe Turk Mutfagi. Elizabeth and Lauren pose next to a huge, centuries old, mortar and pestle.
Istanbul presents plenty of shopping opportunities, and Elizabeth and Lauren demonstrate the fruits of their shopping labors after returning to the bus.
There are also many eating opportunities, as Gina Senarighi and Jenna Hildenbrand found!
On a clear day, the countless minarets found in all directions provide plenty of photo opportunities. Friday, November 19 presented us with a rare blue November sky, as it rained every other day in Istanbul until our last, Sunday, November 21!
That clear morning of November 19, we took a trip and approached the very interesting Bosphorus Bridge. It was interesting because (as we were told) Istanbul is the only city in the world that is on two continents. This bridge links the European part of Istanbul to the Asian part of Istanbul. This photo was taken from a bus on the way to that bridge.
From the fast-moving bus, looking south, this photo shows the European side as we left Europe...
...and this photo, again looking south, shows the Asian side as we (re)entered Asia! Actually, looking at a globe shows that north of the Black Sea, Europe and Asia are more difficult to distinguish.
Alas, another shot I had to take through glass...This photo shows the two continents, looking north! I was a little nervous on the Asian side, which has suffered most of the recent earthquake damage.
On the Asian side, we visited a school and met a wonderfully friendly 3rd grade teacher at Istek Belde Private High School. She took us into her class and also into a 10th grade class.
As we entered her class, the children were very interested in Lauren's answers to some questions such as "do you have any pets?" and "do you like school?"
Her 3rd grade class has an "English Corner."
In the 10th grade classroom, we had a 2-way interview with these very nice students, Asli Mete and Zeydep Yousef. They asked us some very difficult and interesting questions, such as "Is there racism in the U.S." and "Turkey is much older than the U.S., but how did the U.S. become more technologically advanced?" How would you answer those questions with accuracy and confidence?
We couldn't resist posing with Zeydep and Asli, and we hope they will e-mail us when they see these pictures!
We were treated to a very enjoyable concert with a chorus and some soloists.
Lauren found a biology poster that showed life forms over millions of years. It seems that the kids in Turkey are studying the same things as the kids in the U.S.
We visited a kindergarten class and found these two adorable kids sharing some funny secret.
When they saw me filming them with my viewfinder pointed towards them so that they could see themselves, they cracked up. I think that our good friend and neighbor Shirley Crawford would have enjoyed this trip!
We visited a fun restaurant called the Cennet, where these women made great crepes. Even though it was quite simple, the "Cennet Crepe," a very bready, thick, buttery, steamy crepe filled with mashed potatoes, sausage, and feta cheese was my favorite meal so far on this trip!
The waiters at the Cennet let us try on hats and posed with us. You can see my shirt is soaking wet in the middle, not from sweat but from heavy and relentless rain that made it seem like we had to swim to the restaurant! The cabs couldn't drive up the hill presumably because Hillary and Chelsey Clinton, as well as Madelyn Albright, had been shopping nearby at the famous Grand Bazaar, and some key streets were closed. We were forced into a 20-minute puddle-riddled walk across the Galata (no relation) bridge to the tram. (Photo of us non-presidential types by Deborah Byrnes)
On one tour, we saw hundreds of birds clustered in one area. We wondered why they were all here...
...when we saw the reason for their meeting. This bird feed seller seemed like she was right out of the Mary Poppins movie, and I almost expected her to sing the "Tuppence" song! A few frames after this, she saw the camcorder pointed at her and immediately lowered her head so I couldn't film her any longer. I wonder if she will ever see this photo? If so, please e-mail me your name so I can post it!
This tour took us to some fish markets. We couldn't believe how many of these thoroughly identical stands were lined up all in a row. Now, what would make you buy from one particular shop?
Each individual shop provides quite a variety of fish.
One shop had these giant...well...prawns. I just can't call them shrimp. Look at their size next to my hand!
The Spice Market was a short 15-minute walk from the ship, so why was there a $17 per person bus tour? And, of course, when we bought tickets, we had no idea that the Galata Bridge was right next to the ship. Oh well, this was the only ship-sponsored field trip that wasn't worth it, but it was fun anyway.
As you might expect, the Spice Market had lots of shops selling...well...spices. Ground or unground, common or rare, Turkish or non-Turkish, all bases seemed to be covered!
We had just joked that the shop owners/workers liked to ask "How can I help you spend your money?" when this polished guy literally grabbed Gary and remarked about how he was a great professor. About 10 seconds after this was shot, he indeed asked "How can I help you spend your money?" After we shopped elsewhere, we returned to that guy's shop to, well, shop. We found that he was the barker and he used a salesman as a "deal closer" on the inside.
Here is the deal closer negotiating with me while behind the camera. Carole didn't have the heart to negotiate a price of 1 million Turkish Lire (about $2) down to 500,000 (about $1) but somehow I did. I'm fine at negotiating small purchases like this, but I'm terrible with large purchases. A few seconds after this picture was taken, this deal closer said "Why don't you go stand outside while your wife shops?"
Elizabeth and Lauren enjoy very interesting 3-layer/3-flavor ice cream cones.
We found a Catholic church (St. Anthony of Padua) after going up the "Tunel" in Istanbul, and at long last on a Sunday we were going to attend a real mass for the first time since Malaysia. What happened to foul up the plan? Both Christy and I got sick, from different things. I somehow got "Delhi Belly" and I wasn't even close to Delhi. I ate a lamb and pepper sandwich the day before that I bought from a restaurant with a street kiosk. So I guess I did what we weren't supposed to do: buy food from a street vendor! One tablet of Immodium A-D allowed me to to be more than three steps away from a restroom that afternoon to enable this photo.
After shooting the picture of the church, I was able to upload my photos using this Internet cafe. Here is political science professor Dick Farkas using the machine I vacated moments earlier. Coincidentally, he went to the cafe to e-mail the URL for this site to some friends! This was the only internet cafe of all 7 countries we've visited that already had WS_FTP installed so I could transfer my files to Pitt's server without the hassles of setting up.
We attended an "Ottoman farewell to Turkey" banquet along with 250 of our best friends, again at Darüzziyafe Turk Mutfagi! Cait Harris and Christy are the two recognizable faces on the left.
Carole and I ended up somehow at a head table that seated exactly 13 people. Jack Harris said it looked like a pose for the "Last Supper!" Here we are in front of some Turkish art; Carole is enjoying her stuffed grape leaf and I'm enjoying French (Turkish?) bread.
There was entertainment after the farewell banquet's appetizers, including dancers like these.
Three American Semester at Sea figures and one Turkish figure pose for dozens of flashing cameras. Can you tell who is Turkish and who is American? Well, you twisted my arm! From left to right are Bruce Steele of Pitt, Kamil Güller (our interpreter from the cooking lesson described above), musicologist Bob Brown, and Art Historian Larry Butler.
We left Turkey at 9:56 PM, 1 hour and 4 minutes early, to make room for a ship that needed our dock. As we pulled away, a Turkish band stood in the chilly air under a harsh single overhead light and played for us.

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Photos copyright 1999, Dennis F. Galletta