A Travellerspoint blog

Take Me Back To Constantinople

Greece & Turkey

Hello Friends,

For the past few weeks we've been enjoying the comforts of Western life in Greece and Turkey. Jennifer had a birthday and our friend, Kim, met us in Istanbul. After being vegetarians in India for a couple of weeks, we've really enjoyed the spicy meats that this part of the world has to offer.

Enjoying First Kebab in Greece

Enjoying First Kebab in Greece

We took a great walking tour around Athens with a fun and really smart archaeologist named Ãéþñãïò (George in english). Ãéþñãïò was extremely informative and we learned so much. At one point when we were near the Acropolis, he pointed and said, "do you see that rock over there, that's where democracy was invented." Wow. He also told us of the legend of Pheidippides who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated. The story explains that it was this Greek victory that was responsible for the creation of Western civilization. It's an inspiring place to be.

Greek tomb of the Unknown Soldier--looks like Robert's High School Mascot

Greek tomb of the Unknown Soldier--looks like Robert's High School Mascot


The acropolis featuring the Parthenon on top

The acropolis featuring the Parthenon on top


Remains of the Temple of Zeus

Remains of the Temple of Zeus


These partially restored pillars show how brilliant the temples must have appeared when they were first built and the marble was new.  Also, what happens to the marble after a couple of millenia.

These partially restored pillars show how brilliant the temples must have appeared when they were first built and the marble was new. Also, what happens to the marble after a couple of millenia.


Taking a break from our walking tour near the Acropolis.

Taking a break from our walking tour near the Acropolis.


Theater at the Acropolis, made famous by Yanni recording an album here.

Theater at the Acropolis, made famous by Yanni recording an album here.


Passing a baton (our map) in front of the Marble Olympic Stadium in Athens.  It was built for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

Passing a baton (our map) in front of the Marble Olympic Stadium in Athens. It was built for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

As you know, the financial situation in Greece is not good. We were surprised to see so many well-dressed people (who look just like us) begging for change in the streets. Public employees have taken a 40% paycut in the last year, while taxes on everything have increased. They're really suffering. We couldn't help but think that our own country, while much better off at the moment, is headed in this direction.

Syntagma Square--location of the Finance Ministry and the place to be if you feel like getting your Riot on.

Syntagma Square--location of the Finance Ministry and the place to be if you feel like getting your Riot on.


Charred Bank near Syntagma Square in downtown Athens

Charred Bank near Syntagma Square in downtown Athens


Athens Backpackers Hostel provided us this handy phrase guide with all of the basics:  "Hello", "Thank-you", and "Are there riots?"

Athens Backpackers Hostel provided us this handy phrase guide with all of the basics: "Hello", "Thank-you", and "Are there riots?"

We met some great people and came to understand the kindness of Greek hospitality during our 2-week visit. We found Athens a tranquil and safe place to spend a few days.

Tasty Pork Kebab

Tasty Pork Kebab


Another great Kebab at the Plaka in Athens.

Another great Kebab at the Plaka in Athens.

After a fun and educational time in Athens we took a massive ferry (it was the size of a cruise ship) to the Greek Island of Santorini.

Thira, Santorini Island, Greece

Thira, Santorini Island, Greece


Traditional white buildings on Santorini

Traditional white buildings on Santorini


Greek Salad with some excellent Feta

Greek Salad with some excellent Feta


The sign says it all

The sign says it all


Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece


We would like to return to this very spot in the middle of summer

We would like to return to this very spot in the middle of summer


Jennifer on the hike from Oia to Thira on Santorini Island

Jennifer on the hike from Oia to Thira on Santorini Island


Picturesque Pathway in Oia

Picturesque Pathway in Oia


Windmill in Oia

Windmill in Oia

We enjoyed a couple dinners at the wonderful Naoussa Tavern. We were treated so well there and the food was AMAZING. We made promises to the chef and staff that we would return someday.

Tirokafteri made with five different types of cheese! Briam (oven-baked veggies), a very special pork souvlaki-type dish and Baklava with a bottomless carafe of house red. We ate dinner Greek-style, spending about 3.5 hours at the restaurant.

Tirokafteri made with five different types of cheese! Briam (oven-baked veggies), a very special pork souvlaki-type dish and Baklava with a bottomless carafe of house red. We ate dinner Greek-style, spending about 3.5 hours at the restaurant.

After a weather delay in Santorini, we made it to Istanbul where we met our friend, Kim. After 5.5 months traveling it was great to see a familiar face from home. We really enjoyed the chance to explore this beautiful city together.

To quote Kim:  Reunited and it feels so good!

To quote Kim: Reunited and it feels so good!


Jennifer and Kim looking out of the huge window in our room at Metropolis Hostel

Jennifer and Kim looking out of the huge window in our room at Metropolis Hostel

Jennifer and Kim being approached by a man selling Simit (sesame encrusted bread rings)

Jennifer and Kim being approached by a man selling Simit (sesame encrusted bread rings)


Jennifer at Jennifer's Haman

Jennifer at Jennifer's Haman

Egyptian Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Egyptian Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Floating Fish Market, Istanbul

Floating Fish Market, Istanbul


Robert and Jennifer chowing down a fish sandwich from the floating fish market on the Bosphorus

Robert and Jennifer chowing down a fish sandwich from the floating fish market on the Bosphorus

Jennifer with a Shisha at the famous Palatium Cafe, Istanbul

Jennifer with a Shisha at the famous Palatium Cafe, Istanbul

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul


Sultan Ahmed (Blue Mosque), Istanbul

Sultan Ahmed (Blue Mosque), Istanbul


Stain glass windows at the Blue Mosque

Stain glass windows at the Blue Mosque

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul


Painted cups for sale at the Grand Bazaar

Painted cups for sale at the Grand Bazaar


Painting of Ottoman Empire Sultan -- Topkapi Palace

Painting of Ottoman Empire Sultan -- Topkapi Palace

Jennifer and Robert at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Jennifer and Robert at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

On St. Patrick's Day we went to Taksim Square, the place to be for pubs and nightlife in Istanbul. While we were there, we met some Turkish guys who invited us to watch 'The biggest football match of the year for Turks' with them. In fact, the only reason we were able to get into a bar to watch the game was because we were with them--every single table had been reserved. It was a lot of fun listening to the passion in their chants and songs during the game, which, thankfully, ended in a 2-2 tie.

Chairs and table spray-painted on the ground near Taksim Square, Istanbul

Chairs and table spray-painted on the ground near Taksim Square, Istanbul


Jennifer and Kim enjoying some beers in the Beyoglu District, Istanbul

Jennifer and Kim enjoying some beers in the Beyoglu District, Istanbul


Robert and his new Turkish friends cheering on Galatasaray S.K. football team

Robert and his new Turkish friends cheering on Galatasaray S.K. football team


Go Galatasaray!

Go Galatasaray!

According to Wikipedia, Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia. According to us, it's the best dessert on Earth:

Our new best friend, Baklava

Our new best friend, Baklava

Baklava!

Baklava!

The 3 of us decided to get out of the city for a few days so we booked a cheap flight to Cappadocia; a region in Southeast Turkey that is characterized by presence of fairy chimneys, ancient underground cities and for being a stop on the Old Silk Road.

What was especially interesting for us was our visit to Derinkuyu Underground City. This unique city is carved out of soft volcanic rock; it's 11 stories deep, about 85 meters (279 feet) in total. The Turkish Department of Culture estimates the city to have been built in the 8th-7th centuries B.C. There is a church down there as this city was used by early Christians escaping persecution. Also, there are many other underground cities in the area, several miles apart, which are connected with each other by underground tunnels! It can be a very tight squeeze down there!

Cartoon map of Derinkuyu Underground City, Cappadocia

Cartoon map of Derinkuyu Underground City, Cappadocia


Jennifer entering a living space in Derinkuyu

Jennifer entering a living space in Derinkuyu


Robert playing in the Underground City's children's playground (not fun)

Robert playing in the Underground City's children's playground (not fun)


Robert crouching into the tunnel desending to the next level at Derinkuyu Underground City

Robert crouching into the tunnel desending to the next level at Derinkuyu Underground City


Jennifer playing in the Underground City's children's playground (not fun)

Jennifer playing in the Underground City's children's playground (not fun)


Robert pretending to push the protective wheel to close off tunnel access for invaders

Robert pretending to push the protective wheel to close off tunnel access for invaders


Kim playing in the Underground City's children's playground (not fun)

Kim playing in the Underground City's children's playground (not fun)


Robert (with a green orb) laying in the tomb of Patron Saint of Derinkuyu

Robert (with a green orb) laying in the tomb of Patron Saint of Derinkuyu

Fairy chimneys are spires of rock that rise up from the bottom of badlands. They were created by the erosion of different types of volcanic rock and ash. They are all over Cappadocia. For thousands of years people have been carving homes and churches out of them.

Jennifer and Kim near the Selime Monastery, Cappadocia

Jennifer and Kim near the Selime Monastery, Cappadocia


Robert in an archway near Selime Monastery

Robert in an archway near Selime Monastery


Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia

Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia


Fairy Chimney with Roman Castle in Cappadocia

Fairy Chimney with Roman Castle in Cappadocia


Pottery tree overlooking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia

Pottery tree overlooking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia

Robert at Esentepe Panoramic View Point, Cappadocia

Robert at Esentepe Panoramic View Point, Cappadocia


George Lucas wanted to film the orginal Star Wars movie here but was denied permission by the Turkish Government so they used a photo instead.  Way to think that one through, Turkish Government

George Lucas wanted to film the orginal Star Wars movie here but was denied permission by the Turkish Government so they used a photo instead. Way to think that one through, Turkish Government


View from inside a structure near the Selime Monastery

View from inside a structure near the Selime Monastery


Jennifer and Robert resting near the old silk road

Jennifer and Robert resting near the old silk road


Robert and Kim taking a water break during hike around Rose Valley, Cappadocia

Robert and Kim taking a water break during hike around Rose Valley, Cappadocia


The World's Best Lentil Soup, Safak Cafe, Goreme, Cappadocia

The World's Best Lentil Soup, Safak Cafe, Goreme, Cappadocia


Playing Jungle Speed with the Gang at Cafe Safak in Goreme, Cappadocia

Playing Jungle Speed with the Gang at Cafe Safak in Goreme, Cappadocia


Turkish Flag with Cappadocian Sky

Turkish Flag with Cappadocian Sky

We have discovered that part of being with someone 24/7 for months on end means you have to agree to disagree sometimes

We have discovered that part of being with someone 24/7 for months on end means you have to agree to disagree sometimes

We had a blast in Turkey. After a long night of bus/train travel, including a 4 hour wait at the train station and a customs officer stamping our passports in our train cabin, we arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria this morning. Robert's good friend and roommate from college, Phil, and his wife Erin live here in town. They teach US History and Literature at a local high school. We're excited to meet them for dinner in a couple of hours!

Until next time,

J & R

Posted by JennyandRobert 07:11

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Comments

Kim, you made it! I want to om nom nom on the Simit and Baklava!

BS

by Bessie

Wow! What a wonderful trip you are having. I can't thank you enough for sharing it with such wonderful videos and pictures. I am always transported thousands of miles from home and feel almost like I'm there with you when I watch your videos. You pick the neatest things to video. It would never occur to me to video a baklava store, but it was so much fun to see the different pastries and wonder which ones you chose.

Where will you go next?

It hardly matters since you seem to have so much fun whereever the road leads. Your lives are blessed in so many ways.

Enjoy the journey!
Lynda

by Lynda

Jenn just finished your post - what intriguing places in Turkey..and Istanbul and its wonderful food of endless variety. Just wanted to suggest you and Robert watch Anthony Bourdain's short video on You Tube of his visit to Istanbul and his sampling of some wondrous foods there as well as brief summations of Istanbul from his viewpoint. Splendid little video indeed. Love Jan aka JP

by janet pratt

Wonderful posting! We have a group of friends we call the Turkish group, we meet for dinner now and then. They are a wonderful diverse people, the Turks! And I agree about baklava!

by Carolyn MacLaurin

Bob and Jenny,

So good to hear from both of you !! Once again I am so glad you have been to visit all over the world. The pictures of Greece are fantastic. I wish Grandma Mona had better vision and could see the pictures. She always told me that she wanted to see the Parthenon.

Love

Mom

by Lindy McGraw

Gosh I miss you guys! All three of you! Great post.

Love,
Rosa

by Rosa

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