VISITING KONSTANTINOPLE - TURKEY
Trip Start Aug 15, 2003
56Trip End May 01, 2009
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It's the 5th of June, luckily my students are having their Greek Final exams at school, we have stopped English for a week, and I get the opportunity to visit Turkey this time. Actually my husband organizes this trip and there are a group of people (44 in all) traveling along with us in a coach.
We set off early in the morning at 7.30 and we have a stop in LAMIA for a cup of coffee. An hour later we are off again heading for PLATAMONA where we have lunch. We are driving along Egnatia Highway, and late in the afternoon we reach our hotel in KOMOTINI. I am anxious to see if we have a nice room and have a shower. We are all a bit tired but hungry, and at the same time we want to get to know the place as much as we can.
We arrange with some friends to meet in half an hour and walk to the centre of the city for dinner
There was a music festival taking place that night. The hotel was about a kilometer in the suburbs and the walk was just what we needed to stretch out a bit after the 10 hours of driving up there.
The majority are Greeks, but many Moslems who have the Greek citizenship live up here. We saw many Minarets scattered in the city, and Moslem women walking in the streets wearing their long dresses up to the ankles, and their mantila (scarf). Many children running up and down the streets, and many tavernas and restaurants selling kebab.
After breakfast we set off again, this time for the boarders (KIPI)
My husband kept telling the travelers to have their passports ready to avoid any delay.....From the very beginning of the trip the previous day and this morning he reminds everyone that we have to show either our identity cards or Passports. He was assured that everything was ok. The moment comes for the Turkish Authorities to check everyone of us while stepping off the bus and going to the Duty Free Shop......and a person among the group says that he did not bring along his passport or identity card, but that he was carrying the statement which he shows to the bank every time he receives his Pension....He was half smiling nervously, and half crying
Luckily he has his grandchild in KOMOTINI studying at University there so my husband lent him some money at least to get a taxi and be driven back to Komotini, and afterwards get the bus for his hometown the next day!!!
Everyone felt sorry for him, and was thinking about him but there was nothing much we could do, so we left him behind and continued on, to the Turkish country now.
We reach the city of REDESTOS where we have lunch. Kebab was what we had, and home made yoghurt. While eating at least 10 young males came around us ....very disturbing. They were trying to sell us bottles of Perfume ....actually water and some scent. They were annoying and disturbing us and some women bought one or two bottles just to have some privacy and let them enjoy their lunch. Others were selling shirts and scarves.
We reach our hotel which was centrally situated at Taxim Square.
It was the Euro Plazza 3 star hotel.....My impressions?
I've never been to such a hotel in my entire life
Isolation between the rooms. My mum was in the room next to ours and we could hear her opening the plastic bag to get the sponge out. It was as if there was NO WALL AT ALL!!!
And another surprise concerning that hotel was the following morning when we went for breakfast. Suddenly there was no food in the trays, and people seeing that there was nothing they were stepping forward getting just a cup of tea or coffee and a piece of cake. I remember I was the one who told our group not to move but queue in the breakfast room until breakfast was brought.
We were standing there for at least 20 minutes.... More than 40 people waiting so when the Turks saw that no one was moving they were compelled to fetch breakfast. Luckily the rest of the visitors other than our group were patiently waiting in line with the rest of the Greek people wondering what was happening.
The last and worse surprise I had from this hotel was the very last night when something must have bitten me from the mattress. My legs were itching me and the leg got red and swell.
Anyway enough about this hotel, ....
Our first visit was where the Ecumenic Patriarch lives, and then we move on to PANAYIA VLACHERNON, as well as an old Monastery called BALOUKLI... All these places belong to the Greek.
We have dinner at a nice restaurant that night.
The 3rd day we have a tour around the city of Constantinople. We visit the Palace of DOLMA BAXE, where we see the biggest chandelier found in the world. .....At least this was what we were taught!! It weights 4.5 tons. Then we visit the BLUE MOSQUE of Sultan Achmet. Then we pay a visit to AYIA SOPHIA... The biggest Christian Church. A pity to see this huge building filled with minarets and be turned to an exhibition centre!!!!
We get the ferry later on from VOSPOROS and sail along.
Lastly we pay a visit to the covered Market where 4.000 shops are found...I myself bought nothing else but spices and some tea!!!
The 4th day we get in a boat again and visit the Island of PRINGIPOS, where we pay a visit to the Theological School of Chalki. We had lunch and returned back to the hotel
We had dinner that night at a nightclub with Greek Music and Oriental Dancing.
The last day we visited some other touristic sights like TOP KAPI as it is called and we leave Constantinople for the Greek borders.
We reached early in the afternoon ALEXANDROUPOLI. It is just 20 minutes from the boarders, and we had a stroll there getting to know the place.
We reached KOMOTINI late in the afternoon, and the next day we were driven back to our city.....
Impressions!!! The Turkish people were FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL I can admit. The centre and the touristic places look like a European country, but if you decide to do some walking a bit outside the touristic area then you get another picture which is not good.
Very poor neighborhoods with too much rubbish scattered in the streets, and looking through the windows you can see very little furniture....or rooms with just a bed and a wardrobe.
This trip was actually a PILGRIMAGE to the Greek Treasures which the Turks have now. I would probably one day have the chance to visit other parts of Turkey and be able to write more.
Another trips is coming to an end.....the next one in a week from now visiting a Greek Island....