July 9, 2012
Woo hoo, our flight went without any problems from Crete/Athens/Istanbul… and, we had luggage!! We arrived in Istanbul late evening. Our friend, Julide, was going to pick us up, but she was uncertain which airline to pick us up. We had written so many emails back and forth prior to the trip-- I was nuts trying to plan for such a long trip and Julide had been touring in the U.S. while we were in Greece, so we were both busy and distracted. Also, I did not always have wi-fi, so quick communication was more difficult once we were in route; and looking back through the numerous emails was difficult when you are looking for a specific piece of info. We did find a pay phone and called her cell, she was already at the airport and made it to our terminal within minutes.
You have to realize the purpose of our trip to Greece and Turkey was to see our friends whom we had met through Rotary International. They came to Oklahoma in 1997 and toured our state for four or maybe six weeks. They stayed three nights in Cushing and became our friends for life! Julide has traveled back to the U.S. several times leading groups of Turkish tourists; and she has also done an exchange teaching program in the U.S. She is a tour guide (and an English teacher); which works out very nice for us… but the best part is our friendship! We did meet up with her on one of her later trips to Oklahoma and got to spend some time with her. Julide lives in Istanbul, which is located in the Northwestern part of Turkey.
Filiz, was also a Rotary GSE (Group Study Exchange) member who actually stayed in our home during their tour of Cushing. We love Filiz as well and we have communicated via email for 15 years. Filiz is a Petroleum Engineer and works for the Turkish Government. She also made a trip to Houston for business one time, and was able to visit in Cushing for a couple days. We cherish her friendship, she is so sweet! She lives in Ankara, which is the capital City, and I will call it the central area of Turkey.
Dr. Irfan was another member of the GSE team and we had lost contact with him over the years, but Julide let him know we were coming to Turkey and he wanted us to come see him in Antalya. We are blessed to have regained the contact and now have another dear friend. He is a general surgeon in Antalya. Antalya is located on the Southern tip of Turkey along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. His flat over-looks the sea, but we managed to put up with the view! I guess someone had to do it! …to say the least, his flat and the view were both gorgeous and we laughed so much with him!
Everyone was so generous and kind to us as we made our visit to see him or her in their respective cities in which they live. I am so glad that after all these years we finally made that connection with them and that we got to see their beautiful country. Filiz has asked us for years, “When are you coming?” Finally, we made it; we just had to find the right time. There were two other team members, but Puren is living abroad in London and Nezaket was not available when we visited in Ankara. We thought we would get to see her, but timing did not coordinate... maybe next time for Nez and Puren.
Each area of the country we traveled had so much to offer as far as sites or things to see, but our time with each of them is what we cherish the most.
We arrived and made connections with Julide first in Istanbul. We began to make our way through traffic starting from the European side, with our goal to get across the bridge to the Asian side where Julide lived. It really wasn’t far from the airport but getting across the bridge took about two hours because of construction and because of Istanbul traffic. We literally crawled at a snail’s pace, but believe me the rest of our time in Istanbul was anything but slow! Julide can walk faster than anyone I know! And there were times we needed to walk fast, or rather she did and we jogged behind her trying to keep up. At times I laughed so hard I could hardly jog! So many funny memories with her; and we had the pleasure of meeting her boyfriend, Tolga, and spending time with him as well. We loved Tolga too!
Anyway, July 10th was our first full day in Istanbul, and Julide was scheduled to guide a tour for a Princess cruise ship that day. We knew her tour was scheduled, but she had other plans for us while she did that. We all took the ferry in early morning back to the Asian side of the Bosphorus Strait, which is the dividing factor of the two sides.
There was much to see along the way on the ferry ride. The Haydarpasa Train Station was one of the spectacular sites. It is the busiest rail terminal in Turkey. It has connections to the bus and ferry services and the tram is only a few blocks away from the station. The building itself is beautiful.
|Haydarpasa Train Station on the Bosphorus. The station opened in 1872.|
|View as we approached closer|
|Station from the front and Pier|
There was a fire on the roof in 2010 and the station is now being renovated
To be Continued: Dolmabahce Palace