Monday, January 23, 2012

Hong Kong revisited

Chinese New Year.

We flew to Hong Kong on the way home from Turkey. We had stayed there two weeks earlier, so we were familiar with the hotel and it's surrounds. It was situated close to the Star Ferry terminal, which made it easy to walk to the harbour and the shops. We stayed three nights
Preparations were underway for the Chinese New Year. Lots of people and decorations all over the city.
The day we flew home was the first day of the Chinese New Year holiday. We just missed the parade and the fireworks as we had to leave for the airport before the roads were all closed. Glad we were there a few days before the holiday got into full swing, as lots of  businesses were going to be closed for the three days.

We had fun buying watches 

Nathan Road

In Toys R Us - a little boy dressed up for New Year!

View from our hotel room

Hong Kong Harbour
Killing five hours at  Hong Kong Airport. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Last day in Istanbul... last day in Turkey

Having breakfast in the "roof bar" of our hotel . A great view of this part of Istanbul.

Saying good bye to our tour friends at breakfast. Some had already left on early morning flights.

We had a whole day to fill in before we had to leave for the airport.  We filled in the day easily. Joy, Steve and us went exploring from our hotel. We walked a long way to get  to the Bosphorus River. We liked the dentist sign. We caught the public mini bus back up the hill to the hotel. That was an experience in itself.

Our hotel room overlooked this school. The picture of Ataturk  on the building was not a surprise to us. We heard a lot about the hero of  Modern Turkey - Mustafa  Kemal Ataturk.  He seemed to be everywhere!

Steve and Joy having  coffee at the Bosphorus with us

Here we are on the other side of the table at the cafe. Not sure why Rick looks so fat! We only had hot chocolate.
Soon it was time to say farewell  to our new friends and leave Istanbul. We had a midnight flight to Hong Kong.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Istanbul walking tour

On the last day of the tour we walked around the old city - Sultanahmet, where the influence and history of the Ottoman Empire is most obvious.  We toured the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia as well as the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. It was wonderful to see these amazing historical places.
Hippodrome.. stadium where they raced chariots and other sports and entertainment. 

Approaching the Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque - Sultanahmet Mosque

The Blue Mosque - Sultanahmet Mosque

Topkapi Palace

In the vast grounds of Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace overlooking the Marmara Sea

Sultans' mausoleum at Topkapi Palace

Hagia Sophia

John, Joy, Richard and Patty resting at the Hagia Sophia

Grand  Bazaar

I bought some jewellery here.

Walking between the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar late afternoon. It was freezing but lots of fun.
We had a farewell dinner with the tour. The two men at the front are the driver and the assistant who got us hot drinks ( apple tea or coffee) while we were on the bus and generally looked after us. The tour director is there too. We had a great group of people. We were very lucky.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back in Istanbul

Markets near the Yeni Mosque

 The magnificant Yeni Mosque in Istanbul, down by the Bosphorus. "Yeni " means new... 16th  or 17th Century I think.

The colour scheme was  predominantly blue in the Yeni Mosque. Another open floor plan which is typical of mosques in the Ottoman period.
Famous old Spice Bazaar

Monday, January 16, 2012


 Ottoman Sultans' Mausoleum near the Green Mosque in Bursa. It was lovely to see the beautiful green/turquoise tiles.

Outside the Mausoleum. The Green Mosque closed to visitors. It is called the Green Mosque becuase of the colour of the tiles used. We saw the same tiles in the Mausoleum next door. Our tour director took us to another mosque which was intersting to see. I had to cover my head and we had to take off our shoes.

We were taken through a mosque in Bursa , which was very interesting .We felt welcome, even though we were tourists.

 Lovely open spaces for the worshippers in this mosque. This is the Ottoman influence that is found in Turkey. The Arabic mosques (  with Moorish influence) that we saw in Spain, have lots of pillars and as a result, a much less open feeling.

Bursa markets
We spent some free time in this market next to the mosque in Bursa.

Turkey has a big textile industry. These were lovely shirts. Should have bought some but it was such an effort in the cold weather, for Rick to try them on and work out the sizes.
Leaving Bursa took longer than schedules because of the snowfall. The roads were congested as they are apparently not used to so much snow in this area. We were delayed about 4 hours in total today, but we were still  able to  fit in everything on the itinerary.

This is the hotel we stayed in Bursa. It was a modern  5-star hotel, designed in the style of an ancient caravansary on the Silk Road. This is looking out on the open courtyard where the traders would have gathered. The rooms are around the outside of the quadrangle area. The pool is a little snowed in!

Waiting to catch the car ferry across the Marmara Sea to Istanbul. We were amusing ourselves while waiting for the ferry by singing ABBA songs. By the time we reached Istanbul, the sun came out and the snow disappeared.