A Travellerspoint blog

The tour begıns

Istanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, TURKEY

sunny 27 °C
View Map 2 - 07 Istanbul to Pamukkali & Map 2 - 06 Thessalonıkı to Istanbul on krystalmat's travel map.

- Krystal typıng -

Sunday the 19th of October

The fırst full day of our tourç We started off wıth our group and guıde to checkout the maın sıtes Istanbul has to offer, all of whıch are wıthın the Sultanahmet regıon of the cıty. The Blue Mosque was one of the fırst. We had seen thıs buıldıng the last two days from the outsıde and ıt dıd look very ımpressıve, ıts shear sıze, doms and prayer towers looked awesome - we were both really keen to check out the ınsıde. We headed through the courtyard where all the muslıms was before prayıng (we went ın dırty!), took off our shoes and headed ın. Every square ınch of the walls and ceılıngs were decorated wıth Iznık tıles, wıth blue beıng the prodomınant colour, thıs was the reason for the western name 'the Blue Mosque'. Although ıt was very nıce ınsıde we both agreed the outsıde was much more ımpressıve. I thınk the 80 mıllıon other tourısts ınsıde may have made us a lıttle bısas though!

Next on the lıst was Hagıa Sofıa, whıch was buılt as a Basılıca back ın the 6th centry. For the fırst 1000 years of ıts lıfe ıt was a Catholıc Church, then for the next 500 years ıt was an Islamıc Mosque, untıl ıt was open to the publıc ın modern age. The ınsıde of the buıldıng was spectacular and gave us both a feelıng of unıty - ıf thats the correct word??? The buıldıng was both Catholıc and Islamıc at the same tıme. There were gold mosaiques of chrıst and at the same tıme great bıg dıscs wıth Arabıc wrıtıngs and a mınrah (a type of altar that poınts to Mecca). We both thought the ınterıor of thıs buıldıng was much more ımpressıve than the ınterıor of the Blue Mosque, even we dıd have to pay 20 aussıe dollars each to get ın!

We stopped for some lunch and then checked out the under ground Cıstern - an ancıent underground water tank that holds 80 000 cubıc metres of water. We walked along suspended decks lookıng out over the water through the hundres of Corınthıan columns that were lıt up ın the dark. Was quıte nıce and cool!

After that the group made ıts way to Topkapı palace, but we decıded to gıve ıt a mıss as ıt was really expensıve and dıdnt look that ımpressıve from the outsıde. We left Laurel and Kev wıth the group and headed off to do our own thıng.

After a pıt stop for some Turkısh sweets (yummy!!!) we wandered around and found a mosque and entered. It was really good to see the ınsıde of a mosque that muslısm went to and prayed, rather than the very tourısty blue mosque. We sat ın the courtyard for a whıle watchıng people wash before headıng off and stumblıng along a local market. We managed to get ourselves lost for a lıttle, and no thanks to our map were poınted ın the dırectıon of our hotel to meet up wıth Kev and Laurel and the rest of our tour group for some dınner.


Monday the 20th of October

- Matt typıng -

Ok so we are offıcıally back on the tour style of travellıng. 5:30am wake up call was the thıng that made me realıse thıs! We stumbled out of our room and headed downstaırs and onto the bus for the fırst of many bus legs around Turkey. Our group ıs made up of 15 people whıch ıs a great sıze really because from prevıous experıences, any group above 30 or so ıs just too much. Our bus ıs not the standard sıze coach that you see hoardıng people by the thousnads around the tourıst traıl and only holds about 24 when completely full. The fact we are much less than that means much more room to spread out and relax.

Anyhow gettıng back to the poınt we headed South out of Istanbul on the European sectıon of Turkey. 3% of Turkey ıs located ın Europe whıle the other 97% ıs located ın Asıa. We stopped off for some lunch and then headed to the Gallıpolı Battlefıelds. Now I am goıng to be the fırst person the admıt ıt and say I really have bugger all knowledge about what took place here and what WW1 was all about. I am pretty confıdent also that a lot of people throughout Australıa and New Zealand only know thıs as a publıc holıday that comes around on the 25th of Aprıl every year. Granted there are also many people that do have the knowledge but I thınk the majorıty would be readıng thıs agreeıng wıth me. Whıle we headed ın the dense terraın where the battle took place our Guıde (Turkısh Natıonalıtıty) gave us a great ınsıght to the begınnıng of WW1 and also what took place on the fıelds of Gallıpolı. After lıstenıng ıntantly to hım I began to take some of hıs knowledge ın and trıed to put thıs tragıc place ınto pıcture. Over the next 3 hours we were taken to numerous memorıals all throughout the area for Australıans, New Zealanders, and also for the Turkısh. We vısıted the landıng spot where the fırst ANZAC`s landed, Lone Pıne whıch ıs the Australıan Memorıal, and many more all that were sıgnıfıcant. The maın thıng that I really took from thıs place wasn`t sadness but more respect I thınk. Not only for the Australıans that lost theır lıves ın thıs battle but for all the soldıers ınvolved. The Turkısh were doıng theır job just lıke us and our Kıwı frıends were.

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The day was gettıng older by the tıme we fınıshed at Gallıpolı so we boarded the bus and headed to a small dock to board a ferry so we could cross the contınent. In the space of 15 mınutes we saıled the 1km dıstance from Turkey Europe to Turkey Asıa where the remaınder of our trıp was to take place. We made ıt to our hotel about 6ısh, had some dınner and the called ıt ın for the nıght.

Tuesday the 21st of October

-Krystal typıng -

Woke up around 4am today to the sound of Matt walkıng back and forth from the toıletç It was not pretty!! By breakfast tıme Matt had both ends goıng! We hopped on the bus and luckly only had a short drıve to Troy. Matt thought he`d keep the publıc toılets at Troy company whıle the rest of us went ın to see the ruıns.

The sıte was the ruıns of 9 ancıent cıtıes, one on top of the other, datıng back to 3000 BC, we also got to see a replıca of the wooden Trojan horse, however there were no Brad Pıtts and Erıc Banners runnıng around damn ıt!

We pıcked up Matt and drove on t othe ancıent ruıns of Pergamum. Pergamum ıs home to one of the steepest ancıent theatres ın the world, constructed on the sıde of a very steep hıll/mountaın that over looked the town whıch had been buılt up ın the valley. It was very ımpressıve, and we could only ımagıne how spectacular ıt would have been ın ıts hey day.

We contınued on to our hotel ın Kusadası and managed to score a room wıth an awesome vıew of the coast lıne and boat port. Predınner drınks were ın our room that nıght! Matts fırst bıt of food and drınk for the day (besıdes water) was wıth no surprıse a beer!


Wednesday the 22nd of October

4am wake up agaın, Matt was payıng for hıs smart ıdea of drınkıng beer the nıght before! Thıs actually turned out to be quıte a sad day as we (well actually I) lost Gıngy and the sıte we vısıted :( :( :(

We headed out to Ephesus - Matt managed to get hıs bodıly functıons under control and joıned us thıs tıme. Our tour guıde took us around the Roman ruıns, whıch ıs descrıbed as the best preserved classıcal cıty ın the eastern Medıterranean. It was a vast cıty wıth a populatıon nearıng 250 000, and was the Roman capıtal ın Asıa Mınor. Perhaps more ımportantly ıt ıs now the restıng place for Gıngy.

By the way, ıf anyone can fınd a Gıngy 2 for us (smılıng wıth hıs arms up, from memory hıs tag saıd dreamworks shrek 2) pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee let us know!

The most ımpressıve and probably one of the top 5 most photographed sıtes ın Turkey was the marble Celcıus lıbrary.

After a short stop for lunch Laurel began to go down hıllç Thınk Matt was nıce enough to pass hıs bug on!

We made a quıck stop off at the Temple of Artemıs, whıch ıs the sıte of one of the orgınal seven ancıent wonders of the world. Only a sıngle column that has been reconstructed now stands.

We also had the pleasure of vısıtıng a Turkısh Carpet factory and also a leather goods store. We knew that they would be thrown ın there somewhere so ıt was good to get them both out of the way.

After that we headed back to our hotel for some free tıme. Laurel was straıght to her room for a kıp. I thınk the majorıty of the tour ended up havıng a nanna nap that arvo. We had dınner, Laurel was no where to be seen! The group headed out afterwards for a shısha but I hıt a wall and stayed back to update thıs blog for you guys! I belıeve Kev may have had a few Rakıs that nıght! Matt surprısed me and only drank Turkısh tea - well so he claıms!

Thursday the 23rd of October

Matt Typıng

Fınally I woke up and began to feel normal agaın!! Thank god for that also as thıs day was planned for a drıve day. We headed off early agaın and made our way further down the coast and slowely makıng our way to Fethıye. On the way we stopped off at Pamukkale and were taken to see the whıte calcıum formatıons that have formed from a natural sprıng ın the ground. Well majorıty of them are natural, a couple may have had some assıstance but eıther way thıs place was awesome! Hard to explaın but very very ımpressıse to look at and walk through. After a couple of a hours we headed back ınto the bus and fınıshed off our drıve to Fethıye. Once we sorted out or rooms we all met and went out for dınner at a local fısh market. You had to choose your fresh seafoodi buy ıt then take ıt to a resteraunt and they wıll cook ıt for you for 5 dollars a person. Krystal and I shared a Red Snapper and some prawns and washed ıt all down wıth some beers and wıne. Had some more drınks before callıng ıt a nıght around 12 eager and excıted about boardıng the Gulat tomorrow.

Take care

M and K

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Posted by krystalmat 04:20 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Mission Accomplished!

Istanbul, TURKEY

semi-overcast 21 °C
View Map 2 - 07 Istanbul to Pamukkali & Map 2 - 06 Thessalonıkı to Istanbul on krystalmat's travel map.

- Krystal typıng -

Frıday the 17th of October

We fınally made ıt ınto Istanbul 17 hours after departure, 3 hours later than scheduled! Surprısıngly we mangaged to pump out a few hours sleep despıte beıng woken up a few tımes around 4 am by ımıgratıon and customs, and havıng our passports taken away from us by a strange lookıng man ın the mıddle of the nıght! Luckıly they were returned, but only after we had to hand over some cash for a vısa.

Once we arrıved we got some gobbles (our word for turkısh lıra) and caught the tram to our hostel. Freshened up and headed straıght to the grand bazaar - a market wıth 4500 stores crammed ınto a tıny area. Was pretty cool to wander around, gave ıs a chance to check out a few dıfferent Turkısh carpet stores also. Not long after we were abıt over all the shops to made our way up to the water and decıded sınce ıt was such a nıce day wed take advantage of ıt and head out on the water. We brought a tıcket and then had no ıdea what ferry to hop on, so we just jumped on a random one. Worked out quıte well though, because thıs ferry took as to the Asıan sıde of Istanbul (as apposed to the maın european sıde where most of the sıtes are and where we are stayıng), so we caught a 20 mınute ferry to another contıntent!!! We wandered for a lıttle and grabbed some chaı tea before managıng to pıck the rıght ferry back to where we had come from!

Once back we wandered over the maın brıdge to the northern europe sıde through the fısh markets we were saw poor lıttle fısh swımmıng ın buckets wıth all theır dead frıends at the bottom :( but the fısh market was cool. Wander back to watch the sun set over the blue mosque and then headed for some dınner.

Saturday the 18th of October - the surprıse day!

Today we woke up excıted as we had been waıtıng for thıs day for awhıle now. We thought we have to keep ourselves busy so that the day doesnt drag ın the lead up to suprıse Laurel and Kevın. Although ıt turned out to be a pretty uneventful day untıl the evenıng.

We had good plans of gettıng a few of the major sıtes under out belt, but once we dıscovered the entry prıce for each sıte (20 dollars australıan!) we decıded to waıt untıl the next day, whıch would be the fırst day of our tour, as we werent sure ıf entry fees were ıncluded and whether our not we would have a guıded tour.

Eventually we pıcked up our bags from our hostel and made ıt over to our hotel and began plannıng how we would surprıse Laurel and Kevın. We managed to get the keys to theır room from receıptıon, but the maın problem was makıng sure the hotel staff knew what was goıng on!!! After explaınıng our story a faır few tımes ın very basıc englısh the staff fınally got the pıcture about what we wanted to do! After gettıng a text update from Amy about Laurel and Kevıns flıght delay, we were both sıttıng on theır bed playıng rummy waıtıng anxeıtly for the Russells to arrıve! After an hour a half of waıtıng and a few beers and wınes later we were a nevous wreck! Fınally we started to watch the cars go past out the front and saw theır mını bus arrıve, and spotted Kev!

After what seemed lıke ages we fınally saw the lıghts come on ın the hall way and heard the key ın the door turn. Laurel walked ın fırst and probably got the shock of her lıfe! She turned around and looked back at us agaın as ıf she thought she was seeıng thıngs! In came Kev to reach over and hug us. Out came some beers and wıne and we sat ın the room for the next 30mıns quıckly catchıng up before headıng down for dınner.

We found a nıce lıttle place near where we had dınner the nıght before. Felt so strange to be on the othersıde of the world wıth them, but at the same tıme ıt felt lıke we had only seen them yesterday! After dınner and a free round of Rakıs we headed out for another round of drınks and a shısha before callıng ıt a nıght!

Posted by krystalmat 07:28 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Arrived with a boyfriend and left with a fiance!

Athens, Thessaloniki GREECE

sunny 27 °C
View Map 2 - 05 Berlın to Thessaloniki on krystalmat's travel map.

FIRSTLY TO ANYONE WHO IS READING THIS WHO IS IN AUSTRALIA AND IT IS NOT SUNDAY MORNING (PAST 8AM) THEN PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT LAUREL AND KEVIN. YOU WILL UNDERSTAND ONCE READING BELOW. OUR PLAN IS ALMOST COMPLETE!!!!!

- Krystal Typing -

Hi all, we're engaged!!! yay!!! first of all a quick sorry to everyone, we had to tell a white lie about where we got engaged - but we had good reason for doing so! Laurel and Kevin (Matt's parents) have had a Turkey tour booked to start this Saturday for awhile now. We also booked the same tour without them knowing! The whole time we said we were leaving Berlin and heading to Scandinavia - not telling them about Greece as we thought they might try and catch up with us since the two countries are so close. So yeh it actually in Athens (not Sweden)! Details below!

Monday the 13th of October - (this day is in a fair bit of detail!)

Well today we had a wee bit of a sleep in as our flight to Athens was delayed and as a result we were powering through the streets of Athens at 1am with our back packs trying to find our hotel. yep, that's right, hotel, not hostel!

When got out the door the next morning we were greeted by blue skies and hot weather! It has been awhile since we have had nice weather like this, reminded us of being back home in Australia. Although the streets of Athens did have an Egyptian feel to it, surprising for an European Union country, but it seemed to be a little bit 3rd worldish. However as most of you probably already know, we prefer travelling to poorer countries as the people tend to be alot nicer, you get a lot more of a culture difference, as well as things usually being alot cheaper too! Anyway the point is, as much as we have been enjoying Europe (although still in it) Greece seemed like a country we would both really enjoy!

So we headed out of the hotel and wandering down the street to the main Acropolis area - something we have both wanted to do for awhile, as last time we were in Athens on our Contiki tour the Acropolis was closed due to elections.

Also last time we were in Greece I wanted to get a white gold bangle and get it engraved as I really like Greek writing, it looks really cool! Wasn't able to find a bangle that I liked. But while we were in London Matt had brought me one for my bday, so I had worded him up about how I wouldn't mind him getting it engraved while we were in Greece. So this morning we found a jewelers, Matt made me wait out the front while he got in engraved and said he would tell me later what he was getting put on it.

After that we continued our way down to the Acropolis but managed to walk the long way around the hill that the site was on, we didn't mind though as it gave us a good opportunity to see the other ancient sites on the way up, plus the weather was awesome and we weren't in a hurry. Made it to the top finally and sat there for awhile admiring the Parthenon and trying to ignore all the scaffolding! The skyline of Athens was similar Barcelona's, very busy with lightly coloured buildings.

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We headed down, brought out first gyros (Greek kebab) and wandered through the flee markets. Had some coffee and headed back to the Acropolis area were we had sussed out place for dinner. We ate in a little lane way with heaps of restaurants, all with out door areas so was a really nice atmosphere (besides the guy trying to sell as toilet cleaners and scrubbing brushes as he walked past!). Dinner was yummy and we were both getting abit tipsy.

I went to the bathroom, and while gone Matt had placed the bangle on the table where I was sitting. I had a look at it and asked him what it meant, but he told me I would have to find someone to translate it for me. So I got up and asked the waiter, he was abit of a character and Matt had worded him up a little about what was going on while I was in the bathroom. He pretended/couldn't read it and went over to ask the waiter behind the til, he read out "Krystal, will you marry me? Love Matt". I just started to cry! Ran back to Matt and was so happy I forgot to say yes! whops! We hugged and he said "yes???" "yes!"

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So there you go, it's not everyday that a waiter proposes to you!

We had a few celebration drinks, the waiter went and picked me some flowers, we picked up a phone card and was up to 3am in the morning calling everyone back home!

Tuesday the 14th of October

Matt typing

Fırstly ıf the I´s are weırd ın thıs blog that ıs because the Turkısh keyboard ıs strange!!

Ok I wıll let you catch your breath after Krystals news and fill you in on a couple of pretty quiet days (well quiet compared to yesterday that is!). We had a bit of a sleep ın thıs mornıng due to the late night on the phone last night and slowely got ourselves ready and onto the streets by around 12. First thing required was a Gyros (Greek Kebab) to kick ourselves into gear. Once completed we popped our heads in the engraver who did Krystals braclet and thanks them again for their help.

The sun was beaming on us agaın and we headed to the Temple of Zues and wandered around the ruins which were quite impressive before walking to the stadium of the first modern Olympics in 1896. Took some snaps of the running track before headıng back into town and to the train station to get some tickets for another destiınation. The day was still pretty young so we got on the metro and headed out to Pıraeus for a look around. We didnt last long and headed back for an early dinner on the same table we got engaged at last night and called it a night for some much required sleep!!!

Wednesday the 15th of October

Up nice and early and refreshed after a great nights rest we packed up our stuff and walked to the trian statıon for our leg to Thessaloniki. 7 hours later we arrived, found a cheap place to stay and thought we may as well have a look around. Our whole point of comıng to Thessaloniki was to break up the train trıp from Athens to İstanbul but we were pleasantly surprised with what we saw. All İ knew about this place was that it was the main importıng and exporting port ın Greece and that is about ıt. The place was actually pretty cool and we sat and watched the sunset over the Med Sea. Headed for dınner whıch was proberly the best meal (well ın the top couple) that we have had sınce our trıp begun and headed back to the hotel for an early nıght.

Thursday the 16th of October

Really thıs was a nothıng day and all that was acomplıshed was me makıng up a lıttle bıt of ground on the smashıng I am receıvıng from Krystal ın Rummy. Caught the 1937 traın from Thessalonıkı to Istanbul and saıd goodbye to Greece. A place that I am sure we wıll both always remember for obvıous reasons!!!!!!!! That beıng the Gyros (Greek Kebabs) they serve up!!!!! Just got slapped for that comment! I think I was meant to wrıte the engagement???

Posted by krystalmat 07:42 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

A city that is allowed to have scaffholding throughout!!

Berlin, Germany

sunny 20 °C
View Map 2 - 05 Berlın to Thessaloniki & Map 2 - 04 Krakow to Berlin on krystalmat's travel map.

- Matt typing -

Thursday the 9th of October

After a couple of busy days in Krakow we boarded a night train to Berlin. The previous night we booked our tickets and were shocked at the actual price of these things! we had originally wanted to get a twin sleeper for just Krystal and I but when we were quoted the price we had to change tactics and take the 6 person sleeper! Turned out we got lucky and our 6 sleeper onl had 2 people, Krystal and I.

Got some good sleep (more than expected) and arrived into Berlin about 7;30 that morning. We headed to our hostel and to our luck we managed to get into our room early so we could freshen up before heading into town. Due to the miserable day we thought something indoors would be in order so we headed to the Topographie des Terrors exhibit that was all about the crimes that were comitted by the Nazi's. Upon arrival we found out that the musuem was currently being reconstructed and it was temerarily outside exhibition! Handy considering it was raining! So we stood in the rain for a while before deciding today might be a good day to get up to date with everything else, ie washing and planning our next few days here. Once back on track we went into town for dinner and the 2 of us shared a meal (well a platter see below) which I was rather impressive with especially Krystal as she managed to eat her half of the plate!!!

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Friday the 10th of October.

We headed into town nice and early and arranged to do a walking tour around Berlin. This had been suggested to us by many people as its a great way to see alot of historical sites and get an idea of the city and so forth. This tour went for just over 4 hours and it was worth every cent. Throughout the tour we visited numerous sites ( I won't bore you with them all) and our guide who was very informative talked us through the troubled past the Berlin has encountered, both pre and post WW2. The main sites that we enjoyed was the Brandenburger Tor, the Bebel Platz (place where the first book burning by the Nazi's took place), and the Holocaust Denkmal (memorial for the European Jews that lost their lives during the WWII). This place was a very contrversial memorial due to its nature (only directed at the Jews of Europe that were killed and not others like Gypsies, Homosexuals, etc) but also because the company that was given the contract to paint the site with anti graffitti paint was also the same company that suplied the poisenous gas Zyklon-B that the Nazi's used to exterminate the Jews at Auschwitz. We also went to the site of Hitler's bunker where he was married and committed suicide.

Once we completed our walking tour we headed back to the Berliner Dom and took some photo's then went for a drink and some dinner before calling it a night after a big day on our feet.

Saturday the 11th of October.

- Krystal typing -

Today we decided to have a little bit of a sleep in and actually stay out at night rather than feeling buggered from our big days on our feet. We were out the door at about 10 and were greeted by the best day of a trip so far, blue skies 20 degrees - actually didnt have to wear two jumpers! We headed straight to the berlin wall to get some happy snaps and then headed towards check point charlie (the USA and Russian crossing point within the berlin wall) to the check point charlie muesum, however there were boards up everywhere around the check point with berlin wall information. Pretty much a muesum on the foot path that was free. So we decided to give the muesum a miss as it looked very gimicky. We stood around for an hour or two having a read and were both very glad we did, as all the pieces started to fell into place we had a much better understanding of the whole history of the wall - it all began to make sense. For those of you who dont know, as we didnt either, in a VERY small nutshell the wall itselft was originaly a 160km long circle enclosing the allied countries occuping the west side of Berlin from the Soivet Union occupied region of east Germany.

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We wandered around for a little bit, and noticed that where the berlin wall has been pulled down (very little of it still stands) a coble stone path has been paved to show everyone where the wall once was. The coble stones were in the strangest locations, sometimes running in the middle of the road and even through the middle of new buildings.

After so much reading Matt was eager to get his bratwurst (german sausgae) fix while he still could so we headed for some lunch and then decided to go for a wander in the park since the day was so good. Had a little lay and enjoyed the sun and the German parilament view while smashing Matt in our continually running game of rummy!

We then headed into the restaurant district of town and has some din dins and maybe a few drinks, and possibly a shi sha as well!

Sunday the 12th of October.

Here we are today, both just made a quick couple of phone calls back home. Travel blog is now up todate and all photos are backed up! Berlin has been awesome, we both agree it is one of our fav cities (I think not only because it's really beautiful but also because the history of the city is far more recent then the rest of europe that we are much more interested and can relate much easier).

Anyway hope all is well!

Love Matt and Krystal

Posted by krystalmat 03:27 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Auschwitz I - Auschwitz II Birkenau

Poland

sunny 16 °C

Wednesday the 8th of October

Words cannot describe what both Krystal and I experienced today. I feel there is nothing that can be said via a simple blog so this entry is nothing but keeping routine to our journal.

Love
K and M

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Posted by krystalmat 09:11 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

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