The Cruise

World cruise on the Dawn Princess starting in Sydney on May 21, 2010 and sailing west around the world for 104 days.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Sunday June 27, 2010

Day 37 Istanbul
After docking at Istanbul this morning, we went on tour of this beautiful city. We began with the hippodrome, which was once a colossal stadium for chariot races, and was able to hold 100,000 spectators. Constantine brought classical treasures such as the obelisk from the Temple of Karnak in Egypt to the hippodrome to embellish his stadium. We saw Hagia Sophia, which was built about 500 A.D. as a Christian church. Later, this building became a mosque and graceful minarets were added to the corners, while all the beautiful mosaics of Jesus, Mary and the saints were covered over with plaster to conform to the Moslem religion. Ataturk turned it into a museum and had the mosaics uncovered and restored. Next to this old church is the blue Mosque, with its six minarets. The blue Mosque is over 1000 years younger than Hagia Sophia, having been built about 1600. Old for us but young for the Turks! It has a multitude of small domes and semi – domes. The interior is decorated with some 20,000 delicate Iznic tiles, which have a shimmering blue hue. After seeing the new mosque in Oman this mosque did not appeal to me or excite me as much. We had lunch on a small cruise ship as we had a tour up the Bosphorus. This strait runs from the Black Sea to the Seas of Marmara and cuts Istanbul into the western side, which is the continent of Europe and the eastern side, which is on the Asian continent. Beautiful homes and restaurants and schools line the banks, as well as the hospital where Florence Nightingale worked in the Crimean War. We had a lunch of various Turkish delicacies while we were on this tour. After the cruise, we went shopping and bought a Turkish carpet. Later, we saw the Topkapi Palace. This was the opulent residence built and added to by various Sultans. It is lavishly decorated and is home to a remarkable collection of art from the most exotic parts of the world. There were gold water bottles decorated with rubies and emeralds, thrones from India, Egypt and Persia all decorated with a variety of pearls, emeralds and rubies and diamonds. There was a magnificent pair of candlesticks about seven feet tall, again studded with every type of precious stone, and there was an exquisite diamond, the largest that I have ever seen. Some of these art works were spoils of war, some were given to the Sultans by friends, and some of the medals that were encrusted with precious stones were given to the Sultans for services rendered. The gardens surrounding the palace were lush and still, today, are beautifully kept. We saw the room where the Sultan had breakfast overlooking the Bosphorus, the circumcision room and the room filled with relics. In this room was a fossil of a footprint of Mohammad, Moses’ rod, Mohammed’s beard and sword, Abraham’s saucepan and Joseph’s turban (looking in remarkably good condition) ! (Barbara) Istanbul is a fabulous mixture of East and West and the people are delightful. (Bill)

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