Constantinople / Istanbul - Ancient and Modern - Crossroads of the World

Constantinople / Istanbul - Ancient and Modern - Crossroads of the World
Istanbul/constantinople - Ancient/Modern - View of the Old City from across the Golden Horn, atop the Galata Tower.

Day 0 - Easter Sunday Departure

Sunday, April 8, 2012

For the twenty-one of us leaving from LAX, we depart from the Tom Bradley Terminal on Turkish Airlines Flight TK10, at 6:20 pm, for a 12-hour and 50-minute non-stop flight to Istanbul.

Boeing 777-ER300 -- our flight! -- taking off at LAX.
On the same day, six of us are leaving from other parts of the USA and the world.

All to meet in Istanbul tomorrow late afternoon.

Did you know? Turkish Airlines, a member of Star Alliance, was awarded "Best Airline in Europe" for 2011  by Skytrax.

Day 1 - Arrival in Istanbul

Monday, April 9, 2012

After a 12 hr 50 min flight on TK 10 from LAX, twenty-one of us arrive at the Ataturk International Airport (IST) in Istanbul late Monday afternoon at 5:10 pm.

Because of our travel over nine time zones from west to east, it is now ten hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time (Turkey is on Daylight Saving Time too).  Our bodies think it's still 7:10 am -- the folks at home are just starting their Monday morning.

Here's another video of landing at Istanbul, with a tour through the airport. Looks a lot like most other airports.

After disembarking from the plane, we must first purchase a visa, good for 90 days, which costs US $20 (cash).  The visa is a sticker placed in the passport, then we go to passport control, where the sticker is stamped with the entry date.  From there we go to the baggage claim area, pass through the customs (where nobody has yet been stopped or questioned), and through the doors into the arrival area where someone from Orion Tours will be waiting for us.

There are, of course, opportunities to change money here.  Although you might feel better having some Turkish Lira in your pocket, it's not advisable to change very much money at the airport. There are a lot of trustworthy banks with ATMs near the hotel, and plenty of opportunity to get cash tomorrow.

The other six are all arriving within an hour or so of our flight, so we can all meet at the airport, and travel together in a bus provided by Orion Tour to the Madison Hotel in the Beyoglu District, our home for the next three nights.

After getting settled in the hotel, it is still be early enough to take a brief walk in the area around the hotel and perhaps get a bite to eat.  It's safe, but don't walk alone.  You'll be spotted immediately as a tourist, and fair game for slick hucksters to sell you anything from cheap souvenirs to expensive carpets.

This will be the last night for the next three weeks you can sleep without the anticipation of an early wake-up call!

Did you know? Istanbul, with approximately 13 million people, is the third largest city in the world, following only Shanghai (17M) and Karachi (also 13M). The Brookings Institute rated Istanbul as the #1 most dynamic city in the world following the 2009 global recession. Istanbul was also voted #1 of the New York Times' "Best Places to Go" in 2010.

Day 2 - Free Day in Istanbul; Official Opening

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This first day in Istanbul is unscheduled to relax and get adjusted and oriented, as well as to shop and explore.

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, you may want to set out and explore the Beyoglu neighborhood. Unless you're really brave, I do not recommend going out alone. It's easy to get lost in a new and unfamiliar city, and you'll be spotted by merchants of varying degrees of legitimacy who are very skilled at separating the unwary from their money.

Historic Trolleys on Istiklal Caddesi.
One of the things to do today will be to visit one of the nearby ATMs (there are many reliable banks in the neighborhood) and get some cash. I recommend getting about 200-300 Turkish Liras (see converter widget on the right sidebar). On all the ATMs you can choose "English" on the first screen, and then you're prompted for you PIN number and the amount in Turkish Liras you want to withdraw.

Armed with some cash, you might want to explore Taksim Square and walk down Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), a 1-1/2 mile pedestrian street with the historic little red trolley running down the middle. Lots of browsing and shopping (as well as snacking and people watching) can be done here.

About halfway down the street, don't miss the Church of St. Anthony, the largest and most famous Catholic Church in Istanbul. In the courtyard is a new statue of Pope John XXIII, beloved of the Turks because of his loving and positive attitude when he was Papal Nuncio to Turkey during World War II. It's always bustling with visitor, and you may also notice a significant number of young Muslims coming in to pray.

If you continue a little beyond the end of the street, you'll find the Galata tower. Don't miss climbing to the top. The view is breathtaking on a clear day.

I plan to take this walk, probably late in the morning.  Anyone's welcome to come with me if you want.  I'm not sure where I'll go from the tower. Possibly I'll take a tram to the Sultanahmet area to visit Dogan of the Terrace Guesthouse, where we will stay for the extra four nights at the end of the Pilgrimage.

You're welcome to come along with me, but you also may want to arm yourself with a map and explore other parts.

Be sure you're back at the Hotel by 5:00 pm. That's when we will celebrate the opening Mass of the Pilgrimage, which will be followed by an opportunity to meet Aydin Eroglu (our guide), as well as, we hope, Ersan Atsur, the owner of Orion Tour, and some of his staff.

l-r: Fr. Tom, Ersan Atsur, owner of Orion Tour; Aydin Eroglu,  our tour guide

This will be followed by dinner at the hotel, and some leisure time before bed. Tomorrow starts early, just like almost every

Day 3 - Istanbul Orientation Tour

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
8:30 am-Depart the hotel  and visit Hagia Sophia at its Opening
After breakfast, we board the bus and first pray Morning Prayer. Each Pilgrim has a copy of the April "Give Us This Day" (Liturgical Press) as the basis of our common prayer. This takes about five minutes, which is about the time it takes to drive three blocks from the hotel.   Our route to Hagia Sophia takes us across the Golden Horn and under the Aqueduct of Valens to the Sultanahment area where all the places we visit today are located. Aydin points out many historic sites and landmarks along the way. We begin our visits with the Hagia Sophia, at the eastern end of the large park that marks the site of the ancient Hippodrome.

We will only be able to spend about an hour at Hagia Sophia. Not enough surely, but you can get more out of this brief visit (as well as the short time we spend at other places) by exploring and finding out more in the internet beforehand. If you are staying the extra four days, I suggest you plan to spend at least half a day exploring this wonderful place in greater detail. For now, these two web sites, each with panoramic views from different locations within and outside the building, can give you a good sense of the wonders that await you. (Note these may be slow to load.)

360TR-Panoramic Tour of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia - 3D Virtual Tour

In Turkish it's called Ayasofya and today is a mosque-become-a-museum. Do you wonder what it may have looked like in the days of the Byzantine Constantinople? YouTube has several excellent videos of 3-D recreations of the building in its glory days as the premier Christian Church in the world.

Newly revealed image of an angel
on one of the pendentives.
The first one has the exterior and general views of the interior. It features some of the artwork that remains today, but one needs to imagine that the gold-colored wall surfaces were probably covered with glorious mosaics and/or frescoes at certain points in its history. Here is a more detailed view of the sanctuary. The Baptistery is located to the left of today's exit passageway. It's a mausoleum for Ottoman dignitaries today, but the baptismal font is on display in a small patio outside the building. This reconstruction gives a good idea of the layout of a Byzantine baptistery, with a large font for full immersion. Finally, this one begins with a sequence showing the computer model being built, followed by a slow-moving series of exterior views from every possible angle.

This 15-minute video (part 1 and part 2) gives a somewhat one-sided depiction of the Emperor Justinian (482-565), who built the great church in just five years (532-537), emphasizing his brutality and despotism over any other qualities. But it has some fascinating computer generated reconstructions of the building of both the Hippodrome and the Hagia Sophia.

10:30-11:00 am -Visit the Basilica Cistern

11:15-12:15 am -Visit the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art.

On the north side of the Hippodrome is the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, a fascinating collection of carpets, books, furniture,and artifacts. (More pictures.) Here Aydin explains in some detail the various kinds and patterns of Turkish carpets. There are also displays of the life life of the various peoples of Anatolia.

12:15-1:15 pm - Lunch in one of the many restaurants in the area

1:15-1:45 pm - Hippodrome

Today, what's left of the Hippodrome is a big park, with two obelisks and the serpentine column (originally from Delphi), but what a structure, and what a history!

1:45-2:45 pm - Blue Mosque

3:00-5:00 pm - Bosphorus Cruise (on a private charter boat)

Our orientation day concludes with a cruise on the Bosphorus. It's an opportunity to relax a bit and enjoy the beauty of one of the most historic and important waterways in the world.

The Asian shores of the Bosphorus used to boast of some of the most expensive homes in the world. No longer. It seems Beverly Hills now has that distinction.

5:00- return to hotel to refresh before Mass

6:00 pm - Walk to St. Esprit Cathedral for Mass 

Pope Benedict XV: "Benefactor of all people,
regardless of nationality or religion."
The Saint Esprit (Holy Spirit) Cathedral is set in a modest courtyard of the French Notre Dame de Sion High School. Its most striking feature is a monumental statue of Pope Benedict XV, erected by the Turkish government in 1923 in the last days of Ottoman rule, commemorating his peacemaking efforts during World War I.

We hope to be able to arrange a brief visit with Bishop Louis Prelatre, the Apostolic Vicar or a brief talk by one of the other priests.

Following Mass, we can exit the back door and walk down Papa Roncalli Sokak to the  Akcanlar Ocakbasi, Restaurant for dinner, and then walk back to hotel (This is a very favorite restaurant of mine near the hotel and the Cathedral.)

Day 4 - Istanbul via Gallipoli and Troy to Canakkale

Day 4, Thursday, 4/12 - Istanbul via Gallipoli and Troy to Canakkale

6:30 am - Breakfast at hotel
7:00 am - Departure from hotel for Canakkale.

9:00 am - First facility stop at Tekirdag (15 min)
11:30 am - Lunch stop at Gelibolu (Gallipoli) ($)

View Larger Map

12:30 pm - Drive to the Anzac landing area
1:15 pm - Visit the War Museum (if open)
1:45 pm - Anzac Landing at Anzac cove
2:00 pm - Drive to Chunuk bair.
2:15 pm - Visiting the Chunuk Memorial.
2:30 pm - Drive to the ferry .
3:00 pm - Ferry across the Dardanelles.
3:30 pm - Drive to Troy.
4:00 pm -Visit Troy and a refreshment break.
5:30 pm - Leave Troy for hotel
6:00 pm - Arrive at Hotel
7:30 pm - Dinner
(1 night in Canakkale. at Tusan Hotel)

Day 5 - Cannakale to Izmir

Friday, April 13, 2012

6:15 am - Breakfast at hotel
7:00 am - Depart from Tusan hotel (Canakkale)

View Larger Map

7:45 am - Visit the ruins of Alexandria Troas.
8:15 am - Drive to Gulpinar and visit the Temple of Apollo.
Temple of Athena, Assos
9:15 am - Drive to Assos.
9:45 am - Visit the ruins in Assos.
10:30 am - Drive to Bergama (Pergamon)
1:00 pm - Lunch in Bergama ($)
(Aydin needs time for Friday prayer)
Acropolis at Pergamon from the Aesclepion
2:15 pm - visit the Acropolis (to 3:30 pm)
3:40 pm - Photostop for the "Red Basilica"
3:45 pm - Visit the Aesclepion
5:00 pm - Drive to Izmir
7:00 pm - Arrive at hotel for dinner and the night
(1 night in Izmir at the Kaya Prestige Hotel.)

Day 6 - Izmir to Sardis and to Kusadasi

Saturday, April 14, 2012

7:45 am - Breakfast at hotel
8:45 am - Depart from the hotel for St. Polycarp Church for Mass
10:00 am - Drive to Sardis.

11:15am - Visit the Temple of Artemis.
12:00 am - Visit the Synagogue and the Gymnasium.
12:30am-Return to Izmir
2:00 pm - Lunch on the waterfront ($)
3:15 pm - Drive to Kusadasi
5:00 pm - Arrive at hotel in Kusadasi for dinner
(2 nights in Kusadasi at Pine Marina Hotel.)

Day 7 - Kusadasi: Full Day in Ephesus

Sunday, April 15, 2012

7:00 am - Breakfast at hotel
7:30 am - Depart from hotel to Ephesus
8:00 am - Enter ancient city at top gate
Morning will include not only regular tour of the ancient city, but also the newly excavated "Terrace Houses," and the Double Church of the Theotokos. Also the Cave of St. Paul, not open to tourists, if we can get permission.
12:45 pm - Lunch (included) and fashion show at the Leather Factory Showroom.
2:30 pm - Basilica of St. John and Ephesus Museum
5:00 pm visit Mary’s House and celebrate Mass.
7:00 pm - Drive to Hotel in Kusadasi for dinner

Day 8 - Kusadasi via Aphrodias to Hierapolis

Monday, April 16, 2012

6:45 am - Breakfast at Hotel
7:30 am -Depart Kusadasi
7:30-11:00 am - Drive to Aphrodisias
11:00 am -1:00 pm - visit the city and the museum.
1:15 - 2:30 pm - Lunch at Doga ($)
2:30 - 4:00 pm - Drive to Hierapolis.
4:00 - 6:00 pm - Visit Hierapolis with the Martyrion of Philip.
6:15 pm - Arrive at the hotel, with opportunity to enjoy the  thermal pool before dinner.
8:00 pm - Dinner at the hotel.
(1 night in Pamukkale at the Richmond Hotel)

Day 9 - Hierapolis via Pisidian Antioch to Konya

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

7:00 am - Breakfast at Hotel
8:00 am leave for Laodicea
8:30 am - 9:30 am tour Laodicea
9:30 am - 1:00 pm  - Drive to Yalvac / Pisidian Antioch
1:00 pm-2:00 pm Lunch at the kebab house ($)
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm - Visit Pisidian Antioch
3:30 - 7:00 pm - Drive to Konya. Dinner at Hotel.
(1 night in Konya at Ozkaymak Park Hotel)

Day 10 - Konya to Tarsus

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

6:30 am - Breakfast in Hotel
7:45 am - Departure from Hotel
8:00 am - Mass at St.Paul’s Church in Konya.
9:00 am - Visit Mevlana Museum
10:00 am - Drive to Catalhoyuk.
11:00 am - Visit Catalhoyuk.
12:30 pm - Drive to Silifke (box lunch on the bus)
4:00 pm - Arrive in Silifke; Visit Cave and Monastery of St. Thecla
5:00 pm - Drive to Mersin
6:30 pm - Arrive at Hotel for dinner and free evening
(1 night in Hotel in Mersin)

Day 11 - Tarsus via Adana to Antakya

Thursday, April 19, 2012

7:00 am - Breakfast
7:30 am - Leave Hotel for Tarsus
8:30 am - Visit St.Paul’s House, well, and the first century street
9:30 am - Picture stops at Cleopatra Gate and Nusrat ship.
10:00 am - Mass at St. Paul’s Catholic church.
11:00 am - Other points of interest in the area, e.g., burial site of St. Daniel the Prophet and the Old Church Mosque
12:30 pm - Drive to Adana
1:00 pm - Lunch ($) at Adana (Hasan Kolcuoglu)
2:00 pm - Drive to Antakya
5:00 pm - Arrive at Hotel in Antakya for dinner and free evening
(2 nights in Antakya at Buyuk Antakya Hotel.)

Day 12 - Full Day in Antakya

Friday, April 20, 2012

7:30 am - Breakfast
8:30 am - Depart from the hotel
9:00 am - Visit St. Peter's Grotto (and rock carving of Chiron)
10:00 am - Visit the Mosaic Museum
11:00 am - Mass at the Catholic Church; talk by Fr. Domenico
12:30 pm - Lunch ($)
(Time for Friday prayer.)
2:00 pm - Drive to Seleucia Pieria
3:00 pm - Visit the Tunnel of Vespasian, Necropolis and the beach
5:00 pm - Visit the Alevi Shrine
6:00 pm - Back at Hotel for dinner and free evening

Day 13 - Antakya to Cappadocia

Saturday, April 21, 2012

7:00 am - Breakfast at hotel
8:00 am - Drive from Antakya to Pozantı (Taurus Mountains)
12:30 pm - Lunch ($) at Pozanti
1:30 pm - Drive to Eski Gumus Monastery.
2:20 pm - Visit the Monastery.
3:00 pm - Drive to Kaymakli, visit underground city
6:00 pm - Arrive at Hotel, Dinner

(2 nights in Cappadocia at the Dinler-Nevsehir Hotel.)

Day 14 - Full Day in Cappadocia

Sunday, April 22, 2012

7:00 am - Breakfast at hotel
8:00 am - Depart hotel for the day in Cappadocia
8:30 am - Turkish rug and kilim cooperative, tour and demonstration
11:30 am - Mass at historic Cave Church at Gamirasu, followed by lunch (included) at the Hotel/Restaurant there
2:00 pm - Scenic and historic drive (including Goreme) back to Avanos
2:30 pm.-4:00pm.-Goreme Valley for the Churches.
4:30 pm - Chez Galip Pottery in Avanos
6:00 pm Return to Hotel to relax a little before dinner
(Go to bed early for Balloon Ride tomorrow morning)

Day 15 - Cappadocia via Hattusas to Ankara

Monday, April 23, 2012

:50 am - Optional Balloon ride ($ -- approx. $200) (Weather permitting.)
9:30 am - Drive to Hattusas
12:30 pm –  Lunch ($) and tour Yazılıkaya/Hattuşaş
3:30 - 6:00 pm Drive to Ankara
6:00 pm – check in to Hotel for dinner
(One night at Ickale Hotel.)

Day 16 - Ankara to Bursa

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

8:00 am - Breakfast at Hotel
9:00 am – Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
11:00 am – Leave for Bursa. Lunch ($) and visit King Midas tomb on the way
6:00 pm -- arrive at Hotel
(One night at Kervansaray Thermal Hotel)

Day 17 - Bursa via Iznik to Istanbul

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

8:00 Leave Hotel; Tour Bursa
12:00 am - leave Bursa
1:00 pm - lunch ($) in Iznik (Çamlık Restaurant), and tour
3:30 pm - Drive to Istanbul, stopping at Lake Sapanca on the way
7:00 pm - Arrive at Hotel for dinner and evening
(3 nights in Istanbul at the Madison Hotel until official end of Pilgrimage)

Day 18 - Istanbul (1)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

7:00 - 9:00 am - Breakfast at hotel
9:00 am - Depart for  the day.
9:15-11:45 am - Visit Hagia Irene.
10:00 am-noon - Archaeological Museum
12:30 - 3:00 pm - Lunch ($) and Topkapi Palace
3:30 pm - Mass at St. Antoine.(or one of the other, smaller churches) (Aydin would be free at this point.)
4:30 pm - rest of afternoon free for shopping, exploring (walk back to hotel)
7:00 pm - Dinner at the hotel.

Day 19 - Istanbul (2)

Friday, April 27, 2012

7:00 am - Breakfast at Hotel
9:00 am - Depart for the day.
9:20-10:30 am - Visit Patriarchal Church and St. Stephen of the Bulgars.
({Possible audience with Patriarch Bartholomew I.)

10:45-11.45 am - Visit St. Savior in Chora (Kariye Museum)
12:00 pm - Arrive at Kalenderhane Mosque and see it from the outside (this is where Minibuses will be needed)
12:45 pm - Be at Suleymaniye for the Friday prayer.
1:00-2:00 pm - Prayer.
2:00-3:00 pm - Lunch ($) at Daruzziyafe restaurant.
3:20 pm - Arrive at the Pammakaristos Church,and visit until 3:45.
4:00-4:30 pm - Visit St. Mary of the Mongols Church.
5:00-5:30 pm -Visit Pantocrator Church (Zeyrek Camii)…(back to the large bus again.)
6:00 pm - Final Mass at the hotel
19:00-Leave the hotel
7:30-9:00 pm - Farewell Dinner, preferably at Hamdi Restaurant
9:15 pm - Return to the hotel.

Day 20 - Official End (First Extra Day)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Breakfast at Hotel
Return to USA
11:10 am  Leave IST, Turkish Airlines, Flight TK 9, nonstop to LAX, arrival 3:25 pm, same day.

For those remaining, move to Terrace Guesthouse and/or Cosmopolitan Park Hotel ($ -- approx $100 per night)

(From this point on, accommodations, meals, and touring are not included in the Pilgrimage tour price, but will be the direct responsibility of each person.)

Day 21 - Istanbul, Second Extra Day

Sunday, April, 29, 2012

Breakfast at Hotel
10:00 Liturgy with Chaldean Catholic Community, if it can be arranged--I have been in touch with them.

Day 22 - Istanbul, Third Extra Day

Monday, April 30, 2012

Breakfast at Hotel

Day 23 - Istanbul, Fourth Extra Day

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Breakfast at hotel.

Day 24 - Istanbul, End of Pilgrimage Extension

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Breakfast at hotel.
11:10 am Return flight TK 9.