Our last morning in Turkey has finally arrived as we work out how to stuff everything into already bulging bags and spend our remaining lira. The final day yesterday included a visit to the beautiful Chora Church which features mosaics depicting the life of the Virgin Mary. Being a Sunday it was a little easier to get around Istanbul without the usual crazy traffic.
We visited the mosque of Sulyman the Magnificent, but the main area is closed for renovations. We did however visit his tomb and have a delicious lunch in the old soup kitchens. By now we are well well into the swing of three course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however, the boy from Kingaroy still benifited from a few full bellies.
The afternoon was a quick trip through Dolmabache Palace, possibly the most over-the-top place any of us have visited. The trio of James, Libby and Emma N managed to negotiate the entire visit with arms linked - quite an achievement up and down stairs, along hallways and through doors. The Military Museum eneded the day, to the calamitous noise of a Janisary Band pounding drums, tooting oboes and trumpets, singing and bell tinkling.
Our final dinner was on a little island restaurant on the Bosphorous, which was a special place to finish our Turkey trip. It was a great atmosphere as there was a big local soccer match on and the supporters were watching the game on a big screen in the restaurant, in full voice. In fact the local team Galatasalay won and we couldn't believe the scenes of celebration as we travelled back to the hotel and outside our hotel. People hanging out of car windows, flying flags, honking horns, yelling and singing and whistling. The celebrations in Taxim Square, right in front of our hotel, went on for hours, with happy Turks beating drums, singing, dancing and celebrating the victory - it was a great way to end our time here.
So, we begin the big trek back. If our brains are still functioning, we will craft a final post during the flight to send when everyone is back. So until then farewell from Istanbul, not Constantinople. It's been an 'awesome' (word of the week) trip. Thanks to all those who have added comments to the blog - we are now officially the commented on blog posts of the Memorial!