Wednesday 18 April 2012 by Stuart Baines. 2 comments
Battlefield Tours, Simpson Prize 2012

It is fantastic to be able to say that we made it here and we've all had some sleep. Our trip started with some drama trying to gather everyone together, and poor Taylor's plane was delayed by two hours, so we all only just made check in by the skin of our teeth. It was a relief to finally be in the air. The flight was long, but there was no rest for anyone, just time for a freshen up, lunch then the start of our first day.

Our activities for the first day included visiting Chora Church Museum, a walking tour of the new city, and then spent a couple of hours in the bazaar. The students undertook some successful bargaining and everyone wore their new purchases to our welcome dinner that night.


Well, we've finally arrived! After a pretty long journey, we were thrilled to be met by Ozgur, our tour guide, at the airport. But, as they say, there's no rest for the wicked, and we were on the road almost immediately.

Luckily, we're in Istanbul during the tulip festival, which is a celebration of the origins of that particular flower. Did you know that tulips come from Istanbul? There are flowers absolutely everywhere! We've seen gardeners pottering around everywhere tending to the flowers; there are tulips and pansies in every nook and cranny.

So, we started off by seeing the amazing Chora Church. Built in the 5th century, it was originally a Christian church that was modified to be a mosque in the 11th and 12th centuries. The mosaics that were designed by the original builders were plastered over by the Muslims that converted the church, but discovered and unearthed in the 20th century.

Everyone was amazed by the exquisite craftsmanship of the church. The outside was beautiful red brick that moved in spiral shapes around the building, whilst, on the inside, every different type of marble you can imagine was displayed, along with beautiful golden mosaics depicting the life of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

After that, none of us were tired anymore! We were happy to go off and explore the Grand Bazaar and do some shopping. The Grand Bazaar is unimaginably big, so we were happy to accompany (or rather, be accompanied by) Stuart and Heather. Luckily, we avoided the advances of some local Turkish men, who asked for my number and even offered Emily some camels! Of course, we realized that was a sales technique, that we might try when we get back to Australia. We did, however, make some great purchases, some of which we displayed at dinner.

Istanbul, thus far, strikes me as an incredible and wonderful place. There are no traffic rules, and there are cats everywhere, but that is part of the adventure, of course! Istanbul is unlike anywhere I have ever been before. Everything, from the buildings to the people, is different and mesmerizing. Sitting in the bus and looking through the window at all the different parts of the city is enough fun in itself!

We'll keep you posted on all of our adventures but, for now, gule gule!


Stand by for tommorows post.


Gene Schirripa

Glad to hear you guys have landed safely - the trip will be a memorable one i am sure Stu can you please pass on a greeting to Ozgur and Ondur - Reading this brings back some memories - gosh a year goes quickly! Enjoy guys

Alix Biggs

PHYLLIE! I hope you are having an amazing time, isn't Istanbul wonderful? Imogen sends her love - we're flying to Istanbul tomorrow and then on to Gallipoli on Monday, so who knows, we might well see you. Can't believe it's now two years since my own Simpson Prize adventure! Glad to hear you are all having fun - make the most of it!