From Europe to Asia - Simpson Prize 2012
For our second day Ozgur, our Turkish guide, allowed us a later start to recover from our marathon effort the day before. We had a cruise on the Bosphorus were we had a rather large boat called the Purple Elephant all to ourselves. One of the highlights was passing a palace that was so opulent and expensive it help bring down the Ottoman Empire. We disembarked on the Asian side for lunch in a waterside restaurant. While we were there the weather turned drastically, we later found out it had been a twister, and we were all grateful that we were no longer on the water.
After lunch we headed to the Florence Nightingale museum which is housed in the Selimiye Barracks. Being a military installation, there was no electrical devices or cameras and we had to lock everything up when we arrived. The museum was small, and housed in the rooms orgiginally used by Florence. Afterwards we visited a Commonwealth War Grave where that included graves from the Crimean War. It was interesting that there were not many headstones, but the ones that were there were often for well connected officers, hospital staff, or the wives and children of the Officers. More time for the bazaar this afternoon, and some rain this evening which will hopefully clear up tomorrow.
Today was a day in which we saw a very large number of places and covered a lot of ground. Our cruise on the Bosphorus was for me probably the highlight of the day, as we saw so many opulent and impressive palaces, mosques and some other historical buildings. My personal favourite was a large fort we passed, which dated back to 1452, and had been constructed by the Ottomans in only a matter of months!! It was particularly interesting to be able to see both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, and hear Ozgur speak about the differences between the two sides. It felt very surreal and strange being at the crossroads of two continents.
I also really enjoyed our visit to the Istanbul Military Museum and the Florence Nightingale Museum. It was a little unnerving being surrounded by soldiers in uniforms, but both the museums were well worth it. It was interesting to see the Turkish side of the Gallipoli Campaign and the Crimean War, and how they remember and honor their military history.
After two days in Istanbul, I'm really enjoying the city so far. I like Istanbul because it seems to be really active and vibrant, and there always seems to be somewhere new and interesting to see as we drive or walk around. Going around the Grand Bazaar has been really interesting, haggling with the vendors and enjoying the cultural atmosphere.
The trip so far has been absolutely amazing, and I can't wait for all the other incredible experiences we're going to enjoy over the next two weeks!!