Istanbul to Vienna, Istanbul, Turkey

Day 1, Istanbul, Turkey

Getting to Istanbul was a study in airports, airlines and airplanes.  We love our Dulles airport.   But Frankfurt is a great airport also.   And in the European tradition, it is also a shopping mall,  more so than American airports.

This is what you hope to see when you emerge from Passport Control. We’ve always been met by courteous informative guides who get us to our ship or hotel. The short wait for the others to gather allows time to meet the shipmates for the week.

Finally the Istanbul airport was also very efficient … even at scalping the tourists for the “Visa” tax.   It was interesting which countries were required to purchase visas for $20 … all the Western Countries.   China and Russia were not.  Nor was Japan.  But India and South Africa were. ???   Oh well.

Istanbul was Constantinople until the 1400’s. Before that it was an important part of the Roman Empire. Here their engineering skills are seen in this aqueduct.

I wrote my first Feedback Letter to an Airline and an Airline pilot.  We were in business class, (which Luelle always tries to upgrade to with airline miles when we are going across oceans)  and the seats were in the worst repair we’ve ever seen.   We sat an extra 30 minutes, waiting for the captain to arrive?!?   Then I found my head phones in a sealed bag but in pieces.   I like MacGyver projects so, no problem…  Luelle’s didn’t work at all.   Nor did her light. Or her TV screen.  The light was stuck “on” like an interrogation light, the only one on in the cabin on this overnight flight.   As I gave my comments to our cabin hostess, her eyes lit up when I directed her to the part about the excellent meal and service from the cabin staff.   They were great.   This airline just has a serious problem in middle management.   They dont really get it about customer delight, and  the little things can send customers searching for alternatives.   As a clue, this is the largest airline in the world … Maybe too large to care about customers?

Wow! These Turks really know how to barbecue. And then serve it up and keep it hot. Actually this is just about the same as Armenian cuisine, which we are very familiar with. Armenia is Turkey’s next door neighbor.

We bussed from the airport to our downtown hotel, right in the middle of the “Old City” just a few blocks from the famous bazaar.  (pics tomorrow)   Along the way we saw Roman aqueducts and Moslem mosques … although we were told that Turkey is a secular state.

Of course you know that my main job (Dave’s) is protecting Luelle from pirates.    But if I happen to see things of interest to Home Performance and Building Science I feel obligated to snap a photo or two.   How many Mini-Splits do you see in this one?

Mini Split Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps is how the whole rest of the world beside the US, heats and cools

Tomorrow we’ll tour Istanbul and sail on the Bosphorus.   Stay tuned.


Day 2, Istanbul, Turkey

Today we wore ourselves out … so I’m just putting up some photos.   We went to several mosques and museums. Then sailed on the Bosphorus.  And then went out to dinner and a show, getting back around midnight.   Too much.   We have a lighter itinerary tomorrow, so I’ll catch up.

Belly Dancing was originally for the Sultans. Now for tourists too.

Day 3, Istanbul, Turkey

A new and an old obelisk at the Hippodrome.

Today we saw the Hippodrome and the inside of a couple of mosques.    The Hippodrome features relics from Greek and Roman times.

The Blue Mosque is a large practicing mosque which was built in the 17th century.   There are similarities and differences between the large Christian cathedrals and the large Moslem mosques.

Women worship separately from men.

The stone construction is similar … and they both ask for donations to keep them maintained.

The one big difference is the lack of pews and seating in the mosques.   In the mosque worship service you are either standing or kneeling … no time for sitting so no need for seating.

Ceramic tiles and stained glass give the name “Blue Mosque”

BTW the Blue Mosque is called Blue because of the beautiful blue ceramic coverings inside the building.


St Sofia is an even older and larger mosque only a few hundred yards away.   It was built in the 5th century as a Greek Orthodox Church and remained the largest temple in the world for over a thousand years.    It was hastily converted to a mosque with the arrival of the Ottomans who added minarets to the structure and plastered over the Christian mosaics.   (a few of which have been uncovered and are now on display)

Justinian and Constantine are offering gifts to Mary and Jesus in this mosaic from the time when the mosque was a Greek Orthodox Church.

With the inception of the Republic of Turkey, which is the only secular Moslem nation,  (meaning separation of church and state)  St Sofia and some other landmarks were turned into public museums.


Our guide informed us that while 99% of the population of 75 million list themselves as Muslim, only about 7% are “devout” which means they do prayers toward Mecca 5 times a day.

St Sofia with the added on minarets

Also interesting is that with the beginning of the Republic in 1923, the official language and the school language was changed and unified to Turkish from Arabic and many other dialects.    The prayers, however, are still done in Arabic,  kind of like the Catholic church did for many years with Latin … when no one knew Latin anymore.

Driving under a real Roman Aqueduct from the 5th century. I dont think our current canals and dams will last that long! Do you?

Our guide says that he and his friends dont know what they are praying anymore as only a few older people know Arabic anymore.   Interesting.



BTW There are 57 more photos of this part of the trip in Albums.  Go to the pull down menu “Photo Albums” and select the Istanbul to Vienna album.    The same photos are on the Facebook Page.   Email me if you are having trouble viewing or have suggestions on improving Luelle’s site.     …  Dave


Day 4, Bucharest, Romania

Istanbul is on the Black Sea, but a long way from where the Danube River empties.   So we got on a plane and flew to Bucharest, the capital of Romania.    After touring Bucharest it was a short bus drive to actually begin our cruise on the Danube River on the River Princess.

The cabins on the River Princess have all been completely renovated and will be a comfortable home for the next ten days.

This Uniworld ship has been freshly renovated … Uniworld does that every 4 years … so the interior is all brand new.


The drive from the airport to Bucharest and then to the River was interesting … mainly because our guide was an older gentleman who had lived through the communist times and was very eloquent at sharing about life under communism, the revolution, joining the EU and life today in Romania.   We learned that Romania had been the bread basket of Europe before the communist 45 year experience.

The Rumanian Parliament, still the second largest building in the world.

The communism in each of these satellite countries was flavored by their respective leaders.   In Rumania it was Nicolae Ceausescu.  It seems that he became more and more disconnected from reality as his reign went on.    Two of his actions were concluding that Rumania needed more workers so he tried to force women to have more babies.   This led to orphanage overload.   Now I know why so many were involved in adopting Rumanian children.

As the economy dwindled and people were starving,  Ceausescu ordered the construction of the largest building in the world for his parliament.    The parliament is there, but it is still half empty.

A sculpture making a satirical comment about about Ceausescu and Communism.

His people finally got tired of starving and being lied to, and overthrew him in December of 1989.   They captured him and after a hurried trial executed him by firing squad.


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