February 10, 2012

European Honeymoon Cruise, Part 7: Turkey

{Read part one--The Beginning--here}
{Read part two--Rome--here}
{Read part three--Pompeii--here}
{Read part four--Venice--here}
{Read part five--Croatia--here}
{Read part six--Athens--here}

The final leg of our honeymoon adventure took us to the nation of Turkey. We would have two stops in Turkey, with Istanbul being our final destination.

Our first stop in Turkey was to the city of Izmir--the third-largest city in Turkey. The city was called Smyrna up until the last century and is a historic center dating back to early civilization.

We had booked a tour with our cruise ship and began with a bus-guided tour of the city. We then stopped at an amazing archaeological museum. Although full of fascinating relics, it was small, so we were only given about an hour to browse the collections.

We were then taken to the Agora of ancient Smyrna. This city center was constructed when Smyrna was under Roman rule. It served as the political and commercial center of the city and also contained a marketplace. The Agora consisted of three floors, all of which can be explored by visitors.

These arches were designed to be earthquake-resistant and have stood the test of time {almost 2,000 years!}. They have survived earthquakes when many modern city buildings in Turkey did not.

We were then taken to the city center of modern Izmir at Konak Square. We saw the famous Izmir clock tower {the symbol of the city} and from there, our group was given free time, so Matt and I walked to the nearby Kemeralti bazaar.

As we approached the entrance to the bazaar, we could see that some kind of fervent political protest was going on. Matt was a little nervous that things could get out of hand, but after observing for some minutes, we decided it would be okay to go around the group to get to the shops. We wondered at what the protest could be about, but had no way of knowing.

The bazaar itself was overwhelming. The shops were endless, filled with every sort of merchandise one could imagine. It was obvious that Matt and I were tourists, and some shop owners rushed out as we passed, thrusting pairs of jeans or other objects in front of our faces and speaking forceful, broken English, imploring us to buy their goods. It was a real turnoff, to be quite honest, and it left us feeling that we didn't want to explore the bazaar much further.

Of course, by this point, I was also feeling extra poorly. We had been outside in the heat for a few hours and my sore throat was getting worse. We had passed by a sweet shop on our way into the bazaar, so we made our way back there. Matt and I wanted to be certain that we bought a good stock of Turkish Delight candy to bring home!

Back on the ship that night, we attended the finale evening show in the theatre and the crew joined in the fanfare:

The next morning, our ship was docked in Istanbul. We were given that day and night to explore the city, and after sleeping aboard the ship, we'd depart early the next morning.

However, I am sad to report that Matt and I did not leave the ship all that day to explore the legendary city of Istanbul. I was feeling really badly after a week of pushing myself to the max when I should've taken more time to let my body recover. We had booked an evening excursion with our cruise, and Matt was adamant that I rest for the day so I would feel well enough to go on our excursion. We did go and lay poolside for the afternoon, and the upside was that nearly all the ship's guests were ashore, so we enjoyed an unprecedented amount of peace and quiet on that sunny deck.

Our excursion was called "A Turkish Night." We got dressed up and were taken to a lavish hotel in the heart of Istanbul. There, we were served a four-course, authentic Turkish meal whilst being entertained by traditional Turkish folk dancers, belly dancers, and singers. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't like the food, but my goodness--every morsel was absolutely delicious. We enjoyed the show, too!

Our "Turkish Night" dinner show was splendid, a perfect ending to our two week-long cruise.

Even though Matt and I weren't able to see a lot of Turkey, it left us hungering for more. We really hope we can return to Turkey one day to explore this fascinating country further and really experience it in all its glory.

It really is a shame that I was sick for the second half of our trip, but thankfully, we still did and saw all we wanted to {with the exception of getting to explore Istanbul}.

It really was the most exceptionally amazing two weeks! I can't believe all we were able to do, see, and experience. We made endless memories that we will always remember. And once again, I feel so endlessly blessed that Matt spoiled me with this dream-honeymoon.

This was the most-perfect, utterly-romantic beginning to our life together as "Mr. and Mrs."! It was a journey filled with love, laughter, romance, and adventure--the perfect prelude to the life-long adventure we'll share together.

1 comment:

Tatiana said...

that looks like so much fun. I love cruises, and I'm glad you had a great time :-)


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