a TurKish advenTure

4

When my wife and I decided we should spend the last week in the year away from Nigeria, I wasn’t keen on thinking through options. I was wondering where to get the best plantain suckers to plant in my farm come January. However, as usual, she has concluded it was Egypt and had gone ahead to inquire about the travel process. She loves Egypt and has always sang into my adventurous ears that I also needed to visit. She had taken a short trip there while on a term abroad in Greece and fell in love with the place. The Egypt plan fell through when I was told at their embassy that holiday visas had been suspended for now. I kinda secretly felt relief, because I really didn’t fancy going to Egypt at this time.

Turkey had always been on the radar for an extended family trip later in 2015 or 2016. It then suddenly became an instant attraction when we found out that tickets were reasonable, less visa wahala, and our dear Ghanaian friend and former New Jersey neighbour breathing down our necks to visit before she gets redeployed. So we zoomed off on the 27th of December without much research on what Turkey held in store for us, except that I was wagging my tail in excitement of seeing the Hagia Sophia. That’s how we plunged ourselves into near zero degrees temperature in Istanbul and wondered what on planet earth we were doing there.

We were however determined to make the trip exciting despite the sorrowful weather, so we decided on the few places we will see and struck out others. This in effect means we have to go back for a full exploration of that country because it is packed with so much history that one needs a full month to make the most of the lessons. So let me share a few pictures and descriptions to whet your travel throat and encourage you to plan a trip out there as well.

The Turks are known for good food great food, so ‘choppings’ was part of our exploratory device. On the 31st of December we settled to a nice gourmet dinner of Sea Bass caught fresh from the Mediterranean, Chicken Kebabs and a glass of fresh pomegranate juice.Image 1The rice is so buttery that you can just keep eating it without the risk of Nigerian stew attack. I will also recommend Hotel Amira, right by the Sultan Ahmet area. They produced excellent service and a fantastic breakfast spread. They were also ever ready to poison us with an afternoon of tea and sweets all for free.

Istanbul’s imperial Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I (Sultan Ahmet Camii), is one of the top sights in Istanbul. The mosque is a fine example of Istanbul’s wonderful  and was built between 1603-17 by Ottoman architect Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa. It’s built on the site of the Great Palace of Byzantium.Image 2

The one place I really wanted to see is the Hagia Sophia because of its centrality to the Christian Faith. It is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Wikipedia can give you more details about this amazing building. Image 3

Just a short walk uphill from our friends apartment is the famous Galata Tower or Galata Kulesi in Turkish. It is one of the highest and oldest towers of Istanbul. It is a 63 meter (206 feet) high tower provides a panoramic view of the old town. It was built in the 14th century by the Genoese colony as part of the defense wall surrounding their district at Galata directly opposite ancient Constantinopolis. They called the tower as “Christea Turris”, or “Tower of Christ”. The Genoese were involved in trade with the Byzantines and the tower was used for the surveillance of the Harbor in the Golden Horn. After the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II, it served to detect fires in the city. Image 4

It is pomegranate season, so we stopped over for a glass of freshly squeezed juice. By the way, I smuggled back to Lagos 20 huge pomegranates. The bag was so heavy that I almost didn’t want to take them with me to the airport. I’m glad I did as the redness of my intestines can attest to the amount of the juice I have consumed. Can they grow in Nigeria? Image 5

The tram going between Galata and Taksim. Taksim has a very long row of shops and stores, high-end to affordable and has a compression of tourists all feeding their eyes or bleeding their pockets. Image 6 Image 7

Going on a tour of the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. The Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles strait to the southwest together form the Turkish Straits. The world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation, the Bosporus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. You can see both the Asian side and European side of Turkey while on this cruise.Image 8

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Dolmabahçe Palace located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey, on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait. It served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922, apart from a 22-year interval (1887–1909). Dolmabahçe is the largest palace in Turkey. It has an area of 45,000 m2 (11.2 acres), and contains 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths and 68 toilets. The construction cost five million Ottoman mecidiye gold coins, 35 tonnes of gold, the equivalent of ca. $1.5 billion in today’s (2013) values. Image 10

Yoros Castle (Turkish: Yoros kalesi) is a ruined castle at the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, to the north of Joshua’s Hill, in Istanbul, Turkey. It is also commonly referred to as the Genoese Castle, due to Genoa’s possession of it in the mid-15th century.Image 11

The Black Sea behind us Image 12

A row of seaside restaurants Image 13

Having a go at Blue Fish for the first time. Caught right there at the Black Sea, it came highly recommended and expensive…lol Image 14

It was an amazing 10 days of pleasure in the cold. Final dinner in Istanbul before departure Image 15

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About Author

Reggie Bassey

Reggie is a chap from the City of Calabar. He is a local plantain farmer, but an ardent international travel enthusiast. He believes that he is always one trip away from ignorance. When they arrive, intends to take all nine children on travels by strapping them to all parts of his body or using a leash as the case warrants. That’s a better legacy than the walls of a classroom.

4 Comments

  1. wow! an amazing and accurate description of Turkey. I can vouch for the food, the kebabs or grilled meat are on point, I recall munching on them with a friend all we could talk about was the taste, flavour and juiciness of the meat :). Turkey is definitely a good holiday destination especially during summer, the people are friendly we were treated as celebrities, I guess they don’t see black people a lot in Istanbul. plus we saw roasted plantain and it was delicious! . Thank you Reggie for sharing your experience! P.S you should go during the summer! you will love it especially bargaining in the grand bazaar

    • House of Bombini on

      Hello Ebi,

      Thank you for your validation of Reggie’s holiday adventure from your own experience. Turkey most definitely is a place to visit!

      Cheers and keep following our column for more!!

  2. Now you have successfully watered further my appetite to visit Turkey. I made a new friend from Pakistan late November 2014 whom i met in Washington DC during a tour of DC. On a general discussion we spoke about beautiful and historic places in the world; Turkey topped his list as he has had the opportunity to visit and he didn’t just stop talking about the place all through our time together that i had to convincingly go online to know what this place is all about. This is an interesting read from a different experience. Thank you Reggie for sharing and house of Bombini for publishing. Good stuff

    • House of Bombini on

      Hello Tobi,

      I am glad this review was helpful! Please be sure to document your trip and send to us when you do get to go! Cheers!!

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