Wednesday, July 28, 2010


After eleven days of cruising around the Black Sea (and being totally confused by a different currency in every country), it was time to make a graceful exit. To give some perspective, here is the Black Sea:

and here is our exit route, through the Bosphorus Strait, which bisects the city of Istanbul (the old city--where we spent all our time--is on the Europe side, and the new city is on the Asia side), through the Sea of Marmara, and out the Dardenelles into the Aegean Sea (which then leads to the Mediterranean):
After leaving Yalta in the early evening, we cruised across the Black Sea at night. They had it perfectly timed so that we hit Istanbul in the morning after breakfast around 9:00. It was a spectacular view, and everyone came out to see it:
(Perhaps you can tell by clicking on the above picture what the average passenger age was.)

Looking back at the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, one of two bridges in Istanbul which link two continents and are the 15th and 16th longest suspension bridges in the world:

A view of the old city fortress and walls:

There is never any doubt you are in Turkey. Huge flags fly everywhere.

A busy harbor for a busy city:

Lots of cruise ships:
I love these fish that decorated the top of our boat. Take a good look at their eyes; they are called nazars, and are a charm used to ward off the "evil eye." We saw the same symbol all over Greece and Turkey and other Black Sea countries. Evil eye key chains, fabrics, tablecloths, jewelry, etc. were for sale in every shop. Many of our buses and taxis had evil eye stickers on the window or charms hanging from the mirror. Even some airplanes have them on their tailfins.
I couldn't resist buying an evil eye bracelet.
Our cruise through the Bosphorus Strait highlighted Istanbul's unique blend of the ancient past and the very modern present:
We also had stunning views of the Hagia Sophia . . .

. . . and the Blue Mosque:

We even got them in the same picture:
(Click on the picture above to see how enormous the two structures are in comparison to their surroundings)

We spent much of the day with our cruising friends Mark and Pat:

Once we pulled away from Istanbul, there wasn't much to see, just green rolling hills on both sides. At about 4:00 p.m., again perfectly timed, we entered the Dardenelles.

And this is where Mel Gibson comes in. Well, not literally.

For many years Bob and I have had a heated discussion over which movie is worse: Bob's cherished Every Which Way but Loose starring Clint Eastwood and a really stupid orangutan, which I hate: ...or my favorite but tragic movie Gallipoli starring Mel Gibson, which Bob hates:
Gallipoli is the story of a battle that took place in Turkey during World War I at the southwestern end of the Dardenelles. Hoping to capture strategically-located Constantinople (now Istanbul), Britain launched an attack on the area. Over an 8-month period, 65,000 men died, and nothing was gained. However, it did result in the promotion of a little-known, low-ranking Turkish army officer who helped stage the defense. His name was Mustafa Ataturk, the man who shaped Turkey's future. The leader of the British forces and their allies was the First Lord of the Admiralty, a 46-year-old man named Winston Churchill. Thank goodness the loss did not end his career.

Our ship passed by the Gallipoli Peninsula. We saw several monuments to the battle, including this simple structure:
Now that I've been to Gallipoli, I'm going to have to watch the movie again, Mel Gibson or not. (After his recent behavior, I sure don't love him like I used to.)

I'm pretty sure that nothing is ever going to make me want to watch Every Which Way but Loose again. Sorry, Bob.

NEXT: Our last day in Turkey--Incredible Ephesus


  1. I'm thinking that Mel Gibson being shot at the end of the movie may be a nice ending now.

  2. I watched Gallipoli in a high school history class and remember really liking it, but maybe it was just because I was 16 at the time or maybe it was because it beat a lecture. I'll have to watch again and see if it really is that bad!

  3. Bob just hates movies where the main character dies at the end--but that's the whole point. EVERYBODY died at Gallipoli. It is a really good movie.

  4. HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE GALLIPOLI? Some things aren't even a question of taste. Some things are empirically better than other things. Sorry, Bob. (and thanks to the magic of movies, Mel can be forever suspended in that time for us and we can continue to like THAT Mel)

  5. The waste of life of World War I was horrendous. Sending wave after wave of soldiers up against machine guns to be mowed down. The Australians and the New Zealanders were angry with Britain - felt that incompetence of British planning had resulted in the deaths of so many of their soldiers. Churchill actually had a good plan, it was carried out poorly and late. It is hard to watch that waste of life, especially if you've grown to like the character. Mel is much less likable now, thus probably easier to watch. I understand the value of showing the horrors of war. For example, Saving Private Ryan, showed the horror of war while engaged in a good cause. Gallipoli shows the horror of war while engaged in a very stupid cause, wave after wave of lost life due to machine gun fire. Yuck.

  6. What a stunning photo of the two mosques.