|Early departure to visit Topkapi Palace...Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conquerer's administrative center. We learned about the Sultan, his kidnapped boys (who were trained to be soldiers and other palace officials), and the kidnapped girls who became the harem. We visited the Imperial Treasury which houses many examples of the extreme wealth of the sultans...huge emeralds, rubies, jade, gold, turquoise and diamonds. Each room in the palace ornately decorated with hand made tiles...floor to ceiling! Rode our bus to the new district for lunch. Then began the long drive to Ankara. It took us over an hour to finally be out of Istanbul. I cannot comprehend 15,000,000 people in one city. Miles and miles of compact apartment housing...some brand new, some very old and falling apart. Only saw single dwelling housing once we were in the countryside.
Alp, our guide, describes the traffic as a harmony of chaos!
2.3million people in Istanbul commute inter-continentally each day.
Over 3 million sea commuters each day.
At any given moment, 4,000 people are in water taxis.
Grown in this area: hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, quince, green plums (craved by pregnant women), apples.
Very dependent on Russian markets for the food items.
Capital of Turkey is Ankara.
Turkey is slightly larger than Texas.
Age of population is young.
2nd largest army in the world...behind US (900,000 soldiers could activate up to 5,000,000 in a week's time).
Why do they need such a large army...Alp says: Look at our neighbors!
This is what we learn on the bus rides!
Took 6.5 hours to get to Ankara...major, major traffic ...even on the 6-laned freeway. Then we hit rush hour in the city...very slow but aggressive travel. We actually are getting used to it! Never rent a car in Turkey. We are too nice behind the wheel!
Must sleep...tomorrow is another long day of travel to get to Cappadocia...Land of the beautiful horses.
Kabobs for dinner again tonight. We are just exhausted and wanted something quick and easy.