Altrusans Julianne Lovelace, Courtenay Tanner, Kimberly Kierce, and Janie Jaquier were joined by Julianne’s daughter, Lynn Lovelace, and Courtenay’s friend since childhood, Connie Merillatt (who currently lives in California) for 10 days in Istanbul, Turkey in March, 2009. These six ladies took Istanbul by storm – well not really – it was more like a drizzle because it rained nearly everyday. But that did not stop the them from doing lots of shopping and seeing the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabache Palace, The Grand Bazaar, the Spice Market, the markets of Ortokoy, the Silk Market and Green Mosque in Bursa, an original Turkish Bath, and the ancient walls and aqueduct of the city.
The group was shown the historic sights of Istanbul by Esra Canturk (pictured between Julianne and Courtenay), a good friend and tour guide extraordinaire to the Emir of Qatar and other notables. Her passion for the history and culture of Turkey and Istanbul was intriguing. She made the art and architecture come to life. She made some great recommendations for a few “must experience” restaurants. The food was fantastic. Baklava – need we say more?
On the group’s adventure to the silk markets of Bursa, they took a 1-hour ferry boat ride across the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul to Yalova and a 1-hour bus ride from Yalova to Bursa. They enjoyed a day full of sightseeing and silk and tapestry shopping in Bursa. They returned on the 1 hour bus ride from Bursa back to Yalova, only to discover that their last ferry of the day was cancelled. No 7:30 pm ferry. Cancelled due to rough seas. When they asked how to get back to Istanbul, the ferry workers said, “I don’t know”. So, the six ladies were awestruck by their stranded predicament. But, a young Turkish man advised them that there was a bus leaving for Istanbul soon and they needed to hurry. So, they ran for the bus and got a seat – Whew! They made it, and were on their way. An hour later, when the bus was full, they finally departed Yalova for the “approximately” 2.5 hour ride back to Istanbul. About 3.5 hours later (midnight), they were finally back at their hotel, relieved that they made it “home”… but the spoils of their shopping success made it all worth it!
On one of their two sunny days, they enjoyed a relaxing and scenic boat ride along the Bosphrous Strait to the Black Sea. What a great place to be on two continents at the same time – the European side and Asian side of Istanbul were fantastic!
They also enjoyed an evening watching Whirling Dervishes, and on another evening they enjoyed a show of ancient and native dances – yes that would include belly dancing. But the ladies left that dancing to the professionals.
The people of Istanbul were friendly, fun, and sociable. The architecture, history and culture were fascinating. The “Sisterhood of Altrusa” brought these ladies together for a wonderful, international adventure they will never forget.