|Here we are getting ready to leave Grand Forks. We had to do some repacking to meet the new luggage weight limits, but we got 5 of the 6 bags down to exactly 50 lbs (the new limit) with the remaining bag weighing in at 38 lbs. Are we good or what?|
|We made it! We left Grand Forks, ND at 11:00 AM, March 22 and 4 flights later arrived in Antalya, Turkey at about 2:00 PM March 23 (all Grand Forks times). Here is a map of our flights. It was dark when we arrived, so no photos/vidoes until tomorrow. Finally, we had absolutely no problems getting through customs in Turkey. In fact, it was so easy we thought we had messed up somehow. I repeat - this was too easy. I think sometime along April 2 I’m going to be asking the university for lawyers, money and guns - to get me out of this mess.|
Our first day of preparations (PS no damage to the equipment). We started off looking for a good place to view the eclipse from and began to test the network connection. It looks like we will webcast from the hotel's amphitheater - here is a picture of the amphitheater from the hotel’s roof (it's the building right of the pool).
Here is a picture of our hotel from the amphitheater. The Hotel's IT manager (Mr. Murat Capak) has been very helpful with network and power issues. In fact, most of the hotel's (The Miracle De Luxe Resort) have been very helpful as they are all very excited about the eclipse. The hotel even wanted 100 of our solar eclipse glasses for their guests.
While we’re on the subject of the hotel, here’s a picture of hard working in-the-field scientists (Tim and Tricia) looking for sustenance. The buffet is probably not as good as a Turkish bath, but pretty close I bet.
By the way, you may ask "Why UND eclipse team? Why do you stay at such nice places?" Well pilgrim, I’ll tell you why. Unlike some other eclipse teams, we have a small budget and need to be somewhere that has the infrastructure to support our webcast and even more importantly a hotel that has the right staff to help with problems (ie Free labor). Without this support we would NOT be able to produce these webcasts on our budget.
It’s Saturday and no one is around to help with any testing, so we headed off to town (Antalya) to see some sites. We took a cab to the nearest trolley station and rode the trolley into town. Antalya metro area has about 1,200,000 people and is spread out along the coast, so it looks much larger than it is. Yet, given a city of this size there is no obvious downtown. Most of the streets look the same - like this:
This entire part of Turkey, including Antalya, is covered with Greek and Roman ruins. Here is a photo of the Hadrian gate erected to commemorate the visit of the Emperor Hadrian and his wife in 130 AD. It was mind boggling amazing to walk up (worn) steps of a structure built about 1900 years ago. We also wandered through some shops, including this spice shop. The smell was fantastic. I wonder if U.S. customs would have a problem with me bring a bucket of spice back?
As expected, there are many mosques in this region and here is short video (8.1 mb) showing a side street in Antalya while a nearby mosque is calling muslims to prayer. Even though I am not a Muslim it was hard to not be mesmerized by the song. I should have recorded more, but ran out of memory.
Our tour of Antalya took us towards the marina and being adventurers (ie scientists) we opted to go on a "cruise" (Tricia’s idea). Here is a photo of some of the nicer big wooden cruise boats (our's was not this nice nor this big). I think the Skipper had had a few beers as the empties were rolling about the deck and there were four (as in 1, 2, 3, 4!) fire extinguishers, but no life jackets. But the Skipper seemed like a seasoned (sauced?) sailor, so off we went.
We were off on our "1 hour cruise" with the Skipper, two professors, Tricia, and a family of 3. Gilligan and Mary Ann were nowhere to be found. :) The boat made it out of the harbor and into the bay. Note the mountains in the background - they had snow on them. I wish it would have been clear as the view would have been fantastic.
Another day with no one around to help test so we rented a car and headed south to Side, Turkey where many Roman ruins are located. The area is spectacular as there are ancient Greek ruins scattered all over. It must give one a real sense of history and pride to grow up next to such a site. The image on the left is a panoramic view of the many ruins scattered about. The image on the right is of the remains of an ancient Greek side street.
Continuing on our tour (following the side street ruins), we find Colonnaded Avenue (left image) that they (archeologists) appear to be slowly reconstructing and off Colonnaded Avenue are the ruins of what archeologists think was a hospital. Aside from the remains, there are rather large sand dunes that probably cover many more structures.
If we head back to the side street ruins and follow it we find the remains of a building that had several exquisitely carved columns still standing (left image). As one looks towards this structure, then directly behind you is the large amphitheater ruins which is the major structure at Side (right image).
The real find of the day’s tour was a fully intact amphitheater outside of Espensa, Turkey. The amphitheater was closed by the time we got there, but fortunately some of the locals had their own little tour operation going (for a small fee of course). Anyways, we paid the man and he took us on a "Turkish Safari" (as Tricia called it). So, we climbed the hill that the amphitheater was carved from, up a ladder (that was conveniently hidden in the bushes) and on to the top of the amphitheater.
This amphitheater is smaller than the one at Side, but completely intact and I can honestly say that being in a 2000 year old stadium that held 3000 people, that has perfect acoustics, and that has the same layout as any modern stadium is really awe inspiring. I have never been anywhere or seen anything that simply made me stand and stare. For whatever reason, even the Taj Mahal (which was phenomenal!) did not leave me as speechless as this place. Photos can not come close to describing the place - this place is a must see!
Today was a test equipment day. I also spent some time trying to figure out why the sems4 machine (a video server) was no longer accessible over the network. The network here in Turkey failed (due to rain) before the problem was solved.
That evening I spent some time mingling and talking with other guests, including a director (movie director) from New York and her friend, a young woman from Belerious (part of former Soviet Union). You meet a lot of interesting people when you travel. Turns out the resorts around here are popular destinations for Israelis, Germans, and Russians.
The day started with a call from the front desk saying a film crew was here and that they wanted to interview us. We hauled all of the equipment down to the hotel’s amphitheater and met with the film crew. The film crew was from Digiturk channel 12 and were producing a television show called "Wilco’s Camper" which is hosted by Wilco Van Herpen. The crew travels around Turkey producing shows about the local goings on.
The remainder of the day was spent setting up and testing equipment and trying to figure why the network was so slow. We were assured that the network problems would be fixed by tomorrow morning.
That night I met with the many that came to see the eclipse. 150 people from Israel alone came, not to mention Germans, Dutch, Russians, English!
The weather was perfect, so we prepared for a crowd and an excellent eclipse. About 50 people joined us for the
eclipse (left picture), including Ms. Willemse (from Europe - and who provided some of these pictures).
Many others watched it from around the hotel.
The network was not as fast as we hoped, so we abandoned the webcasting of the terrainCam, it was however, set to record the surrounding terrain, so that video will get uploaded as well as the video of the eclipse through the telescope. We also some network dropouts, but overall it went very well.
Aside from the eclipse itself, we did some other cool things. For example, just before totality, shadows became very crisp (left picture – shadow of Tricia’s hair) and just after the eclipse (as the Sun was returning) a nearby cloud had a rainbow on it. Of course the eclipse was the real show.
|Today was a travel day - off to Istanbul.|
We headed off (walking) towards the Blue Mosque and I stopped along the way to take a picture of and to record a few
short clips of the street scene in Istanbul. The first video shows one of the main streets with a trolley running on
it (along with every other type of motorized vehicles) . The
second video shows a small park near the Blue Mosque with Muslims praying . PS I wonder what a "McTurko" tastes like?
Next on our walking tour was the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque), built between 1609 and 1616 and is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. Since it is beautifully adorned by blue, green and white encaustics, it was named by the Europeans as the "Blue Mosque". Lucky for us, as we were near the mosque they began to call Muslims to prayer .
After touring the Blue Mosque we headed off (across the street) towards the Hagia Sophia. Here is Tim and Tricia taking a photo of the Blue Mosque while a water seller (selling drinks of water) walks by. Also, I stopped along the way to record a short clip of the immediate area. .
The Church of Hagia Sophia was also the Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for more than one thousand years. Originally known as the Great Church (because of its large size in comparison with the other churches of the then Christian World) it was later given the name of Hagia Sophia (the Holy Wisdom of Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity). The original structure was destroyed several times with the current version completed in 537 AD. According to historians, nothing like it was ever built before or after.
Once we got inside we headed into the domed basilica, but had to step up/over marble stairs that had 1500 years of wear and tear. It was kind of unfortunate for us, but the domed basilica is undergoing renovations , but it was still an amazing site.
We made our way towards the altar (left photo) and discovered a beam of light entering the building from a window. Being scientists, we stood and pondered at how a window with the given shape it had could produce a single beam of light (right photo).
Along the ceiling there were many mosaics. The left picture shows a mosaic while the right picture shows a very close close up of one. The video shows the altar and the mosaic waaaaay above it on the ceiling .
Finally, we made our way to the second floor of the Hagia Sophia (all other floors are closed) and I took these photos. The left picture is of the floor itself. The right picture is of the view of the domed basilica from the second floor.
After the Hagia Sophia, we headed towards the Yerebatan Sarayi ("Sunken Palace") cistern constructed during the reign of Constantine I in the 4th century and was enlarged by Justinian I in the 6th century (it covers about a football field – the left picture is of only a small part). For much of the Ottoman period it served as little more than a well and a fishing hole for the locals. Even today it would not be noticed by anyone who didn’t know it was there as many buildings have been built on its roof (right picture)!
Two Roman Medusa heads act as pedestals in the northwest corner. Researchers believe that they were simply brought here as useful pedestals. But there are many legends abut their real purpose! In Greek mythology, the Medusa is one of Gorgons, the female monsters of the underground. They could turn people to stone, and were used to protect buildings. Since the Medusa could turn herself into stone by accidentally looking into Persus sword or into the mirror, she would often be placed on her side or upside down. Some people believe this is why the Medusas are in the cisterns.
Finally, we headed off for a walk around the Topkapi Palace (started in 1460) and found a place to get a great view of the Bosphorus water way (between the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea) and the city center.
Finally, it was dinner time so we headed off to a restaurant, from there I took this night photo of the Topkapi Palace.
We started the day off touring the Topkapi Palace. Not as interesting as the other sites in Istanbul, but still worth the time. Here is a picture of the entrance into the council room - where the Sultan’s council would meet to discuss affairs of state and take audiences with the citizens (all citizens, men, women, rich and poor were allowed to address the council without discrimination). The picture on the right is of the Blue Mosque through the palace gates.
Our second stop of the day (via the trolley system) was the Old Bazaar (or Spice Bazaar) . Not as big as the Grand Bazaar, but still a unique place as it is where most of the spice venders sell their goods in this part of Istanbul. Around the outside of the Spice Bazaar are more venders selling everyday items such as pots and pans and food stuffs.
Before we headed back to our hotel, we stopped for a snack during which the mosques starting calling the faithful to prayer (they do this 5 times a day) . In some cases the mosques are close enough together to hear each other’s calls and they will take turns calling/chanting - sort of like "real life stereo."
Today was another travel day - heading home to Grand Forks, ND.