Turkey Trip 2013

From March 15-24, 2013, a group of twelve staff, students and parents
from GSA traveled to Turkey.  The group flew into Istanbul and wasted
no time visiting the sites.  First, they went to Topkapi Palace which
was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400
years.  Nearby, they went to the Blue Mosque that is named for the
beautiful blue tiles on the inside.  Right outside of the mosque was
the Hippodrome where the group imagined the ancient racing and
sporting events that took place.  The group also viewed the Hagia
Sophia Museum which began as a church and later became a mosque.
Hagia Sophia was an important monument for both the Byzantine and
Ottoman Empires.  The group then went underground to see the Basilica
Cistern, the largest of the ancient cisterns that lies underneath the
city of Istanbul.  That was just the first day!

The next morning, the group spent a lot of time shopping at the Grand
Bazaar.  They viewed textiles, pottery, antiques, jewelry and more.
This was surely a group favorite!  Luckily, it was a perfectly clear
day for the group to go to the top of Sapphire Tower and see a 360
degree view of Istanbul.

On the third day, the group went to the Asian side of Istanbul.  They
toured Beylerbeyi Palace which was an Imperial Ottoman summer
residence located on the Bosphorus.  On the way to the next site, they
visited a school.  Situated on a hill, the school had a beautiful view
of Istanbul.  As chance would have it, the group visited a classroom
where they met a girl who was born in St. Louis!  Next, the group
drove to the top of Camlica Hill to enjoy a gorgeous view of
Istanbul.  Lastly, they went on a sunset boat ride on the Bosphorus.

The next day, the group took a short flight to Izmir.  They drove to
the top of Mount Koressos to see the House of the Virgin Mary, near
the city of Selcuk.  They went into the shrine that is believed to be
the last residence of the Virgin Mary before she died.  At the bottom
of the mountain, the group toured the ancient city of Ephesus which
was an ancient Greek (and later a major Roman) city.  Next, they saw
the historic Selcuk Mosque and the Artemision, which was the most
important sanctuary in Ephesus and one of the Seven Wonders of the
Ancient World.  The group then had a pottery demonstration and
shopping at one of the most well-known ceramic shops in Turkey.

The next morning, the group drove to Denizli to see Pamukkale, meaning
“cotton castle” in Turkish.  Pamukkale contains natural hot springs
and calcium-rich travertines on top of a mountain.  The group enjoyed
wading in the water and viewing such a unique natural formation.
After flying to Antalya, the group spent some time on the beach of the
Mediterranean Sea wading in the water.  They also enjoyed the natural
beauty of Duden waterfalls.  On the last day, the group flew back to
Istanbul.  With some time to spare, they revisited the Grand Bazaar
and finished up their shopping at the Spice Market.

Throughout the trip, the group feasted on delicious dishes and
desserts.  They had dinners hosted in their honor by two Turkish
families, and many restaurant owners treated them to lovely spreads of
local delicacies.  In addition to the interesting historical and
cultural sites, the group is sure to miss the delicious food!

The staff, students and parents truly enjoyed their trip to Turkey and
would love to return again with more friends and family!


Here are some comments from teachers and from a student.

The grandeur and opulence of the palaces, the delectable dishes of meat and vegetables, the sampling of new and different sweet treats, the hot tea following dinner, the ancient ruins full of history and wonder, the beautiful and awe-inspiring mosques, and the countless inviting and wares-filled stores in the Grand Bazaar are only a few of the amazing memories I have brought back to the states from our trip to Turkey. Would I go again? Definitely! I would love to return to Turkey in the future, after much needed rest from my travels of course, and I highly recommend a visit to this amazing country to anyone who has an adventurous spirit.  Thanks and applause to Mr. Kandemir for his organization, leadership, patience, kindness, commitment, and willingness to translate, making this GSA trip unforgettable!
-Lisa Basich, Title I math teacher, GSA middle/high school
My words cannot possibly do justice to the beauty and history of Turkey. I can tell you that I am lucky to have gotten the chance to visit Turkey with such wonderful people. I just hope that one day you might have that same luck. From visiting Turkey I have gained friendships and memories that will last forever.
-Alicia Rovertoni, Physical education teacher, GSA elementary school
Turkey was such a wonderful experience for me and one that I will never forget. From Istanbul with its interesting mix of ancient traditions and modern trends to Antalya with its beautiful mountain views and gorgeous coastlines it was all so unbelievable and at times I could not believe I was so lucky to be in Turkey. I cannot say one thing or one place was my favorite because everything I saw, touched, and ate was unique in its very own way. I look forward to visiting Turkey again and sharing my new found love for the country with others. A giant thank you to Mr. Kandemir for being so kind and patient with me and answering all of my questions and sharing his vast knowledge of Turkey throughout the trip.
-Kristin Wensler, 1st grade teacher, GSA elementary school
The trip to Turkey was spectacular, and I am truly thankful to GSA for the opportunity.  I enjoyed all of the history, culture, people and food!  I loved the natural beauty of Pamukkale, the history and wonder of the ancient city of Ephesus and the shopping/culture in the Grand Bazaar.  I am so appreciative of the opportunity to go on such an amazing trip with such great people.  I would love to return to Turkey some day! Thank you Gateway Science Academy and Mr. Kandemir!
-Leah Jones, Guidance counselor, GSA
I liked going to Ephesus and the Mediterranean Sea, but my favorite part of the trip to Turkey was the Grand Bazaar.
-Aaron Haag, 6th grade student at GSA middle/high school [nggallery id=18].

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