After travelling to northern Spain on a U. Vic study tour in 2015, I was delighted to learn there would be an opportunity this year to see southern Spain with the two mujeres bonitas, Rosa and Chrissie (also the tour leaders on our South American tour last year), who were our leaders on the northern half. Booked!
Then, Royal Heights (whose tours I have been on to Greece and Egypt) posted a trip to Turkey starting 3 days after the Spain trip ends. A plan!
After 3 extra days in Barcelona to recharge, I fly to Istanbul. Even better, a new friend, Yasuko, from the South America trip decided to do the same thing, so I will have company. And Bonnie joining us in Barcelona, I’m excited!
Southern Spain will be the perfect entree to Turkey, although the historical timelines of the two countries are inverted. It seems there is room in the world for at least two religious empires at once. The Moors (muslims from the east) occupied southern Spain in a glorious empire from about 711 AD to 1492, after which the Catholics, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, expelled anyone who wouldn’t convert to Catholicism and a new Spanish Golden Age soon began. The country today remains mainly Catholic.
Meanwhile, from about 330 AD to 1453, Constantinople and Byzantium were the true headquarters of the Roman Empire and Christianity while Rome was left behind as a backwater after the fall of the Empire there. At the crossroads of two trade routes and militarily defensible, glittering Byzantium had incredible wealth – architecture, gold, mosaics, spices and more. Then the Muslims invaded and the Ottoman Empire ruled in what is now Turkey from 1453 until 1923.
Turkey also closes the circle of the Medterranean for me on our ancient foundation and we will visit many Roman and Greek ruins including perhaps the most famous of all, Troy.
The journey is the thing.
So once again, heading out to do the thing!