Friday 4th Nov.
Istanbul....WooHoo...another fantastic mixed up of cultures.
We seriously like this place. Its friendly, madly busy, colourful and mental.
I am starting to get my head around the hooter thing. They use it like an extra car control and most of the time it is not used as a rebuke - I am chillin with it !
|View from our hotel. overlooking the sea of Marmara (part of the Med)|
Having taken advice from the hotel manager who spoke good English, we set off this morning for the 150m trek to the local bus stop on the main Highway. We were advised to get the small busses that looked a lot decrepid.
We took a picture of the highway turn off sign by the bus stop - an insurance policy.
We caught a bus almost immediately and it was packed. All up close and personal like. After the initial shock we began to enjoy the experience. The cost was 1.5 lire (about 52p) for a 7 mile trip into town. What made us laugh was that people would get on, ignore the driver and sit down. Then a couple of minutes later they would pass a note or some change down the bus from person to person with the destination passed on like chinese whispers and the driver would take the money, sort out the change and pass it back to the person behind him for passing on to the initiator. The driver did all this whilst driving the bus, the horn and his mobile phone.
The next stage was a 2 km boat trip back to Europe. 2 lire and 10 minutes later we were in the centre of old Istanbul.
|View across the harbour.|
|The main, 4 scud, mosque on the hillside. We visited the smaller 2 scud version to the left of it. (Scud = Russian cold war missile like we showed a few days ago on the back of a launcher !)|
|The Asian side|
What an amazing place (now that I did not have to drive in it !). We started out by visiting one of the main Mosques as in the above photo.
Entry was as expected. No shoes and women had to have their heads covered. They got around this problem with tourists by having a big box of plastic shopping bags outside the entrance and everyone took their shoes off on the mat and placed them in the bag and you just carried it inside. Also at the entrance was an old man who was in charge of issueing headscarves to women. Karen was given a pink one. Whilst I was taking photos, Karen carried the shoes....like this..
|For some reason she did not want me to publish this !|
It was quite incredible, the architecture and decoration were to behold.
|Outside there were men washing their feet and heads in purpose built faucets.|
As we exited the Mosque we found the spice market. This just blew us away....
|There was very little that was not for sale here.|
|Along with all the usual pet shop type animals, they also had....leeches. Nice|
|I wanted to buy a belly dancers outfit and Karen said "No", You already have a nurses outfit and that will do.|
|........Good looking women.....|
|....and more spices...|
|Need I say more.|
|They had just had their national day (29 Oct) and all the flags were still out. On top of this they have a 4 day meat festival starting on Monday.|
|Fancy a smoke mate ?|
We then stopped in the centre of the market for some grub, unfortunately, the spice market and the cafes were in the grounds of the mosque so no beer for us.
|Wot....no Beer....(it was a false smile !) Do you like the furniture ?|
|Once out of the cafe area we saw a nasty man with a big knife.|
Karen fancied a trip up the river so we walked over to the docks and paid the grand sum of £3.50 each to do a 1 hour cruise up and down the canal that seperates Europe from Asia.
|Don't know what this is but it was pretty.|
|The bridge we neglected to pay on. Built by a firm in Darlington.|
|These people have the biggest flags on the planet.|
|The sun was setting as we returned.|
|And with the setting sun, the city illumination came on.|
|The lit up boat is actually a kitchen (actually there are several in a line). They pass the food pricariously to the waiters on dry land. It was especially funny when the cruisers went past.|
|One half of the old bridge joining two parts of the European side. To the left side is a lift bridge (Like Tower Bridge) and either side of that are hundreds of restaurants of which we had a little sample.|
We then caught the ferry shuttle back across to Asia and then that was where the Highway turn off sign picture we had taken earlier came in handy. I ran around like a demented chicken asking all the bus drivers for the correct bus to take us to the place my finger was pointing to on the picture displayed on my camera. It worked very well and 2 minutes later we were on the right bus heading back to our hotel. We had the usual chinese whispers and the passing of the cash back and forth. It was highly amusing and good to see a side of life that very few tourists get to see.
Once at the hotel we crashed out and watched "Game of Thrones" in English with Turkish sub-titles. Nice.
Saturday 5th Nov.
A chill day. We rested AM and went shopping in the afternoon. That was an experience in itself. The Turks shop like they drive. They have absolutely no regard for anyone else in the shop (Carrefour - like a French owned version of Tescos). They stop and chat all over the place and block the isles all the time. The funny thing is that no one seems to mind except us ! On top of that, it is Saturday and the world has bought her husband and kids to the supermarket. It was mobbed. We did not spend long there and made a hasty retreat back to the hotel to complete our day off.