A Travellerspoint blog

Istanbul, Turkey - Sunday, 14 August 2011

sunny 37 °C

Up early and first in for breakfast. Our tour bus was picking us up at 8.45 am. First the bus took us to the harbour and we cruised the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. We saw the Rumeli Fortress, Istanbul from the sea (Asia and Europe sides) and lots of very expensive houses - $100,000,000.

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Back to the bus and up to Pierre Lote Hill. Great view over the city, then caught a cable car back to the bus. Had lunch - lentil soup, salad, chicken and meat kebabs and water melon. We have decided to be very careful with what we eat, as per Rickus in South Africa - no ice, no salad, only things you can peel or cooked things.

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Visited the Dolmabahce Palace. Absolutely magnificent. Home to six sultans and Ataturk died there. It has the world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier which was a gift from Queen Victoria. Unfortunately no photos allowed in this fabulous place.

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Then we drove over the Bosphorus bridge from Istanbul, Europe to Istanbul, Asia. Went to Camlica Hill for a photo stop and refreshments. It's quite hot now - 37 degrees but there is a nice breeze blowing.

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Phil has pulled a muscle in his leg and is limping. We were dropped off at our hotel at 5.00 pm. Busy but enjoyable day. We forgot to take the DO NOT DISTURB sign off our door, so our room wasn't done. We are so dopey!

Phil has gone for a massage. I went for one too after him. It was very relaxing. Oil everywhere - even in my hair! In hindsight, I should have had a Turkish Bath after the massage. What a luxury that would have been.

We went out for dinner to a local restaurant and both ordered a pizza. When they arrived, they had forgotten to put the tomato paste base on the pizza, so they were pretty bland. We sat in the window, open to the street and watched the passing parade. Fascinating. Home to pack. We leave for Ankara tomorrow via taxi, ferry and train. Good luck!

Posted by gaddingabout 18:41 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Istanbul, Turkey - Saturday, 13 August 2011

sunny 30 °C

Slept in, late breakfast, then back to the streets. We went looking for a boot maker to sew up a hole in Phil's shoe. Three Turkish men gave us directions and then decided to walk with us to show us the way. The cobbler was a Gary McKay "look alike", sitting on a stool in the street and sewed up Phil's shoe. He didn't want any money but we paid him anyway.

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We then went back to one of our "guides" optometrist's shop and had chi. He gave Phil a new cord for his glasses. We went back to the covered bazaar looking for shorts for Phil - none anywhere but he did buy four shirts. Jumped the queue because we were "seniors" and visited the St Sophia Mosque. It was very impressive and huge.

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Back to the hotel to change as were were attending a whirling dervish performance. It only goes for one hour and that's about all you need. It is very mesmerizing. Phil went to sleep. The music is very droning and boring and the whirling dervishes are fascinating but it is very hard to stay awake, after a very busy day. NO photographs and NO applause or noise. Back to the hotel and had a snack on the terrace overlooking the lights of Istanbul. Just lovely. It is Ramadam at the moment and the minute the sun sets, the city comes to life with lights and noise.

Posted by gaddingabout 18:35 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Istanbul, Turkey - Friday, 12 August 2011

sunny 25 °C

Slept in and had a leisurely breakfast and then took to the streets. We walked to the railway station and bought our tickets for Ankara on Monday.

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Then caught a taxi to the Galata Tower and went up the top. I saw a nice turquoise and marquisitte ring but Phil thought we could get it cheaper at the Grand Bazaar. First mistake! If you see it and like it, buy it - because you'll never be back!! We went to the Grand Bazaar - it is huge - and walked for miles and couldn't see the same ring anywhere.

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Had a chicken wrap and fresh orange juice for lunch and then visited the Blue Mosque. I had to wear a skirt to cover my legs and had to take our shoes off. Seen one mosque - seen them all, but the mosque in Abu Dhabi is stunning and still the best one I have ever seen.

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Next we visited the underground bascilia cisterns. Definitely worth a visit. Huge carp swim in these waters. Took photos of Medusa's head - a statue in the water. It's a nice place to be on a hot day.

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The Turks are very friendly and want to talk. Phil's Turkish is improving. He keeps saying "Merriba effendum" (excuse the spelling) which translates into "Hello Sir", and when they hear that, they are falling over themselves to chat and be friendly.

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We walked miles and miles today and when we came back to the hotel, we decided to have a Turkish Bath in the basement of our hotel - separately. I made Phil go first so he could tell me what it was like and what to do if I decided to have one, because the Turkish Bath girl doesn't speak English and I don't speak Turkish.

He loved it so I decided to have one too. The room was huge and all marble and very warm with basins and taps around the wall and a huge round marble slab (heated) in the centre of the room. Strip off and tie a sarong around you and lie on the marble slab. She throws warm water over you which has a lovely rippling effect, then rubs your body, front and back with a rough glove, then more warm water, then lots of soap and foam, then more water. It took about 40 minutes - she also washed your hair. At the end of it all, she handed me an aluminium basin and left the room. I think this was to wash my "private parts" because after all, this was a bath, not just a tourist attraction. It was so relaxing and our skin was red and glowing from all the rubbing.

We then got dressed for dinner and caught a taxi back to the Galata Tower. The taxi driver was an idiot and couldn't drive properly and took us to the suburb of Galata, not the tower. So we said "the Pera Palace" and we got out and had an argument about the fare but finally agreed on the price. We had a walk around the Pera Palace. The Orient Express guests stay here (from Paris to Istanbul). Absolutely magnificent.

Got another taxi to the Galata Tower and bought the ring and then got dropped off in Taksim Square - millions of people everywhere! We decided it might be easier to find an eating place over on our side. We ordered meat balls that tasted like sawdust and weren't cooked very well. Back to the Lady Diana Hotel and into bed. Phil got up in the night and had a vomit. Not sure why as we ate the same things.

Posted by gaddingabout 18:10 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Prague, Czech Republic / Istanbul, Turkey - Thurs, 11 Aug 11

overcast 22 °C

Up early and said goodbye to some Scenic friends and Makis and Anetta. The transfer person dropped us off at the wrong terminal, so we had a bit of a walk to the correct one. The flight to Vienna took 35 mins, changed planes and flew to Istanbul which took 2 hours 20 minutes. Good flight but was a bit bumpy on occasions. We caught a taxi to the Lady Diana hotel in the old part of Turkey. The exterior and foyer are very nice - the room is okay. It was advertised as having a bath, well, it does, but it is only a half sized one, but I guess it's better than none! The room is quite small, but it's okay.

The restaurant is on the roof overlooking the Sea of Marmara, the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet) and Saint Sophia Mosque. It is really quite lovely. We had dinner and went to bed. It rained while we were having dinner - poured!

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Posted by gaddingabout 18:03 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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