Istanbul, Turkey – 5th August, 2010.
So a brief recap. The bus ride in was hell. Though made much easier by the fact there was tv’s, refreshments and comfy ass seats. The early morning wake up call at the border wasn’t good. First going through the Bulgarian border was a good hour. Then a 30 minute wait in “no mans land” where they’ve built a shopping centre for your leisurely needs. Then another hour at the Turkey border. Where one has to purchase a 15 euro visa which is basically a tourist tax.
Anyway getting into Turkey wasn’t too bad and I found my way to the hostel. Though I was a little disappointed at what I discover. Though I just fall asleep from tiredness til about 11ish. I meet an english couple and we set out to go see a few things.
First up – though I need to get some cashola out as I have zero Turkish Lira in my wallet. So at the ATM we get asked (not the first time) “where are you from?” and then the clincher “would you like to buy some carpet?”. Yup, all of 5 minutes out in the street and that occurs.
Anyway we head off to the Topkapi Palace. Which is where the sultans ruled from during the Ottoman period. We go to buy a Museum Pass for 20TL buuuuut that isn’t going to happen as its only for Turkish people. A bit of discrimination – even if they upped the price a little it would be much more beneficial for it to be available for all visitors. So instead we buy the 20TL ticket to go into the Palace.
The palace itself has 3 different court yards. All having different buildings. And well I’m not going to bore you with details of each one. Cause they all seemed rather similar. But the mosaic work was pretty fantastic. There are lots of relics and a damn lot of beard cases. Weird. The view over the Sea of Marmais is pretty amazing too.
We head out of there – mainly due to the amount of people who are crammed into each building. So crammed you can barely see any thing that is on display. Its then a search for somewhere cheap – now I thought Turkey was going to be cheap. But apparently not. We find an OK place for a meal and then end up staying for the majority of the afternoon drinking beer and smoking the nargile (nargile is waterpipe/hookah for all you folks).
Its then off to the Kapali Carsi or the Grand Bazaar. The bazaar is massive and has 22 entrances. Its a mass of alleys and laneways. You will get lost at least once in here. However great it may be to find bargains. I am a tad disappointed at how commercialised it is. You try to bargain – for example a pair of fake ray ban sunnies that you can get on the street for 10TL and the people in the Bazaar wont budge past 25TL. It just seems like its now targeting tourists. But its still fun haggling a bit.
Back at the hostel for dinner which is also included in the price for the night. Score – even if it is just pasta and sauce with yoghurt (it tastes better than you think). We drink a few beers but the keg is dry so we buy cheap bottles from the off license for a few drinks on the roof terrace before going to bed.