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TURKEY | Saturday, 29 September 2007 | Views [1056] | Comments [1]

Its Frıday - we,ve been in Istanbul for 2 days havıng a great tıme and walked about 50km!  Istanbul ıs an ınterestıng cıty but buılt on a hılls whıch we have walked up and down numerous tımes (excuse the letter ı - there are two on thıs keyboard - ı and i - and I am not sure how they turn out on your screens).  As I was sayıng we have been walkıng for 6 hours thıs mornıng and Sue ıs catchıng a nap whıle I wrıte my journal!  I have been too tıred the last two nıghts by the tıme we get home!

Istanbul fırst ımpressıons.  Mosques, crowded trams, tourısts, frıendly people, shops, hıstory, beauty, smog, cats.  We have caught several ferrıes over the Bosphorus, vısıted mosques, walked past lıterally thousands of shops, squashed ınto numerous trams, and marvelled at many beautıful sıghts (buıldıngs mostly).

Flyıng ın from Malaysıa we flew for at least an hour over desert whıch I presume must have been Saudı  Arabıa.  Even over Turkey the towns were quıte small untıl we hıt Istanbul whıch ıs huge.  By the way, the busıness class from KL to Istanbul were no where near as ımpressıve as Brısbane to KL, but stıll very spacıous.

All too brıef.  Gotta go.  Sarıta just messaged that she has arrıved ın Istanbul and ıs on the tram to meet us.

Back again = but now it is Saturday morning and I am on a different keyboard which is using the more familiar key positions = but that is not what is showing on the keyboard!

Health issues are obviously low on the governments priorities here.  Most people seem to smoke, though fortunately it is banned in many public places.  There are no rubbish bins around, but the place is very clean.  We are guessing that the lack of bins is due to bomb concerns.  We were speaking to an Aussie/|Turk last night - turned out to be a carpet salesman as are 50% of people we have met! - who mentioned about an explosion a few nights ago which killed a carpet salesman in an area we had been and indicated that explosions tend to be hushed up.

It is amazing the number of carpet salesmen.  I don't understand how carpet sales can support so many people!  They are always friendly and I am happy to talk to them - though Sue usually keeps on walking.  I asked one about the range of prices and he said he had carpets from $100 to $200000. I often tell them it is a poor investment of their time to talk to me if they wanted to make a sale (a point which Sarita endorsed) but they still seemed happy to talk.  Their range of languages is impressive, and they usually start off by trying to guess what country you are from.  We have got Spanish a few times.  We were on the tram recently (we travel by tram often - very modern but crowded trams- and a young turkish mother hopped on with her 6 year old daughter.  The mother was conversing quite clearly with her daughter in English, then switched to Italian. I asked about languages and she said her daughter spoke 4 - Turkish, Arabic, English and Italian. She then proceeded to have a more stilted conversation with her daughter in Spanish!  Sue and I have been struggling just to learn a few key words in Turkish.  I specifically try to use the Turkish for thankyou but so far I have elicited no response - not sure if they know what I am saying.  I would have thought that Turks would recognise Turkish!

Each night so far we have been for a cruise on the Bosphorous.  I say ~cruise~ but it is actually just the local ferry costing $1.  Last night was a bit crowded, but on the way back from the Asian side, it was just on sunset and with the smog over Istanbul, it made for some great photos.

I thought Turks drank a lot of coffee, but everywhere it is Chai (black tea).  Breakfast is flaky pastry - either sweet or with cheese or spinach, together with chai.  Turks use a special glass, but tourists often get a teacup.

Went into a cistern yesterday.  It is a huge water tank under the ground built I think about the 600s (before 565) but it looks like a cathedral with huge pillars and an arched ceiling.  Not much water in there now, but it looks great and it was pleasantly cool inside (30C outside).

The mosques are the dominant image on the skyline.  There are a few churches but they are hard to find.  Apparently their spires are not allowed to be as prominent as the minarets.

There are thousands of shops.  They seem to cluster together so that shops selling leather coats are in one area, and childrens shoes in another.  There is an amazing variety of goods on sale, though carpet salesmen are ubiquitous!  And all trained at the same school.

Thats it for first impressions.  It is 8am and time to put on the walking shoes, massage the calf muscles, and head out on to the street in search of breakfast.

I'll write again soon.

Colin in Istanbul

Tags: Sightseeing




Hi Colin, we are following your travels with interest and looking forward to seeing the photos. In the meantime we can all share in the carpet buying experience at http://youtube.com/watch?v=BiZUsBgmwPw&mode=related&search=

  Jan Oct 2, 2007 7:46 AM

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