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The Great Overseas Trip

Istanbul : Sept 11 - Sept 14

TURKEY | Monday, 14 September 2009 | Views [531]

September 11

We arrived at the bus station to take us from Bodrum to Turkey about 9.45pm.  While everyone was loading their luggage, we noticed a guy in black pants and vest with a white pinstripe, curious, we jumped on the bus and a few minutes later we were on our way. So once the bus gets out of Bodrum, this guy in the 'waiter' like clothes puts some gloves on and proceeds to walk up the bus giving the people water in a plastic glass, then offers tea/coffee and then comes back again with this roll/cake thing.  Brilliant! And to make it better it was all free!  We need service like this in Oz!  What also made this a great bus ride unlike previous ones, is that we only stopped twice in the 12 hour trip! We were excited because we hoped we might have been able to get some sleep...but who were we kidding, no sleeping on a bus when you have someone sitting next to you!

About 10.30am we arrive in Istanbul and thankfully to no flooding.  Our directions then say to catch the metro to a specific stop and then to catch a tram to Sultanahamet.  We step off the bus and see no signs pointing in the direction of the train station.  A man comes up and says something in Turkish (obviously we have No idea what he says), look at him blankly and then he says 'where', we say metro and he points over there, so we head over.  Another guy asks the same thing and we tell him and this time he points us to a bus?  We head over and the sign says Sultanahamet, so we jump on...we assume that there is a problem with the train system maybe due to the flooding and it isn't until the 3rd stop and other buses have gone by with a big METRO sign on them that we realise that the bus company is called Metro! lol...fools!

After a bit more travel we make it to our hotel which is nicely positioned in the middle of the city, 2mins walk from Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque.  We dump our bags and decide to take a walk.  We find out that it's 20 Turkish Lira to enter the Aya Sofya and decide against this (1TL = 1AUD).  So decide on a Turkish coffee instead.  While sitting we start chatting to the waiter about how we would like to do a water pipe later that evening and he says we should come back for tea as it is Ramazan (Ramadan is Oz), and it will be free - due to the language barrier we weren't sure whether he was talking about the pipe or dinner, but either way we said we'd come back!

Just after 7.30pm we head back to the cafe and are absolutely gobsmacked when we see the place.  Is packed!!!!! There are people everywhere! some sitting and some standing in line and others walking around with polystyrene trays (the ones that look like the trays the army uses) overflowing with food!  We must have looked pretty shocked as some ladies motioned for us to sit down, which we did, and a few Turkish words later and we had one of these trays in front of us as well as chips with mayo and sauce and a plate of olives and extra bread.  The tray had soup, which tasted a little chickeny but better, a stew, rice, and sweets, plus half a loaf of bread!  Was one of the most delicious meals ever!

Turns out that the ladies are the wives of the owners and explains why they were eating on plates and had extra food (like Nutella!).  We were so massively full, we sat there watching the comings and goings of people and by about 8.30pm, the place was quite empty.  Talking to the owners, we found out that every night during the 30 days of Ramazan, they put on this free dinner for anybody that wants it, and they give big helpings because most people have been fasting between sunrise and sunset, and are obviously hungry!  Most nights he said they feed over 600 people! Amazing! 

After letting our stomachs settle a bit, we decide on a strawberry and a peach water pipe.  Was a very different experience, and weird that the smoke tasted like strawberry or peaches!  While was something i think you should do while in Turkey (When in Rome...) i don't think i'll be in any hurry to do again.

September 12

This morning we got up and had a traditional Turkish breakfast (see photo), again we gorged ourselves and needed someone to roll us out the door!  The rest of the day we spent looking around Istanbul and then in the afternoon we headed to The Blue Mosque - not super amazing, pretty similar to the one we saw in Sunshine before we left Oz - and then onto the Grand Bizaar.  On the way we dropped into a jewellery store and picked up a free 'evil eye' courtesy of the hostel.  The Grand Bizaar was hilarious! Was like the Vic market, but indoors and people kept yelling at you when you walked by their shops.  Was really good to see, although we didn't buy anything.

September 13

Gallipoli day.  Up about 5.15am and we were waiting outside at 6am for our bus pick up.  A van pulled up and we jumped in.  In hindsight, or if we had of been more awake that early in the morning, maybe we should have asked a few more questions (or actually one!) as the van didn't have any signs on it and was just a random turkish man! oops...luckily for us, we went past more hostels and picked up another three couples.  He dropped us off at a massive bus station, and about an hour on the bus later we realised we were on a public bus and not a tour bus.  The other 3 couples were still with us and we all spoke about it and decided we would wait to see what happened when we got to Gallipoli and hopefully there would be people there to meet us.

At Gallipoli we jumped off the bus and a guy walked up with a piece of paper in his hand that had our names on it, yay!  Inside the hotel to drop off our bags and pick up a packed lunch, and we were on another bus (this one much smaller) and on our way to the battle fields.  I'm not even going to try and describe Gallipoli, is a thing you really just have to do yourself.  Was just amazing and moving and so many emotions all at the same time, including anger at the stupid British who stuffed up sooooo many times, and if they had a brain the result may have been very, very different!

Back to the town to pick up our bags and catch the big bus back to Istanbul.  I mentioned to Lisa, i have a feeling that we are going to breakdown, and we had a bit of a laugh about it.  Guess what. We broke down.  We had a mini freak out during the second breakdown time as we had our flight out to Serbia at 7.45am and the shuttle bus was picking us up at 5.50am.  Anyway, we finally made it back to Istanbul at 2am (instead of 11.30pm), and i suggested to Lisa that maybe she should just check her emails and check what time we were flying out.  I don't know how pyschic i was that day, but i should have bought a lottery ticket.  Instead of the flight being at 7.45am, it was actually 19.45, 7.45PM!!!!!!! I gave Lisa a truckload of sh*t, but was also very happy that at least we would get more than 3 hours sleep!

September 14

So, a free day that we didn't expect! We took advantage of this by having a bit of a sleep in, then decided to see the palace and spice bazaar.  The palace was expensive again to go and see, and from the pictures on the outside, didn't really look worth it, so we trundled off to the spice bazaar.  You could smell the place from miles away, and was pretty amazing.  Again, the usual people yelling at you and saying hi to grab your attention.  The spices were so colourful and there was masses of honey everywhere!

On the way out i also bought some perfume on the cheap, 3 bottles for very little!

Back to the hostel, pack and off to the airport.

 

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