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Loco for Lokum: on assignment inTurkey The lowdown on winning the 2011 World Nomads/Rough Guides Scholarship...

The Beginning of a BikeHike Adventure

TURKEY | Wednesday, 8 June 2011 | Views [1918] | Comments [2]

Istanbul street life
Dodging carpet salesmen has become my number 1 past time in Istanbul. Sadly, I’m not very good at it and now find myself on a first-name basis with half of the carpet salesmen in the area. That and the waiters, whose repetitive shout-outs have become key landmarks in navigating my way back to my hotel.
Today was the day of the BikeHike tour - the first of twelve considerably more action-packed days to come – and began with a transfer to the Sumengen Hotel, an appealingly rustic abode a mere few minutes walk from the Blue Mosque. I headed out for lunch with Jody another participant of the BikeHike tour, and spent the afternoon meandering around the local stalls, until Jody’s clash with a paving stone sent her flying onto her hands and knees and we felt it best to retire to the hotel and meet the rest of the group.
Shopping with the locals
And so the introductions commenced. There is Terry and Jeanine from New Orleans, Don and Debbie both from Vancouver but traveling solo, Awnhee from Columbia Station, Robyn and Stuart from Bethesda, Kate from Durango, Jody and Susan, both from Florida but also traveling solo, Kari from California, and of course, Trish, owner and founder of BikeHike Adventures. It’s a varied mix, from teachers and lawyers to a freelance writer and a librarian, but somehow a common thread was woven and individuals began to slowly gel into a group.
With a little time left before dusk we headed to the Blue Mosque where we draped every inch of flesh with scarves and resembled a bunch of pre-schoolers playing dress-up as we wandered inside. Fashion mishaps aside, the mosque impressed with its elaborate decoration - a vast mosaic of dusty blue tiles (faded and tinted by the light from the stained glass windows, these blue tiles are apparently where the name came from).
Jodi demonstrates 'Westerner visiting Mosque' fashion ettiquette
In front of the Blue Mosque
What was really on all our minds though, was dinner. We ate at the Magnaura Café where I opted for my first kebab of Istanbul and contemplated the fact that, being British, I have never eaten a kebab before midnight or without being under the influence of alcohol. Maybe it was the candlelit terrace or the fresher-than-fresh vegetables but it turns out that kebabs taste a hell of a lot better sober.  
The kebab that changed everything

Tags: bikehike, blue mosque, cappadocia, istanbul, scholarship, travel writing, turkey

Comments

1

Looks like fun. Make sure you get photos of my friend Terry Loup while you're on this adventure. And thank you for sharing this with all of us!

  Jim Beck Jun 10, 2011 10:12 PM

2

Great blog. Great pics. I'm a follower. Al
PS: Keep an eye on my little brother for me ...

  Al Loup Jun 11, 2011 12:16 AM

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