Friday, 22 October 2010

18/09/2010 - 29/09/2010 Istanbul

I spend my first few days in Istanbul doing the usual sights. With a population of seventeen million it's the biggest city I've been in – and is fast becoming my favourite. The mosques are as glorious and beautiful as you might expect. I regret that my budget isn't really upto the museums and such like, and I decide to save a trip to a hamam (Turkish bath) until I get further East – where hopefully the price drops off a little. I spend two days walking through the city. Being the European Capital Of Culture 2010 there are many free exhibitions and concerts to pass the time.

I meet with Dan and Claire (fellow tourers from Linz, Vienna and Belgrade). We lunch and then go for afternoon beers in Taxim. Afternoon drinking becomes evening and by the time we head back to Sultanahmet it's gone midnight. They are great company and I enjoy hearing the stories of their travels. I suspect this will be our last meet as from here they head South for Syria and I East. Dan ends the night in comedy fashion by falling off his bike – good on ya dude : ). I may have already linked it, but if you'd like to follow their progress to Ethiopia here's the link.

Over the next three days I see more familiar faces. This time they take the form of my mother and partner Bob. They have brought me my laptop and an iphone – the theory being that the blogging should come a little easier with such gadgets. And I can also thread together more Couch Surfing and Wwoofing. Not to mention waste vast quantities of time editing photos etc. It's great to catch up. Together we do more of the sights – Grand Bazzar, Spice Bazzar, boat ride, fish markets etc - Bob is a keen photographer and so has a great time. Istanbul is a very photogenic city. The sight seeing is interspersed with lots of coffee drinking. We are all booked in to the Big Apple Hostel. They in a private room, and I in the dorms. The hostel staff are great, Sharan the manager helps me with the Iranian visa process. Which is going to take a little longer than I had hoped. I have to send for a reference number which I then take to the embassy, then and only then can I actually apply for the visa. It's my own fault for not starting the process sooner. But now I understand the system a little better, future applications should become easier.

Bob and my mother leave I attempt to knuckle down to some blogging. Sitting in the hostel lobby at the same desk I soon gather a reputation for not moving. I hear “Still here are you?” several times each day. I spend so long there I feel myself becoming part of the furniture. I make some great friends, and revel in opportunity to chat with folks from all over the globe. Together we go to various gigs and bars. A great day was spent with James from the US and Ellen and Georgia from Brisbane. Taking a walk down through the park to the waterfront we chance upon some locals who suggest we join them. We take a seat on the rocks they offer us some freshly cooked Mullet fillets wrapped in fresh bread. They taste great! We exchange names as they hand out cans of chilled Efes. For the next few hours the four of us attempt to perfect the technique of eating sunflower seeds. The local guys do it so quickly!! The outer shell is nibbled and then with nimble tongue you remove the heart – yum! The beers continue to disappear, and eventually the light does too. Taxim is the place for nightlift, with endless bars and clubs from which to choose. At the hostel we pick up Mark from the US and Ludwig from Germany and then head out into the night in search of live music. Some very good night's with some very good company, so if you happen to be reading this - cheers guys!! : )

My restlessness increases as the days pass. Ellen tells me about an Eco Village Wwoofing community that she is heading to down the coast. The sown seed then germinates in my mind over the next few days. Before I know it, there is no other possibility - I will go to GARP. I am itching to get out of the city. For no other reason than I spend too much money keeping myself entertained. And so after ten great days of sightseeing, making friends, and copious amounts of beer, coffee, chy and nargile(shisha) I prepare myself to leave Istanbul and get back on the bike.

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