Travels in Turkey

Our walk on the St. Paul Trail.

Chapter 9: On to Istanbul

Day 8 Journal: Istanbul

Saturday     10/8/05

We started our day by hitting the snooze button for 30 more minutes. Oh the pleasure of sleeping through a night. We got dressed and finished packing our things before going down to breakfast. This was our least Turkish meal of the trip. Jeff had a boiled egg, corn flakes with yogurt, a scone or two and some thin orange juice. Ang had a fried egg, scone, other breads with cheese and such. 

Our driver was supposed to be there at 7:30 a.m. but didn’t show up until 8:15 a.m. We were worried and called Sisan and our tour guide from the day before, but the driver showed up just then. We got to the airport at 9 a.m. and quickly made it through security to get our boarding passes. There were only two airlines in this terminal and only one had a flight, so it was real quick. At 9:20 a.m. we were waiting for the plane to board. 

A tram took us to the plane to board on the tarmac. After a pleasant 40 minute flight another tram took us to the terminal in Istanbul. On the plane they gave us drinks and a cheese croissant. Most instructions were repeated in English, as well. 

In Istanbul we walked and walked from the domestic terminal to the light-rail station under the terminal. When we got there we had no Turkish Lira to buy a token for the train, so Jeff had to leave the bags with Ang and run back to the international terminal to find an ATM. 

With money we followed the directions from the internet to Sultanahmet. Then it got complicated. We had no real idea where the hotel was. Jeff tried to call for directions, but didn’t get a good answer. We wandered into a tourism information office. The lady gave us a map and pointed in the wrong direction. We walked and looked for a while, but finally got Ang’s backpack out of the Osprey bag and let her put it on. Finally a guy from a pub pointed us in the right direction and we found the hotel. 

The room is nice. It has one bed (not two singles) and wood floors with rugs. We are on the second floor with a view of the Sea. 

We left our stuff in the room and went back out after a snack from our camping leftovers. We walked around the St. Sophia Museum, the Blue Mosque and up to the Grand Bazaar. That was a crazy place. People, mostly tourists, everywhere, and shops with stuff piled out in the narrow halls. Shopkeepers yelled at everyone to buy their stuff. They would start talking to you as soon as you looked in their direction. It was strange and a bit scary. We bought a few things as presents and a set of çay glasses for us. (Oh and spoons). We took a few pictures and got out of there. We had stopped in a shop and found some saucers we liked so we went back for those. 

Oh, when we bought a second set of spoons from a man’s shop he refused to sell us four spoons and insisted we buy six spoons for five Lira. I went into a nearby jewelry shop to check my money and the shopkeeper said “Why are you giving in, offer him four Lira for the spoon since he won’t sell you four only” So I offered four instead of five Lira and with a groan he accepted. Funny thing bartering. 

After we had a dinner snack at a cafe near the hotel. We only then found out about an earthquake in Pakistan. The waiter was nice and spoke with us a while. We drank çay and talked. The dinner of chicken on flatbread with lettuce was only 8 Lira with tip. Not bad. We came back to the room for a nap which Ang took while Jeff wrote. 

About 8 p.m. we went back out to see what Ramadan in Istanbul was like. We stopped in a spice shop first and talked to the owner about a cookbook for Ang. He said he knew of one, if we would come back in 10 minutes. We agreed and decided to go up to the Blue Mosque for a picture while we waited. 

As we got there it was obvious that the crowd would make it difficult. There were people everywhere and the sidewalks were packed with people selling food, balloons, candy, trinkets, etc. It was so crowded we could barely walk. We stuck together and made it to the Hippodrome park, went down the length of that and back through the Araba Bazaar to the shop. We pushed and bumped our way all the way. 

At the shop Ang picked from three books. One was too expensive, 30 Euros, so that narrowed it to two. We took the book back to the hotel and went back out. More pushing and bumping got us to the fountain in front of the St. Sophia. They were shooting a TV show for German TV in front of the Blue Mosque after a futball game in Turkey that day. We still don’t know who won. The crowd packed around the fences for a glimpse of the show. 

A walk up the main street (along the metro tracks) earned Ang a crescent shaped sweet, hard bread with pistachios. Jeff was hungrier, so he found a restaurant for mustafa and rice. For dessert we stopped for Turkish ice cream. Ang got some kind of pecan mix and Jeff a raspberry. We each got one ball on a cone. While looking around and taking pictures, we got a taffy like candy that came on a stick. Ang didn’t like it so much. They wound it on the stick in front of you and rubbed a little lemon on it. Jeff thought is was okay. 

After pressing through the crowd a while Jeff tried to get them back toward the hotel taking some back streets, but ended up a little lost. A few more turns and they were in the Araba Bazaar again and on their way to the hotel. It was the only time Jeff had been nervous on the streets, but not the only time they had been a bit lost. 

Before going in Ang wanted to try the Turkish beer — Efee. They went in a little bar a block from the hotel, but didn’t have the money. A quick walk to the hotel and back and they ha d a small Efee and a çay. Ang didn’t care for the beer, so Jeff drank most of it.

Back at the hotel Ang took a shower and Jeff laid down and went to sleep with his clothes on. Ang woke him just enough to get his clothes off and under the covers before he was out again. 

All pictures and information on this site are the property of Jeff and Angela Lindsey and cannot be used in any way without their written permission. Some information came from signs and tour guide descriptions.