14 – 18 August, Istanbul

I leave Istanbul tomorrow and head for Gallipoli where i have a tour arranged to visit Anzac Cove. 

Stuart leaves here later today.

It’s been a terrific holiday with him and it’s sad to see him go.

I’m back to the “smelly biker” again till 27th when i hope to reach England and my great friends Vic and Gill’s lovely place in Kent where Azulo will have a well earned rest!

Back to the adventure!

I left Fethiye at 5.00 am as the “Call for Prayers” was bellowing out of the speakers!

It was an 800 k ride to Istanbul and Azulo did it with ease. The roads are SUPERB and there wasn’t much traffic.

All was going fine and I was on a DUEL CARRIAGEWAY with NO TRAFFIC going DOWNHILL and suddenly i was pulled over for speeding! The Police are just as miserable here as in Australia; collecting revenue by placing speed traps in perfectly safe places! I was going just 4 k over the speed limit….. so I wasn’t happy!

One big difference from home though is that the net cost of the fine after a 40% discount if you pay within 5 days is $60.00 compared with some $250+ at home less some points!

I reached the outskirts of Istanbul by 3.00 pm but it took three hours to find the Hotel! The GPS took me to a Ferry instead of the bridge and I became totally lost!

Merry wanted me to take a photo of my bike trousers which were ripped when I fell off in Mongolia….Here it is Merry! This photo was taken as i arrived at the Hotel….I really look awful don’t I …and its sad to see how little hair i have left….Maybe the bike helmet has worn it down???

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The Smelly Biker arrives…torn trousers and all!

That night all I wanted to eat was stodge so we had a Pizza….Stu keyed things into his mobile and found the #1 Pizza place in Istanbul according to Trip Adviser.

It was TERRIFIC and maybe the BEST Pizza/Pasta I’ve ever had…(Not as good as the Kelly’s home made Pizza of course) .For your information the place was called Pizzeria Pera and it’s in the Beyoglu area in the New European Side (actually the NEW side is still over 1500 years old!) Worth a visit should you ever want a great Pizza in Istanbul!!!

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Our Hotel, Neorion (also #1 in Trip Adviser by references) is right in the Centre of the Old Town so the next day we decided to take it easy

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View from our Hotel, NEORION

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First we did a Bosphorus Cruise for two hours (all for the cost of $6.00)

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Then later we went to the somewhat more expensive Turkish Baths of the Sultans called AYASOFYA, Hurrum Sultan Hammam

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The Turkish Baths were a great experience. Half the enjoyment is the place itself which is all white marble. We were scrubbed with what felt like sandpaper….I thought they would rub off my sun tan! We then were sloshed with hot and cold water and washed and then given two massages. It was all rather terrific!

That evening we went to a fancy Turkish Restaurant called Matbah Otterman Palace.         It was excellent and we had a bottle of Turkish wine called Angora which was a Cab Merlot and superb!

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This is ALL SO DIFFERENT to the rest of my trip!

The next day we hired a guide to show us the sights. The guide I thought was expensive at 150 euro but worth EVERY PENNY! Apart from the knowledge etc the most important reason to have a guide is to avoid the horrendous queues. The guide can get tickets immediately and totally avoid the queue…That is apart from the Blue Mosque which is free so you can’t avoid the queue

We visited most of the major sights….The Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya. (This is a HUGE Church built by Emperor Justinian in 537 AD and converted to a Mosque in 1453) The Topkapi Palace…..This was the main Sultans administrative Centre from 1465-1830

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Blue Mosque

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Aya Sofya

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Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace has a wonderful collection of jewels etc from the Otterman days. The queue to see the jewels was ridiculous but our Guide told us to go through another door and there is an adjoining door to the area that everybody was queuing to see.

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We did as the guide suggested and totally avoided the queue and saved ourselves about 2 hours. All the poor people queuing could have avoided the queue too if they had known.

I felt sorry for them all standing patiently in the heat and sun so I selected a nice couple and whispered in their ear how to avoid the queue and off they went!

We visited the amazing Basilica Cistern which is an underground reservoir with hundreds of very fat fish in it! It was built in 532 AD and has over 336 Columns, some of them recycled as you can see in the photo

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Basilica System

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Lastly we visited the Bazaar which dates from 1461.and finally to the Spice Bazaar where Stu stocked up on some fabulous spices to take home.(Vacuum packed so hopefully he gets them through customs OK)

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Our last meal was simply superb! Stu had selected a Modern Turkish Restaurant called Mikla in Beyoglu. We had walked over 32 kilometers in two days so we took a taxi!

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On the return journey Stuart again made me feel a really old fart but ordering a Taxi on UBER. If you haven’t heard of it or used it you would feel like I felt….Stuart ordered it via some APP on his phone. We could see on the screen where the Taxi was and when it got close we went outside. The Taxi was a big black Mercedes and we were driven back to our Hotel. Payment was automatic onto Stuarts Credit card. The UBER Taxi cost was 50 cents more than the Yellow Cab and 1000 times more  comfortable!

So, as-said earlier, Stu is off today and I have to think for myself again

It’s been a terrific few days and now I look forward to meeting Merry on 31 August in Paris!

 

 

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