Thursday, November 10, 2011

Istanbul.....Hello again and Goodbye

So I figured I would write my experiences from my last two days in Istanbul as I sit on my flight to Athens. Some of this might be a repeat as I can not remember what I wrote when I was leaving Goreme. Warning, all my Istanbul info is packed in my luggage that was checked, so the spelling and names of areas and buildings are all a bit suspect. Please Forgive. ;)

First, I was supposed to be picked up at the hotel at 6:45 for my 9:15 flight back to Istanbul. For reasons that were never quite explained the shuttle was 45 minutes late. Granted that still got me to the airport a hour before the flight after the driver acted like a kamikaze pilot. LOL. I did have a wonderful talk on the shuttle with two gents from NZ that were traveling for about a month in Turkey. I have to admit that I was glad that i was not at the Kayseri Airport early as there is nothing there but the gates. As it was I got there in time to check in sit for ten minutes and then get on a smooth flight to Istanbul.

Once I arrived in Istanbul I met up with Mary, Eric and Nick Febbo for lunch and a quick stop at a archeological dig that was on Cities of the Underworld. We had lunch at Metropolis which is the #1 rated restaurant on TripAdvisor and it was lovely. A nice time to chat and talk about each others adventures. We then walked back to the hotels where they were soon to head to the airport back to Doha and I continued my walk.

I started toward the Grand Bazaar (which was shut due to national holidays) and walked by the University (I passed the Department of Pharmacy, picture for dad) and then continued my wanders to the Mosque of Sultanmete (sp?). After that I got a bit lost in a shady neighborhood, I did not feel threatened but did not linger. From there I hit the main street that paralleled the Roman Aqueducts. This street was bustling with locals that were shopping and walking about their neighborhood. I passed some interesting parks, the Istanbul Administrative Buildings and then stopped in at the Fatih Mosque. I realized that my original destination was farther then expected and would be closed once I walked there, so I decided to walk toward the water and back toward the Spice Market area.

There were some great sites as I walked back. I found a small market area that was totally local. I picked up some pumpkin seeds (local speciality), dates and Turkish Delight for 1/3 the price of the tourist area. I also saw two 10-12 year old boys walking down the street with freshly butchered goat/sheep (it was that size), I mean you could see the not so clean cut where the head was hacked (I will not say cut) off. I soon realized why they were walking down the street when I saw the butcher about two more stores down. The man was in the process of butchering something and, kid you not, there were live goats, lambs and poultry eating in the shop waiting for their turn under the knife. I am really sorry that I did not take a picture, but I was not sure how it would go over, but really an amazing thing to see.

As I continued my walk I finally made it to the waterside. There fisherman were cleaning and cooking their catch for the day right at the back of their boats. Families had gathered about eating the fish sandwiches and sitting on plastic lawn furniture. It smelled amazing, but I was not hungry so I passed. The was at the second bridge down the golden horn. I continued my walk along the water heading back to the hotel. Along the way I stopped in some galleries and bought some great silver earrings that I will convert to a couple necklaces as my ears are not pierced.

I returned to the hotel to drop off my goodies, check my email and figure out what to do for dinner. I decided to eat at a place right in the alley by my hotel (Faros BTW, great hotel). The place that I chose was ranked #3 in Istanbul by trip advisor. The food was enjoyable, but maybe not number three worthy. Still good though.


Ok, so I have been battling with stomach and intestinal issues for the past 3-4 months and the EMQI doctor wants me to see an internal specialist when I get back to Doha, which I will do! Well, my issues reared their ugly head about 2:45 in the morning. I took an extra Prilosec hoping that would help, and I think that it did, by about 7AM I was feeling a bit better (and had found the immodium) I then rested until about 8:15 to shower and see how I would do moving about. At 9 I went down to breakfast to have some bread, egg whites, and a banana. I knew that if I was going to head out I would need to eat something and I was not going to spend my last day in Istanbul in my room. As I felt quasi ok, I decided to head out the door to the "new" Asian side of town.


So my plan for my last day in Istanbul was to head over to the Asian side of the city and walk about. I prefer to see a city walking versus taking public transportation. Granted I might not squeeze as much into a day, but I also get to see fun and interesting side streets in my wandering. So first I went to the Galata Tower which is the tallest tower on the Asia side and provides an amazing view of the city.

From there I walked to Inkara Street which is shut to all traffic but a trolley. It is a great shopping area and filled with locals. There were major international chains, local merchants, book stores, art galleries and cafes. If I had been feeling better I could have spent hours (and I will on my next trip here!). At the end of this boulevard is Takim Square. I walked about went to the park and then headed toward the water (big theme in my journeys in Istanbul, but if you can find the water to can figure out where you are in the city). On the way I went by the German Embassy and walked through a cool residential area that reminded me of San Francisco. A staircase was the path between the front of the apartment buildings. There was no way to get a car in the front, I assume there is back vehicle access but ?????? I finally reached the water and walked to the D (not even going o try and spell) palace. This was the one that was built by the last sultan of Turkey trying to improve and replace the Topkapi Palace. I got there and the line was more then I and my iffy stomach could handle, so I grabbed the trolley (ok, I will use them sometimes) back to the hotel to sit for a minute and think about lunch.

I ended up grabbing a quick cheese pida (Turkish fayter) as it was bland and then walked to the Archeological Museum. This was a pretty good museum, not as good as the British Museum but it had some highlights including:


Sculpture of Sappho

And some interesting information an Ancient Troy. There was also a separate building for Tile/pottery and the Ancient Orient. I did a quick run through those two buildings and then headed out to go to a small street/bazaar area that I kept missing, as i kept arriving after closing. I am glad that I finally made it as I picked up some Turkish towels, one item that I had really wanted to find. After that I went back to Faros to organize for leaving the next day (5:15AM, I really need to rethink the times that I book flights) and take a nap. I got up to get Mom a magnet and grab a small bite at a local chain called Samit Sekrit (once again, spelling?!?) across from the hotel. I then pretty much did my final organization and read for a bit and then off to sleep for the 4:30AM wake up call.

So I am on my way to Athens as I type after enjoying the Turkish Airlines Lounge. I have about six hours between my flight from Prague and to Doha, if i do not make a quick run to town, i know that I will be plenty comfortable in the lounge as TA knows how to do a lounge.

On other issues, I am still feeling off, and I pray (please, oh please, oh please) that I feel better by the marathon. Otherwise that is going to be a very interesting race. I have three days for everything to settle down and if my past history over the last 3-4 months is anything to go by I should be good, but still, cross your fingers for me.

To wrap up my Turkish portion of the trip, I loved Turkey. I thought that Istanbul was super cool and Goreme was amazing. I want to go back and hit some other areas of the country as historical sites from the Hittite, Greek, Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman times are all over and super interesting. I would recommend a visit to anyone.

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