Published: June 3rd 2012June 1st 2012
Across the water, you can see the Asia side
Before I talk about my time in Istanbul, I'd like to share a list of things I have noticed:
Pilots make the same "err" noise when deciding what to say on the intercom
Babies laugh the same and for same reasons. They will also chew on phones and grab strangers' pants....namely mine lol
People are constantly on phones and iPods. A business man may be concentrating on his blackberry...but sure enough it's angry birds.
Turkish people just look like tan Americans. Some are very light skinned! I saw a bunch that looked like celebs and my friends. There was a guy that looked like the balding guy from 30 rock
There are still obnoxious teens
Men still think they are charming
Girls love sparkles and soft fabric
Taxis are terrible drivers
Police sirens are annoying
They drive on the same side of the road
People will obstruct traffic to get a better spot
People play silly games on iPods and iPads rather than talk with a real person next to them.
Traffic still sucks
Crappy american food chains are everywhere. Not only do Turks seem to like IFC, they even find it worth delivering!....mcdonalds too! Imagine how that would change life!
Quite a wonder I didn't see any morbidly obese people!
Men in suits are much better looking than other guys
There are stil nerds that wear Star Wars shirts (apparently they shot some scenes of star wars out here!)
So you see? Not too different from us after all.
Since I was only going to be in Istanbul one full day, I decided to make the most of it by doing the city hop on/off tour. Turns out that was a solid idea. The city is huuuuuuge. If I had to guess (please note, I absolutely do not base this on fact) , I think istanbul is as big as everything inside 285 ( perimeter highway around Atlanta)! I dunno, but it was very expansive. Not to mention it spans 2 continents.
I landed very late so I wasn't able to fully appreciate the city, but I did get a little lost... Even then the beautifully lit mosques were so beautiful I only mildly cared I was lost. After an annoingfiasco at the airport (turns out you need a visa...to pay in euro....but the ATM only gave Turkish lire...) I was off! More annoyances I
In the Mosque
You have to have your head covered
won't bore you with and I was in the middle of istanbul! I was trying to find the tram that would take me near my hostel when two young guys my age asked if I needed help. I did, but I was told to not truist people asking if I needed help. I told them what I needed. They pointed me in the right direction and I left quickly in case they asked for something in return. Bad choice. They sent me in the rioght direction, but ecause I was so nervous about them I ran off without clarification. They followed me which unsettled me more, but only to tell me I was going the wrong way. Whoops. I was supposed to go up these stairs that lead to a bridge that crossed the street. I did and tried to get on a bus, but it didn't stop! I was confused when I looked around again and saw the guy laughing at me. Turns out I was supposed to take the stairs down to the middle of the street and not all the way across. Crap. I was so tired at that point. Finally made it to the tram and
It is said that there used to be a saint in there. If you put your thumb in and can turn it all the way around, it will grant you a wish! My thumb went all the way around!
the guys never asked for anything. Just nice. Go figure.
There were actually a lot of super friendly people that at the most just wanted you to come in their shop or restaurant. Some would say I dropped something to which I would say no, and they would laugh an say " okok, but you should have this menu!" so it was all done in playfulness. I think turkey gets a bad rap, but I think they love having tourists and don't want to do thing to drive people off. I did notice that almost every business has a person sitting out front to urge you to come in. I even saw a dude in a business suuit selling fish from a bucket! I went to this awwesome bazaar to get a legit sultans ring like the one I have now, but they only had thick ones, not thin and beautiful like mine. I also wanted baklava, but I only saw weird ones with green and called dried. And I didn't want to risk it ;/
So anyway, the hop on off tour was awesome. It covered the vast city on both sides of the Bosphorous ( on
Old Mosque that's now a museum
both continents). This citynis over 8500 years old! Older than our country! The reason it was briefly called Constantinople was becaue the roman empire decided to halve itself for easier mangwgment. Emperor constantine decided to name it after himself. It latest reverted back to Istanbul. There are tooooooooons of mosques here. For a long time, sultans had to build their own, they couldn't use one made by another sultan. More "recent" ones were also designed by other countries! One was designed. A German, even. Istanbul has 4 bridges right now, and one used to be the 4th largest suspension br at the time. Thats the one we used to cross to Asia...the Bosphorous br. Once across to Asia, there is a beautiful summer palace. I wanted to get off and walk around, but it looked like it was about to rain. Dark clouds and intense winds. I didn't want to get stuck so far from my hostel a continent away lol. But the palace is called Beylerbeyi and it's gorgeous. It's right on the water. It took 4 years to build, and they had musicians playing the whole time to set a nice mood. It's got an indoor pool with
It's the little one
a fountain rig outside to block anyone from being able to eavesdrop. The guy who built it loved the sea so it has some nautical themed rooms.
Apparently, Istanbul is europes largest city. My tour guide Dax says that is likely why turkey won't be allowed to join eu. It's more Asia geographically, and with a population of 75 million, eu might not Be able to support jobs for so many.
There's a cute little island in the Bosporus strait that has a little tower on it. It's called maidens island. The lore is a sultan was prophesized that his daughter would be killed by a snake. So he stuck her on the island. A snake found it's way over in a grape basket and the girl was killed anywy. Aww.
I also visited the New mosque, Blue mosque, and Hagia Sophia. The new mosque was great. I had to take off my shoes and cover my hair in respect. I just used my hood of my hoodie, but I hardly think my pink and purple zebra socks were more respectful. The blue mosque was very large and impressive outside, but a little crowded. I did spot an incredible unibrow though. Hagia Sophia was very beautiful. It's actually a museum now and I splurged for the audio tour. Many amazing mosaics and stories from there. Undortunatley it's a little more run down than the other mosques. Lots of peeling paint and chipped stones.
That was pretty much my day! I finally met up with an Aussie I met via my tours website about a month back! I'm currently on the bus to Gallipoli. I think it, time permitting, deserves it's own post. I'm so glad about the bus, btw. It's like a huge greyhound bus so we aren't all cramped.
Everything is going great ! Just my knee is a little sore :/ I hope it shapes up because there is 5 hour walking tour in Athens I want to do. And my iPad is having issues charging? It charges sooo slow! 8 hours for 10% charge!
Oh, I've been wearing a pedometer, and my day in Istanbul was over 12000 steps! That is roughly seven miles! Phew!