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Published: April 21st 2011
Well, after a great sleep in we had a late breakfast, packed up the bags and hopped into a taxi to our next Istanbul hotel – a significant downgrade!! The taxi driver consulted several passing pedestrians in his efforts to locate the elusive Samil Hotel in the old town, with little success. His driving would not have been out of place in a car rally but then that’s how most driving is done here. Missing collisions with other vehicles is a very close thing and horn tooting is constant as drivers manoeuvre vehicles through very tight (or non-existent) spaces. Eventually we were delivered as close to the hotel as possible and in the rain we managed to pull our bags through and around missing bits of pavement and mud puddles to arrive somewhat breathless at said Hotel Samil. Inside the front door we were met by a man who undertook to keep our bags until our room was ready. In the meantime we headed off to visit the wonderful Archaeological Museum nearby. We were amazed at the wealth of ancient artifacts dating from 9000BC! Some hours and many photos later we emerged into the cold wind to seek a bit of
lunch – lentil soup again! This cheap and warming food has made a good lunch for us on several days in Turkey. It always comes with plenty of good bread and we make sure we have lots of drinking water with us, so it’s got to be good for our health, as well as our finances.
Once we were fed we headed for the railway station (where the Orient Express left from) to purchase akbil tickets for the public transport. A man at one window pointed us to another window where that man pointed us to another window where that man pointed us out the door and 50 metres down the road to a kiosk. That man then pointed us to the bus station 5 minutes down the road. At last we found the kiosk that sold akbil tickets, which are like a rechargeable debit card and hopefully we will get our deposit back when we have finished with them.
Now that we are the proud owners of akbil tickets it is time to try them out on the fabulous looking trams. Not a worry. We survived the first scrum and headed for the Grand Bazaar. Two very courteous young
Turkish people offered us their seat. I remember the bus driver in Christchurch telling all the high school children to get out of the seats and offer them to adults. What a difference. Some lessons to be learnt I think.
The Grand Bazaar is a wonderful experience and not to be missed. With a strong will we ignored the salesmen trying to sell us clothes, carpets, jewellery, and shoes and we headed for a gentleman we met two weeks before. Of course he remembered us. We had a great time deciding on our purchase and once completed we sealed the deal with hard cash, a glass of apple tea, a good chat and a handshake. We were now friends forever.
Dinner was a modest affair of a doner kebab near the bazaar and then back to the hotel for blog writing, postcard writing and hopefully a good night’s sleep.
The day finished much better than it started. From steady drizzle this morning and about 9 degrees to a hint of sun and a possible rise in temperature. We expect tomorrow to be dry but probably cool. So our plans are for more exploring, especially the Basilica Cistern, Taksim Square, and who knows what else.
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