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Published: April 22nd 2011
On this our final day in Istanbul we had hoped for a fine and pleasantly warm spring day. No such luck. The sun was out but a cold wind was coming off the water, just for us. Perhaps we should have taken a Bosphorus Cruise yesterday but then we thought today was going to be better. Oh well not to worry, so off we went on our final adventures.
After resisting/ignoring many men in suits offering us the finest cruise in Turkey we headed for the one and a half hour cruise for 10 lira. Today we are being very frugal because we don’t want to get any more lira from the machines as they are worthless outside Turkey. The boat left on time with just a few passengers. In spite of the wind, sick bags were not needed. It was great seeing Istanbul from the water. The Conrad Hotel looked quite impressive standing there in all its glory. We passed mosques, palaces, plush homes, super yachts, castles and fairly modest homes. After passing under the Bosphorus Bridge and Fatih Bridge we crossed to the Asian side and returned to the start.
Once on dry land we had a bit of
a sit and did some people watching near a mosque. It was nearly time for Friday prayers and a lot of men were undertaking their ablutions (washing) before prayers.
After a frugal lunch of lentil soup in a tightly packed eating establishment we headed for activity two, a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace. Timing was bad. When we got there the security line was about 50 metres long and not moving. The next queue for ticket purchase in the palace grounds was much longer and moving slowly. No one appeared to be coming out so we admitted defeat and headed for the fishmarket. We found the area but couldn’t find the market but what we did find was the kiwi blokes DIY store to beat all stores. It was not a Bunnings or Mitre 10 or Placemakers, but streets and alleyways of little shops selling everything from nails and screws to power tools and toilets of all kinds. Their gear was spread all over the footpath and inside the shop. How they knew what they had was anybody’s guess.
Final visit of the day was the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Just as we started to consult our map
a very respectable looking man decided he wanted to be our friend. He was coming from the mosque and had a few minutes to spare so offered to show us the way. The route took us past a squad of riot police all geared up, down a side street and when we were nearly there he offered to show us his leather shop on the way. A very quick “No thank you, we already have our leather coats”, so he just as quickly pointed out the museum and after some rapid thankyous and goodbyes he went one way we went the other.
What a fascinating place with artifacts and carpets going back to the 9th century. Many carpets were about 600 years old and had been well used but still in very good condition. It says something for the genuine article even if they cost more than an arm or a leg. We were quite fascinated by the school children, probably Year 5 or 6, on a school outing to the museum. Not knowing what they were supposed to be studying it appeared to us as if they were on a speed dating version of a museum visit and given the task of taking as many photos as possible on their cameras or cell phones.
Back at the hotel it was time for this final blog from Turkey as we leave for London early tomorrow afternoon and catch up with daughters Catherine and Joanne and her husband Paul. We are looking forward to our few days in London before the next stage of our adventure.
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Al and Clara Botero
Chris and Marylin: It was great to have you as our travelling companions. We are back in Virginia trying to recover from the jet lag. The recent hurricane didn't cause any damage to our house and everything is fine. We hope to see you again sometime in the future, either here in the US or in New Zealand.
Chris & Marilyn
Pleased you found everything safe on your arrival home. Always a relief especially being away when these things are happening.