Overland 1972 - Day 30


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March 12th 1972
Published: March 14th 2013
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Day 30 - Sunday 12th March

After yesterday's uneventful day (sigh!), it was a chance to explore more of Istanbul. It was cold and occasionally snowing. At breakfast, I had a chat with a Scottish lad who had taken 6 weeks cycling through Europe and was heading to India - he was planning to catch the train to Erzurum tonight - very interesting person.

Blue Mosque - the exterior was grey but inside it was so beautiful and coloufful due to the covering of blue tiles and it was noticeable that everywhere was decorated with symbols rather than paintings. The floor was fully carpeted and etiquette meant that you had to leave your shoes outside. An excellent/impressive building. Next I walked to the Topikapi Palace - it cost an entrance fee of 3TL and additional fee for cameras. The rooms had a fantastic range of exhibits: ceramics(Chinese,Japanese,Turkish,Meissen and French), glassware, carved ivory, vases, weapons, armour, Sultans costumes, jewellery (including an enormous diamond and huge emeralds), pottery, some personal effects of Mohammed and libraries of ancient books. A brilliant place and well worth the visit.

Time passed quickly but there was just enough time for a meal at the Pudding shop (expensive) before rushing back to the YMCA to be ready for the Folk Concert. Tonight it was a special event in aid of the Red Cross and it would feature singing and dancing from the various regions of Turkey. It was very noticeable that the theatre was packed with local people which is always an excellent sign. I have listed some of the acts. The first act was singing and dancing - some of the girls were stunningly attractive but the man's dance was dull. During the next dance, the men and women held candles - good entertainment. The next dance was men fighting with the palms of their hands - very fast and exhilirating. Next was singing accompanied by Turkish style guitars - beautiful sound. Sword dance - realistic, fast, ferocious, looked very dangerous, parrying between swords and shields - phew ! Next a lady singer - brilliant and clearly an audience favourite. There were some other dances before the finale which was based on a style of karate - it was quite dull by comparison with the earlier parts of the show but we were slightly worried for one of performers who seemed to look dazed - the others just dragged him to his feet and continued ! Summary - fast dances, brilliant music especially the drumming, stunning traditional/regional dresses and the sword dance (my highlight) - very enjoyable in an excited atmosphere.

Back to the YMCA and our Armenia recommends another festival with food and drink but expensive - already overspending !

Michael had found an English guy who had been travelling to Istanbul overland from HongKong. He provided lots of information on the route, places to stay and see and recommended Burma (although you could only enter/leave by plane) and Nepal. He said that there was lots of snow between Kabul and Eastern Turkey ! He confirmed that you need a Turkish student card for discounts on the railways - my fraudster had told the truth at least once !

I had my normal friendly evening chat with our Armenian. I ate in the cafeteria and had soup, stuffed cabbage and some cake for 5TL which is much cheaper than cafes elsewhere. The cafeteria runs a voucher system which could lead to a free breakfast - the Scottish cyclist gave me his vouchers so I am nearly there - sad to be so careful with money. An excellent day despite the colder weather with snow showers, sleet and rain. A Turkish man had joined our dormitory and he smoked, dropped his fag ends on the floor and snored all night - bliss !

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