Hello again from Istanbul!
What an incredible city, and an incredible journey getting here.
THE BUS RIDE:
From Borgas, we got on our bus to Istanbul. On the bus, we met a Canadian couple from Halifax on their honeymoon who were travelling Eastern Europe to visit family, and to travel. It was nice to see some friendly faces and here a familiar accent. We exchanged some information, and we may meet up tonight for drinks.
ARRIVING IN ISTANBUL
The bus guide told us to get off at a central bus station, and another bus would pick us up there. Of course once we got off, there were 100000000 people in the busy station, everything was written in Turkish, few people spoke English, and nobody knew where our bus was. All of us had large bags with us, and were pretty sure that we were going to be robbed at some point.
After trying to figure out where our bus was, we walked around trying to figure out what to do. Fortunately, Marcel had spotted a subway train on the way into the station. We walked around and eventually found a cell phone store
owner who spoke English. Initially we suspected he would try to sell us something, but he turned out to be very nice, and directed us to where we needed to go. We exchanged some Euros for Lyra for the subway fare, and found our way to the trains.
Once we were on the train, we were incredibly relieved. The train took us to within several blocks of our hotel. When we got off though, the apprehension returned. Imagine 3 tourists with large backpacks in the middle of a street bazaar with food carts, people, and cars cramming the entire area. Eventually we got our bearings and found our way to the hotel. The check-in went well, we put away our belongings, and went to get some well-deserved food. Then went to sleep *sigh*.
ISTANBUL DAY 1
What a day! Still in progress by the way... We were woken up fairly early by garbage trucks, morning prayer calls, and car horns, but managed to fall asleep again, and then got up around 9.
We ventured downtown and did some exploring on our own - today we saw the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar, and
some other mosques and sites along the way. Alex and Marcel bought hookahs in the Bazaar - I didn't since the last time I bought a hooka in a bazaar in Jerusalem it broke after a few weeks. And I don't feel like carrying it to Israel=>spain=>France=>England. We had some Turkish Delights though which were OK.
Right now we just took a quick nap and are catching up on emails, expenses, etc. Tomorrow's schedule calls for a Turkish Bath, a guided boat tour on the Bosphorous, and more great food.
First impressions - Istanbul is quite a city, and many of the people here are multilingual - one of the shop owners conversed fluently with us in English, French, Spanish, and Hebrew. He also spoke fluent Turkish, Arabic, Italian, and Portugese.
Bye for now, next entry will be from Auntie Cecie's house in K'far Vitkin, Israel!
I will try to post some pictures from the trip up until now.
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