I am finally in Europe
19th April. Flying in to Europe was unbelievable and as soon as we landed I could tell I was finally here; the terracotta rooftops were a sight I have been hanging to see since I can remember. I grabbed a cab with the two Aussies Kim and Mark from the flight to Cordial House where they were staying. The drive there made me fall in love with Istanbul immediately. Whether it was coming from dirty India or just the charm, cleanliness, and beauty of Istanbul I am not sure but I think it was the latter. The streets are clean, the air is fresh and the tulip festival going on so they are everywhere you turn adding beautiful colours to the streets. I can't even begin to describe how overwhelmed I was that I have finally made it to EUROPE.
We headed out on the cobble stoned streets to explore and ended up finding the Spice Bazaar which was bright, colourful and full of all sorts. Turkish Delights, Baklava, mosaic tiles, tea sets, lanterns and of course spices. What was great was trying the Turkish delights that were offered to you. They were so yummy and not like at
On the side of the road welcoming me to Istanbul
home; which I don't like. The men here approach you trying to sell you stuff, but it’s not the same as Asia (or maybe I am just used to it now.) We then checked out the Grand Bazaar and it was absolutely huge. I have never seen so many jewellery shops in a row in my life!! (It definitely makes Parklea Markets look easy to get around without getting lost). We had our first Turkish kebab and it was only ok, not at all like at home, not even any barbeque sauce!!! We then got lost walking the streets. Mark seemed pretty cool but I don’t think his wife was a big fan of me. I think she must have been cut when a man in the bazaar told him he was a lucky man (assuming he and I were married!!) He did correct him though. Later on a man in the street tried to kiss me, weirdo! We found our way back and I ended up going to the movies across the road. The cinema was really small and there were only 2 others in there. I watched Casablanca (for a perve on Heath) and it was pretty funny
when the reel had to be changed half way through. It was great to be doing something normal like at home again. It's freezing here at night, which is actually a welcomed change from the heat of Asia.
20th April Today was a catch up on the net and I finally completed my online Grammer course for my TESOL certificate (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). I grabbed another Kebab (something I can see me doing a lot while I am here) and before bed got talking to my only room mate Rachel (Kiwi)…
21st April Today Rachel and I got stuck into some sightseeing. First up was Aya Sofya (meaning Church of Divine Wisdom) where we spent 3 hours walking around gob smacked at the size and beauty, it was totally amazing. There was scaffolding inside but it didn’t at all detract from my experience. I went totally crazy taking photos and the mosaics were unbelievable and I can see why it’s Istanbul’s most famous monument. It was completed in 537 and reigned as the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest in 1435 where it was converted into a mosque until 1935 when
Ataturk proclaimed it a museum. Apparently the domed roof is one of the greatest, especially when you take into account when it was built, and that the Blue Mosque needed 4 large ‘elephant feet’ pillars to support it. One of the things I loved about it was the outside was quite plain and unattractive (compared to say the Blue Mosque), but inside it was totally amazing and the photos don’t do any justice. The doorways were huge and my favourite mosaic was ‘the last judgement’ where more then half the tiles are missing due to the heat and elements. When we forced ourselves to leave, the Blue Mosque was in prayer time so we had some lunch at a cute little place recommended to us by a local. It was so yummy, and then we headed to the Blue Mosque, famous for its 6 minarets, 260 windows, huge central prayer space and tens of thousands of tiles. We had to take our shoes off and put them into a plastic bag! On the way back to the hostel we got some yummy (but later sickening) Turkish sweets. I looked into booking my ANZAC tour and thought all my stuff had
been stolen as there was nothing in my room when I got back. Before I had an absolute freak I enquired and they just moved me into a new room. Wasn’t happy they touched all my stuff, but better then having them stolen. Later in the night Rachel and I went for a walk down to the Eminonu area where Galata Bridge is. Walking back to the hostel we took the scenic route to see Aya Sofya and The Blue Mosque at night. Stunning.
22nd April We had breakfast overlooking the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya, then headed to the Topkapi Palace where we even saw dolphins at Seralgio Point. We weren’t overly fussed on the palace, apart from the tiled rooms and views, so I headed back to book my Gallipoli tour, and headed back to the shops and Spice Bazaar, where it took us ages to just get in, people were everywhere. I bought some supplies, pistachio nuts and Turkish delights, went back to the Grand Bazaar again, then had a tea to chill away from all the crowds. We checked out Yeni Camii, walked across the Galata Bridge to explore the other side, then on
the way back Rachel and I had a beer on the Bridge and watched the sunset. Dinner was at Cennet with Turkish music and yummy food. A great day, I LOVE ISTANBUL…
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