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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 39.9073, 41.2763
Wifi has been a bit thin on the ground ,or should that be in the air? Certainly none on this train ,which takes care of almost 20 hours.(ankara to erzurum). I thought there was on my istanbul to ankara bus, but it turned out to be the one parked next to us in the otogar (bus station) and when it left it took the Wifi with it The istanbul otogar,what an experience. You enter this huge space,about the size of two or even three football stadia with a road all the way round the edge and parking in the middle. All the way round the outside are bus company ticket offices with cafes etc above, and behind them another wide road where all the coaches wait to load up. And it has a dedicated train station. Amazing.
So I spent most of my day in istanbul walking, to and around the turkish and islamic art museum housed in 16th century palace of Ibrahim Pasa where the highlight was the huge central hall hung with the most beautiful (and enormous) carpets from turkey and around. Then to the archaelogical museum where I was especially taken by a sarcophagus 4th century bc
known for the statues of mourning women round the outside who look so sad it makes you feel quite .mournful yourself. Then to the spice market where I bought dates and turkish delight as sustenance for train and bus travel, but of course other than spice thats all you can buy buy there,dozens of shops mostly all selling exactly the same thing. I wonder who benefits from it , clearly they get togetber to fix prices. And it isnt just tourist stuff, later i saw a shop selling bubble wrap and such things, and the next four shops - bubble wrap! I digress . Then a bit of a walk along the shore of the Golden Horn and over the Galata bridge at which point I cheated and took the tram back to go to Haggia Sophia which I thought is over-rated ,the mosaics and decor are not comparable with the churches we saw in Sicily last year Thats my bit of art criticism,but it did give me a chance to use the timer on a camera and get a pic of me. Next day ,friday 11th up early for the otogar and 5 hour trip to ankara though actually
the first 90 minutes is going round collecting more passengers as the bus leaves istanbul . In ankara 5 different people told me five equally incomprehensible ways of getting to the train station but finally I got to the right metro stop and followed the signs to the street where the signs stopped and with my brilliant sense of direction I walked three sides of a square instead of one. I had heard about a train museum at ankara station so with time to spare I sought directions and got them from a guy at the info desk who clearly had only a vague idea. Fourth platform, ok that existed but only for servicing trains however from the end I could see steam engines among the trees but it took some scrambling and fence climbing to get there ,the museum having closed down leaving the engines to rot . And then the very comfortable, compartment to myself Dogu Express to Erzurum . Now in hotel in Erzurum and with my no turkish and the staff no English we managed to work out that there is a bus to Hopa tomorrow morning at 7, another early start but looks good for
being on a Georgian train to Tbilisi tomorrow night.
Forgive typos and punctuation in this, it's what you get for typing on a tablet on a train.
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