Istanbul

Arrived at Attaturk Airport – taxi to Cozy Flats with Airnb.

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Fantastically situated in the heart of ‘Old Town’ with lots of historical sites to visit, but more importantly, close to cafes, restaurants, bazaars …. Perfect. Yesterday we walked 20,000 steps and 122 stairs on our fit bits. Totally unfit due to recent knee problems. Two geriatrics now walking up 1:8 inclines with muscles like iron bands and lots of rests on the way. Saw a lady today in crutches and knee brace – same as I was in. My heart went out to her! Went on a cruise along the Bosphorus – beautifully clean looking water – 200 odd people $12 each for nearly two hours. Our feet were duly grateful.

Today we caught the Big Bus Tours with a two day ticket.  So far, obligatory visits to Blue Mosque –

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The Blue Mosque

Inside the mosque, everyone wants to come up and talk to you – “Where are you from – I am not a tour guide but I have a carpet shop, just round the corner …. “. Talk about pressure but with 4000 or so competitors in the Grand Bazaar, I suppose it is to be expected. Then to the Galata Tower, Bridge over the Bosporus – seriously high and windy but the views truly panoramic! Visited a magnificent roof top restaurant where Chris made a friend🙊.

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When walking down cute little back alleys, even the graffiti is charming.

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Note the bars on the Windows from early in the last century – most cast iron railings like these elsewhere in Europe, were melted down for the ‘war effort’.

Fishing on the bridge – missing the continuous flow of boats beneath.

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Today last Big Bus tour – trying to fix up flights for a few days to Cappadoccio with Reliable Travel. Unfortunately, trying to fix up the flights, the buses, the tours, hotel and transfers in the limited time available, it all dropped into the too hard basket. Off to Crete instead for a holiday!

Decided to go out for a meal and celebrate.

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Bottle of wine, a beer and a shared tapas plate – no tourists, just locals enjoying themselves around the corner from Cozy Flats. Great night. On the way back, Chris fell flat on her face on a steep section of cobblestones. Bruised arm and back. Not serious. Luckily the cobblestones were OK😎. The next day, chatting to another traveller over breakfast, she did the same but broke her wrist and was whacked in the mouth poor lass.

Had another big day yesterday -12 kms again, we hopped on the Big Red Bus again to visit the Basilica Cistern. Lousy picture.

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Imagine a large underground lake, with enormous pillars rising up to cathedral like ceilings – all this supporting the roads and buildings above. This was the water supply system for the then Constantinople. A Byzantine engineering marvel. There are fish, mainly carp, swimming around- tourists used to travel around by boat but now there are renovated walkways, all beautifully lit. It has been used as a setting in many films including From Russia With Love.

We then caught the underground to journey up to the Cevahir Shopping centre in the modern commercial centre of Istanbul. It is enoooourmous. Imagine three or four Booragoons or Joondalups on top of each other. Food court had an incredible array of offerings. The strange thing is that it is not in any tourist brochures.

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Reflections of Istanbul.

in the seventies there were millions of rabid dogs in Bali. Now you see very few, due to culling. Here in Istanbul it is cats. They are everywhere! The Turks and Greeks love their Baklava, of which there is a fair variety. These sweet offerings are beautifully presented and are everywhere. My favourite below. For snacks on the go, the favourites are chestnuts and corn on the cob from little wayside barrows.

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Yet the Turks are not unduly fat. Weird.

Istanbul sits half in Europe and half in Asia with the Bosphorous (like a huge river) in between. A bit like the UK, every man and his dog has conquered it, because of its strategic location and the populace still reflects that today. Beer and spirits are available but at about Perth prices. Generally they drink a sweet black tea or very strong coffee – cheaper. Very few Chinese or Thai restaurants. The underground is the second oldest in the world after London. Loved the city – a great stay – averaged 20,000 steps or 11 kms a day. Getting fitter – ready for Greece after holiday in Crete. Doing nothing today until flight this evening at 7:15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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