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Istanbul

Day 2 - May 6th 2009

sunny 18 °C
View Europe S&V 2009 on samandvic's travel map.

Bazaar. Mind blowing. Literally thousands of little stalls selling stuff. Almost everything imaginable was for sale here. We got sucked into a rug store again, you’d think I learnt my lesson after India. I tried using the “we’re just about to have a coffee and we’ll come back later” line but it was probably the worst thing we could have said. In came the coffee guy to take our orders. We were stuck. Out came the rugs and the hard sell. We fell in love with a locally made piece and because he liked us, his starting price was genuine and half what he would have asked of anyone else. He opened at $4500 – the ‘special price’. We walked at $1800 being his final offer with our friendship severed. I guess the line of accepting a coffee representing 40 years of friendship no longer applied. I must mention Vicki has come a long way with her negotiation. She is harder than me now - a good little Jedi.

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Blue Mosque. Well, not quite. We thought it was and checked it off our to-do list but later found out it was the Sulemanye Mosque. Time not wasted.

Our friend, Inan. I asked the man with the moustache (they really take pride in their Mo’s) at the public transport ticket booth that I wanted to catch the tram to Sultanahmet (from the Bazaar). The guy lined up behind me overheard and offered some friendly advice claiming it was quicker and easier to walk. He gave us directions then a few moments later offered to walk with us. It didn’t take long before we found out he was Kurdish and that he would provide the ‘true’ history of the sites we were going to see. He claimed the Turkish government swept a lot under the carpet. A little more political than we were after but went along for the ride. Nice guy. Extremely artistic, educated and articulate. He took us off the beaten track, walking us around parts we wouldn’t ordinarily have seen. I must say the parts we toured were amazing and well worth the walk. They included the oldest Bazaar in Turkey behind the blue mosque, very quaint and picturesque. Lots of Roman baths, ruins, palace walls and grave sites along the way.

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Blue Mosque. Probably the most amazing man made creation I’ve ever seen. It honestly rivalled the Taj Mahal (in my opinion). I may say this a few times throughout our journey but I stand by it. Simply stunning.

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Aya Sofya. A structure built by the Romans as a place of Christian worship which was subsequently converted into a Mosque by the Ottomans. It really is quite a strange building with rounded rooftops aloft a traditional church looking frame. Didn’t get time to go in but we’ll head back tomorrow. Same goes for Topkapi Palace. We walked around them but we’ll see the interior tomorrow morning.

Coffee. We offered to buy Inan a cup of coffee and freaked out a little when we decided to go to a place of his choosing. He toured us around the city for over 3 hours before stopping for a drink. He didn’t ask for money or force us into any shops for commission but something Vicki said tweaked thoughts of false friendship leading to drugging, etc. Sounds paranoid I know but we decided to play it safe and parted company (after coffee in a place of our choosing).

Posted by samandvic 15:13 Archived in Turkey

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