Day 4 - May 8th 2009
08.05.2009 - 08.05.2009 25 °C
Hotel Golden Age Deluxe 2. We moved hotels to be closer to the action in Taxim. Well worth it. Vic found a great hotel last minute with superb views of new Istanbul.
The Bosphorous. The ferry cruise down the Bosphorous strait was magnificent. The hillside along the banks were lined with character homes, each one more appealing than the other. Plenty of castles and historic buildings, breathtaking views and relatively smooth sailing. Nice way to get a feel for the sheer size of this city.
Metro. We caught trains and trams all day. Not a single taxi. The public transport here is not great but we made it work today. The token thing shit me a little. You have to buy them from designated booths before getting through the turnstiles. I suppose it is no different than jumping on a tram in Melbourne without any change to buy a ticket however it was a little frustrating. Particularly when you catch a tram headed in the wrong direction and have to do it all over again.
Maze. We took a wrong turn after disembarking the Ferry at Eminou. Found ourselves trapped in a labyrinth of stall line streets. Scary for a while. We were definitely lost. So many shonky merchants wanting a piece of you. All the while frantically scanning the streets for a familiar landmark. We popped out in a little laneway filled with doormen, gold stores, upmarket cafes and Versace clad locals. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bought their clothes from one of the dodgy merchants we just passed. An example of the extreme unpredictability of this city. One moment you are amongst the Turkish battlers, the next the disgustingly wealthy. Lucky for us the next moment was familiar territory.
Bassilica Cistern. We didn’t get a chance to visit this underground historical gem earlier in our travels so thought we’d come back to it. The chamber contained row after row of marble columns supporting the ceiling all encased within 4 metre thick solid firebrick walls. It was used to supply water to Topkapi palace (to name one) when the city was known as Constantinople. The clear highlight was the two Medusa heads in the North-West corner of the chamber. One laying on its side and the other upside down. They don't really know why they were arranged this way but some of the theories are interesting. I won't get into it. So well preserved and pleased we came back.
Dinner. We dined on a rooftop terrace in a really funky part of Taksim. Loved it. Live Turkish music to top off the great food and atmosphere. Again we headed to a patisserie for dessert.
Walk. One last walk down the main boulevard knowing that this would be the last we’ll see of Istanbul for a while. Not to mention the need to burn off a few calories. Abbier, check out the sign on the shop window!