A Travellerspoint blog

July 2009

ANZAC war memorial


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We got a guide for this tour, and the guide wasn't very good. Sue couldn't understand his english at all, and I couldn't understand all his talk of military strategy.

The first stop was a museum. We decided not to go in. About 5 minutes after that, the area fills with Turkish soldiers, who were apparently on a field trip - so had we gone in we would have missed that.

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The battles were for a hill, with trenches on either side totaling 40km over an 8km stretch.
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Posted by chrisvasil 15:11 Archived in Turkey Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Overland tour begins

sunny 30 °C
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Today begins our tour of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt by overland truck. To our surprise (and the guide's) the truck is nearly full, 18 people now and 23 by the time we get to Egypt. It should be fun though - the people there are mostly 20-somethings, either students or otherwise off work, mostly have traveled a lot, and were generally motivated to take this form of travel because it's the cheapest. So all in all it should be good.

This is the truck we'll be living out of,

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The tent on the right will be our home for about half of the next 5 weeks.

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Posted by chrisvasil 15:10 Archived in Turkey Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Evening naps, road rage, buildings

sunny 31 °C
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  • **This was written (as the rest of the blogs posted earlier today) the night of July 11-12. Due to lack of internet they were only published now.***

Ugh.... It's 5AM local time and I can't sleep (tried for about an hour then decided to blog). I took a nap around 7pm, and asked Sue to wake me up before 8 or not at all. Sue woke me at 9:30, and so I won't sleep tonight. This happens every time I take an evening nap. I'm getting sleepy now but have to get up in an hour and a half so I don't think I'll bother.

On the road a car almost hit a bike, honked, the bike guy yelled, and then they got into a shouting match, blocking 2 lanes of traffic (car 2 lanes over, bike on sidewalk, 1 lane can pass between them). They keep yelling at each other as traffic goes (slowly) between them. One of the cars that passes is a police car. It just passes (slowly) between them.

The restaurants near under the bridge are said to be good. They are extremely touristy and expensive (though they offer cheap fish bread, which isn't on the menu). We didn't go. We had fish bread near the bridge, with the view in the pic a few posts above. On the Asia side there's a fresh fish shop and a few restaurants, we almost went to the last one on the waterfront, seemed popular with the locals.

Many buildings in prime locations (waterfront close to the tram) are falling apart and seem to be unoccupied except the bottom floor (retail). I would be interested to know why. I'm guessing they're horribly expensive to maintain and can't be torn down because they're historical so the owners are waiting for them to be beyond repair (and thus no choice but to redevelop), but that's a complete guess.

I think I've found the least ethical business that falls within the bounds of the law and isn't very profitable. There was a guy selling birdseed outside of a mosque. Here's a picture of pigeons at said mosque, the only time I recall seeing more than 5 at a time. This pic also demonstrates that I learned to use a feature in Photoshop.

Ok I'm going to bed. No internet, so this will get uploaded when it gets uploaded. Awake in 1 hour.

Posted by chrisvasil 13:04 Archived in Turkey Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Grand and Spice Bazaars

sunny 35 °C
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The grand bazaar is big. Big enough that it would probably take an hour just to walk past all the shops. I think the sign said the area now taken up by the bazaar used to include 5 mosques, a school, and some other stuff... It's big. Prices are higher than other areas, and the main attraction is that it's big. A lot of jewellery stores, some clothing stores, some wallet stores, some turkish delight (candy) stores (which offer free samples).

The spice bazaar is pretty cool, sells a lot of spices by the kilo. The shopkeepers will often ask people to smell or even taste the spices.

We preferred another place near the spice bazaar, an outdoor market that we stumbled upon today. Similar size, a bit cheaper, more fruits, and a lot more locals (though that might be partly because today is Saturday and yesterday wasn't). We bought 1/4 lb of hazelnuts, 1 lb of plums, and 2 1/4 lbs of cherries. Total cost: 6.4 lira, or $5CAD. It was a pretty cheap dinner.

Things to note at markets:
Never shop at the first store of anything, the shops closest to the entrance generally have prices about 20% too high.

If the price they're charging isn't clear, check a different shop. We had some turkish delight at a shop, they brought us to the back and we bought some. The price at the front of the store was per kg, the price at the back was per 500g, so we paid twice as much as we thought we would. The prices were clearly marked, and the products might have been different, but we should have only bought at a place that follows the standard pricing formula. Not a huge difference in money, just a bit annoying that we might have overpaid.

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Posted by chrisvasil 13:02 Archived in Turkey Tagged shopping Comments (0)

People in Istanbul, ctd

sunny 33 °C
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July 11 - People in Istanbul, ctd.

We're still impressed.

While sitting down to have a rest, the guy sitting next to us, who sells water on the street, started talking to us (mostly to Sue). After a few minutes he offered us water for free. We declined, since that seemed like a high friendship fee...

At lunch today (fish bread, on the waterfront, CAD3.50 per person), we put Sue's sunglasses on the table. On the edge of the sea, it was windy, so the glasses ended up either under the papers on the table or on the floor. We noticed a few minutes after leaving, and by then the table was cleaned. We ask one of the table/floor cleaners whether he saw them (point to mine, point to table, point to floor, do the same a few times), and he calls a few people over. After some discussion with the other floor / table cleaners, he goes to a garbage can and starts searching through it. To find our sunglasses. Crazy. That didn't seem right, we had been hoping for a lost and found. We told him not to worry about it.

Here is the view from our table.

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While walking around with my map (which I tend to do), people often ask me if I need directions.

Sue often walks on the road instead of the sidewalk, which is bound to get at least one of us injured before our travels are done. As she's walking near the tram tracks (in full view of the tram) someone walking the other way makes noise and points behind her. She looks back and moves out of the way of the oncoming tram.

Posted by chrisvasil 12:59 Archived in Turkey Tagged shopping Comments (0)

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