A Travellerspoint blog

Turkey

Evening naps, road rage, buildings

sunny 31 °C
View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

  • **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

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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

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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)

Lost in Istanbul at midnight

22 °C
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As mentioned earlier we had trouble getting back from the hostels where we considered staying the third night (and where the group was meeting) to our hotel. To get there was simple, we followed the tram tracks then the wall outside the Topkapi Palace. Getting back was harder, as there were a lot of hills (both up and down) and we wanted to avoid that by taking a slightly different route. That didn't really work out for us, and we ended up walking over an hour on the way back, compared with about 15 minutes on the way over.

I lost my sense of direction because I'm used to grid cities and the streets of Istanbul are winding. So we end up walking the wrong way. After awhile I figure we should be there by now, and we're on poorly lit narrow roads, so I ask the least imposing (a 60 year old cleaning the sidewalk in front of his place) for directions to Sirkeci, the district my hotel is in. He points the way I was going, so I continue. Awhile later I ask another, he also points the way I am going. Another while later, someone asks to see the map because he doesn't understand me, so I show him and he points the way I came from. A few minutes later Sue asks a police officer with an AK47 who is standing in front of a playground that is full of small children at midnight (that's right), and he gives the same directions, and says it is 2 tram stops away.

So we walk another while, up a hill, and notice it is smoky. As we are walking we hear a loud crash, too long and low-pitched to be a gunshot but otherwise similar. A block later we see a throng of teenagers where the blast came from, so figured it was kids playing with explosives or something like that. Then another blocks later (and to the right) we see several firetrucks and that 6 fire hoses are spraying into an apartment window. So that's what it was, an apartment fire. Locals are looking out of their apt windows, guess it's not every day they see this type of thing.

A few blocks later we are relieved to find the tram tracks, which we follow for 5 stops home. Longer than the officer said, but we made it back unscathed.

Posted by chrisvasil 12:55 Archived in Turkey Tagged educational Comments (0)

Turkish rugs

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July 10 - Turkish rugs

Are pretty, expensive, and negotiable.

We nearly bought this one for Lee (with him reimbursing us). The experience was very pleasant, the salesman showed us about 50 rugs seperately (he had hundreds or maybe thousands in his shop), gave us apple tea, and talked to us. Silk on cotton, around 1.5x2 ft, the salesman brought his price down from 600 to 200 CAD over the course of half an hour (first customer special, still on at 1pm - first customer brings good luck so they're willing to negociate more, and most of the business is done in the evening), without us even asking for a price (our line was that we'd have to contact someone before we can make a decision). He said it takes over a month to make, and based on the speed of the lady working downstairs I believe it (she was amazingly fast, but a rug even that small would have around 200,000 knots).

This carpet had a tree of life design where the leaves symbolize people, very temporary, starting life in spring and dying in autumn; the tree symbolizes the world, which keeps existing before and after each person does, and the top part symbolizing paradise, also eternal, and to which people aspire and hopefully reach (which is symbolized by the pattern generally pulling upward).

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He held a lighter to it for close to a minute, demonstrating that it is real silk, as silk doesn't burn.
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Here are a few other nice silk rugs

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This synthetic one was selling for TL10 = $8 CAD full price, about 3x5ft, and the beige parts are not tufted, the green parts have the highest pile, and the other colors are somewhere in between. Very unique, I had never seen a similar one, thought of getting it for Lee but decided against.
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Here is one with a landscape stitched on top of a rag rug. Also interesting.
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Posted by chrisvasil 12:52 Archived in Turkey Tagged shopping Comments (0)

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