A Travellerspoint blog

Turkey

Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia

sunny 33 °C
View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

The blue mosque was not nearly as blue as I was expecting. Very impressive architecture, and massive, and very pretty walls and ceilings, but not nearly blue enough to merit the title.
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The Hagia Sophia was pretty cool, and it was really nice that we had seen a documentary about it a few months ago (well actually a travel show about Istanbul that I downloaded, but that was the only part I remembered). A very cool building, it was one of the main catholic churches before (Romans? Greeks?) lost istanbul to the (Byzantine? Ottoman?) Empire. Writing without Internet, I can't find out, but that's the story... Anyway it was then converted to a mosque, with all the religious imagery and most of the imagery in general plastered and painted over, and 6 columns (minerets?) added to the original structure. It was subsequently restored, and on many places on the ceiling we can see black marks from where crosses used to be

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or layers with a raised, more freshly-painted area and nearby a much older, but prettier (shiny and more elaborate designs) painting.

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There are also mosaics that were really pretty and were uncovered, but in many cases parts are missing.

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One thing I had a lot of trouble figuring out was how they got these huge multicolored plaques of marble (this one is about 6x6ft) to be perfectly symmetrical. We figured out that they slice the marble, then have slices face each other.

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Posted by chrisvasil 12:48 Archived in Turkey Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Istanbul Hotels

sunny 32 °C
View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

We are booked for 2 nights at Hotel Agan, a smallish hotel (5 stories, 4 rooms per floor I think) in a district (Sirkeci) full of hotels, close to all of the tourist attractions (near Spice Bazaar, within 2km of everything), but somehow not too overrun by tourists. Perhaps this is because out of the many, many similar hotels in the area this is the only one on any travel website (we booked through Orbitz for USD50 per night).

The first night it was overbooked and we were transferred to another hotel, Hotel Esen, which was awesome! After walking up 5 flights of stairs with our bags, we got to our room and found a magnificant view of the sea, bridges, and the other side of Istanbul.

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We only booked 2 of 3 nights because our tour leaves at 8AM from a Hostel 1km away in Sultanahmet. So last night we walked there to consider booking a hostel, to be right there when our tour is leaving, and to maybe also save money. The area is loud and full of college kids at bars and pubs (Turkey being largely Muslim, the local culture doesn't really involve drinking and so the bars generally cater to tourists) which didn't really appeal to us. A hostel would have been a bit cheaper than our hotel room (which they said would be 40EUR = 55USD for the third night), but we decided to stay where we were.

Also when we asked Hotel Esen the cost to stay an extra night (We stayed in room 502; rooms 302,402,502,602 should have the same view, x03 almost as good, there are 3 single beds in 502), they said 35EUR. We preferred that hotel but didn't want to move again up 5 flights of stairs so we didn't go back. I told the guy at this Agan they said 30EUR by mistake, I hope the guy at Esen didn't get in trouble....

Here is the contact for Esen, which was great. The rate on Otel.com is 45EUR, but they said the rate is 35EUR when I asked for an extra night.

Hotel Esen
40 Orhaniye Cad.
Sirkeci, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel +90 0212 527 89 49
email hotelesen@hotmail.com
they have a website but I had a Do Not Enter screen from my antivirus, so I wouldn't go to it.

Posted by chrisvasil 12:45 Archived in Turkey Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Pamukkale - Calcium rocks


View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

The white is rocks, though it looks like snow. On the drive over it looked so soft, but no, it was rocks.

This is a UNESCO world heritage site since this year, so the price of admission to see it went from 2 TL to 10 TL ($1.60 to $8) since the brochure was printed. Fortunately the base of the mountains is free, and I think that's all that's needed. In the pay area there are water pools maybe a foot deep in some of the rocks, which would make for great pics, but even then - it hadn't rained in awhile so I suspect there was no water ... in short we didn't miss much.

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Posted by chrisvasil 07:15 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

People ın Istanbul

semi-overcast 30 °C

Are truly truly wonderful.

We pulled ın a few hours ago and Sue had some problems at customs because the vısa was ın her old passport. She had both passports wıth her, but she had to go to the polıce area to get the vısa copıed ınto her new passport. The polıce were very frıendly and told her several tımes to feel free to have a seat whıle waıtıng. She got out fıne, and was surprısed at how nıce the polıce were.

We had trouble fındıng our hotel, and asked a few people who speak no Englısh, whıch was not very helpful, but when we found one that speaks Englısh he walked us to the hotel, whıch was several mınutes away. He dıdn´t know where ıt was hımself, and every block or so he would ask someone along the street where ıt ıs. He ultımately got us there, and ıt wouldnt have been easy ıf ıt was just us.

We passed by a pastry store that was offerıng samples near our hotel, and tasted what he was offerıng. As we were leavıng, he gave us a pıece of the pastry he was eatıng (and whıch probably came from a dıfferent store).

Just now I forgot the plug adaptor when I brought the laptop to the lobby (where the ınternet ıs), and one of the guys workıng at the hotel went outsıde and 5 mınutes later came back wıth a North Amerıca - Europe plug adaptor.

Now I was a bıt afraıd each tıme someone was helpful that they would eıther lead us to a back alley and rob us, or ask for money, but neıther happened. I hope I dıdn´t commıt any faux-pas by just acceptıng theır kındness.

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

那个让我一见钟情的,名叫火鸡的国家

sunny 34 °C

当地时间下午5点,当我结实地在飞机上睡了9个小时之后,我们终于到达了我们的第一站-火鸡。
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入关

签证是我在渥太华签好的。不过后来怕签证页数不够,换了新的护照。海关看了我的签证之后,说:“签证作废了,要去警察局换签证”。我一听,差不多腿就软了。不会吧,第一站就不让我过,如果让我飞回加拿大怎么办啊? 他大手一指最右边的窗口说“去那里的警察局".说完,另一个穿着制服的帅哥就把我带到了办公室。在中国去过一次警察局,在加拿大也去过一次,没有想到刚出了国门,就有机会又去警察局了。 老老实实地走到办公桌面前站着,正思量怎么向他们解释,走过来一个笑眯眯的警察。他客气地拉过一个椅子,说请坐请坐,一看我的签证,说只要把原来的签证盖个章作废,然后再盖一个新的签证章在新的护照就好了,过程不过5分钟。拿给我签证的时候还和我握握手,说“希望你在土耳其玩的愉快!” 中国的警察办事的服务态度是你上辈子欠他钱没还,加拿大的警察面部毫无表情,好像如果他不威严就失去特权,土耳其的警察像邻家的大哥,让你安心。

寻找旅馆
伊斯坦布尔的公共交通很方便,我们在机场坐上地铁,然后换了一次有轨电车就来到了我们早就预定好的饭店的这个区。这是一个现代的城市,通讯,交通,商业让人仿佛置身于世界的大城市,而然穿插在现代当中的,是毫不矫揉造作的古老的建筑,工艺,宗教和文化。两者在矛盾中共存,没有丝毫地不协调。

我们在车站看了半天,也没有看见我们饭店所在的街道。路边饭店的一位招待,见我们俩迷茫地背了巨大的包,从老远就跟我们打招呼。他并不知道我们所要去的饭店,但是他说他知道大致的方向。原来以为他会给我们指个大致方向,没有想到他跟老板打了个招呼,就一路把我们带到了饭店,一路几百米,他一边问方向一边给我们指路。说感激涕零也许是夸张,但是受到这么友善地帮助也是我们万万没有想到的。爱上一个城市,一个国家还需要有更多的理由吗?所谓的一见钟情也不过如此吧,不仅由于我们一路上所见的完美景致,更由于当地人的美好的热诚。

饭店就在河边(不要问我什么河/湖/海),从我们的房间可以看到河的对岸,我们在欧洲,河的对岸就是亚洲。我现在一边打字,一边享受着阵阵的海风。真希望在这里的两天三夜可以过得慢点,再慢点。

糖果店的老板
土耳其的特产之一是他们的糖果。五颜六色的糖中间加了各种各样的坚果,让我这个不吃糖的人看了都垂涎欲滴。当我们俩站在糖果店外舍不得走的时候,老板端了一大碗出来,说“吃!” 哈哈,我们也不是客气的主,一人拿起一个。老板又怕我们不过瘾,说“再尝尝另外这个,新鲜的!” 看来在挑战我们的脸皮。于是我们又各自拿了一个。我们问了价钱,准备吃好晚饭回来再买。正转身要走,老板使劲一拍我的肩膀。我心里一惊,是啊,天下没有白吃的。刚准备要讨腰包,老板把手上拿的啃了一半的面包撕了一半递给我们,说“边走边吃啊!” 真是可爱到了极点!(他的店里根本不卖面包,想必这个是他自己从隔壁面包店里买来的给自己的点心!)我的眼睛有点湿,我的心里却很满。我知道,就这些可爱的人们,就足够让我陶醉在这个神秘的国度。
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晚饭
chris和我都坚定地认为饮食是文化的一部分,所以我们旅游都会找当地人最多的饭店或者小吃摊。在旅馆周围找真的不是一件容易的事情,因为周围都是青年旅社,旅馆饭店和有名的景点,所以针对的客户都是游客。走了一圈,终于在一个小巷里找到围满当地人的烤肉店。烤肉三明治+酸奶+红茶,真是人间美味啊!价格呢?-不用帮忙付高级饭店的装潢和情调,当然更诱人了!
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Posted by suevasil 12:49 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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