Our final day in Istanbul and we were … yet again, thanks to darling Ben up early. You see he has in his head that if we sleep in we will have to wait in horrendous lines in order to see all the stuff we want.
So we were up early and today instead of having a guide and driver we decided to challenge ourselves to the Turkish train system. After one false start where we accidentally got on the wrong train we ended up where we wanted to be with very little fuss….
The old city, a place we had seen and visited on day 1 we explored in more detail. First off was the blue Mosque. Not as pretty as the Hagia Sofia it had a more soft and humble feel. Covered in the most exquisite tile work and large chandeliers glowing in soft rings it was a lovely place to stop for an half hour visit. The thing is this is a working Mosque so woman had to cover their heads, everyone had to take off shoes and proper respect needed to be paid. Saying that, there were thousands of people waiting to enter and to be honest, the whole process was extremely calm and well organised.
Next we went to the Grand Bazar … a place that was around hundreds and hundreds of years ago the wares may have changed to a more tourist oriented experience but the building still has that old world feel you can’t help but be in awe over.
Apparently the Grand Bazar is the oldest, largest bazar around. It has hundreds of tiny little streets running up and down the hills some gently and others so steep you feel out of breath by the time you get to the top. There are little men running around delivering apple tea and people haggling over the price of goods. We were told that it is a sign of disrespect or idiocy (or both) if you don’t haggle so Ben had me play the silly giggly girl to get sometimes a very good discount on the stuff we purchased.
Another amazingly good lunch for both of us … i swear we are now resolved to find our nearest turkish restaurant and make sure to have a standing reservation. The food is so tasty, full of fresh vegetables and spices without feeling heavy or stodgy …. and its not all Mezz platters like we see back in Perth, its hearty stews, well cooked meats and beautiful dips all coming together to create the most amazing meals we have tasted thus far.
We are as I mentioned, staying in the new city and Istiklal street is the main walking shopping mall where all the locals congregate. When I say all I mean, after 5pm its shoulder to should busy with people walking up and down appreciating the cool night air. It is full of shops, restaurants and bars, there are trams that run through the centre playing music so loudly you want to cover your ears and also police buses beeping their horn and scattering the crowds as the constantly move positions. Yes there are a lot of police but that seems to be due to a rather large riot that took place the Friday night we arrived. Police were using tear gas, rioters were burning cars, apparently a good night was had by all but since then the police have been vigilant which I suppose is a good thing for us.
However maybe Istiklal Street is a little bit too busy for us so once up and down before we retreated to the comfort of our hotel. Tomorrow we move out to our final destination and its a little bit bittersweet. We are really enjoying the holiday and love where we have visited and the next country is bound to impress but the closer we get the closer we are to going home and I’m happy to say …. I’m just not quite ready for that yet.