We crossed the Bosphorous at 1400 hrs on the 22nd of august – we had made it to Asia! Woooooop! Having heard horror stories about driving in Istanbul we parked the beaut at sabia goken havanalani (Turkeys equivalent of luton) and crossed back to Europe entering Istanbul as one should – via boat. It’s difficult to describe the magnificent of the first sighting of the Istanbul and the surreal feeling of crossing between two continents within the same city. This can only be said for the three of us, Jon was too busy staring through the camera lense – filthy finger twitcher.
At the dock, the couples divideed. What follows is the account of Jon and Coby:
16.00: arrive at rapunzele hostel, breath a sigh of relief that it’s not a rundown half build Algeria ruin (in an attempt to save money we Googled “budget hostel Istanbul” and accepted the first room offered to us)
19.00: invited up to the hostels roof terrace for drinks, gorgeous canapés and antipodean company.
20.30: arrive for our 20.00 booking at the local British Prison (Galata House)for some stunning Georgian cuisine and stimulating political conversation with the owner.
22.30: wondered around the neighbourhood to marvel at the Galata Tower and understand why our hostel has its name. It’s like something out of a fairy tale. Jon finger twitches.
23.30: collapse into bed, vowing to take it slow for the next few days
0700: up for a cheeky run to Taksim Square. Realise how much fitness we’ve lost as we die on the cobbled hills
0715: stagger into hostel, tail between our legs
0900: hearty breakfast and cracking conversation with Nik and Michelle – thank you for all the recommendations, Top Deck was amazing!
10.00: watch the rain come down, hard. Dither for an hour before heading out armed with brollies.
11.00: make a bee line for Hagia Sophia, opinion is divided! Though both love the viking graffiti – “Halvdan was here c970” Jon finger twitches.
13.00: visited the Blue Mosque, distinctly more impressed with the decor. Appreciated a deeper sense of spirituality. Jon finger twitches. Coby gently requests for some camera battery to be saved for the Grand Bazaar on Monday.
15.00: explored the Bascillica Cisterns, built by the Romans, blown away. Nice Medusa heads. Jon finger twitches hard. Camera runs out of battery. Coby doesn’t speak to Jon for 10 minutes.
17.00: Pootle back towards our hostel,via free watermelon from a hopeful restauranteur. Have an afternoon nap.
20.00: dinner at Karakoy Lokantasi ordered meze – marinated fish, salted fish, grilled calamari and veal brain. Jon surprised when veal brain look like veal brain. Jon gets a bit squeamish. Coby smears the veal brains on bread – like a bovine Hannibal Lector. Chianti replaced with Effes.
23.00: bottle of champagne enjoyed on the Hostel roof terrace, Baclava count: Jon 1, Coby 3, Budget: blown.
0900: hearty breakfast and swift check out (would like to take this opportunity to say how wonderful the Rapunsel Hostel is, the staff are so friendly and helpful and the place has a real homespun feel as it it run by 4 friends. Thank You, thank you, thank you!)
10.00: Topkapi Palace, amazing building, beautiful artifacts, iron sword claimed to be bronze age. slightly dubious stick (4 thousand years old, really). Top tip: visit the Harem Appartments.
13.00: arrive for 1230 appointment with Tom and Kat. Genders divide.
Jon and Tom are shaved – Turkish style. (Inclusive of ear abuse, seriously, is the boiling hot wax really necessary? Will their ears grown back hairier?) Search for chess set successful.
Visit the Grand Bazaar, stayed for 10 manic minutes before heading to the Arasta Bazaar ( a condensed version of the Grand Bazaar , perfect for the indecisive jewellery hunter. Flirted our way to a significant discount off a beautiful silver ring and bracelet. Contemplate adding an extra seat to the beaut to take our hunky jeweller with us. Wonder around the spice and pet market, medicinal leaches anyone?
1800-2200 genders reconvene for beer, then separate for more shopping/food. Ladies buy crazy travelling trousers. Gentlemen burn down restaurant (Chip pan fire, 6 minute response from Turkish fire brigade, 4 fire engines needed) We blame Tom’s Dolmas. Despite attempting to pay grief strike owner boys get free meal.
2300: Boat back to Asia. We were treated to a turkish taxi ride back to the airport. We clung to the doors, seats and each other as he hurtled down the motor way. Tom calmy pointed out that our driver had not strayed above 70 miles an hour. Happily we found our beaut where we had left her, fully intact and starting first time on the key!
0000: We headed out of Istanbul to a truck stop, were we enjoyed a sleepless night of dropped tire irons, head lights and 18 wheelers coming in for a spoon.
Coby and Jon