A Travellerspoint blog

Istanbul traffic, one last photo and a coffee to go

Heading home

sunny 16 °C

As I write this I'm sitting at home. Home! After unpacking last night I've had a good nights sleep. This morning I've had a strong skinny soy latte, a long walk with Savvy and my sister and now thinking about what delicious delight I could have for lunch.

But before I do that I wanted to record my last adventure...

...Back in Istanbul I climbed into the very late shuttle bus assuring myself that I would not miss my flight. Besides, stressing about getting to the airport on time was not going to get me there any faster. So instead I sat back and took my last look at Istanbul as it wizzed...well actually I could have got out and walked faster...past. Sometimes I think it's the getting to and from the airport in a foreign city that is the most exciting. There were nine of us and one driver. A driver who had full conversations with the cars next to him on the road as we crawled through late afternoon traffic.

Everyone seems to speak on their mobile phones when they are weaving in and out of traffic. It was no different for our driver and for half of the trip I felt like I was back in the Grand Bazzar. But he got us there just in time. My pack was considerably heavier than when I left - in fact, even with turfing a lot of the heavier stuff my pack was 6.9kg heavier than when I left!

I found one last place to take a photo after checking in my luggage. The toilet! Now, I've seen some strange English translations whilst in Turkey but this one really did seem very strange. Above the toilet there was a sign saying 'Please help us save water - flush twice.' Interesting tactic for saving water.
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As I waited I treated myself to a starbucks mocha latte with two extra shots. It only cost me 11 TYL!!! Well, what am I going to do with 12TYL at home?

I was looking forward to some chilled out time of the plane. Breathing easily with the knowledge that my being hassled by men days were over...hmmm

Hello African business man (dealing in spare parts?) who thought it would be a good idea if I give him my contact details for when he comes to Australia to sell his spare parts (I didn't like to ask). Luckily I convinced him that Melbourne really was just a small town and that he was more likely to need a contact in Sydney which was a long train ride from my home. It was a LONG four hours to Dubai.

I figured I had done my dash with the uncomfortable start of my journey home so was hoping/praying that the next leg of 13 1/2 hours I would be sitting either next to no one or a very small person (Mr Spare Parts was a rather large man) with no interest in talking. Ask and it is given! Two seats all to myself which made the journey that little less arduous. Still, fourteen hours is fourteen hours. After what felt like days we landed in Melbourne...a considerably cooler Melbourne.

The adventure has truly come to and end. I hope those of you who have found the time to read my rambling have found it interesting and perhaps even felt a little like you were there yourself. Clearly I can highly recommend Turkey as a destination guaranteed not to dissapoint.

Hoscakal Turkey!

Now to plan my next adventure!

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 19:22 Archived in Australia Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

A little Turkish goes a long way

Learning a bit of the language

In my travels around Turkey I realised how much knowing a little Turkish really goes a long way. So I thought I would share the most important things I learned whilst I was there. I can't promise that it will be spelt correctly but I will do my best.

Hello : Merhaba (Mer-ha-bah)

Goodmorning : Günaydin (gun-eye-den)

Thank you : Teşhekkür ederim (te-sher-kerr-ed-er-rem)

You’re welcome : Birşey ederim (bee-shey ed-der-rem)

Thanks : Sağ ol (sowl)

Thank you very much :
Çok sağ ol (chock sowl)

No thanks : Yok sağ ol (yock sowl)

Yes please : Evet lütfen (eh-vet lewt-fen)

Please : Lütfen (lewt-fen)

Good/beautiful : Güzel (gew-zelle)

Very good/beautiful : Çok güzel (chock gew-zelle)

Yes : Evet (eh-vet)

No : Hayır (higher)

Cheers : Şerefe (share-eh-fah)

Goodbye (when I am leaving) :
Hoşçakal (hosh-cha-kahl)

Goodbye (when they are leaving) : Güle Güle (gew-lay gew-lay)

Coffee : Kaveh (car-vay)

Tea :
Çay (chai)

Water : Sü (sue)

Mineral water : Mayden suyu (may-den sue-you)

Milk : Süt (soot)

Pistachio Magnum please: Fistik Magnum lütfen (fis-stick magnum lewt-fen)

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 06:01 Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

Mummies, baklava and fish sandwich...last rites of Istanbul

sunny 27 °C

What does one do on their last day in Istanbul? When you know you fly out in the late afternoon it's kind of weird filling in your day. But I had two things left on my Istanbul to do list. One: the Archaeology Museum. Two: Baklava.

It is another sunny day in Istanbul and I know that it will be quite some time before I experience this kind of warmth again.

After a slow morning where I miraculously fit EVERYTHING in my pack, I treated myself to an espresso macchiato which was more like a very small cappuccino. Still, it was real coffee! I can already hear the sound of the espresso machine at home as I make my strong, skinny soy latte... And it won't cost me 5.50TYL! But then I did get to listen to some Ben Harper this morning whilst I was there and have the coffee guy keep asking me if I understood what he was saying, which was pretty much 'can you understand?' I certainly could understand that.

Off to the Archaeology Museum I go. Along with about seven classrooms of eight year olds. I am soooo glad I made it there. Only 10TYL and I loved it. I kept snapping and snapping away and I literally have 1 photo left on my camera. Just one. So I better not see anything else worth taking a photo of. Also scattered around the museum were art students which gave the place a 'living art' feel. I am again amazed at the museums in Turkey. You can touch nearly everything. Well you are allowed to but I just couldn't do it. In some parts you were not able to take photos with a flash or with a tripod. Which of course basically meant that if you don't have a steady hand...very blurry (or I like to call them artistic) shots is all you get.
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In the early afternoon I wandered across the Galata bridge with the anticipation of baklava spurring me on. And of course it was worth it!!! A box to take home and two to indulge on the spot. It is my last day after all. On the way back I grabbed a fish sandwich from the dramatically rocking fishing boat on the water. After eradicating the smell of fish from my hands I began to stroll through the masses of people. Where would I spend my last remaining hours in Istanbul?
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Back to my favourite hiatus. Gulhane (Gool-hahn-e) Park. Again there were kids everywhere but they didn't hound me this time. Instead their laughter and squeals of delight added to the atmosphere. A few texts from home and I am ready to jump on that plane. Mum tells me there may be a delay at the end due to the swine flu panic. Lucky for me I'm as healthy as a horse...well, an Australian horse not one from the Princes' Islands.

Wandering through the market area I'm not hassled any more as they seem to know I'm not buying. I go to my local supermarket (really more like a milk bar) and he again gives me a free gift with such enthusiasm - more dental gum! Not sure if he is trying to tell me something.

Back to the hostel - my bags are still there in the cleaners room. And here I sit waiting for my shuttle bus to arrive. I can't believe it is almost over. This trip has exceeded my expectations - which were pretty high!

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 05:11 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Tram, palace, kebab and fistik magnum...just another day

sunny 27 °C
View My Intrepid adventure around Turkey on JanelleK.Woods's travel map.

I slept in this morning. Thanks to working out I could sleep more securely with a pillow wedged up on my left side where the bed slopes downwards. It is strange to think that my Turkish adventure is almost over. And there is still so much to see!

Today I decided to jump on a tram to the Dolmabahce Palace. What I didn't realise was that you HAVE to take a guided tour. And it being tourist season I had to wait in an impressively long line, in the sun, for about an hour. But it was worth is. Such a pity that you aren't allowed to take photos inside this extraordinary place 'cause I would easily have taken a couple of hundred. So incredibly opulent. It was like something out of a fairytale. Including a crystal staircase! Every surface was covered with something, be it a carpet, a chandelier, an ornate dinning setting, a painting, etc. etc. I was thoroughly enthralled by it all that my radar was malfunctioning and I somehow got myself caught up in a 'light' conversation with a man...a Turkish man. Ah yah! Leave me alone! I wanted to scream at him.

He wanted to take me to Taksim, 'it is my duty to take care of you - as you are alone.' It is amazing how someone can find any manner of way to touch you either on the shoulder, hand or arm. Ergh! I think he was an annoying Turkish man 'in training' as I heard him talking to another woman in the group and I figured out that he was assuring her that he had tried all the usual tricks of telling me that he could take me to the cheap places in Taksim.

My brush off was not heeded as he continued to talk to me and stand too close for comfort. In the end I forced my company on some other poor guy who was walking in our group. What luck he was an Aussie from Melbourne who used to be a Contiki guide! Thank you Mark!
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The rest of the tour through the harem was even better now free of my leech. In addition to his saving me, over lunch I got all the insider goss from Mark about what it's like for a Contiki tour guide - what really goes on behind the scenes.

Back on the tram I went as Mark jumped back on his double-decker hop on hop off bus of Istanbul.

As I had stupidly told the leech that I was planning to go to the Archaeology Museum this afternoon I changed my plans. What is a girl going to do when she has time to kill in Istanbul? Hmm...might need a Magnum Fistik to think about that.

Shopping? Of course! Inspired idea. Now the trick is to go shopping to use up the remaining Turkish Lira without letting the shopping owners know you are just trying to spend your money. I had some great conversations actually. Gave me faith in the Turkish men again :) After a little retail therapy I headed back to the Blue Mosque. I sat in the park between the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya as the afternoon turned to evening.
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It was getting pretty hot in the sun so I moved to a shady spot next to a man of about 50. What are the odds of sitting next to a German who plays the didgeridoo? He had never been to Australia but he was so excited to be sitting next to an Australian girl. So we spoke about circular breathing (like I know anything about it!) under the watchful eye of his wife.

Istanbul is really such a beautiful city. It has everything. I can even appreciate the call to prayer which is hauntingly drifting through the night as I sit typing away on the terrace looking over the city. That is until the resident DJ adds a little Shakira. Not quite the same feel but...well, Istanbul is a mixing of the old with the new so perhaps it is appropriate.

Tonight I had dinner at my favourite restaurant in Istanbul. Doy Doy. They looked after me as a single gal. They even knew to give me Turkish tea rather than apple tea. I find that if you try to speak Turkish (even if you are bad it) and do it with a genuine smile then you win them over pretty easily. Then they win me over. It's a win win situation.
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Being a single traveller has its challenges but I've met some great people that I would not have met otherwise. Even at dinner tonight I chatted to two English women who are here for a week and then two Kiwi's joined me for dinner. The guys at my hostel have been great too. The beds may be levelly challenged and the breakfast a bit hit and miss and I may even be kept awake by the sounds of cat fights and the boys chatting out the front of the hostel. But it's been great. They have looked after me and made me feel at home which is really what it's all about.

Okay, now the music has moved onto some hard core rapping...what will come next DJ? Wait for it...I think this one is for me...a little Kylie! On a night like this...

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 11:48 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Recipe for adventure

sunny 30 °C
View My Intrepid adventure around Turkey on JanelleK.Woods's travel map.

Interesting start to the day. I woke up late which my body very much appreciated. What it didn't appreciate was me falling out of bed! Luckily my humour was in check. I had swapped beds thinking that perhaps Rachel's now vacated bed was more level. Perhaps it's just a sign that I'm almost ready to go home to my double bed.

After a stodgy breakfast I headed out into the sunny day feeling confident of where I was going - I'm practically a local after all...well maybe not.

I ended up on the opposite side of Sultanehmet. Well, I'm always up for a walk. I reached into my back for my map and crushed my stolen boiled egg from breakfast. Thank goodness for good humour! I enjoyed a brisk walk along the water in the direct sunlight. I then did a bit of a zig zag so I could walk through my favourite part of Istanbul. Gulhane Park. Pieta would so love it there. It's incredibly green - the type of green we just don't see in Melbourne anymore. My photos don't do it justice.

It's funny the things that will suddenly make you think of home. Walking through the park someone started up a lawn mower.

Travelling discovery: Getting lost when you are on your own is not nearly as funny as when you are with someone else.

Recipe for adventure: Take one single female traveller with very little Turkish, no sense of direction and a habit of going with the flow. Mix that with an out of the way tourist attraction, a local bus and a pathetic map.

I finally got on a bus which had a different number to what I was expecting but was assured it would get me to Kariye Museum. Being told when to get off is great...but with no signs it doesn't do much. Not being afraid of a bit of a walk I headed off and over shot the museum by about half a km. Finally I would stop every two streets asking 'Merhaba, Kariye Museum?' With this method I got to see a lot of back streets and then finally the museum. By this stage I was thinking this better be good!

It was. I could easily say it is my favourite museum in Istanbul. The frescoes are incredible and the stories they tell are so vivid. I put a serious dent in my remaining photos on my memory card. The detail and the stories told in these works of art are awe inspiring. I did however find my self wishing they had some sort of contraption that could wheel you around on your back. I walked through twice and was equally impressed the second time even thought my neck was aching by the time I walked out to enjoy a boring toasted cheese sandwich.
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After lunch the fun began again. My lack of direction really came in to play this time. I did find my way back to the main street and even found the right bus with the right numbers. I relaxed on the bus and tuned out...until...I didn't recognise anything. I wandered up to the front of the bus through crowds of Turkish men to speak to the guy who sells the tickets. 'Eminonu?' I asked hopefully. His shocked expression confirmed my fears. He was concerned and pointed to the back of the bus. They stopped the bus for me and he gestured for me to catch a bus from the other side of the road. Problem was, I was in the burbs of Istanbul and had no idea what a bus stop looked like.

I walked in the direction he had pointed me and walked and walked. I began to wonder how long it would take me to get Sultanehmet on foot when a bus hovered near me in traffic. I figured it was at least going in the right direction and I was already out of my depth. As they had the door open on the overcrowded bus in order to get air into the bus I took a gamble and jumped onto the moving bus. I ignored the surprised looks of the others on the bus, paid my fair and hoped for the best.

We drove through what must be the wedding dress district. I'm talking about some pretty impressive dresses of all colours and styles, all manner of fluffy and explosive designs. All was going well until I realised that I could see the Blue Mosque in the distance but we were going the wrong direction! So in keeping with the theme of the day I jumped off a moving bus. With the general direction in mind I walked and walked. First through the hardware district where they were selling chainsaws on the side of the road. Then I moved into the boat tackle district until I finally found the water and then with a sigh of relief I saw tourists with cameras! I had finally found touristville again.
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Surely that adventure deserves a Fistik Magnum! I had a lovely chat to an English woman who has been living in Istanbul for a year and knew even less Turkish than me then wandered back (ON FOOT) to Gulhane Park for a little R&R before heading back to the hostel via the cooking class I wanted to book into. All booked out :(

Back at the hostel - here I am. Sitting in the rooftop bar on the free internet listening to some pretty eclectic music, enjoying an Efes and the view of the Bospherous as the sun descends on another full day in Istanbul.

I've only got 1 1/2 days before I have to fly back home. Sigh...how can I go back to the daily grind again? I'm sure it will happen way to quickly. For now I'm enjoying the feeling of another adventure...

Posted by JanelleK.Woods 08:40 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

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