25.05.2009 - 25.05.2009 30 °C
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.
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.
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...