26.05.2009 - 26.05.2009 27 °C
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!
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.
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.
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...