Spring Break 2009: Istanbul, Turkey
Tue 17/03/09 01:15
All the photos
I'm in the process of uploading all the photos that I took during my time in Istanbul. Every photo, whatever the quality, however bad the composition, or for that matter, however good the image looks will be uploaded to photobucket.com Go ahead and take a look if you're interested
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Sun 15/03/09 00:16
and getting ready for workYeah, I know that it was going to happen, that I'd be back home and getting ready for work at some time, but I don't know, it seems a little too soon. After the day of mostly rain and cold weather I was looking forward to getting back to the warmth of Dubai, and it does feel good. I just don't feel like going back to work just yet.
So what can I say about Istanbul that I probably haven't already said? The city is fantastic, the people were incredibly friendly, the food was the best, and the women were gorgeous. Probably the one thing that I didn't like is the amount of police. Everywhere you go there are way too many cops, on walls, in little booths, walking around, literally everywhere. Even the people that ran the hostel mentioned how much they didn't like it. At some times it seemed almost like a police-state. That brings up a good question, why do governments hate their citizens so much? In Dubai we have security guards everywhere, in the US they monitor email and phone calls, and most of the other countries I been to have similar tactics to keep track, or maybe control of the residents. Why do they need to do that?
That's maybe a subject for a paper some day, but for now all I wanted to do was make the final journey part of the blog complete. Which will be done when I submit this post, but I will add a couple more for extra images and movies that I haven't uploaded yet.
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Sat 14/03/09 07:05
back at the hostel
and I'm cold, wet, and tiredIt was my last day here in Istanbul and I had hoped that the weather would cooperate with me. The sun was out when I first left the hostel, and in no time the clouds came in and shortly afterwards it started to rain. It rained for about 2 hours and that was about an hour longer than I felt I could endure. So after walking for about three hours I decided to start back for the hostel. It’s now 2 in the afternoon and I still have a couple of hours before I need to leave for the airport. Those extra hours are needed, I’m soaked from the rain, and I even used an umbrella, and I’ll use the time to warm and rest up before leaving. For some reason I got worn out earlier today than I usually do. Maybe it’s just the everyday thing that’s starting to catch up to me, or maybe I walked more hills today than usual, either way, I did about 10 miles and I’m beat.
The food is great here. I’ve been trying my best to sample as much different kinds of food as I can, and today I tried a breakfast dish that I think was lamb. It sure would be nice if I could remember the names of some of the things that I’ve tried since I’ve been in Istanbul, but age has sunk in and they say memory is the first to go. Last night I had a beef crepe that was just the best. I may go back to the main street and find some other place to hang out for the last hour or so before I leave.
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Sat 14/03/09 01:07
My last day here.
It's 745 in the morning and I've already had my first cup of coffee. In a little bit I'll be heading out the door for another day of just wandering around the city. Today though, I don't really know where I'm going to go. I've seen the things that I feel I had to see so everything else is just a plus. Maybe today I'll check out some of the bookstores. There are so many here and except for a small one in the market, I haven't gone into them.
Istanbul is so huge, and there is so much to see that I don't think I can not have a good time today. My flight leaves at 740 tonight, so I have to leave the hostel at about 430. That gives me about 8 hours to wander. That seems like more than enough time since my legs start to wear out after about 6 hours of walking. Speaking of walking, I haven't really been spending time monitoring how much I'm walking but the times I have checked it's been around 15 to 20 miles a day. Every night, or late afternoon when I get back to the hostel I'm so sore that I can barely walk. And each morning when I wake up, I'm fine and ready to do it all again.
Another random thought--- I was told that some, about half, the people that I'd meet here would be rude, the other half very nice. So far I've been lucky in that I've met only really nice people. I think it has something to do with my awe of cultures that I don't usually get treated very rudely... except that is in Russia. Russians for all their beautiful women, just are mean. Here in Istanbul the people that I've met seem to have gone out of their way to be kind.
I'm still here in Istanbul so maybe the next comment is being swayed by that fact, but I think I can say with confidence that this city is one of, if not the best city I've been to. The architecture, history, and culture are so interesting that I don't think I've ever been to any place that compares. Like I said I'm here right now, and given time it may drop down a little in it's standings, but damn, what a city. :)
Okay, it's after 8 now and it's time that I start to head out before too long.
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Fri 13/03/09 10:41
So today I did what I like to do on every trip, explore. I knew where I wanted to go, and the direction that I should head, so I headed out this morning. It was cold... let me just say that at the beginning... it was cold.
The first stop in my day was Starbucks, yep I know, but it just seems the right thing to do at least once in every place I go. Not that it matters if I don’t go to one, just seems right. :) Then it was to find the tower that stands out in the skyline. It’s in most of my photographs as the single tower, I got there and went to the top. Interesting view but not that spectacular otherwise. Then I took off for a church a ways away. I headed out and walked for about ten or fifteen minutes and guess where I ended up? Right in front of Starbucks. I don’t know what happened because it was total shock to me that I was backtracking the whole time. At least I knew which way I had to go now.
Armed with a new purpose, and the Kafiya Church as the target I redoubled my resolve and headed out once again. I walked along the river for about an hour taking some photos but mostly just admiring the landscape. The city is loaded with history, and I love history so the hour went really quickly. In the distance I could see what looked like the church that I was looking for so I kept just going towards it. When I got close I lost sight of it because other buildings were blocking the view, and then I entered a street and there it was. I honestly can’t tell you how remarkable the whole scene was, and the pics that I took really don’t relay how stunned I was. There is this cobble-stoned, narrow road, that I swear had an incline of about 70 degrees. No lie, it was so steep the the cobblestones were more like steps than the paving of a road. It was so steep that when I left I was worried that I’d fall if I went back that way. Okay, now you know how steep the road was, so I’m huffing and puffing and trying to look like I was in shape when I get close to the church it turns out that it’s not exactly a church but more of an abandoned school. How disappointing. :(
I decided that I must be going in the right direction because I do have a map, I just don’t really know where I my location is on the map, but I have an idea. After about 10 minutes I realize that I’m in the middle of a very Muslim community. Most of the men had the long beards, and all the women were completely covered. I didn’t see any European looking people anywhere. I wasn’t worried, but I did feel out of place. Anyway after about another ten minutes I hit a main street, still very Muslim, and I was loving it. I stopped in a little shop that was selling bakala (pastry). I buy it in Dubai, but at the grocery store and without a choice of kinds, but the guy sees that I’m curious about the different types so he starts giving me samples, and I end up buying a mix. While I was standing there I could hear some old guys laughing at me. I don’t think that they were really laughing at me, but more at an American. I must of heard the word "American" about 5 times and then laughing. It’s all good, and as far as I’m concerned it was fun. So I’m eating bakala for the next 10 minutes as I walked along. Then I ended up at a major street, and see tram tracks, and in the distance is an American. We really stand out from everyone else. First we almost always seem to have a backpack with water in the pocket. Usually we’re white males, and just generally just have "a look."
So I walk up and start talking to him. That in of itself is something that I don’t think I’ve done twice in my whole life, okay maybe twice but it is rare for me to just walk up and start talking to someone. I asked him if he knew where the church was and pointed to a sign, which pointed to the church.
The church was really impressive in that it still had some of the mosaics hundreds of years old on the walls. As for grandeur the mosques completely overshadow it though. I always seem to be able to imagine what it must have been like back hundreds of years ago, I think that’s why I like history so much, I can imagine being there. For that reason the church was worth the walk.
After that I wandered around going up alleys and around mosques, if there was a street that looked interesting I went. All in all it was a good time for my last full day in Istanbul. I still have a half day tomorrow, but I don’t know what I’m going to do.
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