Just before I start I should point out I've been posting a fair number of pictures in the photo section of this blog site.
Well another pretty full day in Istanbul as we count down towards the pilgrimage to Gallipoli. Starting to see more and more Australians and New Zealanders here and when talking to the locals as soon as they realise we are from New Zealand the associate it with Gallipoli or ANZACs.
We started the day the same as yesterday with the buffet breakfast at the hotel. Dad came over to my room to offer me a hat (I forgot my cap and only had my running one) but frankly it looked like a gardening one which I told him, perhaps a bit tactless but no offence taken.
We then walked up to the Grand Bazaar. Raining and cold unfortunately (no hat needed!!) but inside the Bazaar was dry and warm.
The Bazaar is about 20acres in area with thousands of stalls and all very tidy and clean. Even though we were pretty early the place was packed and again a bit overwhelming. Multitudes of shops all selling similar stiff but of varying quality and price, not, however, necessarily any correlation between price and quality which does keep you on your toes!
Dad really loved the experience. Neither of us have the shopping gene but we did manage to buy a couple of things and Dad got some ideas of what he wants to take home. He also learnt the lesson of when you see something buy it as one item (remains unnamed for obvious reasons) he saw for Mom he felt he'd look around for at better prices and unfortunately after going into dozens of shops all day didn't see another!
From the Bazaar we meandered our way, via back streets back to the hotel to drop off the purchases then back towards the Blue Mosque to visit the Topaki Palace. Unfortunately the gate to palace was blocked by guys with automatic rifles and little English. Clearly it was closed, the reasons unclear, perhaps some holiday but anyway in the Turkish way "maybe tomorrow"!
Now I should mention on Monday I purchased a "Museum Card" which was advertised as offering entry into innumerable attractions and discounts. To date it has got us into the Haghia Sophia (where I purchased it) and since then everywhere we go has signs saying Museum Card not accepted. So a cause for some mirth as we approach each new place only to find my great buy is looking less so.
Anyway immediately beside the Palace is the Carpet Museum and thinking the Museum Card would have to work there in we went only to again be greeted by the all too familiar "no Museum Card " sign. Anyway paid and in we went, fabulous insight into the history of Turkish carpets and rugs.
We then got intrepid and after a bit of a fight with the ticket/token machines (resulting in paying a little street kid 1TL- about 50c) we got on a local tram to the spice bazaar. Really crowded but the smell and sights of spices, Turkish delight and other delicacies was great. Purchased a bit of "pick,n mix" Turkish delight which we ate as we wandered around. Then back on tram (we're like locals now!) to hotel.
We decided to go on a cruise up the Bosphorus on Thursday so talked to the guy at the desk about what was good. He gave two options, one half a day and one a full day. Strongly recommended the full day so we went away to consider. On the way to dinner stopped by to say we'd follow his recommendation and go for the full day only to be told the half day was far better. Very confusing until we realised there are two managers both who look very similar. Anyway at very least we know now which manager has cousins on which cruise boat!!
Found a small Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel. Apparently Russell Crowe's favourite, he seems to be mates with the highly charismatic owner/chef who is a Turk but lived in Italy for a long time and whose son still works for Ferrari.
Great food and a great atmosphere so might go back when we return to Istanbul.
The quote of the day occurred on the way home when while navigating the back streets to hotel I remarked "amazing how quickly you get acquainted with a new city and can find your way around easily" only to look up, notice everything around me looked unfamiliar and so follow up with "where the hell are we??". Needless to say Dad was still laughing uncontrollably when we did finally get back to the hotel.