10 Aug 09
After landing in Turkey we all went through to passport control. We all, one by one, were then told that we needed to walk over to another desk first and buy our visa's. This all went relatively smoothly except for when I was in the visa line trying to equalise my ears. My right ear never adjusts properly and was feeling pretty “full”. I sqeezed my nose and blew, my ears equalised to what felt likee way too much and I was sure i'd blown half my brain out my ear. A few seconds later I started to get really faint and had to squat down to avoid falling over. The last thing I wanted to do in the immigration queue at Istanbul international airport was pass out, that screams druggie to every one.
Once through customs I sat in Gloria jeans and grabbed a coffee. I'm not sure if its 1 Aud equals 1.1 TL, turkish lira yet so i'm not sure if I paid 10aud for my coffee or 5. I hope its the latter. After that I went down to the metro station. It was 0530 and it wasn't open yet so I propped my pack up against the wall and half slept for another half an hour.
The train ride cost 1.5 TL for the token. I couldn't work out where to put it in the turnstyle as everyone else had cards that they were swiping so I couldn't just copy any one. The train ride was about 30mins and I was pretty sure i'd taken the wrong one. At a stop which I thought was half way everyone got off the train, one second it was full and the next it was empty. Wondering what the hell was going on I backed myself and stayed on the train, I was right and 15 minss later we pulled up at the end of the line. A short 2 k's from the centre of town.
The two k's threw me a bit. The packs still a bit stiff and i'd clipped my day bag onto the back of it. This meant that it weighed about 27kg and that the centre of gravity was well away from my back. I still hate using the waistband and as a result 30 minutes later when I arrived at my hotel my shoulders were pretty sore.
I'm in my hotel room now, a single room on the 3rd story of a back street of Istanbul, carrying the pack up the stairs was easy, the conceirge did it for me. I usually hate having my stuff carried, I feel lazy. But befor I knew it he was attempting to shoulder my pack while his mate and I could only laugh as he almost overbalanced and fell over a set of tables trying to lift it.
The hotels an old place called the sopihi hotel. It's really old and some parts of it are really vintage and beautiful while other parts are... well... just plane old. The shower for example stank, I'd originally forgotton my thongs and decided not to worry. The stench soon turned me around and I went and got the blastered things. I hate wearing thongs in the shower. Its so uncomfortable!!
This place is crazy. I'm super anxious about this trip. I just want it to start. This morning after I got to the room I just wanted to sleep but I was too excited.
After getting out of my room I headed down to where the aya sofa and the blue mosque is. These buildings are fantastic, old and extremely beautiful. Everywhere you walk around there, there is a person trying to sell you water or a more elaborate souvenier, either one of those short cylindrical hats or some type of pipe.
I roamed around there for a bit and decided to grab a coffee. I sat at one restaurant and 15 minutes later I was drinking a beer and eating a kebab. The kebab was fantastic. Not one of the greesy 3am in the morning ones you get from town hall kebabs in Brunswick, but a decent one, which didn't make me feel sick.
After the kebab and the beer I decided to go inside the Aya Sofa. Except when I got there the line was about 100m long. So I went and sat beside the fountain near the blue mosque. I found a vacant seet and soon found out why it was the only one empty in the middle of a packed garden. Thhe wind swang round at one point and I got just short of satched. Lucky my camera's water proof.
I was starting to get pretty thirsty, and the lonely planet had recommended a bar near where I was so I thought i'd go and find it. It was down some great back alley's, not filthy ones but clean streets with interesting shops. I finally found the sah bar. I ordered a beer and after 10 minutes of the barmen having to drag in a new keg and change it over I got my pot for 6tl, about 4.5AUD. The beer here is pretty expensive but the food, coffee and everything else non-alcoholic is pretty reasonably priced.
After that I headed back to the Hotel, I wanted to try and have a nap. Again this wasn't going to happen. So I was soon up again. I was walking out the door when a big fat guy called out to me. He spoke no english and just guestured for me to follow. He took me down a hallway of the hotel and guestured for me to enter a smaller office, with an even fatter more turkier guy sitting behind a desk. This guy showed the emotion of a rock and grilled me for about 5 minutes as to what I was doing why I hadn't paid etc etc. He demanded to see my receipt, which I only had in soft copy on my computer.
I opened up my computer and opened up the adobe file. “What is this?” He asked repeatedly. I told him its the invoice. “can you make it go down he asked. I pressed the down arrow, the page scrolled down and he then took over, pressing the tiny down arrow with way to much force as if to make it scroll faster with his chode finger until he found what he was looking for. He was a fast learner.
He made a few phone calls all the time talking/yelling in Turkish, which although i'm sure it was quite polite it still sounded like he was describing murdering his step mother. Finally in walked a tall gorgeous lady with a sheet that had something to do with top deck on it. She introduced herself as something which I cant pronounce and just told me to go with Laety. I think. She's the tour guide for the trip.
Anyway long story short. Because I only booked this trip 2 weeks ago Laety didn't have my name because the full tour has already been going for 20 something days. Finally we got all that sorted, I was introduced to the driver, a brian I think, maybe Australian, and Laety gave me a little of the low down. Todays a free day so rack off till 6 was a far less polite way of saying what she told me.
I have to admit I didn't expect a female tour guide, I was kind of hoping for a larikin smart ass, but i'll see how this goes.
At the moment i'm sitting in a Turkish cafe. I'd seen a bunch of business men drinking coffee this morning out of a short hourglass shaped glass. I asked the waiter for the coffee in the glass shaped like this, very poorly imitating the shape of an hour glass, the waiter looked at me like I was an idiot, nodded and said tea. I nodded back and he disappeared. It was good tea though and only 1.5Tl.
This is gonna be sick. I went downstairs before and introduced my self to a few people down there. A couple of Kiwi's. One of them, an engineer called George, jumped on this trip after he broke up with his Girlfriend in London. He was going for a feed so I thought I'd join him. We grabbed some meatballs that the lonely planet was raving about. Massively over rated, but I spent the whole time picking his brain about the trip.
0906 (10 Aug)
This trip is gonna be awesome. Last night was so much fun. Haha
Yesterday arvo was pretty quiet. I just sat around the hotel feeling anxious and ready to start. At 1800 all of us newbies met in the foyer and a good chunk of the people who had been on the trip for a while came down as well. We speared away into the dining room and did all the introductions with Letty. She's pretty funny She's from spain and her english is a crack up, her colloqual collective noun for the tour is my lovelies.
Because we're going through eastern Europe all the guys on the trip are growing moustaches. Therefor we all have to try and grow some upper lip hair. I hate moustaches, I think they're the filthiest thing ever but I guess i'll give it a crack. I'm already way behind and will most definitely be awarded last place, but i'll get over it.
After the spiel last night a massive bunch of us went to a Restaurant up the road for tea. It was great there was a turkish band there playing a guitar a hand drum some flute thing and a tambourine. The food was great too. My mixed grill kebab and apple tea went down a treat. The kebab came out withh all the stuffings on a plate with the wrap thing on top. George and I weren't sure as to go about it so we ended up holding the brread to the stuffing on the plate and flipping the whole thing up down and then wrapping it all together.
From there we went up the road to a place does that does the best baklava it was awesome. A couple of the girls had been there a couple of times befor and they new the guys behind the bar. Turkish men are the sleeziest guys on the planet. Admittedly I haven't been to France yet, but they'de have a lot to compete with.
Soon after we headed towards where George thought that a place called cheers bar was. We got lost and ended up asking for directions. Cheers bar was full so we sat in the bar beside it, an equally small place called Just bar. Beers were only 6 tl but we managed to get 2 free water pipes and as much pop corn as we wanted thrown in.
It was heaps of fun there and the girls were all pretty lively. One of the girls, candy, was leaving that night so they were all enjoying themselves pretty hard. Most the girls left to take candy back to the hostel at about 11 but myself, morgan and his girlfrien lisa, George, Rosie and another girls whose name i've forgotton, stayed around. We drank there for a while and endied up calling it quuits to head back to the bar. The whole night only cost us 204 tl.
We were about to walk around the corner to the hotel when George stopped, “i dunno about you guys, but I could really go another beer.” Myself George and Morgan turned around and headed for the nearest bar. At one oclock on a monday morning in downtown Istanbul. We tried a few restaurants that were closed and were pretty keen on not letting us in. Then out of the blue this kid, who looked like he was about 12 showed up with a bucket of water bottles. We ended up paying him to take us to Sah bar, the bar where i'd spent the arvo.
Sah bar was pretty full. I was the only one of us with any Turkish Lira left so went up grabbed 3 beers and returned to a table that the other boys had grabbed. We were sitting at a table beside a couple of turks we couldn't pronounce there names so we just called them 'the owner' and 'moustachio'. The former was clean shaven so we presumed he owned the place and the latter had a moustache, so moustachio it was.