Sunday, 01 September 2019

The time has come for us to “get out of the house” as our friend Denny would say.  Unusually, we have a civilised departure time (at 18:00 hrs) so we don’t have to lose a night of sleep before we even get going like we usually seem to do.

The flight was all you could wish for, that is, uneventful.  We flew Singapore Airlines via Singapore.  Clive got no sleep on the first leg as he got hooked on watching the Chernobyl mini-series (five 1 hr episodes) plus dinner, so that part went quickly.

We had only a short (one and a half hour) stopover in Singapore at the cavernous new airport terminal which is so large it’s best to take the shuttle train the length of it, which we did, only to realise that the lounges were on the floor above the gate where we arrived.  It wasn’t worth making a second return trip the length of the terminal so we waited at the gate.

Monday, 02 September 2019

By the time we were ready to board the second plane it was about 03:00 in the morning Melbourne time so it was onto the plane and straight to sleep for the second leg only to wake up somewhere over Eastern Turkey.  We landed at 07:45 at the brand new Istanbul airport which is also gigantic.  It is about a ten minute walk the length of the baggage reclaim hall to get to your luggage and return to the customs exit.

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The airport transfer went smoothly and we were in our hotel by about 09:30.  We have a studio in a hotel “Karakoy Rooms” in a renovated century old building in the Karakoy district.  The hotel is conveniently located above one of our favourite restaurants “Karakoy Lokantasi”.

After a freshen-up our first call was to a nearby pastry shop for a Turkish breakfast of börek, baklava and chai.  Then we had to find the shop of a cousin of the travel agent (in Van Eastern Turkey) who arranged our tour in order to hand over a wad of US dollars in part payment of the tour.  It was, dare I say it, a carpet shop.  It seems that all Turks have some sort of a connection to a carpet shop.  Though this one was no temptation at all as it was a cooperative making new carpets - not our thing at all.  The shop was very near the Grand Bazaar so we popped in to say hello to our friend Erol in his carpet shop, Galerie Shirvan.

By early afternoon jet lag was starting to kick in so we retired to our hotel room to have a little lie down before dinner only to sleep through until Tuesday morning.  Damn!  Missed dinner!

Tuesday, 03 September 2019

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Despite our marathon sleep we are still affected by jet lag so we didn’t do a lot today either.  We breakfasted at a neighbouring café on a “traditional” Turkish breakfast – see photograph.  Just as well we ordered the “mini breakfast” as we would probably still be there eating the “maxi”.

We did some minor exploration around the Karakoy district – the hardware bazaar and the fish market.  All very exciting and at least away from the crowds of “tourists” flocking the big name attractions.  In addition to being quite hot, Istanbul is still very busy at this time of year and we have resolved never to come again unless it is in winter.  The trams are jam packed all day!

We trod the well worn path to Galerie Shirvan in the Grand Bazar to rendezvous with Erol for lunch and to look at a small selection of those “fluffy floor coverings” we are so fond of, but we were still feeling the effects of the trip, combined with it still being quite hot here in Istanbul.

We invited Erol to have dinner with us at our hotel this evening.  The food was good and Erol and Clive shared a good bottle of Turkish red wine.


Wednesday, 04 September 2019

After another hefty night of sleep our brains have finally caught up with our bodies here on the other side of the world so we can start doing things.  Unfortunately, the heat and our aversion to crowds puts us off repeating our visits to the “big ticket” attractions which, in any case, we have visited mostly two times already, so we are looking for more out of the way attractions.

After a breakfast at a very nice local “deli-café”, where we shared a Turkish breakfast and some eggs plus a few double shot coffees, we went down to the nearby Karakoy wharf to catch the 10:00 Bosphorus cruise.  It is about a two hour round trip up the Bosphorus to the second suspension bridge/Rumeli fortress and back which was pleasant and cool, but that is definitely the maximum length cruise that we would ever wish to do voluntarily.

Another visit to Galerie Shirvan.  We are happy to sit and look at beautiful carpets and Erol is happy to keep pulling out pieces he thinks we would like to see or that are in some way special or unusual.  We also usually get to meet other “regulars” that pass through on their visit to Istanbul.  This time it was a couple from Mumbai.

Dined again at our hotel restaurant/lokantasi.  Turkish food (as Greek) is based around a lot of small dishes (mezze) so you get to try lots of different things.  In fact many of the names are the same or similar.  There is also some similarity with Middle Eastern (ie. Lebanese, Jordanian) food so meal times are not too stressful.

Thursday, 05 September 2019

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We breakfasted at our nearby “deli-café” again, then walked down the road to visit the Kilic Ali Pasha mosque, built in 1578 – 1580, which is close to the apartments where we have stayed on previous visits.  Despite it being just across the road, we had never gotten around to going into this particular mosque before.  It is another by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan who built so many beautiful buildings.  We were the only people there apart from two guys vacuuming the carpet and we could have a good look around and enjoy the peace (apart from the vacuum, that is).

We returned by tram to Karakoy then took the Tunel funicular up to Istiklal Caddesi (the famous strolling street with the quaint old trams and a few foreign embassies).  We got off onto the back streets to explore, but by midday it was too hot to be pleasant out walking so we took a break with a cold lemon juice before walking back down the steep hill.

© Cheryl & Clive Miller 2019-20