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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Turkey - 30 September, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Istanbul (Hyatt Regency Hotel) N4102.449' E02859.345' 83 meters .
-  Blue Mosque . . . .
-  Hippodrome . . . .
-  Grand Bazaar . . . .
-  Sound & Light Show . . . .
Finish Istanbul (Hyatt Regency Hotel) N4102.449' E02859.345' 83 meters

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Total Leg 3:

4,807 km

Total Leg 2:

2,153 km

Total Leg 1:

3,018 km

Grand Total:

9,978 km

 

Weather: Mostly clear, sunny and hot.  Cool and windy in the evening.

 

 

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It is another day of sightseeing, but we decide to have a lazy morning and spend most of it in our hotel room just lazing in bed.  We finally grab a taxi around 11 AM and down to the old city across the Golden Horn.  Once again we meet up with Paolo and our first order of business is to have lunch - we end up getting a kebab at the same street-side stand as yesterday.  The vendor is a nice guy and shares a joke with us.

 

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Then it is off to see the Blue Mosque.  This was built by one of the Muslim rulers after their conquest of Istanbul.  It was meant to rival the size and beauty of the Hagia Sofia.  We have to wait a short while before entering as prayer time is just coming to an end.  As it is an operating mosque, there is no fee to enter, which is a nice change from the museums.

 

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It is pretty impressive inside - huge with the large dome in the center dominating the interior.  We sit down on the carpet for a while to just take in the feel of the place.  While it is big, it is not as ornate as we might have expected.  As we exited, they had a table set up where you could make donations - a much better system.  They also gave you receipts for whatever amount you donated.

 

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Just outside the Blue Mosque is the Hippodrome - the old stadium where the chariot races and other gruesome sports took place in the old days.  This was supposedly the center of the city and where most things happened.  The ruler that did not heed the mood in the Hippodrome was usually in for a rude shock.  Nothing much is left now, except for a few old stone relics.

 

We then decided to head off to the old main bazaar.  Rather than walk or take a taxi, we decided to try out the tram system.  We bought our tokens and then waked up onto the platform that formed the station.  The tram gave us a smooth ride (even though we did look out for the pickpockets that the signed warned us were around in abundance) all the way to the edge of the main bazaar.

 

Well, the bazaar is huge, bustling and full of stuff to buy, but we are disappointed.  After the shopping that we have done in Central Asia, this was not too our tastes.  The shopkeepers were overbearing, pushy and greedy.  It was a very unpleasant atmosphere, and we did not stay too long.  We checked a few of the historical elements that still remain from the ancient bazaar that has been on this location for over a thousand years and then moved on.

 

Rather than take the tram, we decided to walk back to the old town.  The walk was not as long as we thought and we found some pleasant streets to walk along.  We stopped off at an internet cafe to check our emails.  As we passed a few shops, we were dragged into conversation by all sorts of people.  When we turned down one shopkeepers plea that we visit his shop, his line was "Well, how will I get your money if you do not come in".  We just carried on.  Once while standing at a corner, a guy comes up and asks if we are lost.  We say no, but then he persists on talking and after a few short words tries to drag us off to a carpet shop that has "good deals."

 

We get back to Paolo's hostel late in the afternoon and just hang out for a while and talk.  Then it is off for a quick bite too eat.  It is hard to find a place that is reasonable and good, but after some searching we find a place that is not too bad.  After dinner we had back to the main square in front of the Blue Mosque for the nightly sound and light show.  It is free and we find some seats to sit down and watch the show.

 

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The show is a bit dramatic and long winded, but it does provide a colorful (both in terms of words and lights) history of the mosque.  At least during the show we are not harassed by any f the touts, but once the show is over, the touts that have been circling like vultures quickly descend on the group of tourists.  We are getting good at fending them off (we had lost, or rather suppressed, these skills while we were in Central Asia).

 

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After a short walk around the streets at night, we headed back to our hotel, where we dropped off our stuff before going out to check on what is going on around our hotel.  The streets are busy and filled with locals out shopping and dining.  It is nice to wander streets that are less dominated by tourists (and therefore has a more authentic feel and less hassles).

 

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