Thursday, June 14, 2012

Not Constantinople

It's Istanbul not Constantinople and on a moonlit night I ate a Turkish delight (well I ate a Turkish delight sometime during the day). In Istanbul we teamed up with my sister Erika and her husband Paul. We will all be travelling together for the next month. First full day out we decided to go to the Blue Mosque which was just down the road from our cute hotel the Angel's Home Hotel. (Comfortable rooms, great breakfasts, very friendly helpful staff.)

A Minbar (like a pulpit)
We had barely arrived at the Blue Mosque when we were assailed by a friendly local offering to show us the Blue Mosque. While at pains to tell us he was not a guide and we were not to pay him, he soon had us at the front of the line and inside the mosque barely seconds before they stopped letting in visitors due to a special event that day. I must admit we would not have got in without him. What followed was a whirlwind visit where he took many pictures with my camera in places tourists could* not go and had us through just as they were ushering everybody out for the day, probably about 20-30 minutes in all. Once outside we were informed that he had a little rug shop and the least we could do was visit and look at his rugs. Nothing comes free.

His shop turned out to be a multi storey behemoth and as we were led to the third floor we were all feeling a little anxious. Fortutunately with the look of horror on Erika's face at the $6000 plus price tags on the beautiful rugs that started coming out and our stunned silence they lost all interest in us and we left fairly quickly. We learned that there are no free tourist guides in Turkey and did the rest of our exploring on our own.

View from the Galata Tower
The next two days were an amazing discovery of elaborate mosques, stunningly opulent palaces and breathtaking views from the 1500 year old Galata Tower centrally located in the city. Most of it by walking plus the occasional tram ride.

The last day was spent at Miniaturk, a wonderful village of miniatures of Turkish landmarks as they would have been seen in their heyday. It was really cool seeing these elaborately maintained miniatures with working cars, trains and boats and even a working miniature cable car going up a miniature mountain. Most contructions had a little pedestal next to them that would tell you the history of the landmark after you waved your ticket in front of the sensor. It was a fun day.

Having finished with Turkey we left for our next destination, Greece.

Paul and the Dolmabahce Palace
Shopping District
Beautiful gardens at the Palace
Have your Maccas delivered
Awww just because it was cute

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