Michael and Pam's Travels

Istanbul (part 2), 2015

Travelled: The Hymer has continued resting under a tree, while we do the leg work.

Visited: Istanbul

Stay: Unchanged from part 1.

Another noisy night in the car park but we get a fairly good sleep all the same. The call to prayer at just after 5.15 am has us awake.  As we are so close to the Sultanahmet we seem to feel it as well as hear it.  After a couple of very busy days in mosques and museum we decide to take a cruise on the Bosphorus on day 3.  This means a tram or a light rail if your a Sydneysider.  We have met a couple of like minded New Zealanders parked across from us and we have organised a drink for tonight.

 

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On board the ferry and ready to go. The huge mosque at Eminonu in the background.

On board the ferry and ready to go. The huge mosque at Eminonu in the background.  Our day ferry to the mouth of the Bosphorus on the Black Sea takes 90 minutes.  We are then dropped of to lunch and explore for 3 hours before the 90 minutes back to Istanbul.  It’s seems like a bargain at TL20 each after using our museum pass for a discount (told you the Lonely Planets worthwhile).

 

Another ship load of something probably from Russia churns by.

Another ship load of something probably from Russia churns by.

 

We lunch at Anadolu Kavagi a little village on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.

We lunch at Anadolu Kavagi a little village on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.  The food in Istanbul is generally a reasonable price, but the alcohol is expensive.  This place wanted TL20 for a glass of wine, so Pam said no thanks.

 

Everyone has had a neighbour like this at some stage.

Everyone has had a neighbour like this at some stage. Streetscape in Anadolu Kavagi.

 

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Eating out with Stephen and Gayle from NZ.  They have been on the road in their camper for 14 months. They have a blog Plimmerton’s Great Adventure. Anyway we had a great night swapping stories in a rooftop restuarant.

 

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Our 4th day in Istanbul starts with another walk up the hill to the Topkapi Palace.  Of the four major structures of the Sultanahmet district the Topkapi Palace is the most expansive.  Built in 1453 it was the home of the Otterman rulers until the new palace on the Bosphorus was constructed in the 19th century.

 

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The Guard House and Gate.  Lots of armed soldiers at various points around the Palace.  Interestingly we also saw and heard wings of 6 military helicopters flying loops around Istanbul several times during the day.

 

The outer gate of the Topkapi Palace.

The outer gate of the Topkapi Palace.  The layout of the Topkapi seems similar to the Forbidden City in Bejing. A gate into a courtyard and some pavilions, then another gate and more pavilions and so on.

 

Imperial Council Chamber

Imperial Council Chamber.  There are two very interesting museums at this point, one on weaponry  the other gifts and jewellery but unfortunately no photos.

 

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Except this one, just to give you an idea.  Cap-lock muskets with gold inlay, very nice.

 

The Harum was by far the best and most interesting of the pavilions.

The Harum was by far the best and most interesting of all the pavilions.

 

Entry into the room for the trainee concubines. The hand decorated tiles and features are amazing.

Entry into the room for the trainee concubines. The hand decorated tiles and features are amazing.  When I found out the eunuchs managed the Harum I lost interest in applying for the job.

 

Every room in the Harum had a fireplace, I suppose we never thought you would need a fireplace in Istanbul.

Every room in the Harum had a fireplace, I suppose we never thought you would need a fireplace in Istanbul.

 

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As close as you get to indoor plumbing in 1453. But it looked like somewhere to wash you feet.

As close as you get to indoor plumbing in 1453. But it looked like somewhere to wash you feet.

 

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Fancy dedicating a room for that !

Fancy dedicating a room for that !  At least the young Princes could enjoy the beautiful tiles whilst having the forskins removed.

 

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After a little rest we decide to visit the Kariye Museum (Chora Church) in the late afternoon.  It’s a bit of a treck however.  Tram to Eminonu, then a bus to the Kariye District.  The tram was easy as we catch them everywhere in the Old City, but the buses are more of a challenge.  Eminonu bus interchange was a very difficult until we found a supervisor who marched us passed 20-30 other busses and introduced us to the driver, “he will get you there” we are told and off we went.

 

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There is little point in showing you a picture of the Church as it is being renovated under a world heritage listing.  The whole Church has a giant steel shed covering it and what the corrugated iron isn’t covering, nylon netting is.  The Lonely Planet lists this church/museum as Istanbul’s ‘don’t miss’.

 

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The original Chora Church (Chora means country) built in the 5th Century has been renovated and expanded 5 times.  The most extensive including the addition of it’s wonderful mosiacs date from 1312.

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It is a jewel to be frank.  The mosiacs and frescos are not 30 metres up in some dark corner.  The church is quite small and therefore easy to see and take in.  Anyway our visit over we catch a bus back, then tram without a hitch.

 

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Our 5th day in Istanbul and our last this trip.  Between the dogs barking and someone playing their stereo at 3am, followed by the call to prayer at 5.15am, we decide to sleep somewhere else tonight.  Wanting to make the most of it we head for the Grand Bazaar at 8.30am.

 

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul. Mostly inside a series of ancient dome roofs building. It is a series of tiny laneways that crisscross each other in a maze.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul. Mostly inside a series of ancient dome roofs buildings. It is a series of tiny laneways that crisscross each other in a maze.  To add to the confusion it has a myriad of entries and exits.

 

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As we were early it was a pleasant hour or so walk.  People were very friendly, mostly they just wave or ask you to come inside and look at the carpet or leather jacket.  We found the buildings and it’s quirky features the most fun, like this fountain at one of the junctions.  Suddenly the place started to fill with Americans and we knew it was time to bail.

 

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Instanbul’s trams became our best friends.  The place is quite hilly and we always took the option of catching the tram up the hill while we would often walk down.  If you purchase a swipe card for TL5 and just continually recharge as you need, its TL2.15 per journey, individual tokens cost TL4.  So it a no brainer.

 

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Our last stop of the day Istanbul’s Archaeology Museum, just down from the Topkapi Palace.  It has three large building in the complex.  The items come from all over the old Otterman Empire.

 

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The displays are well laid out with desciptions in both English and Arabic.  One of the most interesting sections was the collection of items found during excavation and construction work in Istanbul itself over the past 40 years.  Must be a builders nightmare.

 

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Managed to grab a picture of these woman looking at me.

 

If you’ve read this far, good on you.  The Hymer packed and where off in the afternoon traffic across the Bosphorus into Asia, to spend a few days on the Black Sea coast.

 

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Michael and Pam

 

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