Istanbul Day 2 & 3 (Turkey Day 22 & 23)

Monday – Istanbul Day 2 – Turkey Day 22

Wow – I messed up my dates again – in my previous post I talked about Sunday (might) and Monday when in fact I meant Saturday night and Sunday all day. I have since fixed the blog entries. This is important because – well because it is.

Having spent Sunday (got it now) doing pretty much the heart of the old city of Istanbul I figured it would be a good time to do some shopping. How before you go all “you have to be kidding” on me – I though it would be important to see what was being sold for what price plus most things are closed on Mondays (hence my own confusion in writing this).

We started off for the Grand Bazaar and along the way we hit Constantine’s Column (which is different from the one from Sunday) and a whole bunch of merchants selling crap for all prices. We then entered the Grand Bazaar – it was amazing – such a fun time – we didn’t buy anything (yet) but its a maze of stuff – some good – some bad – some amazing – and we just threw ourselves into it and let ourselves get lost in the STUFF. It has over 4,000 stores! Crazy! And the area around it just creeps and gets larger and larger. After a few hours I needed some air and we ducked out into a side area.

We soon found ourselves in a part of town were there were not many tourists. I finally was able to purchase myself a vest (the kind the the men all wear here with lots of pockets) and Jenny found a scarf shop where the prices were VERY cheap (like $2-$3 per scarf) and then she bought a dress for $10 and a skirt for $10 and was very happy.

We then headed over to the Egyptian or the Spice Bazaar where we were told the prices would be cheaper and of course where we could buy spices. I had previously samples this wonderful tea in Guneykent that nobody could find for me locally. They wrote down the name for me and each vendor told me either no or that I was mistaken. Finally a guy sits me down – pulls out a big old book – looks in his cross referenced index and then says here it is – its Black Cumin. We have it as an oil or a tea. I purchased some for tea and then let him sell me a whole bunch of other tea’s and spices (which he vacuum packed). Its nice to have good service. Once we were loaded up it was kinda sad because no one had much to sell us – we did let one guy sell me some more spices and one other guy sell us some more tea. I tend to go for the more colorful vendors – if they tell me a good story or make me laugh then I will probably deal with them. Except the one guy who called me Professor (which I felt good about because he didn’t call me cowboy) and then said Professor Indiana Jones and proceeded to whistle the theme song from Raiders each time I walked by. We did NOT eat at his restaurant.

We left the Spice Bazaar to get some lunch and found a really nice china shop (not a little street market place but a real store) and got ourselves a quality set of tea cups for a good price. I also got another vest 😉

Heading back to the Grand Bazaar we wanted to head over the Book Bazaar. On the way we got stopped by some very aggressive merchants. Jenny ended up with shoes and I ended up with designer jeans (they really are Armani and there really where cheap). It was fun! We were tired though and didn’t get anything at the Book Bazaar and just came back to the hotel. I knew that Tuesday would be crazy (and expensive) and I wanted us to be well rested. Jenny was so sick of shopping (we did purchase more than we said we would) and I think it was good that we mostly got it out of our systems then. I budgeted one more day/afternoon for shopping though at the end of the week.

Istanbul Day 2- Summary:
Constantine’s Column
Grand Bazaar
Egyptian Bazaar
Book Bazaar

Tuesday – Istanbul Day 3 – Turkey Day 23

There are Castles to see in Istanbul – well right outside of Istanbul all on the Bosphorus and I really wanted to see them. Sometimes there is only one way to get to see them – spend money on travel. But you don’t fly around the world to get cheap on the taxis so here goes.

Out hotel arranged for me to get a taxi to Rumeli Hisari (also known as the Castle of Europe) located on the European side of Istanbul on the Bosphorus. The taxi drive drove like a bat out of hell (as they all do) and dropped us off at this really kick ass castle. This castle was built in 1452 in about 4 months. 4 months! The story is that the sultan gave each of his advisers one of the three towers to be responsible for and that if it wasn’t done on time that they would get killed. Talk about a DEADline. The castle was fun – you could walk everywhere (though NO railing) and it even had a wonderful amphitheater.

After our walk around the castle we stopped for lunch and then I flagged down another taxi driver. He understood what I wanted to do and he drove us across the suspension bridge that spans the Bosphorus and drove us to the Asian side of Istanbul. Drove us over a bridge to another continent – how cool is that. Anyways on the other side is a slightly older castle (though now in total ruins) called Anadolu Hisari (or the Castle of Asia). He stopped and I took some pictures and then he drove on and dropped us off at a local ferry stop.

At this point (about half way up the Bosphorus) we boarded a ferry that took us from town to town up the straight to the Black Sea. We didn’t get off however until we hit Anadolu Kavagi (a small fishing village) and the last stop on the ferry. When we got out we found a taxi driver and asked if he could take us up the mountain to the castle (yes another castle) and he laughed and said that’s all he did all day – drove people up the mountain and waited to take them back down.

He then drove us to the Yoros Kalesi which to be honest looked a bit better from the water as there was an excavation team working on the place (securing it with gates and digging areas up) so we could only walk around a little – the view of the mouth of the Black Sea was pretty cool though.

When we got back to the taxi he asked us if we wanted to see some other sights since we had some time before the last boat left and I said yes (which was slightly foolish since I didn’t negotiate a price first – but sometimes you just have some fun). He drove us much further north through area that was all NATO and previously off limits (signs were everywhere!)

He dove us further on until we hit Beykoz and the Lighthouse of Anadolu Feneri. Regretfully they had just closed and he took us instead to some really nice cliff overlooking not the Bosphorus but the Black Sea itself! It was really worth the extra time and money to get a good look at the Black Sea. He then drove us back a ways and we stopped at Poyrazköy where we saw the beaches (its where the tourist ferries drop people off to swim for an hour). He then drove us back in town for the last ferry home. When I asked him what I owed him he quoted me a price way higher then I would have expected (for as he put it the “tour of the Bosphorus and Black Sea” and while I could have argued and even gotten some off it wasn’t worth the effort – he gave us a great time and I wasn’t going to ruin my day with the aggravation. I think he was shocked himself when I didn’t say anything and just paid him what he asked. And to be honest it wasn’t really that much.

This time we would be taking the Ferry the entire length of the Bosphorus. For most of the trip Jenny read and I slept (as we had done this already and I was tired). About half way through I got up and started to photography the castles we had seen earlier from the water (with mixed results) and then shot the palace’s we passed along the way. I was so inspired by two of them I decided that we would do them the next day! When we got back to the old city we were quite a ways from the hotel – we started to walk (as we hadn’t played with the tram system yet) and a taxi picked us up. Jenny got in the front and I got in the back because we were in the middle of the street. When we got to the hotel he asked for WAY too much money and I realized he was bad taxi driver (a real driver but either a bad meter or he hadn’t reset it before we got in). I told him he was cheating us and offered him much less money (though a tad more than the real price because I wanted him to accept) and he did. Later Jenny told me he kept trying to GRAB HER LEG – he kept touching her with his pinky when he was shifting (and then when he wasn’t)! She was smart and just shifted her body out of reach. If I would have known I would have done something stupid to be sure!

That last part aside – it was a pretty successful day.

Istanbul Day 3- Summary:
Rumeli Hisari
Anadolu Hisari
Yoros Kalesi
Anadolu Feneri Lighthouse
Poyrazköy Beach

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]