Monday 21 September 2015
We flew to Singapore and needed to change planes from Qantas to Turkish Airlines but we both fell asleep in the lounge and woke to find that our second flight was already boarding. It was a bit of a hike to the gate but we luckily managed to get on the plane before it took off with a couple of others just behind us!!! We arrived in Istanbul on Monday morning at around 6am. We were stragglers (again!) to get to the luggage pickup and by the time we got there our two suitcases were standing alone beside the carousel. And everyone from the plane had gone but luckily our airport pickup was waiting patiently as we hoped.
Breakfast was ready in our hotel (Sirkeci Park Hotel) and we felt like we might have stepped into the last Marigold Hotel. The hotel was in a great position in the old part of Istanbul near the Spice market, the Blue Mosque and other sites and the staff very friendly and helpful. When other guests arrived for breakfast we were guessing who might be on our tour as we knew other tour participants were staying there as well. Our tiny room and ensuite made us think that getting out would be best… So we headed off to get some money and a ticket for the trams. Having conquered the ticket vending machine we got the tram to the end of the line and reached the Bosphorus which is the strait dividing Istanbul into East and west.
We were walking back and a shoe shine man dropped his brush. When we told him about it, he was very pleased and offered a free shoe clean but when we offered him some money instead he insisted it wasn’t enough!!
We then got the tunnel tram to the top of the hill and the Galata Tower. We wandered back down the cobbled streets with lots of cafes and small shops.There were lots of fruit stalls offering freshly squeezed fruit juice including pomegranite juice, all offering various advantages for your health.
On the return trip we found lots of restaurants sitting under a bridge and had our first Turkish lunch of octopus, calamari and yoghurt dip with Turkish beer. After we took the tunnel tram up the hill to the tower. Heaps of little streets, all mostly cobbled with dozens of shops, restaurants and cafes.
That night we met our group and guide, Genghiskhan. We had dinner with the group had food cooked in terracotta pots called testikebap. The posts were brought flaming and then the bottoms were sliced off, the contents removed and the pots smashed on the ground. Turkish food is yummy .