NOTE: Additions to the text in red were added during the report compilation, for the website.
NOTE: Sharon's comments will be in {curly brackets}.

Tuesday December 2, 2008. Day Trip to Istanbul. Day 16 of 21


NOTE: There are 62 photos of our day trip, and you can see them all at:

We're up at 7:00 or so, and I watch a hooded crow fly around way below our fourth floor view. Today we're going to Istanbul! {Yea! I have wanted to have time at the covered bazaar. Even though we have been there before, it has always seemed like we have gone for a particular purpose and not just been able to browse and get the atmosphere. Kind of like going to Oakridge mall with one thing in mind, passing up all the stores to reach your objective. Of course, you cannot navigate the covered bazaar unless you do have some objective. It is so large that you would get lost by just wandering, but anyway this has been my request that we go with Tara to shop and enjoy.}


Cihan drops us off at the bus pickup place in front of the Migros. The huge EFE TUR bus picks us up and makes a stop at the normal bus station. Tara has reserved our seats but not paid for them yet. She and I run in and pay. 11 ytl each, but if you buy two, you get the third free. Woohoo. It's about $7 a ticket, not taking credit for the one free one.

We're back on the bus and by 8:30 we're doing a turn on a cloverleaf from one highway to another. Down inside the clover, the grounds are designed to get your attention, and they do. {Some have sheep sculptures in them, some deer, one has a planted outline of Turkey like a map.}

We are geared for pouring, pickpockets and purchasing. At Tara and Cihan's recommendation - insistence, really, I am leaving my wallet behind, taking a credit card and money out, which I store in an inner pocket of my photo/birding vest, at the belt line. My umbrella is stashed in an outer net of my red backpack.

During the bus ride, we see a building with what seems like thousands of pigeons on it, and there are about another thousand on the ground feeding.

It takes about two hours to get from the bus stop in Golcuk to the ferry on the Asian side of Istanbul. The ferry takes off, headed for the Golden Horn, an inlet dividing Istanbul on the European side, and a natural harbor. I get great photos as we cross the water.

We are at the lower entrance to the Bosphorus, where ships enter from and exit to the Sea of Marmar.

We can see the Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofia (aka Aga Sof§a), the Blue Mosque, plus a couple more mosques undergoing renovation. Lots of high rise buildings. It cost 1.4 lira apiece to use the ferry. I see lots of gulls on the water, and a close check shows that they are all, every one, black-headed gulls, winter edition.


Topkapi Palace


Aga Sofia


The Blue Mosque


The Maiden's Tower


The ferry docks, and we are off, taking a pedestrian overcrossing (of a highway), aiming to get on a tram for the next leg of our trip. We buy our jeton (I used "gettone" earlier, but I think jeton is better) at the token office and get on the platform with lots of other people, waiting for our tram.

It comes zooming around a corner, and uphill towards us. Men rush across, right in front of it. I'm guessing several people get hit every year. It's a proceed-at-your-own-risk situation.




The tram stops in front of us but it's already packed. A few people shove their way on. I try to shove Sharon on (just kidding, you know), but there's no budging. Neither her, nor the crowd. We let this one go. {Actually, a man tries to help me squeeze onto the tram, but then I would be heading off without Bob or Tara, so I politely decline and back off. No telling where I would end up if I took off on my own!}

A few minutes later, another comes, and it is only half full or less, so it's easy on. The tram drops us off very near the Covered Bazaar, as I know it, but to some it's called the Grand Bazaar. At any rate, it's a wonderful madhouse of tourists, hawking salesmen, sights and sounds. {WE stop first to use the WC. I finish first and as I am waiting for Tara and Bob, a nice older gentleman comes up to me and compares his cane to mine, (I get this a lot in Turkey with people wanting to see my cane I got in New Zealand which looks a little like a snake as it twists like a vine) He is neatly dressed in a suit with a knit vest and he starts telling me about his family, a cousin who lived in Australia, a son who was tragically murdered, a son who just got married and his son who runs a leather shop here at the bazaar. OOPS, am I being hustled?

The (Nice) Hustler

That's what Bob thinks as the man invites us up to the shop for tea "You don't have to buy anything" he says. But he is a nice, interesting gentleman and we go to see the shop which entails climbing a steep flight of marble steps (all the walkways and stairs seem to be made out of marble which is interesting when they wash them or it's been raining. Nothing like slippery marble in the rain.) His son greets us in a shop filled with leather jackets, telling us if we don't like what we see, he can have a jacket made for us in one day. We politely decline and bid farewell to the older man who walks back down; I guess to talk to more tourists. (But I did like him and talking to him)}

We buy lots and lots of gifts plus some items for ourselves, racking up the footsteps. {WE have a great time at one shop with Bob playfully negotiating with the shopkeeper, a man about 26 years old, who likes to tease Bob back. Bob will say "bu ne kadar? (how much?) and Silem the shopkeeper will say "$125 for you", point to me and say "$100 for her", point to Tara and say "$60 for her because she is speaking Turkish" We end up buying some nice things from him and he keeps our packages while we go off for more.}


Sultan Silem, he calls himself.


I liked this colorful bottle display, at the Sultan's


We stop for lunch at a place recommended to us, and it's great. Mashed potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, kofte and more. We relax a bit, then it's back AT IT!

Some scenes from an intersection of two walkways of the Grand (aka Covered) Bazaar.


We finish up at the "Crazy Lady's Place," who turns out to actually be at the store today. Tara is interested to meet her. She's originally from upstate New York, but has been in Turkey for years, and must be doing very well. We buy more STUFF and Tara and the lady swap cards, friends' names and more.


The Crazy Lady and Her Two Workers, with Tara


Next we meet up with a fellow {Timucen} we met the first time we came to Turkey, or maybe the second time. He supplied Tara and Cihan with pashminas to sell, and it's fun talking with him. But finally we say goodby to him and are off to a place we've never been to before, the Spice Market.

The path to the Spice Market is actually a street, but there is no traffic, and it is packed to the max with people.


The Street to the Spice Market is Packed


It is similar to the Grand Bazaar, but threre are spice stores, or booths really, in competition with each other, but there are also jewelry stores and just about everything.


Scenes from the Spice Market

We buy some Turkish Delight, a jelly-like candy with finely powdered sugar on the outside, and lots more STUFF, and then we're off again. We stop at a sort of a sewing store, where Sharon seems to be in heaven. She buys more STUFF, and then it's out the door. A friend of Tara's has written two novels, and the first one features several scenes in the Pandeli Restaurant, which we pass.


The Other "Spice" Market is Actually Only a Yellow Sign which Seems A Litle too Specific


We finally make it outside, where we see a man selling European Goldfinches from a large, flat birdcage. We watch a man come up and buy one, which the salesman puts into a small paper bag, the top folded down several times.


Sharon poses next to a Camii, or Mosque, and likes the architecture of the minaret.

We then take the metro to meet Tara's telephone connection for the Turkish-to-English translation project she has finished. On the way we meet our first Christmas decorations of the season.


Green Bottles over Red Bulbs Make an Intriguing Christmas Tree


We meet Nancy, a very likeable person, and have tea and excellent conversation with her.

I try to use the bathroom, but none of the switches in the room turn the lights on. I go back to Nancy, and she says, "Light switches to bathrooms are always BEFORE you enter the room, so you don't fish for them in the dark," or something like that. Aha. I probably knew that, but forgot. When I finish in the rest room, I try to flush, but nothing seems to work. I remember NOT to open the faucet down below the commode, as I did in the Princes' Islands. But the lid to the tank behind the toilet is missing and you can see the mechanical works, some sticking above the toilet. I push on things, and pull on things, and rotate things, but nothing works. I close the lid and go to ask a young man how to flush. he comes in and strung over the back of the tank, in the far corner, a string comes out of the water and disappears behind the tank. He pulls down on that string, and the flushing begins.

Wait... What?

We finish our tea and cookies, and head out. {On our way we stop in a little room at the foot of the building that Nancy told us about. We meet Linda, who runs a book exchange here in Turkey. She started just here in Istanbul, with (I think) English books for people to read, enjoy and then exchange for another book. The idea has spread and now she sends books to other cities. She invites Tara to get one going in Golcuk and tells her she will send her some books. There are about 5-6 people in the tiny room and more come in as we are talking to her. The story Nancy told us about her is that she learned there were some Dutch young men in prison here for some drug offense so she started taking them books to read as they had nothing to do (It IS prison, you know) She would select books she thought would interest them, especially mystery-adventure books. Well, one time when she went there, the guards told her she couldn't bring anymore books because they were pornography!! I guess most mystery-adventure books have some sexual scenes and the guards didn't like that. So this nice, "little old lady" got in trouble. We got a kick out of that but didn't say anything to her when we were there because we didn't know if it was a sore subjdect. She invites us to take any books we want and Bob takes a Ken Follett he hasn't read yet. She is also the wife of the Irish consel} We take various kinds of transportation back to the EFE TUR bus station, buy our tickets and wait for the bus to come, Which it does. And we're off for home. Ahhhhhh.

Some "Going Home" Scenes follow:

Fish Market at the Ferry Dock


Waiting for the Ferry to Leave the Dock


Moon over the Mosque


The Camera Shutter Delay Light Show


F-F-Freezing on the F-F-Ferry


Heading Home on the Bus


When we get near home, Tara and Cihan speak over the phone, and Tara makes arrangements for Cihan to pick us up in front of Migros. Which he does, and it's home from the excellent, busy, tiring, invigorating, bargain-hunting day.

We show Cihan everything we bought, have a bit to eat, and then we settle back down into the calm, peaceful, snuggly apartment.

Double Ahhhhhh. Good night, Guys.


Previous Report
Next Report
Report Index