Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pragurkreece: The Part Where Istanbul Gets Two Posts Because There's SO MUCH OF IT.

Jet lag is way less noticable when you have to get up and go to Istanbul.

T is for Turkey.

Mike and I bought inflatable neck pillows at the airport, and they came with a complementary lost-and-found service.  This is not a useful service to have.  The wee plane from Prague to Budapest felt like a roller-coaster, stomach-wise, but there were free sample shots of Johnny Walker Black in the Budapest airport (obviously) and booze is great for indigestion.

Our Istanbul hostel was supposed to send a shuttle to the airport to pick us up, but many things in Turkey Do Not Exist As Advertised, so we wrangled public transit most of the way there.  A few stops before the stop we were supposed to get off at, the stop-announcey thing said a bunch of things in Turkish and then everyone got off, so we got off.  One does not remain on public transit in an unfamiliar country when the locals are scattering.

We found our hostel eventually, and even though it advertised AC our third-floor room had only a single, sad fan.  This single, sad fan was plugged into the only single, sad outlet, but it was 40+ degrees out so we could never turn the fan off while we were in the room.  If we wanted to charge something gadgety like a camera, it had to be done while we were out of the room.  Touristing.  With our cameras.

The advertised AC was in the common room, which was in the basement of a separate building.  We maaaaaaay have spent our first evening in Istanbul down in that common room, sampling Turkish beers and watching Turkish sports highlights.

Istanbul is hot busy and awesome and smells like bbq and looks like this: 

There will be a whole separate post later on trip eatings, but suffice it to say that even though my travel doctor told me not to eat the street meats, OH DID WE EVER EAT THE STREET MEATS!  We spent the second day poking around the Grand Bazaar, where street meats abound.

You'd expect from that picture that the Grand Bazaar would be thronging with people, no?  But it is way more shopping-mall than I expected.

Also, it is less hilariously cheap than the street stalls.  We knew that Istanbul was going to be our least expensive stop, shopping-wise, so even though everything we bought we were going to have to haul on our backs for two weeks, we got plenty of practice looking disgusted at a stated price and walking away.  Canada should permit bartering.

A mysterious distance away from the Grand Bazaar is the Spice Market, which looks like a lot of this:

And this:

And the perfumator let Leah and I pretend like we worked there.

We had dinner at Doy Doy which, guys, if you ever find yourself accidentally in Istanbul, eat there.  We started our meal on the 4th floor terrace like a bunch of suckers, but quickly scampered up to the fifth floor once we realized there were STILL MORE STAIRS!  You can see a lot of things from a fifth floor terrace.

Meta-photo!!  Seriously, the whole city was almost overstimulating.  I wanted to have way more eyes.  We couldn't stop looking at things, and could barely go back to our hostel because there's the Hagia Sophia in the dusk!

Tune back in tomorrow, where we see the Sopia in the daytime.

1 comment:

Mome Rath said...

My hostel didn't send the shuttle out to pick me up when I visited Istanbul a couple years ago either, so you're not alone. I loved seeing the pictures of the bazaars. Istanbul has great cobblestone streets and Islamic and Byzantine architecture, and it was neat seeing the boats going up and down the Bosphorus. Glad you got a chance to visit such an awesome city!