Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Here are some photos from Istanbul, to go with that timelapse, and the bad impression of Istanbul Modern!

After the rain of the previous days, and after repairing the bearing on my bike, we set off on the short ride to Istanbul. On the way we stopped at the Istanbul Park Formula 1 circuit, which looks run down and all the vegetation overgrown probably because it is not used any more. We couldn't get in and could only see the track from the roads that went past. After that we followed the confusing roads back to the D100, which is the free road in to Istanbul, all others were marked as toll roads, and anything heading north-south from this area was a toll road. After much looping about we managed to get on one of the toll roads we knew didn't have a toll at that point and back on the D100. The traffic was fine and nothing as bad as what people had said it would be like. Sure it gets stopped in places, but we were expecting Delhi and instead got [insert Australian city of choice here].

We went to a group of motorbike shops on the Asian side first, if we crossed over to the European side then on the way back we'd have to pay a toll, and we didn't have to toll card to do that. While at one of the shops they mentioned there was cheap accommodation in the area, I checked on wikitravel and found a hotel that had been reviewed not far from where we were. We were told it's better to stay on this side for cheaper accommodation and food, and we found out later that is correct.  We ended up at Hotel Zirve. The bike is parked on the street, but so far there hasn't been a problem. Just like in Nepal where it took an entire week for someone to steal my fuel, I guess.

A kebab place near the hotel.
After a day trying to find more motorbike shops for parts I went over to the Old City of Istanbul where a lot of the sites are located. I headed to the Blue Mosque first because that's the only building I'd heard about before.

The blue mosque.
While crossing this square I had the usual tout behaviour of someone walking next to me asking where I'm from, etc etc etc etc. I got bored of his questions and told him I'd been to India and he wasn't at their level yet. He then told me he was selling carpets, and I said that was great, but I don't want one and  didn't have a house to put it in. Then he asked why I would even come to Istanbul... Well, not for carpet? He got disinterested and said something else and then said "I kill you" and stopped walking, to which I laughed, which he heard as me saying something else and he called out "What did you say!". I informed him that he just threatened to kill me, and that I should probably be the angry one.

Bad panorama from inside the courtyard of the blue mosque!

Please don't sit here...

Lots of people waiting around. The mosque was closed for prayers and wouldn't open for a few hours. There were lots of people waiting.

After the blue mosque I headed over to the other side of the square to the Hagia Sofia which I knew nothing about and no one has ever told me anything about it before :D

Here it is.
There's a big line up for this one and you have to go through security to get in, but over at the blue mosque there's no security. Odd. The ticket into this one is 25 lira too.

A tablet inside.

Inside, it's big in here. Pretty impressive.

A hand print one of the guides was pointing out to someone else.

It used to be a Christian building, but has been converted into a mosque,

The walkway to the upper floor.

A photo from up here. It's still quite big in here.

Looking back to the blue mosque again.
After that I wandered around and next to these two buildings.

Obelisk of Theodosius, been here since 390AD, but is a lot older than that (though suspiciously restored looking)

The first gardens of the palace.

The gateway to the second gardens of the palace.

The fourth gardens!
Inside the treasury of the palace are lots of people, but behind those people are displays of jewellery from the royalty here. Lots of gold, lots of diamonds and emeralds. The diamonds were all unpolished, but there was one very large one there but not quite pink panther size... There were lots of different thrones on display for different uses, one made of gold.

I didn't go into the Haram, because there was an extra ticket, and there was a very long line of people.

This is part of the fourth garden area, where all the libraries and rooms celebrating victories are.

A library.
The next day I went to look at Basilica Cistern. Apparently this was rediscovered when locals could draw water up from the basements, sometimes with fish in the buckets. Then then discovered this was the source.


More inside.

One of the medusa heads supporting a column.

More reflected columns.
I went over to the Museum of Archaeology to have a look around.

The main building.
Just next to the entrance is a smaller building for ancient displays. This one had a mummy in it from Eqypt, and similar items. The oldest thing in there was from 2700BC, that's quite old.

Inside the main building, sarcophagusesesesesi. Everywhere.

Some of the carvings on a rather large sarcophagus.

There were so many displays in this building. Too many. I got lost and starting passing over most of it.
Next day, time to see more things. First thing was the Galata Bridge.

I was going to stop here and get a drink or eat something, but the touts are really pushy. One even grabbed onto my arm as I walked past. I don't think I'll be supporting that, lots of other people were though.

Galata Tower
The tower was interesting. I was expecting stairs in an old building like this, but there are two elevators, and a cafe, restaurant and nightclub at the top.

Broken panorama of the old city area. I accidentally joined two different sets here, but it still works, just not in the foreground.

Looking further towards the new city.

A road.

A lonnnnnnng mall with a tramway through it.
And thanks to beanhunter, I found kronotrop on a street just off this area. Finally some decent coffee since sending my swiss gold filter back to Melbourne!

French street. Grabby touts along here.

How they tow cars in Istanbul.
Not much else left to see in Istanbul. Should be moving on to Gallipoli for a night or two and then crossing into Greece or Bulgaria after that. 

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