Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Final European Post

Istanbul (previously Constantinople, Byzantium etc)
It was only just over an hour mini-bus transfer to the Kayseri (Caesura) airport for our Pegasus flight to Sabia Gochen Airport on the Asiatic side of Istanbul. The 50 euro transfer to the Sultanahmet was compensated by the cheap air tickets. The young driver put F’s hair on end with his constant texting, talking on the phone, driving right in the middle of the 2 lanes and speeding – glad we got there safely. We arrived in Istanbul and then had a one hour drive by car transfer to our hotel. The Turkoman Hotel is not listed on but for total convenience it was excellent with roof dining overlooking the Blue Mosque. It kept us fit as there is no lift, it’s only drawback. It is situated in a quiet street two houses above the Hippodrome, between the two Obelisks. This is the quiet uphill side of the Two Mosques, the lower side neighbourhood has more noise with traffic and crowds.
Monday afternoon we explored the outside of Blue Mosque, the Arasta Bazaar and towards the Fountain between the two Mosques (Blue & Sophia). Then it was the main street with trams towards the Main Bazaar for a recon of future shopping expeditions. To escape the bustle we walked down a narrow side street and into shoe traders sanctum. It was Turkish barter as truckload consignments of shoes were broken down and deals struck, then repacked for shipping. Street after narrow street were packed with shoe boxes and traders. We collapsed back in our room with the cool air conditioner and a cold drink.
Tuesday was a half day cruise on the northern Bosphorus, we were transferred to the boat for lunch in a thunderstorm and we got to wear our GoreTex coats for the fourth time of our vacation. The rain had cleared by after lunch and we motored along the Bosphorus with three ½ hour stops at local villages, with the last at the start of the Black Sea. We climbed the hill to the old fortifications above the sheer cliffs, overlooking the slipway where we later checked out the bargain boats but our favourite was inconsolably beyond repair.
On Wednesday we did a Circuit of the Hop-on Hop-Off open air buses with a stop at Taskim Square for morning tea. The afternoon was spent lost in the Grand Bazaar with the carpet touts. F was concentrating on the prices of everything except carpets, mainly jewellery and pottery. We enjoyed a dinner next to the Hippodrome where chariots had raced some millennia before.
Thursday was Mosque and action day – spend those leftover Lira and Euro, nothing was to be brought back (or converted to Aussie dollar). First on the agenda was the Blue Mosque with it’s religious significance followed by the Agria Sophia (the largest building of the world for over a thousand years). The Arasta Bazaar took the last of the Lira as we had checked out our prices for the last of the pottery. The Airport transfer at 4pm for our Emirates flight saw us leave Turkey with a good feeling that we had somehow connected with it’s people, customs and land. The flight back to Samoa had few highlights except boring hours, which movie to watch (True Grit, Sahara, ….. ) and airport lounges at Dubai, Singapore and Brisbane. We splashed out for a few hours of sleep at the Airport Novatel in Brisbane and caught up with C&C, before our last Pacific leg.
So this is the end of Our European Vacation 2011, we have enjoyed the experience, the broadening of our outlook of this amazing planet, the friends we have made if ever so shortly, our memories will be helped by the twelve thousand plus images we have retained and the amazement that the planning and arrangements worked so well.
Thanks to those from Coolum & New York who recommended accommodation.
Back to the Pacific
Places we stayed –
LONDON – Travelodge Drury Lane, Covent Garden – two hotels opposite each other. Not on
They were actually cheaper than any other listing.
All others on (except Turkoman)
PARIS – Home Latin
AMSTERDAM – Hotel Prins Hendrik
Gronigen – Hotel De Doelen
Rotterdam – ART Hotel
Selcuk – Jimmy’s Place
Uchisar – TakaEv
Istanbul – Turkoman Hotel – website and email
Rhine Cruise (Amsterdam to Budapest) with Scenic Cruises
Car Rental – Sixth (Office in underground carpark outside Amsterdam Railway Station next to Van Gogh Coffee Shop
Our apologies for the late post as Blogger has had some login problems.