First full day

Istanbul Travel Blog

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After several nights of interrupted sleep and passing out in weird places, sleeping in a bed was only marginally successful. After a few hours, İ was up for a while before being able to pass out again. My muscles and back were better than when İ went to sleep, but my reserves were not refilled and İ´m sore and worn out again.

Day 1 in İstanbul consisted of blankly staring into space at the hotel for an hour or so. İ hadn´t eaten in 18 hours, my family in 12. İ had a piece of bread and the second our room key was provided a shower. Sweet, life-giving water. The focal point of civilizatıon since the dawn of time. The cool drink pool-side. The strong force that can wipe out cities. The answer to my layers of travel-grime.

We hired a personal shopper of sorts. Basically, her job is taking clueless Americans into the miniature city that is the covered bazaar and getting them to the quality stores and haggling for us. To make it worth it financially, you´d have to really be in the market to do some heavy purchasing. But the ease of not having to haggle, of not having to guess which stores were decent and which were scamming, of being taken directly to what you want and not having to fight the labrynth was pretty sweet. And after a day of travel where most of us had at least a marginally frustrating experience, critical to the rest of the trip being spent travelling instead of in Turkish prison for murder.

And İ got new shoes. Chakes. That is to say fake Chucks, but combining the words doesn´t work so well the other way. Now my feet are kicking it ould skool. At least İ´m not afraıd of broken bottles, which counts for a lot.

Dinner was pretty good, as was the gigantic bottle of water consumed afterwards. And then İ chilled on the rooftop bar of the hotel smoking cigarettes and talking to a German gentleman who seemed a fairly laissez-faire traveller.

Day 2, the first day where İ really felt like İ was in Turkey, started with a large breakfast and lots of water. We headed out to take one of the sightseeing buses around the city. The buses bring together a weird mix of the lazy, the scared, the infirm, and those with limited time. We fell firmly into the last camp, with more of the fırst than İ really care to admit. The weather was overcast and statements like, `Now if you look to your right you see the Princes İslands´were clearly pre-recorded. More accurately they should have saidş `Now if you look to your right, there ıs a boatload of fog, and fittingly enough, lots of boats. There are some islands over there; hopefully you did not want to see them.´

We got off the bus to wander around the primary people watching and shopping street just as the clouds opened up and the crowds decided to limit their stage to underneath awnings and bus shelters. Fortunately our 30 minute wait was filled watching an İMF protestor getting hassled by cops and firemen in a cherrypicker. He was 10 meters up a utility pole, so this wasn´t and unreasonable method of handling him.

The next bus had upper deck plastic windows that were so dırty the options were to shut them and be unable to see the city or leave them open and get soaked. We chose the latter for half of the cicuit before creating a third option - get out and wait for the next one while warming up over Turkish coffee and calamari. İt was a pretty solid option three until the next bus didn´t stop.

By the time we got up to Taksim again, the rain was gone but had apparently washed away everyone elses energy. İ was falling asleep in the seat which is why İ got off the bus to check out the goings on. Usually that means seeing people walking around and, if İ´m lucky, seeing something that makes me smile. Today it meant watching a large crowd of largely clueless Turks protest the İMF meeting coming here in a couple days and almost as many police keeping them in their pen. İt was pretty entertaining to see. There was one point when İ realızed the protesters were all around me and the police had us flanked. Fortunately a quick jog got me away. Because aside from the obvious fact that İ don´t want to be in a Turkish prison, everyone would have their own assumptions as to how İ got there and no one would believe the truth.

Back at the hotel, we relaxed, made it out for doner kebabs, smoked a nargıle (hookah) on the rooftop bar, and now İ´m writing. Decent day, even if we didn´t really see a single sight from the inside.

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Istanbul Hotels & Accommodations review
Rooftop bar is relaxing but the view isn´t spectacular (can see the water, but no monuments). The service is friendly and accomidating. The in room p… read entire review
8,411 km (5,226 miles) traveled
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photo by: Memo