The Nazar, an stone protecting against the Evil Eye.
Today was the day we unfortunately had to leave Istanbul. Derk and I would fly home while Biedjee would continue his trip through Turkey and beyond. We had come to love the city, its history, the vibe and people like Bülent we'd come to meet. But all good things come to an end, so after we packed and had breakfast we checked out. Fortunately we had 5 hours left before Derk and I had to leave for the airport and there were still a couple of things we needed to do. First of all, souvenirs. We went back to the Spice Bazaar to buy a couple of boxes of Turkish Delight and other treats. I also bought one of those blue eye talismans (Nazir) that you see everywhere. Seemingly this is some sort of Turkish good luck charm that protects you against the Evil Eye.
Next we headed for the harbour at the Galata Bridge to try another Istanbul tradition: the local fish sandwich.
Grilling the fish.
Next to the bridge several small boats lay docked. Fisher men were busy grilling freshly caught fish and for 4 Lira you'd get yourself a piece of French bread with some salad and grilled piece of fish. Simple in construction but delicious in taste. And what else to do after an excellent couple of days of fun and friendship than close it off with a beer and one last nargileh at one of the bars beneath the Galata Bridge? I mean, we were in the neighbourhood anyway. Or had we planned it that way ... ;-)
At half past three we headed back to the hotel for Derk and I to collect our stuff. We said our goodbyes to Biedjee at the tram stop and were on our way to the airport. This return journey was a lot less stressed now that we knew how the tram and metro system worked and where we needed to go.
Men fishing from the Galata Bridge.
At the airport I bought two bottles of Yeni Raki and we had a last drink. In the airport bar prices had tripled; a glass of Efes was no less than 14,5 Lira here. That's almost twice the price I pay at home. What the f*ck is it with these airport prices?!
Getting back to Schiphol was uneventful and gave me some time to catch up on my blog. Getting a train back to Eindhoven to pick up my car at the office turned out to be more of a problem. The direct connection to Eindhoven wasn't running and I had to change trains in Utrecht and deal with some waiting in between. In the end, arriving at Schiphol at 22:00 hours, it took me more than 3 hours to get home. Quite annoying, but it couldn't spoil the magical past five days.
Istanbul was amazing! It's an instant favourite and right up there with Barcelona as the best cities I've visited in Europe.
Goodbye to Istanbul.
The atmosphere is great, the sights are stunning, the food is tasty (though not as spicy as Asian food) and of course there's nargilehs. We had five days of sunshine and a well filled program to keep us busy. The locals are quite modern and not as traditional in their dress and habits as countries in the Middle East. I could easily imagine spending twice as many days in Istanbul. You simply add some more excursions and sights and take the pace down even further. Istanbul is a perfect town to chill down, and there's so much more that we haven't explored and tried. So in true Arny style I'll end by saying to Istanbul: 'Hasta la vista baby ... I'll be back!'
Pictures by Biedjee, Derk and Ed. Click here
for the story from Biedjee's point of view.