Day 23: The Return of the Inferior Zulus
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 32 of 260 › view all entries
April 28th, 2010 – by: Biedjee
And so, two weeks later than planned, I arrived in Istanbul by boat. Okay, the ferry ride was more like an hour and 36 minutes than 36 hours, but a boat is a boat. I had succeeded to (sort of) stick to my original plan.
Getting to the boat I first had to take a bus to the town of Yalova from where the ferry leaves. Incidentally this was the bus to Istanbul, which might even have gotten me to Istanbul quicker, as I had to wait two hours for the ferry to leave, but this couldn't bother me. I'd set my mind on a boat, so a boat was what it would be.
I was somewhat cross when I found out the same company also runs direct ferries from Bursa to Istanbul, but that was just a minor gripe.
Arriving to Istanbul by ferry is a wonderful experience. As you approach the city the skyline with the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque sticking out prominently looms up in the distance. My gawd that is a handsome skyline.
The ferry arrived at Yenikapi docks a good 40 minutes late. I had received a text message from Derk and Ed that they had arrived and were in the metro to the city centre. So rather than walking 2.5 kilometres uphill and trying find my way to the hotel I decided to take a taxi instead. Well, that was quite an experience. The driver had no idea where I had to go.
He had satnav in his car, so I advised him to switch it on. Turned out he didn't know how it worked! He searched for hotels in the area and got a non-alphabetical list which he tried to scroll through. With over 500 hotels in the area alone that wasn't cutting it.
It was a shared taxi, and he dropped off the other passengers first, then he asked some people in the street where my hotel was. We got directions, but ended up at the hotel Kebali, instead of the hotel Küpali. Once again I tried to explain to him he should enter the street address in his satnav, but he just wouldn't. So in the end I just programmed it for him.
I found the whole experience laughable. In the end the uphill walk would probably have been faster.
We had to wait for our room to be ready, and I think the hotel staff either wanted to get rid of us in the lobby, or they just liked us a lot, because they decided to give us the bridal suite with an extra bed added.
I must say, this is now the second time on this trip that I've had a jacuzzi in my hotel room. Backpacking ain't what it used to be! Not that I'm complaining of course.
And thus began the 2010 edition of the annual Inferior Zulu Road Trip. To explain the odd title to you: seven years ago we undertook a trip to the UK for a weekend convention organised by the band Marillion. We participated (and subsequently won) in a pub quiz for which we had chosen the politically incorrect team name, based on the Marillion song “Interior Lulu”.
As we only had half a day left, we decided to take it easy and acclimatise a little bit in the area of our hotel. And what better way to acclimatise than the bazaar?
Kapalı Çarşı, of the Grand Bazaar is busy, bustling, noisy and a quintessential Istanbul experience. The Istanbul bazaar will have a hard time living up to its hype though.
After a quick kebab lunch we followed our tour around the bazaar district and walked over to Beyazit square, a nice, pigeon infested square which has the Beyazit mosque on one end and the impressive gates to the Istanbul University on the other.
We walked around the University in order to get to another mosque which was recommended in our guidebooks: the Süleymaniye camii. Unfortunately Istanbul being the European Cultural Capital of the year means that they received a hefty sum of money for restoration works.
Instead we had to make do with the cemetery and a couple of tombs behind the mosque.
We finished our little sightseeing walk at the Lale Bahçesi, an open air nargileh and çay café favoured by university students. It was a nice place to sit and wind down at the end of the day and wonder about the crazy flavours of the nargilehs, and the weird colours of the tea (though after a while we more wondered about the crazy flavours of the tea and the weird colours induced by the nargilehs).
For dinner we went to the popular Hamdi et Lokantası restaurant, which boasts stunning views over the Golden Horn (a sea arm that divides the European side of Istanbul) and the surrounding mosques.
We had a nice selection of mezze, skipped the main course and went straight on to a delicious baklava dessert. The food was nice, but we felt a bit unwelcome here, the food was rushed to our table and before we knew it we were already staring at the bill, a mere hour after we had entered. (To clarify: mezze is not something you eat fast).
After dinner we walked down to the Galata bridge, which crosses the Golden Horn. Underneath there are dozens of restaurants side by side, and while touristy, these places do occupy one of the best spots in town.
Raki is the Turkish spirit of choice (it is an aniseed distillate, pretty much the same as Greek ouzo, or Syrian/Lebanese arak) and the three of us had a glass as a night cap.
We were all knackered, so we called it a day after that.
(you can also read Ed's Blog here)
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