Harem, Topkapi Palace
Istanbul was a very last minute thing - we found out from someone in
Varna that we were only allowed to stay in Bulgaria for 30 consecutive
days, and we were on the 29th, so we had to make a quick run away and
head over the border! The only problem was, we only found out
about three hours before our departure that we had to pay for a visa.
The bigger problem with that was this - I couldn't take any money out -
for some reason Bulgarian cashpoints are a pain in the arse and
refuse to accept my card. In fact, any of them, I am still yet to find
a machine in Bulgaria that will accept it! And my friend had no money
(think she was waiting for some to arrive in her bank account!) So, we
panicked, and naively thought we mnight be able to pay for it by card.
It was worth a try anyway! So, on arriving at the border (at about 4am)
we begged the innocents, and when we got told no they didn't accept
cards, we tried to bat our eyelashes and flirt with the border control.
That didn't work either. So we had to turn around to the nearest people
- thankfully a lovely young Dutch couple, and ask to borrow 30€ for our
visas on the promise of paying them back as soon as we arrived in
Istanbul. It was SERIOUSLY embarassing! Once we arrived in the city,
and we'd paid them back, we hopped on the metro thing and headed to the
centre. Our hostel was really close to the Blue Mosque and Topkapi
Palace (Bahaus I tihnk it was called) and had the most incredible
views over the top of the city if you sat on their roof terrace. They
had great breakfasts too!
Istanbul was very different to any of the other places we'd visited
before and whereas as in Croatia, SLovenia and Bulgaria, everyone
stared at my friiend as she is Burmese and therefore stood out from the
rest of everyone else, in Istanbul
, everyone stared at me, being a tall
blonde girl! We also had not planned on going there, and had basically
packed for a beach trip, so we didn't have very many modest clothes!
Which didn't help with the staring thing! We got a lot of hassle from
guys on the street offering us 'Turkish apple tea' or to 'visit their
carpet shop' and we spent our whole time crossing the roads to avoid
On the other hand, it was an amazing experience.
The atmosphere was so
lively and bustling, the history of the place is incredible as well.
Just visiting the Palace and the Mosque was fascinating. I really had a
moment when I walked into the Blue Mosque - it was so beautiful, with
so much history, and the atmosphere inside it was so calming!
We didn't make it across to the other side of the sea. We went there
one night for dinner and a few drinks but we never saw it during the
The Grand Bazaar was awesome as well - I don't tihnk anything I've seen
so far can compare with the atmosphere, the colours and so on. We had
such fun haggling for things - I came out with a light shade and a
shisha pipe (which got stolen 5 days after I got back from England :( )
But yes, I think next time I go (which I will - I didn't see enoguh of
the place - 3 days there really isn't enough to see everything) I will
take more conservative clothing, more money, go at a cooler part of the
year (it was seriously hot!) and go for a bit longer so I can make a
few trips to places nearby.
But yes, after 3 days, I'd had enough of
being pestered to be honest and really couldn't cope with staying any