Turkey Trip: Day 9 – Back to Istanbul

Our hotel in Bolu was up in the mountains so in the morning we were treated to a fog and chilly weather of around 12 C.

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I was standing outside in the cold having fun like an idiot.

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Camera about to be attacked by a kitten at the hotel lobby.

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Scenery on the way down the mountains, taken while on the bus. As we descended downhill the fog cleared up.

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Back at Istanbul, at the Bosphorus Bridge. I think it will be a long long time before I can be in the shoes of the couple; I thought it would make a decent picture so I moved ahead of the crowd and snapped this, feeling depressed/envious at the same time.

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We took a ferry for a ride they call a “Bosphorus cruise”. The ferry travels between the continents of Asia and Europe while you get to view some riverfront scenery and hear how expensive the properties are, and all the opulence surrounding the area.

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Thanks to Google’s image search, this is Ciragan Palace, now a five star hotel, a site of utmost decadence.

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At the end of the ferry cruise we walked to the Spice Market. Most of the aunties in the tour group had already been voluntarily ripped off earlier in the trip so there wasn’t as much to buy, but that didn’t mean they left the place empty-handed.

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Inside was filled with tourists and shop after shop selling pretty much the same thing as everyone else.

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From there we went on to Topkapi Palace. There was quite a bit of history surrounding the place, details which I have cleanly forgotten.

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And our last destination was the famous Grand Bazaar. This was taken at Gate 1 but there were more than 20 entrances to the place.

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We were given two hours to explore the huge area. I’m not sure whether we covered all the alleys; despite the many stalls they were mostly selling jewellery, clothing, and traditional Turkish stuff. We mostly milled around aimlessly, trying to cover as much ground as possible. There was an area marked out as the Old Bazaar, and we also got into areas deep inside the labyrinthine paths where people ignored no smoking signs and overwhelmed the air conditioning with cigarette smoke. Unfortunately I wasn’t interested in shopping – even if I were to be remotely interested in clothing being a tourist attraction it was likely that bootlegs were being sold just like the previous places we went to.

Our dinner was at a Chinese restaurant, and then we went to our last hotel, Crowne Plaza. It’s a place with another one of those huge grand rooms but at least with more practical decor. Day 10 was the flight back home. I was inspired to write some cheesy reflections about the trip but by now I’ve already forgotten. 😛 I think it was something along the lines of how disparate the distribution of technology was in such a large (compared to ours) country, and something about food in the culture of different countries. In the rural areas you can see farmers tending to their land with a wind farm in the distant hills, or LED signboards amongst old architecture in more populous areas. I’ve heard that internet penetration in the country isn’t very high so it seems to tally with my observations. And about food, I ate pretty much everything Turkish that was dished out unlike most others who gave up about three days into the trip and started eating their own instant noodles or canned foods. I think a great way to experience a different culture is to eat their food. Sure some of their tastes may not suit yours, but it’s still a valuable, fun experience.

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