Monday, June 05, 2006

back from Turkey - a summary

Well a bit over an hour ago we returned to our flat in London after a gruelling 11 hour trip from the time we left the hostel in Istanbul, to our doorstep in West Kensington - mainly because of a delay in our second leg flight from Munich to LHR, and then the ever unreliable London Underground maintenance contractor Metronet decided that this weekend was a good one to close down the section of the Piccadilly and District line between Heathrow and our home, meaning we were forever stuck on a 'rail replacement bus service' with our packs and stuff.. Somehow they hadn't heard that it was the last weekend of the half-term school holidays meaning the airport would be heaving with travellers - time to check the calender lads....

But, we're home. And what a brilliant week or so it was. I'll get into sorting the photos and writing up the blog entries I have in pen & paper draft-form soon, but in short this is what we did over the 9 days:

- Flew to Istanbul via Frankfurt. On our stopover at the big German airport we got to have order a beer with our McDonalds (a personal highlight for Dan). Arrived into Istanbul at 2am, and had a few beers on the rooftop of the hostel overlooking the Bosphorous until the sunrise call to prayer rang out from the Blue Mosque and then every mosque in the city. This was an unbeleivable experience, which nothing can prepare you for when you hear it for the first time. Carly and I just stood there together gazing across the pre-dawn city in amazement.

- Spent 2.5 days in Istanbul seeing everything we could see including the major mosques, museums, and monuments; and also did some looking through the Bazaar area and the surrounding chaotic side-streets. Ate some fantastic food and met some great restuarant staff and shop owners, and began a brilliant trend of having a cis kebab several times a day.

- Travelled south to Chanakkale where we stayed for two nights, giving us a full day to dedicate to touring the Gallipoli battlefields, cemetaries, and memorials. Amazing stuff that every Australian should experience first hand. Even better without the crowds of Anzac Day, and it gave us more time to do the place justice.

- Travelled south to Izmir, and onto Selcuk.

- Stayed 2 nights in Selcuk, where we had a relaxing time taking in the ruins of the nearby Roman city of Ephesus. Staying here meant we got to experience a small town vibe in regional Turkey with a lot less of the tourist scene. This was a highlight of the trip as we got to meet some fantastic locals, did some carpet buying away from the overblown prices of the big cities, and spend some time actually feeling like we were on holiday rather than stressing ourselves about when was the next bus coming to take us to the next town. A great place. Oh and we had a Turkish bath here at one of the locals Hamam's (Baths) which meant we paid a hell of a lot less than the tourist haunts in Istanbul. It was fantastic to have it done amongst locals who are there for the same thing.

- Travelled to Pumakkale and Denizili where we battled with the whordes of tourist tour groups to see what is left of the limestone cliffs now scarred by the masses of bikini-clad eastern europeans who come here to frolic in the natural spring-fed pools in their disgraceful g-string swimmers and pulled-up-high budgie-smugglers. We have photos. We also took a walk around part of the Hieropolous ruins nearby but it was an extremely hot day in this inland area s time walking in the sun was limited.

- Travelled back to Istanbul on an overnight bus from Denizili.

- Spent more time looking around the backstreets of Turkey, sampling some more great food, and making some purchases in the Spice Bazaar and the huge Grand Bazaar. We also took a ferry over to the Asian side of the Bosphorous so I could get some close-up shots of the Maidens Tower island/lighthouse which was scene to the finalé of the James Bond film 'The World is not Enough' - you know the bit where the bad guy parks a submarine under a lighthouse in Istanbul - well this is it.

- Had a great final dinner together before a few more Efes beers on the rooftop terrace of the hostel.

- After another quick walkaround in Istanbul this morning we headed home via Munich and into the chaos that was the Piccadilly line this weekend.

I'll get the huge stack of photos sorted (hopefully this week) and write up all the bits in between. We're home this coming weekend so it'll be good to just be at home and not have to worry about which hostel we'll be sleeping in next. Fingers crossed for some BBQ weather so Dan and I can test out our new Turkish cis kebab skewers!

As always, more to come soon.



At Tue Jun 20, 09:40:00 pm GMT+10 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a good time.


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