Last night in Istanbul!

Good evening! Great last day here in Istanbul, still have a bit of a cold but I think it’s going away. Maybe. Hopefully.

My room mate left pretty early this morning so I had the room to myself when I woke-up, and it looks like I’ve got it to myself tonight – so go me on that one! Not that it makes a huge difference… luckily no one has been snoring too badly, and no one has complained about my alleged sleep talking, so all good.

Anyway got up for my normal, wonderful breakfast (which I’m going to miss) – still one more tomorrow tho! I’m also quite pleased with the showers here – lots of hot water, never any lineup for them, and I haven’t forgotten my shampoo once!!! Though I am almost out of body wash (and toothpaste), so I’m going to have to go shopping at some point soon, and hopefully find something that resembles what I have now. I tried bar soap, but as you can imagine, that didn’t go well.

So yeah, got up, hung around a bit after breakfast relaxing and then SET OUT! I went to what has quickly become my favourite doner spot up the road for lunch, had them make me a doner kebab wrap with chicken which was perfectly wonderful (and crazy cheap), then, inspired by Jennifer and Pravin yesterday, I decided to ditch the idea of a 35 euro boat tour and, since it was such a nice day today (it really was), walked along the tram line.

Ran into a beautiful park, where I spent some time and got to play with a few cats who were extremely friendly and quite happy to spend some time with me. Saw a few nice buildings along the way, and after about 15 mins or so got to the waterfront. A much better waterfront then the one I went to the other day, I might add. But anyway. Walked around and found a tour boat that was going on a 1.5 hour cruise along both the European and Asian coast line for 10 lira (the other one would have been around 80 lira). Nice cruise, lots of beautiful buildings along the way, and obviously, lots of pictures. So pretty good investment.

It was a bit cool on the water so after I got off I decided to take the tram back, which was quick and easy. Returned to the hostel for a bit, spent some time finalizing plans for Greece (booked a neat little hostel called Athenstyle), checked into my flight and picked an EXIT ROW SEAT! Whoo! Cheap first class(ish)!

After all that fun I had worked up an appetite for dinner so I decided to try a new place – this little restaurant on the corner that I had walked by a few times, but never tried. They didn’t have a menu on the outside, which is pretty rare here, and I didn’t feel like venturing in before, but it looked nice. So this time I ventured in, it was pretty empty… but I thought why not. So I ordered a pizza and a hot chocolate (and water – which everywhere charges you for! drives me crazy here!!!). The pizza sucked. To put it simply. The cheese wasn’t great, overall flavour was lacking, the “hot salami” was pretty flavorless… I was generally unimpressed. I mean it was OK, but certainly not… “good”. The hot chocolate on the other hand actually did provide me with the “wow” factor – I think I actually said “wow” out loud when I sipped it. It was very, very good.

But anyway – pizza not so much. So I finished about half of it before deciding that there was really no reason to eat the whole thing (cya!), paid my relatively expensive bill for relatively crappy food (tho again, good HC) and made a beeline for my little doner place. Got them to make me a to-go wrap, which they quite happily did for a whopping 5 lira, munched on that quite happily.

As I was walking back I thought that I hadn’t really had a chance to just “walk around” here all that much in the dark… it was pretty cold/wet most nights, and tonight was nice, so I just went for a stroll, turned on some music, and enjoyed the area. It was terrific! Such a nice way to wrap up the night… I ran into a little stand selling some sort of hot drink which has milk and all sorts of sweet stuff in it, apparently a very healthy and popular winter drink (called Hakik Sahlep), so I tried that for another 3 lira…. extremely thick, but really, really good (and hot!). So drink and wrap in hand, I strolled around by the blue mosque, stopped and played with some cats (even gave one of them a little bit of my wrap… he was quite happy with that) and just really enjoyed my time.

It is times like that which remind me how great it is to be here… especially weeks where I’m feeling a bit under the weather I sometimes start to get a little cranky, and this week was one of them, but tonight just walking around and marveling at the architecture around here, the beauty of the area, and just the massive difference from home, it really did hit me how happy I was to be here. It was terrific.

Strolled back to my hostel and came upstairs to chat with you, and that’s my night! Tomorrow I’ve got a crazy, psychotic 2 hour flight (:o) – the shortest one I’ve had this trip, I think, so I’m perfectly happy with that which will put me in Greece around 5om tomorrow. No time change (whee!!), there is a currency change (over to the euro now!), and I will be getting a SIM card while I’m there as it seems it’s pretty cheap and easy to do. I decided to stay 5 nights in Athens (got a good deal from the hostel), and then we’ll see how it goes and I may wind up going to one of the islands as well.

Few things to note about Istanbul before I sign off… not sure if I’ve mentioned them in the posts yet, but…

  • Love the streets. Just love them. You’ve probably seen them in some of the pictures, but they’re just beautiful. Pretty small, not terribly wide, but I think the nicest streets I’ve seen anywhere.
  • Everywhere I go, the buildings around me are jaw dropping. Beautiful. OLD! Nothing like home. And so well preserved/restored. Love it.
  • I’ve mentioned cats a couple times… they’re everywhere here. Wild cats, don’t belong to anyone, but not malnourished or sick, all looking quite happy. The locals seem to take very good care of them, you always see them feeding them outside the shops, and they obviously get lots of attention from people passing by. So nice.
  • Did I mention that you can take a walk to Asia from here? Turkey is on two continents – Asia and Europe. Pretty cool.
  • The culture, the people, the food – fantastic.

In general, really enjoyed Istanbul. I would love to come back someday. I’m sure it’s crazy busy during the warmer months… it would be wonderful to come and see.

So that’s it from Turkey! We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, may or may not wind up posting a blog entry depending on how I feel, but it’ll be nice to have breakfast here, not have to worry about an early flight, and I’ll probably get a bit of time to walk around as well, so it should be very nice.

Ta ta for now!