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Turkish Delights…..

Monday 7th July

Checked out of hotel at 12, went over to Ankur’s and watched Gravity in 3D, apparently another film I have to watch for my life to be complete!! Lol

At 3pm we left and Ankur dropped me off at Delhi airport….talk about Deja Vu!

This time I was definitely leaving India for a while, no coming back the following week as my visa was shortly going to expire! So I said an emotional farewell to the country I love, oh and Ankur and headed towards my 6.20pm plane to Mumbai.

Flight, thankfully, was uneventful…no turbulence! Arrived in Mumbai at 9pm and waited for Kirsty who flew into Mumbai from Kochi at 10pm.

We met up at 11pm and grabbed a bite to eat and drink and chatted about each others previous 10 days events…we skyped Atilla who was to be our first Couchsurf host in Istanbul and then I skyped Gimpus (Simon as he is otherwise known!) lol

At 1pm we checked in for our flight to Doha.

Tuesday 8th July

Our flight to Doha left about 4.40am so we had a long overnight wait at Mumbai airport and passed the time chatting, wandering and eating KFPaneer! (KFC!)

The flight to Doha was 3 hours and upon arrival we had 7 hours in the airport until our last flight to Istanbul.

We were beyond tired so found a room with some semi recliner leather chairs and crashed out for a couple of hours sleep! When we woke we were starving so wandered round to the food court area for breakfast and free airport wifi.

Again we passed the time shopping, chatting, eating and checking Go Pro prices in duty free for Ankur.

Finally we boarded our plane to Istanbul and after the 4 hour flight arrived in the asian side of Istanbul otherwise known as Constantinople or Byzantium.

We grabbed a taxi to our hotel and checked in and slept until evening, ordered dinner in the room and crashed out again.

Wednesday 9th July

Woke at 9am after a solid nights sleep and the first decent one in days! We showered, grabbed breakfast then checked out, leaving our bags at the hotel.

We went for a walk along the harbour front at Pendik before walking an hour and a half to a shopping centre, we wandered the shops grabbing bits that we needed from a turkish equivalent of Superdrug, a cheap lunch in the turkish equivalent of KFPaneer/KFC….no paneer on the menu…only chicken but the young lads behind the counter did throw us in some free falafels!

We then wandered back to the hotel, grabbed a taxi to Kartal metro station and met Atilla our first Couchsurf host. He drove us back to his place and we chatted for a while about us, our travels and Turkey. He then made us a wonderful dinner of chicken, vegetables, pasta, bread and watermelon! Afterwards we sat chatting some more about travelling before hitting our ‘couches’ at 1am.

Thursday 10th July

Early start to the day as had to leave the apartment with Atilla, who leaves for work at 6.45am! So off out early we took the metro, metrobus and another metro to Taksim Square and grabbed ourselves some breakfast in a turkish equivalent of Starbucks.

After breakfast we roamed around Istanbul, taking in beautiful side streets, a greek orthodox church complete with stray kittens who were being fed and looked after by the local people.

We then wandered off in the direction of the Galata Tower and had lunch before wandering up to the tower and climbing up (ok lift most of the way and stairs for the last few flights!) to the top for amazing views of both the european and asian sides of Istanbul.

We then descended the tower and wandered across the Galata bridge and headed to Sultanahmet area to see the Hagia Sofia and the blue mosque.

We wandered inside the Blue mosque before heading for some dinner and then took a slow walk through Gulhane Park before watching the sunset over the Galata bridge on our walk back to the station to get the Mamaray train under the Bosphorus and back over the the asian side of Istanbul.

We got the metro back to Kartal and met Atilla at 10pm, he drove us back to his and we chatted about life, travel, politics and religion until 1am and then crashed out.

Friday 11th July

Again, up at 6am and out the door with Atilla at 6.45am, he dropped us at the metro station with our rucksacks and we headed over to Sultanahmet and checked into our hostel and slept until 2.15pm! Luckily we were in a 6 bed female, or so I thought, dorm and no one else had checked in so we were able to do some washing and get changed before popping out for late lunch.

After lunch we sat in the park/square by the Hagia Sofia before jumping on the tram upto Taksim area.

At 8pm we met Cem, our next Couchsurf host and we went for a drink with him to suss him out before committing to staying 3 nights with him! Lol. As it turns out he is a lovely guy by the way…

Cem walked back with us to the Galata bridge and waved us off on the tram back to Sultanahmet. We reached Sultanahmet, grabbed an ice cream for dinner and sat outside the Hagia Sofia watching all the evening Iftar action.

We headed back to the dorm and found a host of rucksacks stacked up but no bodies so guessed the other girls had gone out on the hostel organised pub crawl! Lol

Crashed out asleep about midnight.

Saturday 12th July

Awoke early in the morning to the sound of the dorm door opening and people piling in…thankfully they were courteous and seeing us asleep, didn’t turn the light on! Still whilst listening to them fumbling around in the dark…it dawned on me the voices whispering were Australian and male! Lol. Clearly not a female dorm after all! Not that it mattered really…

So fell back asleep briefly only to roll over and see a huge pair of feet in the bed at 90 degrees to my head! It was then in the moonlight that I saw the guy lying next to me at 90 degrees was sleeping in his birthday suit and had neglected to cover himself with the bedsheet and was lying legs akimbo! Spent the rest of the night sleeping facing the wall and chuckling to myself…I tried giving Kirsty’s bunk above me a shove to make her aware if this hilarity but failed to rouse her!

Anyway we were up and left well before the Oz nude boys were even concious. We checked out, dumped bags in luggage store and headed to Topkapi Palace and the Archaeology museum, we wandered around for a few hours before heading to the travel agents to book our trip to Troy, Ephesus and Pamukkale.

We then grabbed a drink and ice cream before sitting in the park for a bit.

We headed back to the hostel late afternoon, grabbed our bags and headed upto taksim on the tram.

We met Cem and his friend at 8pm and grabbed a cab back to his apartment, we dumped the bags, freshened up and after a walk down the world’s steepest hill we grabbed a bus to Taksim and headed to a bar where there was a Couchsurfing meeting/party happening. This was pretty apt as we were with our Couchsurfing host and it was the eve of kirsty’s birthday!

So we partied until the early hours, saw in the first few hours of Kirsty’s birthday then grabbed a taxi back to Cem’s.

Kirsty and I crashed out on the couch that transformed into a double bed, Cem to his room and Party Boy (Cem’s mate) crashed in the lounge with us on 2 hard mini sofas pushed together!

Bit of a double couchsurf!

Sunday 13th July…..Kirsty’s Birthday!

Poor Cem had to work today, so he and Party Boy left early in the morning, Kirsty and I had a lie in and then got up, showered, put washing on and set to work in Cem’s kitchen doing his washing up for him, tidying the kitchen and cleaning the hob!

We then headed out and grabbed taxi to Sultanahmet and got some birthday lunch before visiting the Underground Basilica/roman water cistern! Its a beautifully crafted, roman arched and vaulted underground cistern which used to provide water to the ancient city. Its now no longer in use but does still contain some water, fish, medusa’s head and a cafe and shop! So just to be random we had a birthday drink in an underground basilica before heading to a pub with wifi so Kirsty could skype home for birthday chat!

In the afternoon we jumped on the tram and headed upto Taksim area to meet Cem at his workplace, Salt, and had a wander around at the screening that was happening there.

Then we wandered up a side street for apple tea and nargile (shisha) followed by a couple of Backgammon games between Cem and me. Lost both…damn!

We then taught Cem how to play the card game Shithead and a demonstration of Ring of Fire. Introducing a drinking game to Turkey was a productive use of our time I feel!

We then grabbed Lachmacun, which is Turkish pizza and headed back to Cem’s via the cake shop for some birthday cake! The rest of the evening was a blur of birthday cake, sparklers, raki and the world cup final.

Monday 14th July

Today saw all of us have a lie in as it was Cem’s day off. So we had a late breakfast and headed off into Istanbul for a wander round the Grand Bazaar, which was rather productive as I managed to buy myself an amazing backgammon board made of wood with mother of pearl inlay. The iranian salesman was brilliant…told me his final offer and that I was not to bargain with him and keep lowering the price, so I genuinely just debated the weight if it in my rucksack and whether it was too heavy and he stood there dropping his own price and eventually ended up offering it to me at a price that was a good 30% less than his starting point!

So backgammon board sourced we grabbed some lunch and then Cem took us on a ferry across the Bosphorus to Princes Island, a beautiful little island that has a feel of the Cinque Terre in Italy. There are restaurants along the waterfront, tons of ice cream vendors, horses and carts, people swimming, sunbathing, cycling, walking etc.

We did exactly that, walked around the island, bought an ice cream and sat in the sun on the sea front. Kirsty went for a dip in the Bosphorus and got attacked by a crab and Cem embraced the indian way of swimming and stripped to his pants in the middle of the street and jumped in!

After the swimming we grabbed some dinner on the island and then grabbed the 8.30pm ferry back to the mainland. Once back at Cem’s we stuck on some Ed Sheeran and had a bit of chocolate and a chat.

Tuesday 15th July

Early start…urgh…Kirsty and I left Cem’s at 5.15am and walked to the taxi rank, grabbed a taxi to a hotel where we were picking up a coach to take us to Troy for the day. After driving around Istanbul visiting another of the 4 hotels of the same name we located the correct hotel and jumped onboard the coach. We then spent an hour driving around Istanbul picking up everyone else before heading off to Troy.

The bus stopped on route for breakfast and lunch and then we had to jump on a ferry for 10 minutes before climbing in a minibus which took us and our guide to the site.

The site itself is no longer the majestic city it once was, thats for sure…lots of stone ramparts and walls and the occasional bit of temple but nothing much left! Anyone visiting who expects to find a city like the one portrayed in the Brad Pitt film will be disappointed! Still for super geeks like me it was amazing….,wandering around buildings and streets where Helen of Troy, Hector, Paris, Achilles and the Trojan Horse had been! So cool!

Also for novelty purposes there is a full height Trojan Horse outside of the site, which you could climb up and sit in just like the Greeks did! Obviously I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to do such a thing! Poor Kirsty had to stand taking pictures of me hanging out of a Trojan Horse for 5 minutes! Fun times!

After spending an hour or so at Troy we jumped back in the minibus and stopped along the Çanakkale seafront to photograph another Trojan Horse produced by a local artist.

We then jumped back on the ferry and headed back to the hotel where we had been dropped off that morning…we had a long wait until midnight when our overnight coach would depart for Ephesus. So we grabbed a few hours sleep on the hotel’s sofas before heading out for some more Lachmacun.

Not much after returning to the hotel we were told to jump on a ferry and head back over to the otherside of the water to catch a minibus to the coach depot to get our overnight midnight coach. This was uneventful and soon we were onboard the coach attempting to sleep upright again!

Wednesday 16th July

We arrived into Selçuk bus station at 6.30am after a night of barely any sleep and wandered up to the hotel we had booked for 3 nights, praying they would let us check in early.

Thank god the hotel was run by a lovely family and Grandma and Grandpa were in charge, they gave us the key straight away and told us to sleep! Bless them!

So we crashed out and woke at lunchtime only to go back to sleep until mid afternoon.

We then popped out for some late lunch and wandered around the lovely little town before dinner and bed!

Thursday 17th July

We got up late and decided it was too late to head to Ephesus as the sun was already up and fierce. So we spent the day wandering the town, eating, napping and using the wifi really! Lazy day in Selçuk.

Friday 18th July

Today we set the alarm and got up early, we grabbed breakfast and ate in on route to Ephesus. We decided to walk there and back for good exercise and tanning purposes!

Firstly we stopped off at one of the 7 Ancient wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis which is literally just one lowly column in a field! Bit disappointing if you ask me….what is it with all this ancient wonders disappearing….colossus of Rhodes, Lighthouse of Alexandria etc…

Anyway we continued walking and about an hour later we arrived hot, sweaty and tired at Ephesus. We headed towards the ticket counter only to have the most random conversation with a stranger ever….this random turkish man was loitering trying to sell guided tours around Ephesus…he saw me and said ‘excuse me is your name Claire’? I said ‘yeah how did you know that’ to which he replied…’I saw your profile on Couchsurfing and recognised you’!

Anyways we ditched my stalker and headed off into ephesus….amazing ancient city….blew us away! So preserved and majestic…amphitheatre, library of Celsus, agora, columns, houses, shops, mosaics, terraced houses with mosaics and frescos…all sorts….it was a right geek fest with history coming out of our ears!

We wandered around in the blazing sun for 2 hours before admitting defeat and heading to the cafe for a drink and an ice cream before walking the 90 minutes back to the hotel.

We stuck the AC on when we got back and sat under it for a while then went out for dinner before heading to bed.

Saturday 19th July

This morning saw us catch a bus to Pamukkale…we were supposed to get collected at 8.30am and come 8.45am no bus had been forthcoming…eventually two random people appeared and walked us to the bus station and said their had been a problem with our coach and we would have to get the public bus at 9.30am! So we did that but it put us out by an hour all day! We arrived in Pamukkale just as the rest of our tour were finishing lunch, we were initially told we would get time for lunch after the tour, upon arriving at the restaurant we were told to get lunch, so we wandered over to the self service buffet and dished ourselves up a nice lunch, ordered a drink and sat down at the table only to be told we aren’t having lunch now, we have to go now on the tour! So we left the food behind and joined the rest of the group on a tour of Hierapolis and Pamukkale. Amazing place…Hierapolis is a huge roman city and Pamukkale is an amazing natural beauty of calcium carbonate formations with turquoise blue waters in them.

We took the guided tour part of the way then ditched the irritating guide and went solo! Firstly we sat in the shade for 10 minutes having a drink as it was roasting, then we wandered upto Cleopatras Pool and the Temple of Apollo, which was again a collection of fallen columns…poor Apollo! Cleopatras pool was a huge commercialised thermal pool where loads of tourists were swimming around in the apparently healing waters!

We then headed over to Pamukkale and wandered along the turquoise pools of water taking some pictures and wading in the thermal waters. We didn’t have a lot of time before we had to head back to the meeting point for returning to the travel office for our onward coach to Fethiye.

We arrived back to the travel office at 4.15pm, missed our coach to Fethiye…still had had no lunch…so complained to the travel office who then knocked us both up a huge cheese and salad was literally half a loaf each! Excessive!

They also chucked us in a small and uncomfortable minibus which then drove us the 3.5 hours to Fethiye.

Upon arrival in Fethiye we popped into Carrefour and grabbed some bits before being picked up by Keith, who is the dad of one of Kirsty’s friends. They came to the rescue at the 11th hour and invited us to stay with them for 4 nights in Üzümlü just outside Fethiye! It was basically unofficial couchsurfing with Rehana and Keith! Brilliant!

We freshened up, chatted to Rehana and Keith, had an amazing homecooked dinner and crashed out.

Sunday 20th July

We got up late and headed to one of Rehana & Keith’s favourite place for breakfast…this small farm which served the largest breakfast…plates and plates of tomatoes, cheese, cucumber, bread, honey, jam, eggs all sorts was coming out of the kitchen! All refillable too! We ate till we were stuffed and then popped into the farm museum before popping down the lane to check out a waterfall.

We then headed home, had a nap and the Kirsty and I prepared a fruit salad for dessert after dinner.

Rehana prepared an amazing dinner yet again and we sat chatting prior to heading off to bed in the early hours!

Monday 21st July Rehana’s Birthday

We sat at the dining table peeling garlic, cracking walnuts and generally helping Rehana prepare food. She made some amazing banana and walnut muffins which we devoured.

We had a light lunch and in the evening headed out into Fethiye for dinner overlooking the harbour, then we headed back down to the waterfront for a birthday ice cream.

Tuesday 22nd July

We got up relatively early and headed up into the mountains to wander around a roman town called Kadyander. It was pretty cool, totally unexcavated and wild! We wandered around finding pieces of rooftile, pot, pipe and columns everywhere. I even found potential tessera from a mosaic!

After wandering for just under 2 hours we headed back to the next village to Rehana & Keith’s and had lunch before retiring for a nap. After napping Kirsty and I hit the pool in the garden and spent an hour swimming before showering and helping to prepare dinner.

After dinner we went out looking for the cats before chatting and then bed as we are off early on a boat to Greece.

So our short stint in Turkey has come to an end…its been a wonderful fusion of Asian and European and helped us transition back from India!

Thanks to all the people who made our time in Turkey enjoyable…..Atilla, Naked Oz backpacker, Cem, Rehana & Keith.

Next stop Greece….for beaches and Ancient History……

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