Monday, April 25, 2011

Istanbul II

Apart from the jolly little encounters with shoeshine boys, our dealings with the Istanbul populace was all very positive. Honesty and trust abounded. An example given by Andy summed it all up. He had given a 50 euro note, along with a 50 Turkish Lire (TL) note for a bill that totaled around 100 TL. These notes look much the same, but the euros were half again as valuable as the TLs. Andy recounted that there was no way the chap would let this error go undetected, despite the fact that he would do very well indeed from the mistake. He continued to try to explain Andy's error until the message got through, which it did in time.

Another intriguing, if a little annoying aspect of life in Istanbul is the Muslim call to prayer at various times of the day. The first one I slept through on account of my being so bushed the first night. No, not night, rather morning - at around 4:45 am! Steph and Jude heard it, but were able to re-enter the Land of Nod that first morning soon after it finished (it lasts about 15 minutes). You have all heard this Islamic exhortation to Do The Right Thing prayer-wise. It is all rather quaint to the non-believer and it takes place at various times throughout the day. Some times there are a number of mosques belting out different calls with the amplification turned up to high levels of distortion. At other times the single entreater only calls softly over a short (5-minute) period. But here is the most annoying thing: On some mornings there is no 5:00 am call at all! You become accustomed to the call; you anticipate the call; you wake yourself up in time for the call; BUT THE CALL DOES NOT COME! Silence! And do you think it is possible to get back to sleep? Not on your Nellie! Annoying, but it only adds charm to your stay in this charming city.

On one day we took the public transport ferry up the Bosphorous to within sight of the Black sea (ie to the end of the line). On arrival at a little town on the Asian side (name forgotten) we bought rolls stuffed with fish and caught a bus back towards Istanbul that immediately climbed to the top of the hill and meandered back through some little villages and increasingly bigger towns. Altogether it was a great little trip, though we did miss the stopover for a planned castle visit and did wait for over an hour for a bus that totally failed to arrive! Sometimes it is good to just take a ticket to the end of the line and see what happens. This was one of those times, capped off with a short 1.50 TL scoot back across the old Bosphrous to the European side and back to our hotel. Grouse!

Istanbul is certainly worth a visit. With heaps of bustle, plenty of touting entrepreneurs, and always lots and lots of people engaged in all the activities associated with life in a city by a huge connecting channel between two seas. fishermen with extraordinarily long fishing poles resting on simple, yet effective, hooking systems (effected with a swift whack on the rear of the pole with one's elbow)

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