And so it begins, leaving London after 5 years and spending 6 months on the road seeing the cool parts of Asia and Africa. First stop was Turkey, mainly for its geographic proximity and the fact that it’s halfway to the Himalayas. There had been a fair bit of unfavourable media coverage for Turkey in 2016, including several bombings in Istanbul itself, but I hate buying in to the media hysteria and the intention of the terrorists, so I decided to take the odds and give Turkey a chance.
My worldly possessions for the next 6 months on my back, no wheels in sight.
Staying in the Taksim area meant that the Galata tower wasn’t too far away and provided these views over the southern part of the European side of the city.
Originally a church until the Ottomans conquered the city in the 15th century and put some Arabic stuff up, Hagia Sophia has somehow survived since then without being destroyed. However, it is showing quite a bit of fatigue and scaffolding (on the left of the photo) is up to do some repairs currently.
Istanbul’s large number of mosques were then all copied/influenced from the design of Hagia Sophia and perhaps the most magnificent example is the Blue Mosque.
Inside the Blue Mosque, spectacular but not as blue as I was expecting. Seeing as most Muslims pray 5 times a day, the majority of the area was reserved for that, for the men at least, women were shoved down the back in a smaller area. Tourists got to stand awkwardly in the middle looking up and trying to take a symmetrical photo.
One thing Istanbul is really lacking is green space, Gülhane park is a decent enough size but on a sunny day is rammed.
This is the Basilica Cistern which is apparently one of hundreds like it under the streets of Istanbul built and used by the Romans to hold water. Now it’s just super creepy and damp, also really hard to take photos in.
We definitely sampled the Turkish coffee but nothing hits the spot like a flat white and chill out spot in the local hipster cafe. Thanks Foursquare, you know me too well.
When you’re down near the water, hawkers are constantly offering Bosphorus tours, while the hawkers are best ignored, the Bosphorus tour itself (to the castle at Anadolu Kavağı) on the public ferry is definitely worth it.
The Grand Bazaar is the most famous market, but I much preferred the spice market, equally as manic but with less tackiness.
Not done with Turkey yet, off to Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Gallipoli next.