September 26, 2006


We arrived in Istanbul in the middle of the night and straight into the hostel that 'someone' recommended. It was an 8 person mixed dorm with the shower from grimy hell. We moved out the next day to a decent hotel with real beds (not bunks), MTV and our own clean bathroom. BLISS. I enjoyed MTV so much that I was beginning to think I could bust out some bootylicious dancing like Beyonce (yes. Deluded).

We spent 4 days in Istanbul - we had hoped to make it to some of the ruins and coastal parts of Turkey, but we ran out of time and energy. Istanbul was great though, totally different from France and Italy - the people, the food, the whole vibe of the place felt distinctly 'foreign'...and yet familiar like we had stepped into a grander version of Auburn hehe.

We stayed in the Sultanahmet area in the heart of Old Istanbul, which meant we had great rooftop views of the river and alot of fantastic buildings. We visited Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) - a fabulous building that was once a Christian church and then a Mosque and is now a World Heritage site, the Blue Mosque which was lit up at night especially for Ramazan (Ramadan), and The Topaki Palace where The Sultan lived including The Harem (sorry no belly dancing concubines left in the Harem).

As for the Grand Bazaar - we bought a whole bag of silver jewellery, intricately decorated pot tiles, and evil eyes. Red Ginger showed her true bargaining power, managing to score 50% off all initial prices with her First and Final Offer technique. We also managed to find the Spice Bazaar, and the main shopping strip in the CBD side of Istanbul.

At night we walked along the cobbled streets and down to the Hippodrome area where the Ramazan feasting took place at night. We tried pommegranite juice, Kebabs, Baklava, Cola Turka and convincing fruit shaped soaps as well as getting turkish style calligraphy done by a man with a very stylish mo, if he wore MC hammer pants I would have guessed he was a Pasha!
Oh and we had a good scrub down in the same Hamam (turkish bath) that Cameron Diaz had visited. There's no actual 'bath', and you get scrubbed and rubbed by big turkish mamas on a marble slab infront of all the other women. So squeaky clean!

Next Stop: London!


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