Second installment Turkey Blog…………. (Today as I type it is the 1st May. Two things. Happy birthday to Jessica, Susan and Alan! My computer has decided not to be internet savvy at the moment so I cant skype or even send this blog yet – so when you get this blog you will know we are back on line! Second thing, it is protesting day here in Istanbul – the Workers Day. From here we can hear the protests, chanting and yelling, and of course the helicopters. Yesterday we were in Taskim Square where the protest was starting from today. Saw an unimaginable amount of police barricades, army tanks for water blasting etc). The police here carry both hand guns and mostly machine guns as normal practice anyway………….. seems odd to us to pass them in the Bazaars, on the street, on the tram etc with these guns.
Bosphorus Sea Cruise
Caught the boat with heaps of other tourists and off we went up the Bosphorus to the meeting of the Black Sea. A 90 minute trip each way. Seeing Istanbul stretching out forever on both sides of the sea all the way! Amazing! The further up you went the more elaborate the houses as well as the more run down e.g. small fisherman villages in wee boats). We headed for a restaurant for lunch tht Cherie had recommend and had a wonderful meal. We had a lengthy conversation with the maitre d’ about me not eating fish (it is a fish restaurant you see) but we got all sorted. Had a wonderful array of mezzas breads and then for Peter a whole blue nose fish and for me, kofta (meatballs). All while sitting on the edge of the sea at a white linen restaurant. We were slightly amused and very surprised to see a submarine sailing past as we ate! The photo is of a building we sailed past – lots of wealth up the top of the Bosphorus.
Back on the boat (after meeting a NZer from North Shore Akl there – who had attended ANZAC ceremonies at Gallipoli) and then back to Istanbul. Interestingly, most people we have spoken to who attended the ASZAC ceremony here were a bit disappointed. Said it was very moving but VERY commercialized and that a lack of respect for the dead – e.g. ice cream vendors walking through the graves to sell etc.
As we got off the boat we went to the Spice Market. Amazing sculptured piles of spices – but even more than that, containers of gorgeous dried fruits (grapes, dates etc) so much larger and juicier than we see in NZ. Lots of caviar and saffron too. Also the usual bazaar stalls such as gold, shawls and pottery. We bought only some dates for Cherie – I have to hold back being only the first few weeks of the holiday! Here is a photo of a typical stall at the spice bazaar.
After that we caught the tram home and then Cherie came for a drink. Doesn’t it sound so familiar and so domestic! We then went to a local (i.e. 10 mins walk from the apartment, up cobbled streets) Georgian restaurant for dinner. An amazing, tiny restaurant in the front of the woman’s house. Just three tables and we were the only ones there, but Cherie had heard very good reviews of it. And wow! We had basically a platter of what the owner called dumplings, served with olive oil and butter, and filled with three separate fillings – cheese, mushrooms and spinach. Very good! Washed down with a local wine of course.
Wednesday and we caught a taski (how it is spelt here) all by ourselves to the airport to go to Cappodoccia. Flight was 1.10 hours, so only like Akl to Wgtn. But what a contrast in geography. From sea and coast with high rise buildings to inland central Turkey with no rivers, and stone formations made by nature that are called “Fairy Chimneys”. It is also a very historic and old part of Turkey so we had a lot to see and learn. People still live in the fairy chimneys and caves – all made by natural weather patterns
On the first day we strolled the town and ate lunch at a local café. Had a “kebab” which was like a chicken stew cooked in a terracotta pot which is made locally. The top of the pot is sealed with bread and cooked. Then at the table they take a hammer and “smash” the top of the pot off and voila! Lunch!
Had a look around went for a walk then later had dinner at the hotel restaurant. The hotel we stayed in is built around and in the local caves and fairy chimneys. It was delightful and we’d recommend it to anyone! Also the people were great. So helpful, friendly and casual. Only 6 indoor tables and similar outdoor so quite intimate. It was still quite cold there so we sat by the open fire.
The net day was a FULL ON tourist day. First up at 5am for a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Wow! We had booked the longer ride of 90 mins versus the usual of 45. So we were picked up by minivan and taken to a field in the middle of nowhere. Lots of people and lots of balloons! Still all lying on the ground waiting to be blown up (is that what they call it??? Blown up…….. maybe inflated…..) a bon fire was burning to keep us warm, and hot tea, apple tea and Nescafe (they all serve it here!) with cake and sweet biscuits was available. Then the 11 of us on the 90 min flight (the shorter flights had 22 people to a basket!) were back in a van and taken to a delightful valley with amazing fairy chimneys, to launch from there. It is incredible how many people and how much work it takes to get a balloon up and landed. Quite a skill and art.
And the flight itself? Amazing! The pilot was very skilled and we went low in the valleys (e.g. rose valley so named due to the rose colour of the rock) and then up high to get over the next hills etc. We all laughed when one of the other passengers had his phone and played the song “Take my breath away”. Even the pilot had a laugh.