We were up at 5.30 today as we had a 8.15 flight to Istanbul. It was a bit sad to leave Uncle Tony on his own in Cyprus, kinda felt like we were leaving one of the 3 stooges at home. Had the exact same feeling leaving Nicosia as I did leaving from Sydney, it's hard walking away sometimes.
But Cyprus was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about their ways and met a lot of people I had been hearing about all my life. So I left Cyprus with good memories, a bit of a tan & a few extra kilos to be walked off over Europe.
The flight to Istanbul was quick and half empty so we had some space. Istanbul was grey and wet, and pretty cool after the weather in Cyprus. We were first off the bus into the terminal. Front of the line for passport control. Found out that I missed the visa desk. 30 Lira later and all the way back to the back of the line for passport control.
The traffic was pretty shit heading into Istanbul city but sooner than later we were dropped off in Taksim square. We realised we must have been the only 2 people in the city wearing shorts too. People had been talking up the gypsies, pick pockets & other dodgy associates that we would run into in Istanbul, so I was on high alert. Just like Rome it seems to be a myth, so far, touch wood. I loved being back in a city though, I appreciate quiet and open spaces and I love that too...but cities just have something about them that I get a kick out of. Nice to see Istanbul has its fair share of attractive women too, even though they were all rugged up like it was -5 degrees. Had börek (a Jewish cheese pastry) and a chocolate eclaire for brekky (lunch?) And then we got the tram to Sultanahmet about 15 minutes away to our guesthouse. It's right in the thick of the area with the Blue mosque and Agia Sofia 5 minutes walk away.
Changed into jeans and then we walked around the corner to have a proper wet shave from an old guy who has been doing it for nearly 50 years. While getting my shave the Arabic call to prayer was playing from the mosque, a nice travel moment.
From there we went to the blue mosque which is enormous and has really detailed mosaics, tiles and artwork...I feel like I should say something more about it but I've got nothing at the moment. Took a heap of photos.
Had a proper doner kebab with pilaf rice for dinner, so much different and better to home. Spent the rest of the night sitting on cushions in a dark bar playing backgammon, drinking beers and smoking apple shisha.