Day 14 - Istanbul

Where the fuck did two weeks go?! Last day in Istanbul and first up was a Turkish bath (hamamı) not far from our guesthouse. This one was built about 300 years ago and is mostly marble inside. The process goes: kit off, towel on in your own little room, lie on a heated marble slab for a bit before your guy comes and says hello and gives you a massage and just about crushes any sore muscles and joints (yes, Work Dave, a dude massage). He moves you over to a marble basin and scrubs you down then washes you, pouring hot water from the faucet over you. They're quite forceful so you leave a little bit sore and minus about 3 layers of skin, but you feel super clean. A good experience.

We decided it was street food day so we had Simit with cheese and Ayran (yogurt drink) for breakfast. The sun was threatening to break all morning and it was a bit warmer and brighter than it had been and the city seemed to have come alive.

We had a quick coffee and walked around a park near the river looking for the entrance of Tapkopı palace. Got lost and walked off a few pieces of baklava but it was a nice walk anyway. The palace is where the sultan in the ottoman empire lived, along with his harem for he and his wives and mum etc. I wasn't feeling the photos today but took a fair few anyway. It was pretty busy too, lots of tour groups.

We were starving by the time we finished going through there so we continued street food day and got fresh corn from a vendor.

The sun was out now and sinking kinda quickly so we made good time and walked down to the water to get some photos with the nice afternoon light. The call to prayer was playing from a few of the mosques, it really does make you feel a million miles away from home. I enjoyed hearing it each time, it's played 5 times a day and you can hear it if you're in earshot of a mosque (not hard in Istanbul!). Also had a Balik Ekmek (fish roll - be proud, Rowdy!) from the boats, with pickles and locma for dessert. We had a quick walk through the spice market which was really interesting, more like what I expected the grand bazaar to be like. It was so busy in this part of town and there were people everywhere, but it wasn't stifling and was just a really nice positive vibe. The city definitely has a great feel to it.

We headed out to Taksim again for a few beers and a Rakır, with some street vendor popcorn. One thing I did notice was that at a pub/bar where you sit outside the wait staff sometimes smoke while taking orders etc. The strange thing is that its fine and not offensive, it's just different and acceptable here. People do whatever they like, and shit just works. It all works out in the end and everyone gets along. A funny thing that Andy said is that they seem to have such a great level of respect for each other, epecially elders. Goes with my impression of Japan too. Why are Australians so fucking spiteful and jaded? Why is a job in hospitality merely a stepping stone to something better and not something to learn and perfect? Why don't people in Sydney talk to each other anymore?

Anyway.

The Turks touch each other, a lot,and is an integral part of their communication. There were two occasions where someone in the street put their hand on my back or arm just to communicate something. I can imagine a lot of Australians being uncomfortable with that. Maybe I'm conditioned because of Uncle Tony.

We sat outside the bar, watching the world go by, listening the various covers of popular songs that they seem to favour over the originals for some reason. Was pretty boozy after a few beers, and got to bed about 2, with a 5.30 alarm for our flight to Barcelona in the morning. Eep. But Istanbul is well worth it, had a great time.

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