Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Ok so the adventure hasn't quite begun yet - 3 rest days in Istanbul to start Phase 3 of the journey.

On the morning of the first rest day I found the great roof top terrace breakfast room at the centrally located hotel with great views of both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

Lazy day spent wandering a little bit up the hill.  A lot of the streets were blocked off for a bike race that went on for most of the day.

Even though the lineups weren't too bad they were still to significant but we did get into the Cisterns (or the big wet Roman basement as I like to call the place).

Had some classic Turkish coffee and then later lunch before heading back to the hotel and the first briefing meeting of the Globeriders Silk Road tour.

The endless badgering from the ever present carpet salesman is both entertaining and aggravating.  The constant hassle from the restaurant shills is just annoying.

First thing on the second rest day found the local motorcycle shop where an oil change and new tires had been arranged.

Spent a good chunk of the day hanging around the shop as 3 of us had ridden across Europe and needed the same services performed on our bikes.  It was certainly preferable to hanging around the customs yard where the containerized motorcycles where being stored and the clearance hurdles jumped through.

Although from all reports it was a seemingly smooth and easy process this time around compared to previous years when a second day at the docks had been required.  Great seafood dinner at a near by restaurant finished off the day.

On the 3rd rest day in Istanbul (like I said before this international travel is a lot of work), was able to find the time to get inside the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia with a little taste of the Grand Bazaar.

There was some renovation work going on inside Hagia Sophia but still in awe that this is a 1500 year old building that only took 6 years to build.

There's an interesting system in place here with respect to queue jumping at the popular historical sites.  If you hire an independent guide you can walk to the front of the line, and don't worry if you are waiting in line all the guides will find you.  And of course the cost of the guides services are negotiable.  I think a lot of people just pay the money so not to have to wait in line but I actually enjoyed the information provided form the guides we contracted.  I think we must have been lucky as the guides that we hired were very knowledgable and enthusiastically communicated the information.

I have decided I need an old map of the area between here and China so headed off in the direction of the Grand Bazaar.

Specifically Sofa Antique Store (Nuruosmaniye street on left just before bazaar) and the owner Kashif who I had been assured had the real stuff.  It sure looked like he did but the prices were a bit steep.  Maybe if this had been the other end of the tour I might have given it a lot more consideration.  The other option was to locate Old Bedesten in the bazaar but after taking a few steps inside the gate it was all a bit much so we called it day.

An early day tomorrow with a wheels rolling at 7AM as we have a ferry to catch.

Then the adventure really starts...

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