Istanbul, Turkey Week 118 July 4th 2013
The first visit to the Chinese Visa agent really only worked out what was required.

The stumbling block was the photos and I'd left Ali watching the truck.

No time lost though as Chinese Consulate is only open Mon-Wed-Fri, 09:00 - 12:00, so application wouldn't have been made until Friday anyway.

So, another 5am start to cross Istanbul and camp near the old town. And closer to Taksim.

Behind the Sports Club on Kennedy Cd. 50TL per night with electricity (not required) and washing machine (took forever).

Fenced, and only motorhomes, which made it better than the unfenced car park about 500m East with no facilities at 30TL per night.

We happened to notice a few ships waiting for ....

We thought we'd catch "the metro".

Did I mention that yesterday while collecting paper from Aus DFAT I walked through the lobby of the Ritz Carlton and picked up a map plus useful tourist info.

In a former life I've spent more than a few days in large international hotels so looking daggy wasn't an obstacle.

In following the map to the station we passed these partly inflated balloons and broken bottles.

We also passed the competition.

The unfenced car park.

Old Istanbul has a few remnants of wall.

But nothing we could find of the fortresses that we expected after visiting the Dardanelles.

Back to business with Tugce at Setur, Cumhuriyet Cad. No:69, Elmadag, 34373, Istanbul.

New directions for photo studio. At least they'd done it before but 15TL each was a bit steep. Just as well I trimmed the beard.

We needed a bank statement showing more than $5,000 available funds.

The Turkish keyboard and Chrome browser meant my password wasn't recognised by the bank.

I'd taken my netbook but I think the password for the agent's wi-fi wasn't known.

We went for a couple of apple teas at Starbucks across the road. 

The problems didn't quite end there.The bank "print" button didn't work on some pages - needed a workaround after a sip of apple tea.

Then back to the office to print out the pdfs I'd created.

It didn't seem to matter that the address on the bank statement (daughter Jennifer) didn't match the address on the visa application (our home). 

After explaining that our only working phone was the Estonian Travelsim mobile due to Turkish government laws, and checking that the agent couldn't call it, we'll rely on the internet freesms service for Travelsim.

Even though it isn't reliable its all we have.

A light moment when agent said she would email us! Durr!

A not so light moment when suggesting leaving a message at our hotel - difficult as we are touring in our hire car for the next week!

A week is a week! We'll return late next Friday. 8 days.

So a walk through Taksim Square. Center of recent rioting. New home of heavily armed police.

Old home of an anonymous monument.

Life apparently goes on.

Did I mention that the trains and trams don't really connect.

Nice lady at train station made phone call and handed receiver to me.

Catch a number 17 bus!

So we found a taxi.

We thought we'd catch a tram back from Taksim Square but the station was closed.

So we decided to walk the 8km back.

We have a week after all!

Navigating is relatively easy, just walk down hill.

Passed the Kilic Ali Pasa Mosque and Complex.

About 1580 - 87.

The mosque complexes include some of madrassahs (schools), tombs, sabils (fountains??), hamams (turkish baths), hospitals, etc.

Decided to walk across the Galata Bridge towards the Yeni Mosque instead of taking a ferry.
As well as road, trams and pedestrians, with shops and restaurants underneath, the principal use of the bridge is for fishing.

The smell of fish suggests some success.

We paused for a 1TL (Turkish Lira) loo stop, then spent a wee while finding a way through the fences to cross the road.

Istanbul main roads have been surprisingly easy (just don't stray into the narrower streets as we did).

Its remarkably pedestrian unfriendly.

To the spice bazaar.

We think we heard a couple of Dutch people call it the Dutch Bazaar.

Echoes of spice islands perhaps.

For some reason bazaars in Istanbul are roofed.

For some other reason they are full of people.

And this one has lots of spices, though despite the name it seems to have other things.
Having crossed the Golden Horn navigation is now the reverse.


Until, as if by magic, one finds the entrance to The Grand Bazaar.

I knew that!

It was the aftermath of the fire of 1894 that introduced European style shop fronts.
The moving adverts presumably came later.
A bit late, we are beginning to make sense of the transport system.

The tramlines have other uses than trams.

A quick route for wheelbarrow transport.

Running a bit, he escaped before the next tram.


No graffiti?

Come to think of it, we haven't noticed graffiti anywhere.

Its been such a distinctive feature of transport in some other countries.

We are near Beyanzit station.

Cemberitas Hamam.

From the outside.

A Turkish Bath is not on our agenda.

A brief quiet interlude at the mausoleum for Sultan II Mahmoud (1785 - 1839), Sultan Abdulaziz (1830 - 1876) and Sultan II Abdulhamid (1842 - 1918).


Carpet (or kilim) covered sarcophagae.

Some older (1530) graves and sarcophagae outside.

The attraction for us was somewhere to cool under the trees. With only a few people.

Finally, the top of the hill.

And a view of the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque and Complex.

Opposite the Hagia Sophia Museum.

Originally a cathedral built around 537 converted to a mosque in 1453 and to museum in 1935.

It was the world's largest cathedral for about 1,000 years.

We opted for a look round the Blue Mosque.

Wondering why it is called blue. 

Perhaps due to some obscure Australian influence.

Perhaps its like our "midnight blue" Mercedes car that my family disparagingly call "grey".

Soft pastel shades inside.

The roof looks painted.

The lower levels are tiles. Blue tiles.

The high domes popular with religious architects of all persuasions, anxious no doubt to impress.

And the tinted (blue) windows for illumination.

Large pillars supporting several domes.
A quiet place.

The women had a quieter, fenced off, place.

I can't even begin to comprehend.

Or perhaps I can comprehend how cultures are formed and religious institutions function but its all a bit alien.

Istanbul is about where east meets west.

Outside again.

We carried our shoes in the provided plastic bags.

Found somewhere to discard them (the bags, silly) at the other end.

Its still not blue!

8km is a long way.

So now we decided to head downhill again.

Topkapi Palace (40 TL entry and a Gallic Shrug from a French fellow traveler to describe its attraction) will have to wait for another day.

As will the aquaduct and the old city walls.

We are in "old Istanbul".

Some wooden.
Some unrestored wooden.

I recall staying a couple of days in this area in 1978.

All with the ever present minaret.
We crossed the train line.

With the train that apparently doesn't connect well to the tram or the bus.

And found ourselves in a maze of streets with no outlet to the main road we are camped next to.

We can hear the traffic.

After some helpful directions from someone who wasn't trying to sell us something (one of those moments of mutual understanding where we look helpless and smile) we crossed over a footbridge and adopted the traditional maze solving approach of "keep turning left".

Until, that is, we crossed the railway line again.

Back on the sea front the puzzle of the balloons and bottles is solved.

Shooting ranges.

Though it seems most people preferred fishing or picnicking.

The ships have turned around with the tide.

Or maybe the wind as we can't imagine much tidal flow between the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

And so back to our campsite.

Tired but happy that we will hopefully have Chinese Visas in a 8 days.

We were later surrounded by motorhomes.

We also solved how to phone the visa agent ourselves. We added the code for Istanbul, which our (Estonian numbered) Travelsim needed. Another plug for Travelsim, it works, and their help is first class.

It seems as if we have had a few days of one problem after another, the Chinese Visa problem compounded by internet, bank and phone problems.

All solvable after a mental cup of tea.  Hopefully things can only get better from here.

 The UK motorhome on the right in the background belongs to a Kiwi couple, Sue and Dave. They are about to leave Turkey after 6 months. They successfully applied for Turkish residency but the "how" they described confirmed that it wasn't a realistic option for us to solve the Chinese Visa problem in Ankara.

Istanbul, Turkey (Two) Week 118 July 5th 2013

Sorry, comments closed.