Thursday, June 7, 2018

Merhaba, Türkiye! (Hello, Turkey!)

The flight over from Tblisi was magic in two ways, at least.

Firstly, for me, as I was sat in a window seat on the right side of the plane (both physically and metaphorically), I got a perfect view of the magnificent caucasus mountain range. There was practically no cloud cover and, of course, they go for miles so this wasn't just a fleeting glimpse.

What a view

Flying over Kutaisi

Secondly, for a refreshing change, I found the safety film really compelling viewing and actually quite funny. Turkish Airlines seem to have pulled off a real coup in getting "vine" magician Zach King involved in this one.

The flight took about 2 and a half hours and it was very pleasant indeed. I was sat next to two Italian ladies who seemed very nice. I wanted to chat to them but they clearly wanted to relax and enjoy a movie, so I just kept myself to myself. To chat or not to chat, that is the question on these occasions. Of the five flights so far, I've had one chatter and 3 non-chatters and one empty seat.

An der veiks to Anatolia
I'd arrange a hotel pick up and I'm glad I did as it would seem that it might have been a bit of a challenge to use the public transport straight off without knowing something about it first.

Also, of course, got cash.

Turkish currency is the Lira (didn't know that!) 100 lira = 28.56 Australian Dollars

The pick up system looked really well organised and a group of travelers were met by a group of guys who passed us on to a set of taxies that drove into the airport on request, contacted by mobile. I got a great view of the end of the Bosphorous as we drove to my accommodation for the next three nights, 50m from the transport hum here.

Happy to be in Turkey at last

It's great to think I have a few days here and I spent the next few hours in my room relaxing and catching up.

Of course, a big danger when writing these blogs is that you spend more time writing about your adventures than having them. Like everything, it's a question of balance. I've got to the stage where I can't imagine going on a tour like this and not recording it through an on-line blog. Even in everyday life, going out for an evening, say, I try to capture something about it, even if it's just a selfie on Facebook. The social media gets a lot of stick for the negative impact it has on people's lives but let's not forget the good side too. Doing stuff like this, for me, isn't about getting lots of Likes, it's about recording adventures in an on-line diary so that I can remind myself about them whenever I want from where ever I am, theoretically, for as long as I live. I wish I'd done something like this for Poland/Ukraine 2012 and a few other trips I've made. It's a bonus to me that a few other people might find these interesting in some way and, if anything should happen to me, it's comforting to know that these blogs will sit around for a while after I've gone.

Balance is between too much time doing this...
... and doing this (outside my excellent hotel)

Out there is the Bosphorous

Can you spot the Alpek Hotel?

Not really Golden and not really "Horn-shaped" but it is the "Golden Horn"

Bridge to Karakoy


Turkey. I feel bad that it's taken me so long to finally pay a visit. I have to thank the Scots, Dave and Graeme I met in Paris for giving me a kick up the backside over that one.

How did they put it?

"Istanbul is one of the World's great cities. You have to go there, Algis"

He's obviously right and I've only been here a few hours.

Istanbul is a very impressive-looking city. It feels big and bold and vibrant. I only went out for a bit of a stroll around the local area here last night for a couple of hours. I had, wait for it, kebab and did a bit of shopping - replacing my crappy old shirts now with three nice new ones, very cheaply.

Oooh... almost forgot. It's my 59th country. Yay!!!

I had a great night's sleep but got confused about the time difference. Somehow I thought it was 9:50 am when it was actually 7:50. Worried I'd miss breakfast I scampered up three flights of stairs to the roof-top restaurant only to find it empty. The hotel guy looked a bit annoyed with me so I assumed I was too late.

I asked him if I could get a coffee and a bit to eat and he nodded. I quickly ate them at a table with a fantastic view of Istanbul and then left only to realise my mistake. It was empty because no-one had gone because breakfast hadn't STARTED yet.

Breakkie with a view

What a wally! Oh well at least it means I'll have more room for a gastronomic walk tour I've booked myself on this arvo.

Also got to brush up with a few more Turkish words. "Tesekur Ederim" (thankyou) and "Merhaba" (Hello) is all I can manage at the moment. And here, dipping into Russian isn't going to help. So far, few people speak good English.

I need Paul!

Thanks, Paul! Indeed, I do intend to... Have a Nice ... DAY!

I have now have two full days here to explore Istanbul. Stand by for a visit to Fenerbahce and/or Galatasaray and lots of the usual selfies of me in front of famous buildings. Woy Wuncha?

I know. Lucky Bastard!