A Travellerspoint blog

Conquering Troy and Retreating from Gallipoli

sunny 28 °C

We arrived in Canakkale at 1 am, after 7 hours travel from istanbul first by ferry over the Marama Sea and then a bus. We had a few names of hostels and finding them in the middle of the night wasn't too much of a challange. But once we got to Anzac House wanting a bed it was a struggle to refuse a set tour of for the next day, with an added bonus of buffe breakfast.


So after much needed sleep and a filling breakfast we set off for Troy. Once we made it to the site , the car park was getting overwhelmed with big bus loads of tourists, and school groups. Upon entry we are confronted with the reacreation of the Trojan hourse, the guide reminds us of the legend of Troy.
The archelogical findings at the site are amazing, nine significantly different cities were built on the site. Troy 7 is the closest relative to the city described by Homer in the Odessy, destroid by war around 13 century BC. It was fasinating to visit the site and pay tribute to those civilizations, as once did Alaxander the great. The dates of this history is mindboggaling, the fact that we can still witness some remains brings us closer to inderstanding those people and how they cherished and defended this land.

The ruins aren't significantly impresive: the ruins of the city wall, remains of the temple, the sucraficial stones and all else is brocken colums and stone. But our knowledgable guide really did fill in the gaps and made the brief history of the citie's inhabitants come alive. Although he remained quite cinical that the site has been heavily pillaged by both the locals and international reasurchers. " To uncover the real TROY: would take 200 years of careful excavations, a huge investment of time and money."


We returned back to the city and borded the ferry to cross over the Dardenels, where the company provided us with a three course lunch. Around the table we are able to meet the 12 guests and their interest in the battles of GALLIPOLI. Predominatly the group is made up of Australians, a couple from Britain, and a couple from Malta, one lonely American student and us. The eldely couple from Malta informed us that the wounded from the battles were sent to Malta to recover, so they also have a strong fasination for the place and its history.

Setting off after lunch we are brought to the first lookout point on the peninsular, where the landscape is breathtaking. The guide introduces the history, how the Turkish people were cheeted into getting involved in the war and why the British needed to capture the Dardenels and the unfortunate circumstance that had a significant effect on the campaign. Interesting to hear the account of the people who defended their land. The story retold is poignant.
We had brief look at the Museum, wich contained photos, armor and uniforms of the soldiers, as well as letters of witness acccounts of manouvers and battles. Then we set off to visit Anzac Cove and pay our respects at the many cemetaries. Today the site of the beech is very calm and beautiful, but the knowledge of what came to pass there makes the place very emotianally charged.

Exasted we returned to Canakale to grab a meal and catch our transport to the next city of Selchuk.

Posted by Tatyanazzz 04:11 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Over the Golden Horn

A few days with a Kiwi host

sunny 30 °C

The things we learned about ISTANBUL in a few days :

1. SMOKING like a Turk is not just an expression : everywhere you go everyone is smoking. Smoking inside has been banned , to ahear to EU standards, but as we witnessed there isn't much uptake on adhearing to this law.

2. Public transport is amazing and cheep. 1.50 to get across one side of town to the other on any mode of transport: ferry, cabble car, bus, train or light rail. In one day we could use all modes of landtransport.

3. Turists are blead of their money: retail clercks will ask for your nationality before giving you a price for an item, assesing what currency you use and tourist sites are overpriced 20TL to entre most sites.


After a couple of days in Sultanahmet we headed over the Golden Horn to Beyoglu. We meet our friend Mark in Taksim square and head down Istaklal, a wide mainly pedestrian street at any given time in the day packed wall to wall with pedestrians. The shops and people are far more modern and a little more western on this side of the Horn. Fashion clothing shops and boutique confectioners line the retail space, all seems a bit more up market. Every side street is packed with cafes and restaurants.

We turn off and head into a less modern district .The houses are all around 4-5 stories, kids play in the street while mothers watch leaning out their window sills, sometimes chatting to the neighbor across the road. Men move around carrying various consumables or sit in shaded doorways sipping on tea and smoking. The neigboorhood is mostly home to Kurdish, i Romani people. So unfortunatly walking down the road we attracted attention.
Our apartment for the next few days is quite modern inside and Mark assures us that most apartments in this area are far less inviting. His flatmate leases the place of her boss who had it refitted before she shifted in. There is two bedrooms, a modern free standing kitchen bench, a living room with a small deck that looks out on to the street and neighboring buildings. We unpack and head for Istaklal to view what more it has to offer.

Strolling downhill we venture into small alleyways which all have there own charm and unique shops. We reach the Galata tower, which has a huge que extending out the front entrance, we wonder weather the que goes all the way up the 9 stories, and decide not to wait.

Heading further down all the shops become music shops, Tim slows but keeps moving (money money money...). One thing we notice about Istanbul is that all the streets offer something niche. One street contains only power tool shops, another only plumbing supplies, another only woman's fashion, I guess this keeps prices competitive.
When we reach the bottom we are next to the Galata Bridge. The smell of fish is strong and we find ourselves walking down a path lined with fish mongers, the fish some alive and in buckets are laid out and the mongers try to entice you to buy their fish. There is also a host of small restaurant shacks where you can get your fresh fish cooked up.

We walk underneath the Galata bridge where there are retroish cafe, most have Turkish smoking pipes lined up on the front tables. The seats all face out over the Golden horn which is quite relaxing compared with the intensity of the city.

On the other side we decide to try the traditional fish and bread sandwich which is prepared on an ornately decorated boat and handed over to a waiter who then delivers it to you. The boats rock back and forth quite vigorously and the guy on the boat times his delivery to the waiting hand just right. The sandwich is not amazing (half a fish, lettuce and raw onion) , but it fills our stomachs and only costs 4TL (3.50 NZ).

We catch a ferry down the Marama Sea to Princes islands. There are 4 islands and we get off on the 3rd. There is a small town and we hire a bike each for 4TL for half a day and ride around the whole island. The condition of the island is a little crap, lots of rubbish in big piles, though we are told they do a big clean up around this time of year. There aren't many swimming beaches as most of the coast is big rocks or cliffs. We stop at one but some guy wants us to pay 5TL each to swim on it, we decide its a tad too weedy in the water and not really worth it. We grab our bikes and head back to the wharf to catch the return ferry. The guide books say the ferries get dangerously over crouwded in the Summer, and I believe them, we boarded and were the last to get seats, it was packed and its not even officailly summer yet. At the next island another 50 odd people are waiting to get on and the boat starts to get pretty hot inside and the trip takes an hour.....

On the way home we stopped off at the local market to buy some fresh food. We bought:
500G feta cheese 3TL
500g of Olives 2TL
500G tomatoes 1tl
peaches 1tl
fresh bread .75tl

We ate breakfast like kings, thats the other thing food is CHEAP and DELICIOUS
270_DSC07484.jpg DSC07483.jpg

Posted by Tatyanazzz 08:56 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Marhaba from Istanbul


sunny 25 °C


After a long.... long... flight we finally arrived in Istanbul. As much as we enjoyed the service of Emirates, by the end of the 30 + hours we were busting for some fresh air. Suprisingly our bagage was connected from Wellington all the way to Istanbul with no worries. We walked out of the Artatuk airport withouth batting an eye at the Customs officers loitering around with nothing to do.

Backpacks on, we managed to navigate through the metro system, with a connection onto a tram line strainght into the heart of Istanbul: Sultanahmet, all for the cost of 3TL. We landed amoungst the tourist crowds, bus loads of colouful foreigners, all agast at the sight of the Blue Mosque and Aye Sofia. We managed to intuatively navigate towards our hostel to unload and refresh, before venturing out to explore.


Sultanahmet: the heart of Istanbuls historic district, featuring the magestic structure of the he Blue Mosque, AyaSofya and Topicali palace. This peninsular full of historiacal reference, located by the Golden Horn and the Bosphorous straigt is truly enchanting!DSC07464.jpg

Although today the majority of the area is swarming with tourists. Hence all the amenities and services around the place are aimed at targeting the wallets of tourists. Turkish food kiosks, suveneer shops are everywhere. The merchandising dislayes are impressive, the selling techniques are persistent: so prices are high and most frequently buyes get raw deals for the first few days of arriving in this city. DSC07446.jpg

We started out by roaming the large square infront of the closly built Blue Mosque and Aye Sofia which stand only 200m apart. The blue mosque is very impressive with its 6 minureetes and a ghostly blue tinge. We peaked in side the coutyard of the Mosque, at which point Tatyana relised that her shord dress would breach the dress code, so we didn't venture insde.

The Aye Sofia is impressive in size and its Byzantine architechture. It is the postcard friendly image of old Istanbul. The grandure of the architechture and its ability to withstand the volatile transformations between rulers and times, has etched this building into the history books: rebuilt 3 times, the largest former Orthodox basilica for over 1000 years, later a mosque and now a museum.

Not to far from the Mosques is where the old Hippodrome (Hourse racing statium) used to be, now the place is a park. On the site stand three large obilisk from differend eras, in varing degree of preservation and incapsulating their historiacal relavance. One of them Obelisk of Thutmose III is a massive 40m high solid granite tower brough from Egypt in 390 AD but is known to be 3,500 old. How they got it there amazes me. All the obilisques bases now sit about 6m below current ground level. This is due to earthquaqes and the modern city being built around them.

Also in close vercinity to the parks is the Mile stone, once an archway it was the original marker for which all measurements of the ruled land were taken. Well I guess we have reached " the mile stone".

We wondered around the central square getting hungry, then stumbeled upon a small artisan market by the side of the blue mosque. The range of merchandise is impresive: everything from leather bags, shoes, trinkets, clothes and carpets. Our fresh faces and western clothing meant that we stood out a mile away as shop keepers picked us out insisting we enter there shop and buy, buy, buy. Although the carpet sellers didn't waste their breath on inviting us over, as we probably dont look like we have a 1000TL to spend on carpets.

We soon were intised into a very nice garden restaurant, surounded by crumbling 'ruin' walls, with the view of the Blue Mosque, and the promise of live Sufi music. With the stern insistence of the waiter we ordered the mixed kebab platter. It was delicious meal, and the service was outstanding. For our first night in Istanbul it was obvious we were easy prey, as we would later find that the price tag for our meal was highly exhagerated.

We took a walk down to the waterfront, to get the first glimpse of the Sea of Marama and the Bosphorous as the sun was setting. Once we witnessed the volume of cargo ships moving through the straight, we really started to get the sence of how important this location is for trade. Looking across at the Asian cite of the city the

Day two:

Awake at 5am with the first call to prayer, I manged to contain my exitement and keep still for a bit longer. Stiring Tim awake sometime before 7am, our breakfast not served till 8.30 we had a bit of time to walk around and get our the orientation of the city. Somehow we managed to get a hostel in the heart of the city one block away from AyaSofya. So its very charming stepping outside to great the walls of the four seasons hotel (a building complex which used to be a prison up until the 90 s, I wonder if their guests know this?)

The city's narrow cobble stone street afresh after some morning rain. The town was very much just begining to stir on Saturday morning. We walked towards Gulhane park, where we first witnessed some the animal inhabitants of the city. The tree in the park are home to large Herons and cheeky ravens. Later on we were witness to the morning garbage rade by a few street dogs, however these are much fewer in number compared to the many skinny and dirty cats slinking around scavenging food.DSC07436.jpg

After breakfast we intended to visit the big sites of the city, but once we looked at the huge tourist crowds in from of Haga Sophia we decided to take the back roads leading to Topicali Palace (the Sultans residents). Although there was no escaping crowds here either. After paying the 20TL entry fee, we found ourselves wondering the many couryards of the Palace. We were agast at the beauty of the interior spaces decorated with a variety of blue tiles. The crown jewles were sertanly impresive, the collection includes one of the four biggest diamonds in the worls. The view of the city from the palace terraces gives a great understanding the cities layout as well as glance at how the Sultans once lived and ruled this land.

The whole place was swarming with tourists from all corners of the world, at times we were sholder to shorlder tring to view some exhibits. A large majority of the crowd was Muslim families, on a pilgamige to witness all the relics of the prophet: jewled swords, cuttings of a beard enclosed in a chest, cast of a hand etc. It was a little dissapointing to find that to entre the site of the Sultan's Harem visitors had to pay an extra cost. But the place was impresive although a little suffocating from the crowds of visitors.DSC07416.jpg

To get away from the crowds and fight our jetlag we needed coffee! Even as we exited the palace the line of tourists outside only seemed to double. We tried our first Turkish coffee which didn't quie live up to its reputation. Wellington coffee culture has sertanly refined our tastes. Getting weary we thought to go find some food, the Grand Bazar being a great place to sample cheep local quizine.

The Grand Bazar
Its wasn't hard to stumble upon the place and its vastness. The place is impressive! My eyes were wide at all the merchandise, everything you can imagine..EVERYTHING is here. I tried on a few leather jackets and tried my hand at barganing. But its sertanly hard getting away empty handed from that place, but the leather jacket will have to wait until our return on the way back. I managed to negotiate the middle price with the retailers, talking them down 300 Tl from from the original price. I am learning fast. It seams they hike up the prices twice fold and then hope to get the silly tourist to submit and most do unfortunatly. But I'm also guilty of getting cought out buying dried fruit with no prices, only later to realise that we were ripped off. But its so easy to get cought up in all the vivid sensuory input: all the variety, colour, smells and persistent banter from the sellers. I have never seen Tim so patient and interested in shopping! We managed to get away without capets, leather or jewlery but it took some self restraint.
Even when we though we were getting away from the place, we managed to be getting lost amongst the suburbs of the grand Bazar, spread across the adjasent streets was more merchandise. Every block seams to specialise in something: a block full of clothes, assecories, shoes, fabrics. And as we got closer to Emononu (Goldern Horn Bridge) there was more food and spices, all for for sale.

Posted by Tatyanazzz 05:38 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

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