Friday, September 17, 2010

Istanbul haahaa!! Its fucking great!!

After Breakfast everyone pretty much decided to do the same thing – To visit the Grand Bazaar! The girls all have to get their Iran clothes – Basically they need to have clothes that hide their body shape and heads covered. Its really strange for us fellas though, because we can pretty much wear our own clothes – at least those that are going to Iran can. At the moment that’s everyone but me, but Awal may also not be able to go as his visa details weren’t at the embassy when he went along to get them today.

Anyway, about 10 of us -all the usual suspects, had a walk up to the Grand Bazaar together, stopping on the way to get cash and bottled water. I don’t know what I expected – maybe something like old wooden market stalls and loads of dodgy looking men pickpocketing every tourist as he passes, but we were all actually really pleasantly surprised. The bazaar is like a maze. Hundreds of stalls selling clothes, trinkets and jewellery – all brightly coloured and each different street or lane looking exactly like all the others. It had a great noise – of people bartering, chatting and generally enjoying a good old fashioned shopping spree. Locals mix with tourists and the stallholders all have their lines – 'Hey English, you Chelsea or Manchester?' to the men and 'Hey, Its a white angel', to the girls. Its all good banter though and good fun.

The girls found a stall selling what they needed for Iran, but were taken aback by the price- about £50 for something they expected to pay £10 for. However, they found another stall a few feet away selling the same thing much cheaper. After a bit of bartering and confusion, they got their Hare-em pants and long sleeved tops for about £20 the lot!! We continued to wander around and check out the stalls, having fun with the locals until lunch. It was then a bit of a wander through the crowded outside stalls and market to find somewhere to eat. We eventually found a great little café doing good food and climbed the stairs to the 3rd floor where we had a great view of all the hustle and bustle while we ate. The food was good and so after our rest we headed back into the Bazaar for the girls to try and get head scarves too. They had already been quoted 14 Lira earlier in the day, but this time the price had risen to 20!! Becky and Frankie were now in their element and after a quick round of bartering got the geezer down to 15 lira. Earlier in the day Frankie had already got a 40lira price down to 18!!

It was getting on by now and so we decided to wander slowly back to the hostel and drop off the shopping before heading down to the sea front for a while. When we arrived at the Hostel we were greeted by two strange freshly shaved Americans!! Hicky and Awal, who had full beards just a couple of hours ago, were now as smooth as babies bums. They had been to a local Turkish barber and experienced a great close 'long blade' shave. We all then headed down to the sea front. It was bloody lovely down there. The sun was still out and there were fishermen everywhere on land and in boats, plus the odd container-ship floating past. We just sat chatting on the rocks, enjoying the views and the cool air off the sea. This was just one of those moments when you look around at each other, at the views and where we were and just smile. Everyone was happy, joking, relaxed and just loving life. Nothing matters at times like these and it was just one of those moments. I suppose that is what we are doing this all for. The fact that it is my 40th birthday didn’t matter in the slightest. To put it simply – It was just a great day. Some of the guys left us there and took a walk down the seafront and we stayed where we were, taking the odd splash from the waves against the rocks, before we made our way back towards the hostel, via the laundry to get our clean clothes.


I didnt think I would like Istanbul, but I have to say that it is a great place so far - Especially the haunting 'Call to Prayer', I thought I would find it annoying but even at half 5 in ther morning, I had a smile listening to its sound. Istanbul not Constantinople!! haahaa!! Cue the tuba music Laura!! :-)

It is now a short while before we head across the road for dinner and another nice evening.

Life is good!!

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