Rediscovering An Old Friend.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Sultan Tourist Hostel Istanbul
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Turkey  ,
Thursday, June 2, 2011

We had forgotten how much we had loved Istanbul!

In 2005 we spent a week in Turkey and here we are back again just for one night and as the bus takes us to our hostel, we are already thinking we wish we had planned for a few more days here.

Istanbul is all charm and commerce, mosques and museums. It is carpet salesmen offering tea (no obligation of course!) and sidewalk cafes with lounge chairs and sheisha pipes. Our hostel is right in the historic cobblestone streeted Sultanahmet, where mini buses and cars try to squeeze past side walk diners with only centimeters to spare. Some of Istanbul's charm lies in the banter with the sellers and spruikers. It doesn't have the feel of desperation that some countries have. The bargaining is not so fierce that they chase you after wards, rather a dignified shrug and a smile and some more banter if the price is not yet agreed upon. Sure they want to sell, commerce is all important in Istanbul, but not without dignity intact.  

After an orientation walk, where we saw the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya (Agia Sophia, Hagia Sophia, Aya Sofa), Damo pointed everyone in the direction they wanted to go, with a time of 8pm to meet up for dinner. For some it was the Grand Bazaar, some for other shopping or sights, but for us it was to a laundry!  Yes we needed to get a proper wash done on our clothes before we set of the next day for our trip to Uzbekistan. We found the little laundry Damo had sent us to, and entrusted our well worn clothes for an express service.

A last dinner was had at the hostel with our Busabout friends, who were all heading off in different directions the next day and then we ducked off to pick up our laundry. It was shut! On trying to work out whether it was a temporary closing or finished for the day, we noted that the shutters had not been closed and a note was on the door that (may) have said back in 5 minutes. 

We waited outside and saw the curtains move upstairs, after awhile, and a man in his 70's came out the door next to the laundry, said something to us in Turkish, then hurried up the street. Next a woman yelled from upstairs and the old man sheepishly crept back inside. it looked like he was trying to escape for a bit of a night out from his daughter! Next the lady came downstairs and talked to us and then went running off down the street. We presumed she said "I'll go and get my husband to come back and open up". Meanwhile as soon as she had gone the old man snuck out again and gave us a wink as he passed. Sometimes you just don't need the language to work out what is going on!

Our laundry man hurried back and we were reunited with our clothes. We were later to find we were missing one sock and had gained a shirt!

Next morning, I headed off for a quick shopping expedition to get some necessities and got myself totally lost! I had stupidly left the map back in the room and when asking for directions instead of the Sultan Hostel, I was asking for the Sultanate Hostel! By the time I got back, our airport transport was waiting and Avan was frantic. We threw our packs together, bounded down the four flights of stairs and fell onto the bus. Last time I go out without a map!!! 

Footnote: The Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) Mosque is an official Finalist in the New Seven Wonders Of the World list.
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