Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Nov 15, 2007

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Friday, August 11, 2006


At 6am the Turkish army came to move us on. None of the 7 soldiers spoke English but we got the message loud and clear.

10 kilometers down the road we made our breakfast before braving the peak hour traffic into Istanbul. It was a squeeze of traffic coming into town. Feeder roads caused organized mayhem and we had to stand our ground and do a little nudging ourselves to get ahead. The taxi drivers were the worst. There were many small commuter busses taking men to work.

The Bosporus Sea goes between Istanbul so half of it is in Europe and half in Asia. We crossed the suspension bridge and came to a toll gate. I went inside the main office to enquire about payment and was immediately directed upstairs, where I found the ladies toilet, something I didn't need at that moment. When I came down I realized I was the only female in the building.

It's a bit difficult for me to 'walk 2 paces behind Des', but I am trying to remember that this is a predominantly Muslim country and I should not be domineering. I am a woman and should know my place. But I am also a Western woman, used to taking charge. I think it's going to be even harder for me when we go to Iran.

Anyway, toll card purchased (by me) we drove the short distance into Kadikoy and fueled up with diesel at $2.53 AUD per liter.

We parked the campers in an 'otopark' and asked if we could stay there for 24 hours. No problem. That was easy. Off we went with the ferry for a day in Istanbul. It was hot and humid but we were excited to get into the Grand Bazaar. The lovely smell of spices and leather was a treat and the blue eyes of all sizes seemed to be watching us everywhere. I purchased a long skirt and veil for Iran and we had lunch in Julia's Kitchen. I had a salty buttermilk and a semolina desert, both different but good and Des had a delicious lamb shaslick which I then also ordered because it was so yummy.

We had some difficulty with an ATM machine in that it made the transaction but did not dispense the cash. When you don't speak the local language, it's difficult to get any satisfaction in situations like this. What made us more upset was that the machine was already out of order when we put our card in and the bank staff were already working on the opened ATM at the back, when we made the transaction. A whole hour of our time could have been saved had they put an out of order sign on the ATM. We watched the staff take out about 8 plastic cards from the back of the machine, I would have been really narked if one of them was mine.

The Sophia Museum, which used to be a mosque but has now been made into a museum was huge, colourful and cool. It is still being restored in parts but it was lovely to walk around on the marble floor and rest for awhile on one of the marble pillars.
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lucinate on

You couldn't be more incorrect regarding walking behind your husband. People know you are a female non-muslim tourist and will respect that you may not practice as they do. Istanbul is a very modern cosmopolitan city. You should take a look at some more stories about visits to Turkey and Iran and take a look at the photos. Also you will be surpised at how confident and forward the women are in Iran. They do not walk behind their husbands and will walk with male friends side by side. Of course wear a scarf and a long sleeved coat but you will be very welcome there. Both men and women will talk to you. By walking behind your husband you are almost agreeing that women should be treated this way. Western women do not do this. You can show respect for Islam in other ways. Dressing modestly is one of them. But you can take charge. Pay for things whilst your husband waits behind. This does happen. Women are more opressed in eastern Turkey and Pakistan but you are not. Don't let the men of these places think they can treat western women this way. They need to know. I travelled with my partner and they know I'm not muslim and didn't treat me as such. If you want any help or advice feel free to write to the forums or ask myself (lucinate) or uncle_davros. There are loads of Travelpod members who can assist you.

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