I'm almost in Asia again

Trip Start Jan 17, 2007
Trip End Aug 29, 2007

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Saturday, April 21, 2007

We're finally making the jump from Eastern Europe to The Middle East...(at least according to the UPS and DHL offices...) and I did it in a painful way, as apparently the Turks don't like Canadians...it costs us $60 US for an entry visa, where as Kiwis get in free, Brits pay 10 pounds and Aussies and Americans pay 20$...that was painful particularly at 2 am...(I learned after that an entry visa to Canada for Turks is 75 Canadian, so maybe it's simply retaliation...)
When we first arrived it was dead quite as we arrived at 7ish in the morning in the tourist district of the city...there was more or less no one out and about...twas lovely!
Then we went to our hostel, checked in and had our first Turkish cay (chai) and a free brekkie...
We had a very productive day...we went to Hagia Sophia in the morning (10 YTL for entry) and then wandered for a bit...and in the afternoon we went to Topkapi Palace (10 YTL as well but they're sneaky, as you have to pay another 10 YTL to get into the harem, which is supposedly the best bit of the palace...I couldn't be arsed to pay...)...we also made it to the Grand Bazaar, which is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life...I think I had better get used to that feeling, I think that I'll be experiencing it a few times here...Anywho, the Bazaar is massive!  Myself, being the avid shopper that I am was immediately entranced at the idea, but upon arrival, I was completely and utterly overwhelmed and lost all desire to shop...it was that big!  Craziness!
After not really sleeping on the bus, a day of walking and turning down marriage proposals (me at least) and carpet salesmen, we were shattered and went back to 'rest'...which ended up evolving into a 12 hour sleep...whoops!
On our subsequent days, we made it to the Blue mosque as well (free admittance + donation...yeah!)
And we wandered a fair bit and mailed a very large package of my and Sam's things to England (as it was significantly cheaper to add my 4 kilos to Sam's 8 versus sending it home myself)...Oh Air Canada, you're going to have fun carrying all my crap back! :p
We also met up with 2 Ottawa girls that we met in Brasov and vegged out with them...
Whilst in Istanbul it was quite the blitz of experiences, getting invited into a carpet shop, whilst being fed tea and the carpet man took pictures of me sitting on the carpets and showed me some dance steps...something that I couldn't picture ever happening in Canada...which makes it even cooler!
The great think about Istanbul is that it really is where east meets west...there are just as many Middle Eastern tourists as there are western tourists...plus we are here for 2 major holidays...April 23rd (children's day) and April 25th (Anzac day...a big Aussie holiday where thousands of them come out to Istanbul and then do tours to Gallipolli, the site of a major battle during WWII where thousands of Aussies camp out every year)
The only crap part is that eating out is quite pricey...more or less a meal out is 8 to 10 dollars Canadian...luckily we found a great Kebab place where it's 2 YTL for a kebab...and more or less we have been frequenting there ever since...
For the record, a YTL is a new Turkish Lira and a CDN dollar is 1.2 or so Turkish Lira...they have the distinction between new and old as they changed their currency a few years ago and are still trying to faze it out...they dropped 6 zeros off the currency, to help inflation I believe...
P.S. Zoe: You have been promised in marriage to 3 Turkish men so far...get ready!
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