Merhaba, hello from Istanbul!
It is so wonderful to be here, what an amazing place….
Even though we have been here only two days it seems much, much longer. Our hostel is very central in old Istanbul, Sultanahmet, with views of the Bospherous Sea. A roof top balcony, street front resturant, such friendly helpful staff, free breakfast and wifi….
It is just minutes walk to the Blue Mosque, Aya (Hagia) Sofia, Topkapi Palace…
Day one we seemed to accidently do so much!
We had the quintisential Istanbul experience that started with an offer of a free guide around the Blue Mosque – including entrance through the “Turkish door” – no queueing.
Our friend was very knowledgeable and helpful and relayed much information….
The impressive central dome of the Blue Mosque. The whole place used to be lit by candles and is 400 years old.
Our friendly “guide” with the kids….
This tulip detail from the carpet (original and now covered in plastic) has all the tulips pointing towards Mecca so those praying know which way to face.
Admittedly the trip through was slightly rushed and upon exiting he insisted we accompany him to get the best photo of the mosque…which just happened to be the roof of his family’s carpet shop! Ahh, so that was the rub, I had wondered….!
Never one to miss an opportunity we took this photo and then found ourselves doing what I had thought we would not do while here.
We were given apple tea (we all love it) and then started the process of choosing a carpet! The kids had no idea of how it works so entered into the spirit of the occasion, where the carpet would go, which pattern, colours…Once we had agreed on one Ollie just asked how much! As I sat there wondering if perhaps I could afford a cushion cover the calculator came out, the bargains, the best discount, the “you are the first customer of the day” spiel….
I would love a Turkish rug, always have and no doubt one day will, but for now the price of one is the total budget of our month in Turkey. When the seller realised this was true we were ushered out tout sweet!!
A great big tick there, and so exciting for the kids to experience that.
The street we are staying in Sultanahmet is cobbled and lined with resturants and hotels. At dinner time tourists flood in and each place has a guy outside drawing them in. There are water pipes available the waiters blowing on hot coals to fire them.
We were given apple tea within minutes of arriving by a resturant over the road. So now we know them and of course we are the “little kiwis” and get greeted everytime we pass (several times a day).
The guys at “our” place feel like family already, the old guy who sits on the roof terrace but never seems to be working, he has limited English but we converse with sign language well.
The barman who has a Kiwi girlfriend in Wellington. He calls himself “half kiwi” and is very troubled at being so far away from his love. Yesterday he poured his heart out to me – as much as one can with the language barrier. I think I got the jist though and responded appropriately! Even though they skype and plan to be together he looked very sad….ah the course of true love and all that…
And now we have our new friends the carpet sellers..not sure if they will be so friendly next time we see them though…