Jensen Monday Club
Top Touring Tip 5: You can't drink too much water.
In Apocalypse Now Marlon Brando said "The Horror, the horror". He must have had a hang over like the one I had. It was a shocker. I couldn't even get out of bed for breakfast. Pleas to Allah for death went unheard (mind you, this was the very morning of the amplifier "turned up to 11" at the mosque, so some divine intervention was involved, and as Muslim's don't drink I suppose cracking my skull was a fair punishment).
As we were pretending to be Scottish, all I could muster was "Och, ma heed!"
We had decided to have another walk around the old town, and to visit the Topkapi Palace. Chris felt in need of a little culture, I felt in need of a little lie down in a dark room...
As the palace was within hobbling distance of our hotel, of we went. The entrance to the palace was very forbidding, with armed militia on duty outside.
Once inside there was a "Restricted Area" which we didn't photograph due to fear of being shot.
We noticed this model of clarity in the description of the renovations going on.
We sat in the cool of the courtyard for a while and soaked in the atmosphere. It was there we noticed this tree which looked like it had been hit by lightening.
The palace was astonishing, with fabulously decorated buildings, and display rooms with the most exquisite jewellery and artefacts.
We slowly worked our way around the palace, and just when you thought you couldn't be amazed any more, something even more incredible would come along.
The levels of craftsmanship were astounding, and the artisans involved would surely have been at home at Jensen. The minute and intricate detailing was superb.
Due to the age of many of the artefacts, especially the silk ceremonial robes, etc, no flash photography was allowed. There was even in one room items of hair and clothing that came from the Prophet Mohammed himself, and that was a very atmospheric place.
Outside there were yet more fabulous sights.
And some amazing views.
Unquotable Quote: "...now that's Turkish delight!"
We retired for a very looooooooooooooooong lunch, which just happened to be by the Basilica Cistern. This rather unimposing looking building on the outside turned into a jaw dropping underground water cistern.
As usual my camera would not take good flash pictures, but here is a site with some good shots.
We had noticed that at lunch time and early evening there were large crowds of people gathering around the town square, so we went for a look. The battery had gone flat on my camera at this stage, so we had no pictures, but it was basically dozens of food stalls, all of which seemed to sell Donner Kebab.
It seems an odd thing to do looking back as every fish and chips shop in Britain now does Donner kebabs, and no drunken night out is complete without ether a curry or a Donner kebab afterwards, but we thought we would try the original.
We picked a stall and went in.
Top Istanbul Touring Tip: Have your kebab as a take away. It's half the price.
We ordered a kebab each, and a drink. There were sofas next to us with two young women lying on them. They were sharing a hookah pipe, and looking at the state of them it seemed there was more in it than tobacco. Cabbaged doesn't even come close to describing the condition they were in! They were ordering more food, so it looked like the munchies had kicked in...
Top Istanbul Touring Tip: If the proprietor asks you if you want to "try his meatballs", say no!
It is a scam they use on tourists where they put a plate of meatballs on the table as if they are letting you try them before you buy some, but then add them to your bill.
Chris was very aggrieved by this and had to be dragged away before the proprietors meatballs appeared on a skewer rather than the menu!
It was early evening, and after drinking umpteen bottles of water during the day I suddenly realised that I hadn't taken a leak for something like 16 hours because I was so dehydrated. I think in part this was the amount we had had to drink the night before, but also having the aircon on full time in the car, so it became a top touring tip:
You can never drink enough water.
We had left the car in front of Brothers bar the day before, and so we decided to drive it back to the hotel to make packing and leaving easier. We had a quick look at the car to see if everything was ok, and we noticed this.
We had hit the kerb when reversing into the space and took a chunk out of the rear valance.
We reckoned the weight saving would help the fuel consumption, and just added it to the list of stuff that needed looking at when we got home (more of this later)
Unquotable Quotes: "..., and that's the benefit of not having wing mirrors"
We spent some more time sight seeing, and eventually settled into a restaurant in "Fish Street" for a huge feed and a bottle of wine. It was our last night and we wanted to go out in style, so we sat outside in the warm evening air, with the hustle and bustle of this huge metropolis as a backdrop.
The style had to be tempered by the need to get up in the morning and drive to Bucharest, and so we retired to Brothers for a late beer and to say good bye to our new found friends.
We had an early-ish night as to get to Bucharest we had to go back through Bulgaria. This would mean doing battle once again with the Bulgarian rozzers...
Or go to: Istanbul!