We kept in touch with our new Kiwi friends, Dave and Sue, who we met while hiking in Cappadocia. We knew our travel itineraries would overlap in Istanbul so made loose plans to get together with them while there. While on the bus to Canakkale, and thanks to mobile wifi, our plans gelled to have dinner with them that evening. We were joined by Aussi friends of theirs, Jack and Jenny. We had a blast and what a great way to arrive in a new city!
I brought binoculars into the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia so I was able to see the beautiful mosaic artwork sitting high above.
Cindy and I stayed in the old city exploring so many sights, we didn’t see any other part of Istanbul for the first three days. We heard some people visit Istanbul and never leave the old city at all.
Growing up in NYC I used to laugh at the tourists who would stand around looking up at the skyscrapers. I went out for a walk one afternoon and chuckled at myself for doing the same thing. Just standing around taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Istanbul.
We visited the Museum of Archaeology. My off the cuff conclusion:
16,000 years ago – Ice age begins to end, the Sea of Marmara is fresh water lake and the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles are valleys.
10,000-12,000 years ago – Humankind transitions from hunter-gatherers to agrarian-agricultural society
8000-10,000 years ago – Surplus agricultural production leads to growth of large population centers and the development of first civilization in Mesopotamia including art, culture and religion.
Today – Religious differences in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) lead to sectarian violence and destruction of civilization.
We met a couple back in Fethiye while touring some ancient tombs carved into rocks, similar to those we say at Petra. They asked us to take a picture of them and since we forgot our camera they offered to take ours and send it to us. They said they were from Kazakhstan but were living in Istanbul and to get in touch when we got there. We did, and to our surprise Dauren and Ainur showed us Kazak/Turkish hospitality and took us out for a delicious dinner followed by a ride around Istanbul!
Travel is enriching not just from the different things to see and do, but from meeting people you meet along the way who come from far and distant lands and having lived very different lives from us. Dauren and Ainur speak 4 different languages and I learned that Kazak and Turkish are similar in that they come from the same language group (Turkic). Hence, after almost 4 weeks I had only learned a paltry 15-20 Turkish words and occasionally was still stumbling when saying the 6 syllable Turkish “thank you”.
We toured the Bosphorus and Golden Horn of Istanbul like locals. Instead of taking the “Short tour” or “Long tour”, we used our metro tickets to criss cross both using public ferries.