Mayan Prophecy Countdown
April 27, Istanbul
It is a different lifestyle here in Turkey(DOH!) They mostly have a late start to the day but stay up late, or maybe it is just my influence with drinking beer ;) Anyway, I had my own keys to the workshop just downstairs so I started to do some work on the bike. Some little problems occurred as I have not really had a place to work properly for ages, nor the actual time, so I left them. Nothing major, but I have the relaxed time to work on them now. I am also having a charging issue, camera batteries, laptop etc as I only have one adapter, I need to get some extras. I need oil for my chain oiler(if it still works) and I need to fix my heated grips, the rubber surface has melted over the years and is real sticky.
I was progressing along when Mehmet said maybe it is best to work on the bike later, he could then take me on a tour of the sights of Istanbul, but not by bike(whew!) but by metro, so I agreed. Apparently, the old parts of Istanbul can bee seen and experienced in a few hours, without going to museums of course, that is out of my blood :)
So just after midday we head off to get the metro train into the old town section, the first stop was the old bazaar, or market.
As we got off the metro you can hear the Muslim call to prayer over the mosque loudspeakers, saturating the air with their wailing(no other way to describe it really), have a listen
It goes on for ages and happens five times a day. I have been reliably informed that the Koran does not specify anything about attending the mosques at all, let alone five times a day. Anyway, back to the bazaar, this is a fully undercover market with as you would expect heaps of good stuff(with some tat amongst it) Here is a the gold center of Turkey, lots of jewelery and ceramics on display
There are plenty of mosques around, some fancy and some just a hole in the wall style with praying room in the streets!
One of the main attractions here is the blue Mosque, a nice bit of architecture. As you guys know, I don’t really do churches or things like that, unless it looks good or is unusual, this one looks good and is of course very different :)
We did try and get inside, but it was Friday prayer time which is special, so very busy and the wait was long, so we headed down to the spice bazaar, via the gardens of Ahmet, this is Mehemet my host and guide :)
This tour was started up the hill and we have been walking downhill, smart move, but now we get to the spice bazaar, down near the waters edge. A very unmistakable odour as you enter here, spices of course, a very nice smell, with all the colours you would expect. The owner of this spice store did not look happy though.
The other side of the market system here is the illegal side of the trade. Every day the police swoop down and inspect the goods on offer and the licenses, many times there are shonky goods and no license, so the stores are packed up and moved behind fence barriers. Once a fine has been paid, they can take their stuff, or if not the stuff is eventually given out to the poor. Amazing how many of these fenced areas there are dotted around.
I was getting a tad hungry, so we found a place(heaps of them all over) and had a traditional lunch, donar meat with rice and vegies(donar means turning, it is sliced meat off a big slab of mixed turning meat) After lunch we headed out amongst the garden and animal areas where you can buy all sorts of things, dead and alive, including leeches, for medicinal purposes apparently :)
Just down from here is the waterfront, this is the Bosporus straits and is a channel of water that joins the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. There are only three bridges and many ferries. On the other side is Asia, I will be bypassing the city when I leave and taking a ferry to the other side, rather than try and use a very gridlocked bridge system. We walked over the bridge where people were fishing but that was it for me, my legs were not used to all this walking, in thongs was a bad idea as well, so we called it a day and headed back for Turkish tea, which is black tea in small glass mugs with sugar and no milk
I had bought some beer as well and we ended up chatting with all the club members who dropped in on their way home from work. The Istanbul Bikers Club is a non profit organisation and is also non political. They have three places in town, this place is the main one and is still being modified after moving in a short while back. This will eventually have heaps of spare parts, a basic workshop with bike lift and tools, and of course the flat above. This will be used as it is now for visiting bikers. The other two places are for major bike work, like engine tear downs in one and the other is used for crating bikes for shipping in and out of the country. Mehmet and Adil are the two main operators as they are retired, but are hoping to pass the reigns on to some of the younger chaps, so they can go riding. Between them, they have clocked up around 5 million kms throughout this continent and are planning to do some more, well done guys :)