Sept.29.2010, Istanbul

0800.  Cloudy, may have rained overnight.  Up for a shower.  Debbie says she had a hard time going to sleep last night because of noise and she is stuffed up, so she stayed in bed – but had to lock me out of the room as there is only 1 key!  Have to ask about another.

Breakfast on the Turkoman’s roof terrace overlooking the Blue Mosque and the Marmara; cereal, yogurt with dates and nuts, toast with grape molnes and tahini, coffee.  0910

1115  Watching from the roof top patio and from our room window you can see what happens with unlimited access to automobiles.  In spite of an extensive and well used tram/bus/metro system the streets are absolutely plugged with cars, taxis and trucks.  Most cars and taxis with only 1 person in them.  This appears to be the fate of all cities that cater to the automobile.  Consider Mexico City, Athens, Rome.  It’s just starting in Vancouver.  Gas/diesel prices don’t seem to matter either.  Parking availability certainly doesn’t matter as there is none here.  This city has 15% unemployment so that’s not an apparent deterrent to vehicle congestion.

Checked Facebook and got note from Chrystal – got help at front desk to arrange shuttle reservation for the girls from the other airport on the Asian side to our hotel.  1130 started walking, found entrance to the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia and Topkapi Palace.  Not going until Chrystal and Lindsay arrive.  Then walked along tram line down to Sirkeci Station, last stop on the Orient Express.  Looked at railroad museum inside the old station.  Lunch on Hubavendicar C.  Back up Ankara C., right on Turk Ocigi C. (but still, have never found a street sign!), past Istanbul Erkik Lisesi which is a school of some sort, and a left into underwear alley which became the Grand Bazaar in which we became lost.  Stopped at the police station within the Grand Bazaar to ask directions on how to get out!  Came out near Cermberlitas tram station.  Back down Khodfavr C. past the “corner of death” and the Hotel Diana, returning to the Turkoman Hotel.  The “corner of death” is the name we gave to an intersection of 5 roads with everyone going everyway, stuffed full of vehicles and people.

1612  sun, partly cloudy, 28C.  The girls were to have landed at 1530, shuttle scheduled to leave that airport at 1630.  ETA Turkoman Hotel is 1800.

Everything good!  Richard & Kathy E. showed up at our hotel at about 1800 and the girls arrived at 1820.  We all talked for a while and then showed the girls and R&K our room.  R&K left (we saw them on the street later on).  Hard time finding the restaurant Ortaklar on the corner of the suicide intersection.  Small inside the restaurant so they set up a table for us right out on the sidewalk corner.  The waiter brought us a huge piece of pita bread.  He also made Chrystal a rose out of a paper napkin.  His name is Necim.  He was quite taken with Chrystal, asked us to come back the next night or to call him so he could take her and the rest of us to his brother’s restaurant on (under?) Galata Bridge.  He gave us his card.

Back to Hotel Turkoman at 2100 and up to the patio for beer and imported (by the girls) Strongbow cider.  Lindsay starts looking for Athens hotels on line for the first night when they get there.  We stop at 2300, in bed by 2330.

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