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East meets west, a city of two halves

Posted by on January 24, 2013

A sad farewell to the Tarn
We were waved off by family and friends at the boozer and then as we departed Barnsley International Interchange. Claire lasted at least 30 minutes before she nodded off just past Sheffield.

Adios Tarn
Istanbul 062

After a slight delay due to snow at Luton airport we touched down at 19.15 in Sabiha Gökçen International Airport Istanbul, Turkey.

Claire playing in the snow trying not to tipple over with her rucksack
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Dannys first pint at Luton Airport
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Good old Stavros
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The rucksacks arrived soon afterwards on the conveyer belt following a slight hold up at passport control for Danny- those ethnic looks are constantly getting him into bother.

Following  Lonely planet’s excellent advice, a bus, a funicular and a tram later we made it to the superb Sultanahmet where we were confronted by two of the oldest and largest buildings in the world (namely the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya but at his point we didn’t know which was which and were desperate for our first Turkey beer).

Funicular- yeah we didn’t know what one was either, Its a tram which goes up hills!
Istanbul 277

Yakamoz guest house was a five minute stroll from here (make it ten with the rucksacks and coffee machine) our first Turkish beer and Adana kebab later we were tucked up in bed with the guide book planning our next three days in the city- well Danny was, Claire was busy knocking the zzzzzzz out.

Blue Mosque

Constructed between 1606 and 1616 this building which sits directly opposite its predecessor Aya Sofya is truly unbelievable. It’ s not very blue but It looks like a Disney fairytale castle from the outside and on entering (without shoes but with a scarf for Claire) you have the pleasure of the squidgiest plush carpet ever under your feet. Reckon those Turkish carpets sellers eyes lit up when they got the contract for this place.

The ‘not blue at all’ Blue Mosque


Aya Sofya
Constructed over a thousand years earlier than the Blue Mosque (yep that’s not a typo) the building was firstly used as a Christian church and later converted into a mosque. Emperors were crowned here under the thirty million gold mosaic tiles which cover its interior. Unfortunately plush carpet is replaced by freezing cold stone tiles so this place was fffffffreezing!!! Claire, in spite of her trusty thermals couldn’t wait to get out of the place.

Very Old Aya sofya
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Basilica Cistern

This subterranean structure (basically an underground reservoir thing) was built in 532! It puts the Victorian sewage systems of London to shame. It once held 80,000 cubic metres of water and basically was the underground reservoir for the city. It seems in Istanbul that even structures underground are not only decorative but also built to last. It was also warmer in here so Claire was a happy bunny.

Under the city
Istanbul 201

Galetta Bridge
A very famous bridge in Istanbul. The whole bridge was full of fellas (and some burka clad ladies) fishing day and night for their teas. Of course Danny couldn’t help but sample the local mackerel sarnie, claire took pictures and held her nose.

The boat under the galetta bridge where the sarnies were fried up
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The days catch
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Spice Bazaar & Grand Bazaar

Over 4000 shops spreading several kilometres its every blokes worst nightmare. Even though it dates back to 1451 it just so happens that Del boy and Rodney have also stumbled upon this ancient place. After persistent cherps of lovely jubblys, cheap as chips and Asda price promises we took a right turn and Claire chowed down on a ‘’lovely jubbly’’ doner kebab. We returned to the hustle and bustle, enjoyed haggling some more with the locals and still didn’t trouble their till rolls.

Sugar and spice and all things at a price
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Carpets galore
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Claire’s savour
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 Bosphorus Cruise

After a hectic first day in the city we spent the second day on a cruise up the Bosphorus Strait to the mouth of the black sea. It was sunny but god was it cold!

Istanbul spreads across both sides of the strait. One half of Istanbul is Asia, the other is Europe- strange …….and they both have different emergency numbers too. The city is connected by a multitude of bridges (The Galetta, Bosphorus) and also hundreds of very nippy ferries. The north end of the strait runs into the Black Sea, the southern into the Sea of Marmara.

Chilly set off

A nice pad at the sea side
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Topaki palace
We were flying to Qatar at 11pm on our last day so after a slight lie in, typically continental breako of eggs and slimey ham we packed up and headed to the Topkapi Palace. This was the residential palace of the sultans and to say its slightly posh is an understatement. Now it’s a museum packed with old jewels and relics. Its holds the 5th largest diamond in the world which apparently one of the Sultans had made into a ring now, they could either bench press 1000 kilos with their massive sausage fingers or he was so filthy rich he was wheeled around cos this thing was huge!

The palace entrance
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Danny sat on his mate in Topaki park
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We thoroughly enjoyed our three days in Istanbul and definitely recommend it to everyone. We left the budget guest house behind us and headed to the airport for our luxury stay in Qatar with Claire’s brother Ben. All we had to worry about now was the fact that co-habiting is against the law unless you’re wed and that we thought we could well stick out a little with our huge rucksacks, walking boots and Danny’s (now very tight) Barnsley shirt in the five star hotel we were staying in.

Our route on this post:

Destination Arrival
1 Barnsley, United Kingdom January 13, 2013
2 Luton Airport, United Kingdom January 13, 2013
3 Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, Turkey January 14, 2013
4 Sultanahmet, Turkey January 14, 2013
5 Bosphorus Cruise, Turkey January 16, 2013
6 Sultanahmet, Turkey January 16, 2013
7 Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, Turkey January 17, 2013

5 Responses to East meets west, a city of two halves

  1. Sarah

    Love this website, brilliant job guys! Will defo keep check on this, and I am reading this while sat on couch n I’m well jel!!! Lookin forward to some food updates. Take care xxx

  2. Victoria Jackson

    I’m so jealous of your trip. Just catching up on the old blog posts now. Sounds like you had a great time here! Pics are brilliant.

  3. Gaynor Marais

    Pics are amazing, feel like I’m on this tour too!!

    Keep it up!

    BTW – Danny not sure whats got me gawking more the increase in weight or the dodgy hair dye!!

  4. Neil Butterfield

    Have you only got that one blue hoodie Spaniel?!

  5. Mike Jackson

    Danny, living on beans will be good for you.

    Looking a bit chubby round the facial area on this pic.

    Hope you are both having a goodun.

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