Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

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Travelogue: (Almost) Two Days in Istanbul
This is the part where I somewhat regret to say that a few aspects of this trip (so far) didn't quite meet my expectations. As a city, Istanbul is charming and full of incredible architecture. We visited the requisites: Chora (probably my favorite), Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque. The part that makes me upset is how little time we actually had in spite of being here for (not quite) two days. Traffic was so bad yesterday that we were lucky we got to spend even ten minutes in Chora and Hagia Sophia respectively before rushing off to the last stop, the Grand Bazaar, at which point we parted ways with the tour and found a restaurant for dinner and Turkish coffee. The baklava, I have to admit, was amazing. Getting back to the ship afterward, however, was a nightmare; the taxi let us off at the wrong end of the waterfront, where the man at the guard desk told us they had locked the entrances up for the night. Um, panic. As it turned out, though, walking a mile in the opposite direction was all it took – there, we found the 24-hour access gate. For about half an hour, I was a lot more distressed than I had ever planned to be on holiday. Anyway, we took the ship-sponsored shuttle back to the Grand Bazaar area this morning and saw the Blue Mosque of our own volition. All the guidebooks and tour guides thus far had told us that women would be expected to cover their heads upon entry, but when we got there, my mother-in-law and me were two of the only westerners sporting head-scarves. There's some irony for you. Apparently, they have no problem with tourists coming through with their heads uncovered. As long as you remove your shoes, everything's kosher.

The cause of the extraordinary traffic is Ramadan. It would seem that all of Istanbul turns out for it to shop, run around with friends, eat and drink after dusk, etc. The other noteworthy feature, I think, has been the stray cats. They were proliferate in Thessaloniki, and they're just as numerous here. They have that sort of lithe, Abyssinian line to them, but the coloring is mostly what you'd expect: variants on calico, tabby, and any other solid shade you can think of. I haven't seen any that I would call Siamese or desert types. Anyway, this one antique shop near the entrance to the covered bit of the Grand Bazaar has adopted a tiny tabby kitten that runs around the shop playing with a ball. She has a bed and a toy mouse at the entrance, and she spent most of her time while I was browsing trying to get her ball out of the small fountain that's just inside the shop's entrance. She kept getting her paws wet and flinching back. Periodically, she'd get bored and follow me around or go play with the tassels on some of the cushions randomly sitting around the shop.

(As far as my expectations not being met, it's just that our stay was so rushed. That and the prospect of three more nights of my father-in-law's snoring makes my blood turn cold. Seriously, I've gotten only about four hours of sleep per night, maybe only about three hours the first two nights. I've been over-tired as a result and very easily upset by little things, like the fact that I haven't got the amount of pocket-money I would've liked to spend on this trip. I mean, I shouldn't complain; I wouldn't be here if my in-laws weren't paying for it. At the same time, the number of unique souvenirs that I'll never find anywhere else that I've had to leave behind? Devastating.)

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You, my dear, need a pair of earplugs. They are lifesavers when it comes to sleeping in the same room as a snorer.

i hate rushing when I'm on holidays, knowing it may be years or never that I get to go back to these places yet having so little time to spend there.

It sounds like an amazing experience. I'd love to see the blue mosque too, and feel the atmosphere there. It sucks that you had to rush like that, though. I can imagine you could spend a lot more time in a place like that.

And get some earplugs!

Gah, must be really frustrating to have to rush through amazing places like that! They're places that should be felt and experienced properly, definitely not in ten minutes.

I second the earplugs suggestion! There are few things as frustrating as trying to get to sleep with someone snoring. I can't believe you're managing to function at least somehow with that little sleep, though - poor you!

Arg, I sympathise on the snoring thing. I once slept in a room with someone who snored so loudly that I went and slept in the hall. Which obviously is a bit hard on a ship. :/ Can you wear earplugs? (They give me horrible ear aches.)

I'm sorry that things are rushed - that's the reason I've always been wary of going on trips with a planned itinerary, although I probably miss just as much by being disorganised.

I travel frequently with a cousin who is completely deaf and snores so loudly that the furniture shakes. Deaf people cannot hear their own snoring, so there is no hope of moderation. Anyway, after several sleepless trips, someone recommended earplugs. They really do work and they will save your sanity. I will never travel without them. You never know when noise can be a problem.

Edited at 2008-09-26 02:08 am (UTC)

That is why you go back after you've completed your doctorate and landed yourself a spiffy job. Then you can take your time and bask in the desert sun and fresh bakalava~ x9

Aw, I'm sorry about the snoring. I know exactly how you feel. And as I'm the lightest sleeper on the planet, any little noise keeps me up. It's awful. Ear plugs are a good idea, unless you need to hear an alarm in the morning. That's why I don't wear them--I can't miss any of my classes because I've slept through the alarm!

Hopefully the rest of your trip isn't so rushed!

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