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Istanbul Turkey

Istanbul Turkey

Finally, I’ve made it to the top of Turkey!  And saved the really big city for last. Istanbul! (Formerly known as Constantinople) I get a bit disappointed as there is so much of Turkey I have missed.. I need at least a month in each country!! ;-(

I was and I was not looking forward to Istanbul.. the mere size of the place scared the bejeebers out of me and from the horror stories I heard, you are totally risking your life on a motorcycle there.  The city itself has a population of over 13 million people and it’s a 100 km from one end to the other.. unreal..

On the other hand, I knew this is a great place full of amazing history and culture, and I didn’t want to just pass it up.

Riding here from Pamukkale was easy, but I thought I’d stay the night outside the city if I can, and be fresh when I go to tackle the traffic. Seriously, I had so many warnings about riding my motorcycle in Istanbul, I was super worried and didn’t want to chance being really tired when I go in.  Wouldn’t you know, Doug Wothke again comes to the rescue and says, “I have a friend in Sakarya on the way to Istanbul you should meet”..

So that night I ride into town, a very busy place 150 km east of Istanbul yet you’d think it’s part of the city already! Found a cheapish place to stay and set off to find this Erol and his biker bar.

Never know who I’m meeting or what to expect, but I can tell you, as soon as I mentioned Doug Wothke’s name, they were happy! If Doug is a friend of mine, then say no more!!  I can’t understand much of Turkish language, but they went on and on about Doug since I can at least hear that name in there!  
Erol wanted to see my bike parked on the street outside the hotel.. he doesn’t speak ANY English, so we are communicating mostly by sign language, which is hilarious but we get there!  He goes into the front door of the place I stay, and has a talk with the guy at the front desk.  I assume he is telling him to keep an eye on the bike all night (parked on the busy sidewalk at the front door – in the way of pedestrians I might add).  But that’s what they wanted me to do!
Next thing I know, Erol whips out his wallet and pays for my room.. what?? No way…!!!  He can’t do that!  Too late..  I was in a panic and messaged Doug immediately once a guilty me made it back to my room.. Doug was laughing and said, it’s normal for Turkish hospitality..get over it!  Staying in somebody’s house is one very generous thing, but to pay the room of somebody you only met minutes before?  That is serious hospitality!
Here is very proud Erol… look at that face!  😉  What a great great guy…
It was good to meet the bikers here this night,  and we made a plan for me to move on in the morning to time it well with the traffic.. But first wonderful Didem and Erol continues with the Turkish hospitality tradition of a BIG breakfast!!
Don’t get too crazy, this tray if for the 3 of us.. 😉  Poly couldn’t get into having vegetables for breakfast when she was traveling with me.. but I like it!  It’s just good whole food.. hard boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, piece of bread with some honey.  I might continue doing this when I get home.
THANK YOU Erol and friends.. I am so glad I stopped here… you’re the best!
Now to tackle the highway into Istanbul.. I take their suggestions and get on the toll road to make it easy..  I get to the gate, nothing happens.  No ticket comes out.. no buttons.. and nobody works at ANY of the booths.  There is a building on the outside. I park my bike and found a man inside asking how this works.. He says I have to pay him 50 Turkish Lira (31 USD) while he’s rubbing his fingers together wanting money.. He also didn’t speak a lick of English.. but I said 50?  He said “evet” (yes).. I made hand gestures as I was to return to the bike to get money.. but the guys had already told me it didn’t cost much to take this road, and the fact the man I talked to had no printed ticket or info in writing to say this is the price. I find it hard to believe all those cars passing through are paying 50 Lira!!  I just get on my bike and go..  worried all the way the police will come after me, but had to do it…
When I went through the final gate, I didn’t have a ticket to insert.. again, no human beings there just automatic machines.. what the heck can I do??  I go on through with red lights and sirens going off. I see a policeman nearby.. he’s not bothered by my escape but I went to ask him anyway. He did his best to explain to me that I do have to pay, but I will need to go to a specific bank and explain to THEM why no ticket.. etc.. What???  It’s all just super weird for me, so I didn’t do that either..

So the reason for no photos?  It’s been raining the whole way big time..

I find a place to stay.. and head out the next morning to explore the top spots.. but that big rain was not going to let up for anything. 

I went and visited some of the most visited sites in the city.. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, etc. completely drenched! 

Now these photos are from the next day, as I wander around the city.. never made it back to the most important places to see for decent photos even though I had such intentions… however, outside of those typical tourist stops, this is my view of Istanbul. (Don’t get me wrong, it just turned out this way.. those tourist sites were amazing and I would certainly tell anyone I know going to the city not to miss them!)

My bike stayed nicely tucked up against the building and I set off on foot.  The traffic to me wasn’t dangerous, there was just far too much of it and very slow!

I’m wandering around the neighborhood where I stay.. and I thought it was so cool to see that kids still play marbles..  must be the oldest game on the planet..

Wandered into a different neighborhood and I am feeling the 13 million people about now!!

A very very Muslim city as is the rest of the country..

It’s time to pray.. in the street.

I’ve not been to a predominately Muslim country before this one, but one thing they love to do is sing loudly into a speaker several times a day, calling everyone to pray.  I can tell you, there are some dreadfully horrible prayer singers!  (sorry Turkey friends 😉 But it’s their culture and I tried to sing along with my own horrible voice to cope until it was over.. 😉 Here the guys are following the call and come outside with their matts in preparation.

The streets are quite organized. There is a street with just tools, and another street with nuts and bolts, a street of blankets and pillows, but the street with the wedding attire got my attention!

Imagine wearing that on your head when you get married!  I don’t mean to be rude, but it looks a wee bit uncomfortable?  ;-/

Far out!! Those are some serious wedding dresses..!!

Reminds me, I didn’t get a photo, but I saw a young couple arrive Pamukkale at the last post.. She was in the supersize bright pink gown with all the glitter on her face and hair.. just like you see here.  I thought they were going to a prom, but they must have just been married.. oops!

And a little more of a most common attraction.. the food!

Special Turkish dessert, rice pudding called Sutlac. You see it everywhere and there are many flavors to choose from.  One flavor is chicken!  I didn’t order but I tasted it and it was good and sweet, with bits of chicken inside.. odd, but I liked it.  I chose the one with green cardomon I think is what it was..  And Angelos, whom is a close childhood friend of Greek friend George, offered to meet and he went for the berry.  So much good food in Turkey!!!  I didn’t know I would like it so much..

Now for some important shopping, in the central Bazaar..

I know, I know… it’s really touristy, but ever since I arrived this country, I love these things!  I still can’t buy any of it, but doesn’t hurt to look!

One thing you will see EVERYWHERE in this country is their flag.. 

I also like the street sales of special treats.. cheap, fun and convenient. The man calls loudly along the street, like the Ice Cream trucks in America! 😉  My favorite time of day.. always! 
 I bought 2.. because I thought he was cute..! 😉

Here comes another guy.. plenty of competition in this neighborhood!

This is a walk around my neighborhood at night..  wouldn’t have looked much different a hundred years ago.. and it didn’t feel unsafe at all… even amongst many abandoned buildings.

This was the most dangerous thing I saw.. two big girls taken the boy out for his play gun.. ! ;-/

And that concludes my Istanbul Turkey experience!  I did meet some great guys at a meeting.  I liked this group of riders, a real mix of bikes and people.  They get together every Wednesday night for their “meeting”, but it’s mostly to have a drink and something to eat together.. I arrived very late, but it was still fun to have a chat.. Thanks again for inviting me Bahadir!  If you get into Istanbul, you should drop them  a line.

And I also might say that the traffic was not a problem AT ALL!!  I must have experienced far worse than Istanbul in other cities, because it was all really normal to me.. as usual, the things I worry the most about is just a waste of time..  See you!! 😉

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Originally from America. Proud citizen of Australia. Currently riding my motorcycle around the world. 44 countries so far and counting. ;-)


  • June 5, 2011

    That headgear doesn't look any worse than the 'ministry of silly hats' at the royal wedding this year. I wouldn't like to wear any of it, but tradition is tradition. Looks like and amazing place to visit and looks like you've done quite well making the most out of it.BradyBehind Bars – Motorcycles and Life

  • June 8, 2011

    Sherri, great description and those pictures are amazing! They reflect exactly the unique "couleur locale" of this exciting city!…and it is true…that although I love vegetables, I do not like them as a breakfast!All these tomatoes and cucumbers and olives for breakfast….hmmm…I prefer my toasted bread with butter and homemade strawberry marmelade that I just made…wish you we here to have some!Take care my friend,

  • July 5, 2011

    I'd hit the bazaars, too. All those colorful bowls! I'd have bought some to ship home only because I LOVE colorful pottery. Again, great pics and descriptions. I am so glad you do get enough down time to keep us all up to date!


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