Jude and Pete - Greek Sailing Adventure & Absolute Turkey 2011 travel blog

Monday night and we are on the train to Ankara. We've had another big day today. Packed our bags, had breakfast and were ready to rock and roll by 9.00am. Called the Giles family before we left...the kids were full of the fun they had at the show. Sent Mel a text to see if they were at home however it wouldn't send...I decided I would try again later.

We sat down with the group before we set off on our walking tour and introduced ourselves and told the group a little about ourselves. It was then off to see so e of the sites along the way to the Blue Mosque. What an amazing building. I keep saying that, don't I?  We had to take off our shoes before entering and make sure our shoulders and legs were covered. It is a beautiful building and our guide was quick to point out that the women are segregated out of respect, not because they are thought less of than the men. Because they prostrate themselves in prayer, it would not e respectful to have you head near a woman's backside. It makes sense really. That is also why they wash their feet, hands and face each of the five times they go to pray each day.

Our guide was able to give us a lot of interesting information about a lot of sights we have seen over the last few days. He is very knowledgeable and very passionate about sharing his knowledge.

We skipped the tours of the Basilica Cistern and the Topkapi Palace as we toured them on our own in the last couple of days. While some of the group toured these two sights, others of us had free time. I Skyped the Moseys during this time however the call wasn't all that successful, I couldn't get my camera to work so I could see them and then the signal was breaking up. I then tried them on the phone but it was pretty noisy where I called from so it wasn't much better. Hopefully I'll be able to get a call in during the next few days.

Caught up to the rest of the group and we walked to the Grand Bazaar. Grand doesn't seem the right word for it...there's over 4000 stalls within the building and it's over 500 years old. There's hundreds of jewellery shops, clothing shops, souvenir shops, shoes...kind of like Kuta markets times 1000. Our guide said it's a tourist trap and that we would be able to buy the same things while we are on our trip around. Pete and I sat in a cafe and waited with a few of the others while some of the group went shopping. I may have a good sense of direction however couldn't guarantee if I went shopping, I'd find my way back to the meeting point. We had 1/2 hour in the bazaar and then took a detour on the way to the Spice Market. We walked through the old courtyard at the back of the Grand Bazaar, went up some stairs and through the back blocks of some very old shops. We were then up on the roof of the building with a fantastic view of the city. Serdar gave us an overview of the building, built by the sultan's mother. It is in pretty bad condition however it is listed for restoration by the government.

We were then off to the Spice Bazaar. What a cornucopia of goodies...spices off all sorts, dozens of blends of teas, unbelievable choices of Turkish delight and sweet meats, nuts, olives, cheeses and fish. It would be wonderful to live here and pop down to the markets for the ingredients for dinner. We bought some Turkish Delight, pistachios and almonds so we have some snacks for the drive tomorrow.

We then crossed the Galata Bridge and walked to our restaurant for dinner. There were hundreds of fishermen on the bridge...they use rods and we'd noticed heaps of them on Sunday when we were in the area. The difference in dress was interesting from guys who looked like they'd just come from the office (suit jacket and slacks) to those who looked like they were going fishing. The pricing at the restaurant was interesting....I had grilled chicken with salad and chips and it was 10TL and the vegetable casserole was 14TL. Seems a bit odd...meat dishes usually cost more.

We then caught our boat to the train station. It was a perfect night for a boat ride and much more interesting than going in our tour bus. The city was lit up and looked beautiful. It took about 20 minutes to get to the dock near the railway station. It's a beautiful old building...we 'd seen it from the boat on Sunday and thought it was some sort of historic building (which I guess it is as well as a railway station).

The van with our bags was waiting at the station for us so we unloaded our bags and headed for the train. Serdar allocated compartments...each compartment has seats that convert to four bunks. Pete and I got to share with Rachael and Sarah. We settled in ready for the start of our trip to Ankara. Once we got moving, Pete and Sarah went down to the restaurant car. Rachael and I had a bit of a chat, made up the bunks and had a bit of a read before we went to bed.

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