Thursday, 17 April 2014

Way to go!

3 hours from Wellington to Sydney, 8 hours from Sydney to Singapore, 11 hours from Singapore to Istanbul. It still seems a long way to the other side of the world, and how much longer it must have seemed for those soldiers setting off on troopships from NZ and Australia in WW1. Plus we had Singapore Airlines food and movies to help dispel the monotony of hours on a plane, ad all they had once they landed on Gallipoli was bully beef, biscuits, jam and tea - and they had to fight the flies even for those.

Regrouping at Istanbul Airport. Still trying desperately to remember each other's names. 

Istanbul is full of tempting sweet shops...

...and tulips. Apparently they originated here, not in the Netherlands at all, and thousands of them have been planted all over the city, in big and small flowerbeds and at the sides of the roads.

We are managing to stay awake, helped by an introductory walking tour of the city this afternoon, with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable commentary from  our lovely guide Baris, who pointed out lots of places that we might like to revisit on our return after Anzac Day (if we can find them again). In previous years, the group has gone on the bus bus from the airport straight down to Gallipoli, but it has been good to stop and get our bearings for a bit -even if we were lost and confused for most of the time, kept forgetting which way to look for traffic and still couldn't remember everyone's names. The electric trams are new since our last visit to Istanbul and they swoop past alarmingly close to people walking on the pavement.

We walked as far as the Sultanahmet Mosque, enjoying the sights of all the pavement stalls - grilled and charred sweetcorn, simit (rings of bread coated in sesame seeds) and roasted chestnuts; one man was selling mussels with slices of lemon and an enterprising boy was creating Spirograph designs for sale. Another boy was selling rings of sticky coloured toffee which he swirled onto a stick. A sadder sight was the number of families (many apparently Syrian refugees) sitting begging on the streets, parents, young children and babies.

Coloured toffee for sale (very pretty, even if very bad for your teeth!)
Embarrassing Technological Moment no 1: after a crash course in travel technology over the last couple of months (new and first-ever tablet, new and first-ever phone-that-does-more-than-just-send-texts, new software for transferring photos from camera to phone, TravelSim, multi-currency cash card and numerous new passwords), I've come prepared with all the necessary chargers and  plug converters - but had a moment of panic this afternoon when the phone charger wouldn't seem to fit into the plug converter. I managed to find a shop near the hotel that might be able to sell me another one, but they very kindly showed me that I just wasn't fitting it in firmly enough, Here's hoping the rest of the travel technology works OK.

Sitting in our hotel room now, and can hear the evening call to prayer coming over the minarets. We are off to dinner soon at a local restaurant, then tomorrow we have the 5 hour drive down to the Gallipoli peninsula.

View from our room at the Legacy Ottoman Hotel
Looking from the lifts across the atrium to the other side (not the kind of place we ever stayed at in our backpacking days!)

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