The cars on highway from Sabiha Airport, distant from Istanbul city a couple of kilometres, move slowly ahead. So, it is time enough for the first quick acquaintance with the biggest Turkish town and way of life there.
Gigantic dwelling houses are situated closely one to each other. Groups of Turks are sitting on narrow grass belt behind the drains. Most of them who came here, are dressed in suits. They are squatting on improvised camp-stools made from bricks around small camp-fire, smoking, preparing pic-nic, grilling mutton and discussing.
Traffic jams in Istanbul are nothing special. The town itself has much more inhabitans than Czech Republic, but this is not strange. The official figures confirm the fact about 16 millions of persons. To tell the truth, in Istanbul are living 19 millions of people at least. From tourist point of view, Istanbul became very popular target. The town is divided between Europe and Asia. Two bridges crossing Bosporus Straits, form the separation line.
The City of Two Continents
The bridges connect and divide Europe and Asia at the same time, as well as both parts (quarters) of the town, but you can soon recognize different life there. The uniformity of Asian quarters is disturbed with some architectonical jewels or Mosque. On the other hand, the European part is changed into unusual mixture of buildings from various past times, greatness or importance.
Galati Tower offers the most beautiful outlook for both parts of Istanbul. It was constructed in 1348 and is 60 metres high. You can get upstairs, using the lift. Anyway, a marvellous view is offered also from many hotel restaurants. But, if you try to look for such hotel (provided you are not accommodated there), it could not be too easy. So, in such case, it would be the best way, not to resist the proposal of so called beaters and let to be carried out up to the highest floor (stage) of one of many Istanbul skyscrapers and enjoy the circular views. But the genuine life is streaming downstairs, inside streets of the town, not only in city centre.
No Beaters, no Business
The beaters are to be seen everywhere but they are mostly appearing in the neighbourhood of restaurants, tea-rooms or night clubs. They shout to passers-by, showing restaurant menu, promising reductions and splendid entertainment, when the customers would be ready to get there the meals and drink. To tell the truth, all promises are always kept, and a person who would be allured from them, is really looked after carefully. Especially the women - tourists - who differ, with their behaviour or clothes (dresses), are in contrast with local Turkish women, fully enjoyed their popularity. Except beaters, called as managers, standard waiters are employed there, but these „managers“ - interlinks - give them the orders. So, this function is not quite usual in Czech market.
„Are you cold?“ the „manager“ asks, observing young lady, hitting the sleeves in benumbed fingers. Not expecting a reply, he orders one young waiter to put off his sack coat and throws it over her shoulders. The glass of beer, (which is of quite good quality), a pack of pea-nuts is served free of charge. The second beer is calculated for account of the restaurant, with an idea to be detained there as long as possible. The women as waitress are not employed in Turkish restaurants. But you can see women working in the kitchen or in backround of the restaurant. So, business in Istanbul is reserved for men only.
Business on Each Step
Street sellers form also an indivisible part of Istanbul way of life. Their moving stands, constructed in such way, in order to be quickly removed, provided police guard is approaching, are offering various scale of subjects, which seem to be impossible to be sold, indeed. So, you can buy moving moustaches, joined with flickering glasses, cats connected with batteries and flickering eyes, up to plastic ring, where you can draw a small wheel, composed from strange ornbaments.
The socks or standard pieces of cloths are also popular articles, offered on the street. So, this year, standard special blue smock-frocks are very fashionable in Istanbul. You can buy it at each street corner. A couple of meters distant, as these sellers of various spangles and other absurd subjects, you can meet the sellers of chestnuts, pop-corn, fish or various sorts of hazelnuts and almonds. And the chance that somebody would buy these items, is much more higher, as in the first case.
Al old woman is sitting on the stage, close to subway of tram line. She lives on selling of home-knitted subjects, displayed around on staicase. The pieces considered as the best, she spreaded around her head. But, frankly speaking, she is not the only one, offering something at the subway. The crowds of people are passing by, pressing against each other and pushing those who stopped at one stand, in order to buy something there.
You do not give, you receive - this is a rule, valid not only in football
The other two women are sitting on the stage. They do not sell anything, they beg only. One of them is overcoated in a scarf, nursing two totties on her knees. Several stages upstairs, the second woman is sitting on the earth. She is nursing a boy of at least one hundred kilos weight. But both persons are clean and well arranged. They chose quite interesting locality for their begging, so they cannot be afraid of their livehood.
Small children or old persons try to hide their beggary for selling of pocket paper hankerchieves. Small Turks know very well who could be sorry for them, so they could receive bountiful gifts. So, the women from abroad are very welcome objects, who can scarsely reject their wishes. These children are able one packet of paper handkerchieves even for couple of EUR money. And, frankly speaking, the older beggars are not successfull in this respect.
One of very interesting tourist targets for your holiday relax, there is Turkey. This country, situated on edge of Europe and Asia, has more and more suppositions to meet requirements of tourists. It became very popular thanks to combination of European and Moslem cultures.
Right now I pass a shop with ice-cream made in Bodrum. I cant miss this place. I take sour cherry, watermelon, and tangerine called dondrumu in Turkish. I continue slightly uphill to less glamorous neighborhood in Bodrum. I go up until a low white wall that surrounds famous Mausoleum in Halikarnassos.
We have just landed. I take a deep breath. Finally we are at the Bodrum Airport. We get into a bus and 40 minutes later ride downhill to Bodrum. The air has a salty smell of distant lends, colors have numerous shades, and azure horizon seamlessly changes to the sky.
At the theater once again I try to hitchhike a dolmush and continue to Gumbet, another bay beyond Bodrum. I go there to see the Myndos gate. From there a road to the city of Myndos ran. The gate was on a strategically significant location.
Once again I continue by dolmush to Turgutreis to a memorial to an admiral, and than I walk trough a green park to the port. Then I hitchhike another dolmush and go north to Gümüşlük where the flooded city of Myndos is located.
I wanted to visit Cappadocia, a land of beautiful horses as the Hittites. I bought a ticket bus and rode from Bodrum to Antalya where I slept over. On the following day I rode across the town of Konya where I visited caravanserai (an oriental pub by main roads where members of caravans and their animals ate) and the museum of Mevlana.
We just enter the city of Konya, the capital of former Seljuk empire. I step off from a bus at a bus station. I pick up my map of the city and head to a tower that shows me the way to the museum of Mevlana. The city spreads on a plateau surrounded with mountains.
For many centuries, Anatolia was a center of Chrisianity, mostly thanks to Apostle Paul and his missionary expeditions. His activity took place mostly around the year 41 AD. Christianity spread due to fertile ground it found in Cappadocia.
My journey now goes across ticket barriers to the museum compound, and then to the St Barbora church, who became a Christian against the will of her father. Initially, he imprisoned her and then killed her. Legend has it that he was struck by lightning for this.
I had my balloon flight above Cappadocia at last. In my perspective, it is there where to do such thing is the best. We were at the place at 5.15 in the morning. There were more than 50 balloons being prepared for flights!
Efes is the most preserved antique city in Turkey and it is rightfully one of the most popular spots. This place was known already in the 2nd century BCE. More than 250 thousand people lived there during its greatest time. In the present, thousands of tourists come here to admire what is left of fascinating buildings. Today, you walk with us on its marble pavement.
We cruise around the Ortakoy Mosque built by Sultan Abdulmecid in 1853. The construction was done by his architect Nokogos Balayn. It is in the baroque style and it is situated in the European part of the Bosporus. Now we flow under the Bosporus bridge built in 1973 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
Now we go downhill to the harbor. We embark a ferry and choose a bench on the upper deck. Soon the ship set sail. The name Bosporus means Cow ford. According the legend, there live beautiful princess Io in ancient Greece.
Topkapi Palace, oficially named as Palace with Cannon Gate, was living nerve of Ottoman Empire in past. It was an official seat of Ottoman sultans and government centre of the Empire within 1465 and 1853. It is situated on place of Greek town of Byzantium, later re-named to Constantinople and consequently Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia, the Church of Holy Wisdom, in past the holiest building in Constantinople, capital of Byzantion Empire, is shocking, first of all, with its high and wide inside spaceas well as illumination effects, making an impression that the cupola is rising in an air.
City, where man gets confused feelings. Charming markets, and yet beautiful architecture alien to us, the people who live by other values than we do, treacherous slippery stone walkways in the alleys or gloomy atmosphere that didn´t melt away even after so many years since the war. All this can be experienced in a town that seemed to not exceed the threshold of the 21st century.
Orient – distant, attractive, and spicy land. Just close eyes and you can see it again… Stop thinking about workdays and become absorbed in an atmosphere of One Thousand and One Nights stories in land of bent sabers, reverse half-moon and belligerent sultans. It is a matter of far past when Turks were a menace to Europe and yet people are still fascinated by beauty of Turkey.
Lets leave gray everydayness and take off on a flying carpet to the Köprülü National Park. There we will stay overnight in a pleasant camp by a river and on the next day we will move off to the spring of the Köprüçay River. After this we will continue through Antalya and Pamukkale to Dres.
A small town Troy is located in Turkey, in western Anatolia. According to a mythos Troy, the Achaeans founded the town lying on the bank of the Scamander River. In front of the town’s entrance, on the parking lot with many free spaces, in a box office you can buy a ticket required to enter the town.
Izmir (also known as Smyrna) has been settled for five and half millennia. The city is located in Anatolia along the bay which is connected with the Mediterranean Sea. The location of the city mean it had experienced rule of many civilizations and empires. The last of them, the Ottoman Empire, conquered Izmir in 1389, in the time when it still was a part of the decaying Byzantine Empire.
Right now I have been sitting on a bench on a railroad station. I am waiting impatiently for our bus to get started on a direction to Istanbul. I will see it with my naked eye, finally! This magnificent city attracts every traveler looking forward to fabulous adventure!
We are at the horse market. If you have imagination, you can still hear horses. It is here where the Hippodrome used to stand, it was a racing circuit for chariots of four horses. The race took place every year and the Caesar attended it every time. The audience divided into two groups, greens – regular citizens; and blues – nobility.
With so many memories from yesterday we slept so well. Now we are about to have delicious Turkish breakfast, i.e. white cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, bread… And black tea with much sugar. And we are ready to go. It is like we are invited to see the sultan personally in his Topkapi Palace.
As we mentioned in the previous, opening article, the most visitors are far from attracting its historic center to Istanbul. Whether it is the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Topkapi Palace, or just its unforgettable atmosphere in narrow, hilly streets with countless shops. Let's get rid of our article and video.