July 9th, 2008

Willow

Grrrr

So, first a gripe. This city might like to think it's cosmopolitan but until feminist liberation hits it, I will remain unconvinced. The sexism here is driving me up the wall!! *Always* the people approach D before P or I or they appeal to him to try and persuade us, as if that would help! Ha! D also got complimentary slippers and a robe in *his* room, P and I did not.

But what just got me going??? We had dinner in the hotel tonight. I owed D a considerable sum of money - we have a hilarious running tally system between us where different combinations of us owe each other money at any point in time and there is always a bizarre carving up of bills and things as we constantly try and get back to even. Anyway, I owed D from a few big things and I have been working down the sum I owe him since we got here. We ate in the hotel so it made sense for me to pay both our bills and make a significant inroad to my debt. So, I pop my room number on the bill and sign for it and we leave. We are standing at the reception desk booking the shuttle for tomorrow when the waiter runs up to me to ask me to print the surname on the bill, which I do. Then he says ... but is this your name or *and gestures to D* and I say, "it's mine" and he looks at me and I say very slowly, "I..... paid ... for it ..." and he just looked utterly stunned and then went back to the restaurant.

Grrrr.....

Okay, that's my gripe. Onto the things I love about Istanbul
Willow

A quick tour of my room

So I was saying how flash my room is ... behold:

Bathroom - pretty snazzy and Bed (sooooooo hard)

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Couch, where I will sit and read, perhaps, in the afternoon

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Desk and TV (where I am now sitting)

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My hallway, beyond which is my toilet, to the right, and just in front of that is the fridge and the tea and coffee station.

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The view - of the Sea and the ships.

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Willow

Ahhh .. Istanbul, how you taunt me!

(eek - trouble with the internet - photos now, more later when I can)

Well, I think I am falling in love with Istanbul. There is a lot to see, so much history and culture, so much to darn well buy. In today and yesterday's shopping, I have spent more than I spent my whole week in Israel. And also I don't actually feel like I have seen all that much. And there is so much left I wish to buy. More on that later.

I enjoyed a continental breakfast this morning, I am sure you are glad to read that! And then we headed off for a jampacked morning of siteseeing The hotel is actually nowhere near anything so the hotel offers shuttle buses free of charge to go into the centre of all things touristy. Trouble is, there are like 4 in and 4 out for the whole day. We are trying to take the 9.40am one in and then taxi-ing back to the hotel when we want. It worked fine today.

So we started at Ayasofia which is pretty darn awesome. Originally an enormous church, it was converted to a Mosque. The tiles and the ornate architecture was stunning - alas the lighting was not good enough for any decent photos. I particularly loved climbing up the stoned ramps to the first floor and overlooking out to the vast expanse of the floor below.

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From here we walked over to the Cisterns - the old aquaducts - which were cool yet humid. It was pretty darn speccy.

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And then we headed to The Blue Mosque. The grounds were spectacular as was the vast square leading into the mosque. As it happens, I actually couldn't bring myself to put on a scarf to cover my head, and didn't go in (I was dressed respectfully enough and when push came to shove, I just couldn't do it. I don't like how I am feeling a lot of the time, around some of the men here). We sat for a while in the grounds and just soaked up the atmosphere. It was nice.

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And then we went to lunch. My first Turkish Coffee - I love it!

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