Tuesday, June 2, 2009
WE ARE IN ISTANBUL!!!
The train to Turkey took 23 hours...very intense... but it was a sleeper car and we met some very interesting people on the train (we shared out cabin with a a young guy from Brazil and a girl from Japan who was studying politics in the US). We parted ways with Lauren as she headed to the South African embassy in Bulgaria to figure out finger printing to retrieve lost bank cards from her robbery. Four became three and the three muskateers headed onwards to Istanbul, not quite sure what to expect.
The one surprise on the train which we were uncertain about was the Turkish style lavatory AKA a hole in the ground you squatted over. There were some very nice Turkish men on the train who were eager to help us but we had to accompany Mutsuko, the japanese girl to her hotel to pay back money she lent to us to pay for our Visa. In terms of visa's Brazillians paid 0, Japanese paid 0, New Zealanders paid 0 and Canadians paid 45 euro each! The most out of every country in the world! Double the Americans which was a bummer!
When we arrived we managed to catch a glimpse of the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque but Jack and I are saving our tour until my parental units arrive in three weeks (so maybe they will pay for the tourist-ee stuff heh ehh). We arrived to the area that our apartment is located and called the landlord who sent his helper to meet us outside the police station...next to the giant police tank pulled up on the sidewalk. Yes, Police TANK. Many officers were milling about outside the station caressing their automatic weaponry. It was a bit disconcerting.
The apartment is perfect. Studio size with many windows. The landlord, who is a university professor went out and bought a new blow up mattress for Hamish to sleep on which was nice. It is near Taksim which is kind of the art district, which is not too touristy. The neighbourhood we are in is a bit of a slum, there are kids EVERYWHERE but it seems very safe and beats staying in a fancy hotel in the tourist district. Plus the police with their guns nd tanks are only a hop skip and a jump away! Everyone in Turkey seems so helpful and nice, we have noticed a big difference from eastern Europe.
Anyways, out to sight-see and live it up in Istanbul!!!!
Over and out.