Crossing the border to Turkey we were met by some relaxed border officers. They were interested in the plan and the atmosphere was good. However, they seem to have some randomized system to select car for thorough checking and X-ray, which we were lucky enough to get. “Everything out please” the guy said, until he saw how much is actually in the car. “Only foods out”. The car had to be put on a platform where a huge X-ray machine scanned the car. They didn’t notice anything weird so we could load all the stuff back again. the process took something like an hour. Not too bad.
We drove to a town nearby the border. Jasper found a camping site near the water on the maps tool and we decided to check it out. When we arrived it was of course empty, but there were some people making a fire on the beach. We were met by 3 old guys who were throwing parts of an old building on a bonfire on the beach. They told us that it was a camping and that it would be 30 for us and the car. This was way too much but the tent was already up and we thought fuck it. We need rest now. Apparently they were drinking before and asked if we wanted “Turkish Raki” so of course we were in for that. When it seemed that we had to pay for the bottle it became clear that they just wanted to eat and drink off our wallets. We decided not to drink Raki with them but they got us some beer and put some chicken on the grill, Turkishly complaining that we wouldn’t pay another 30 (still, they still managed to get some from us for the food and drinks). I guess we were sort of ripped off although we got some drinks, some food and a pretty good beach fire out of it because after “dinner” they decided to start throwing some old sofa’s on the fire, which we enjoyed quite a bit :). The next morning we started packing up our stuff to head on to Istanbul. 2 of the old guys were watching the whole process while pointing at things, while their dogs and cats were walking all over the place. We were invited for some tea (which was free to our surprise), and after the main guy (they called him patrone) showed us the way, which we knew, and begged for a beer, which he didn’t get, we were on our way.
The way to Istanbul was nice. I honestly expected not such good roads. Only the way they drive needs a little getting used to. On roundabouts it became clear that whoever is first, heaviest, or least afraid of damaging their vehicle wins, and gives you a what-the-fuck-were-you-thinking-face. After our first close call I decided to ditch the Dutch rules. When we arrived in Istanbul we found a guarded parking spot near to the hostel, got our stuff out and went to hostel Bahaus. We were the only 2 guests because, as they told us, even for the season it was pretty quiet in Istanbul due to the recent terrorist attack. After a refreshing shower (the boiler was broken) we headed into town for a stroll. We walked past the blue mosque and Hagia Sofia. They were closing up for prayer so we couldn’t get in anymore that day. The bazaar was nice. Lots of people, colorful and tasty merchandise, people negotiating and eating and smoking. I got a nice winter jacket and jasper a new wallet and some trousers, for a reasonably well negotiated price I would say. At the end of the day we let ourselves be lured into a restaurant that looked nice (and was at the end of the street of the hostel), got some shisha, beer and good food and went to bed relatively early.
The next day (Saturday) was crunch time. Blue mosque, Hagia Sofia, a walk along the Bosporus and a night into town was in the planning. We managed all that pretty well. We even got some quality theologian discussion time with a guy in the mosque. I suppose for our time and effort, we were given an English version of the Qur’an. The Aya Sofia was more interesting to me. There was a lot more going on in the building and the thing is so bloody old that it’s probably forgotten its own name. You could see the paint overs, and paint over removals, and paint over removal paint overs everywhere. To think that they built the main structure in only 6 years about 1500 years ago, as Jasper told me, is amazing.
Hesitation and moving on alone
I noticed that I was actually a little nervous about driving on alone. Culture, traffic and landscape have been changing a lot around me the last week and I only just kinda left Europe so I just wonder what’s ahead. Therefor I decided to stay an extra night, to leave on Monday as Jasper would too. Good choice as it turned out. It made leaving and saying goodbye to Jasper a lot easier I think.