Wrapping up Istanbul

(written by Dave)

That’s it, we’re done – tomorrow we leave Istanbul – no really, we are going.  Today would have been a great day to depart as the morning dawned bright blue skies.  Tomorrow the forecast is for a chance of rain (which would make a good excuse to stay another day, especially if it is raining in the morning).  Truth be known, I am ready to roll.  Nancy gets “Sunday night-itis” whenever we up-stumps from a rest period, it is always hard to leave a nice, comfy location.  Once on the bikes she’s ok, just that getting started part that is hard.

We could spend month here but it is hard to go out and look at old buildings and/or sights every day.  In fact today we planned on visiting Topkapi Palace (the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years) but we decided that we needed a break from another museum day.  Lonely Planet says that the palace is a good 4 hour effort to see everything and we were not up for it.

That’s not to say that we didn’t do some sightseeing.  Since we’ve been here, we’ve walked past the basilica cistern every day, sometimes several times a day.  There is rarely a queue to get in so today we decided to have a look.  The cistern was built in around 400 AD but only converted to a cistern around 600 AD.  It is said to have had 7,000 slaves working on it when it was built and is capable of holding 80,000 cubic metres (2,800,000 cu ft) of water.  The water came from a spring in the forest some 16kms outside the city and was to be carried to the cistern on an aqueduct (most likely slave made as well).  This water insured consistent running water to the rulers during peace and a long supply should they come under siege.  It is projects like this that make you think of the phrase, “it’s good to be king”, or sultan, pharaoh, etc.

Today, there is only a meter or so of water in the cistern but they have lit the columns with some mood lighting and play a slightly annoying, ever repeating, soundtrack of a long lost Enya tune.  It is very wet inside with lots of water dripping from the roof.  As it is mostly brick, it is hard to see how it has stood as long as it has, though it has been restored a number of times; it has to be a hard environment in which to maintain a building.  We wandered a bit and took some pictures until we could no longer take Enya and headed for the exits.

We’ve managed to complete all of our big city chores today as well.  The last item on the list was to mail home 3kg of things we think/hope that we won’t need for the rest of our European leg of the trip.  Our box included our winter coats, Nancy’s fancy handmade socks she was given as a gift by a guesthouse owner and our camping stools.  The latter would certainly useful as we camp more in Europe but I’ve committed to finding us something to sit on in exchange for making our load a little smaller.  There are so many things that are “nice to have” but you always have to consider whether it is worth the bulk and weight.  We’ve carried the stools all the way from Sydney and the coats since Nice.  For my sake, I hope that we don’t get stuck somewhere in a snow storm and finding ourselves a strong desire to sit down – otherwise, I’m in big trouble.

We are planning a 6AM departure from Istanbul.  We’ve read/heard nothing good about the traffic here and the route out of Istanbul but do know that they don’t start very early.  If we can get 40k from the city centre by 8AM, we hope to miss the worst that the road has to offer.  We’ve got a number of options for the ride with an actual campground picked out at the 80k mark.  Yes, that’s right, we may actually use our tent again.  Of course, if we do camp, I’ll be fully committed to chair patrol as noted above.

I’ve included a few photos from today, plus some from the last few days that wouldn’t fit in our previous posts.  Istanbul is very photogenic.  So long Istanbul – we know that we’ve only scratched the surface – we will return one day.

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2 responses to “Wrapping up Istanbul

  1. The Istanbul photo set has indeed been quite spectacular. Really like the basicilica cistern photo. I hope you have a really good photo backup system in place. You will be able to make a great “coffee table book” someday with these photos. Safe travels, enjoying the posts.

    • We have two netbooks that are in sync via a USB cable and live mesh. Plus we have aruggedizedportablehard drive that I back up to every week or so. Ialsodon’t delete the camera memory card until all images are on both laptops and the drive. We’ve been sending a drive home as well, when folks come to visit us. I think we are covered. When our one laptop died in Australia, we didn’t lose a single file – full marks for backups…

      Glad you like the photos – also, note that posts are generally compressed. I am storing the higher quality images. As for a book, I’m still looking for that photo editor.


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