Back at STR. End of Asia 2012.
Only having two days in Istanbul has it’s up- and it’s downsides. A major downside is of course the lack of time – you cannot see nearly enough of a huge city like this. The upside of this is, you can make some easy choices on what to see. There are a few major tourist sites that are fast to get to, so just pick the most important and/or most interesting ones.
For today, we picked Hagia Sophia and the Topkapı Palace, since both are just a few walking minutes away from our hotel. Hagia Sophia a museum, that was a mosque, which is actually a church in the beginning. An amazing place. There you are walking over marble that has been there for centuries or even over a millennium – and you can actually see that, since it’s quite worn, for example, the spots where the guards stood have deep moles. And the craftsmanship that has been put into this whole building is amazing.
While we got into the Hagia Sophia quite fast, we had to stand a while longer in line for the Topkapı Palace. We even had to wait in line inside the palace to see some areas. Actually it was so full of people, that it was quite annoying at some places. Anyway, a lot of interesting architecture (never knew they were so fond of decorating their walls with tiles) and treasures. We also visited the Harem, but for some reason it did not completely live up to my expectations. Also a wonderful park there, where kids chase seagulls (give them a weapon and train then to hunt down doves… just joking… but then again….).
But let’s get back to annoying people. What is it with people these days? Everyone is just taking pictures of the sites and themselves there – but no one is really looking at it. I could observe that for a while at a certain observation point. My idea was just to take a few pictures and then enjoy the view over the Bosphorus. Well, that didn’t work out as planned. First, I was just taking my second photo, when I got shoved aside, because some lady wanted to take a picture of herself there. After I was done with my forth picture, I got asked to take a picture of a couple (with an iPhone, which didn’t take anything close to a good photo), which I did after finishing my last shot. Now, after that it was impossible to get back o any place where I could enjoy the view a bit more. I had to take a few more pictures of and for strangers, but that’s been it, since everyone was shoving around anyone and before I would start bludgeoning people with my camera, I decided to sit in a corner and observe the people. And yes, my hypothesis was correct, no one really did enjoy the view. And this wasn’t the only place where that happened. Well, why see the interesting things with your own eyes, when you can take a picture and look at it later – because that totally is the same thing. Bah, humans…
Leaving Japan was no problem, the flight was swift, the food okay and we had a quite new entertainment system, that allowed us to watch the movies in 16:9/10.
We arrived in Istanbul. No problem getting into the country, only the long wait for our baggage was a bit annoying. For some reason they were not as fast as we’re used to that. Since we ordered a shuttle service, we were greeted with a sign – nice for a change. After that we were driven at high speed (like 70-100 km/h, depending on the traffic) through Istanbul and arrived at our hotel in just half an hour. Nice place, very close to the main tourist sites. Let’s see what we can check out in the next two days.
We managed to catch our NEX, arrived at the airport, checked our baggage (17.3 out of the allowed 23kg for me this time) and passed security (without any incident this time). Now we are sitting at Gate 34 and the waiting game begins again.
At least they have free Wifi here now. So I can actually publish this without shelling out the equivalent of 5 EUR like last time (though that was still very cheap compared to what they wanted at London Heathrow).