Monday, 9 June 2008

Pilgrimage from Taksim (Istanbul) to Feyzullah (Istanbul) 06/06/08

Ozgur has an exam at 10:30 this morning which is great because it drags us out of bed at a reasonable hour. Going for breakfast I try to get her on video...

Laughing "It's too early in the morning! If you want to get me on video you will have to wait till after my exam."

Well, any excuse not to walk right now sounds great to me, so we agree to meet down by the Bosphorus for lunch.

I have what appears to be a rather easy list of things I want to get done while in Istanbul and after three full days haven't completed any of them :) It includes:-

Fix my video camera
Send a fax to Singapore
Get a map
Burn an audio CD using a PC

I start with the fax as there are plenty of shops around Taksim with "Fax" signs in their windows. At every shop I get one of two responses...

"Sorry, we can only send local faxes" or
"Sorry, the fax is broken"

I try the 4 and 5 star hotels...

"Sorry, the fax is broken"...
"Sorry, it's Friday the office is too busy right now"...

I sit down at a cafe and go to jump on the net only to find that even though I can see unprotected wireless networks around, my computer doesn't want to connect to any of them. Yesterday in the same spot I was fine!

It's just one of those days. But today I'm not fazed, knowing that I am about to take my first steps into Asia I am in great spirits. It is an amazing feeling to have walked the entire breadth of Europe!

I start making my way down to the meeting point, stopping to try to get my CD burnt. After 15 minutes of stuffing around it also ends in failure. Even though it sounds very straight forward, what I am trying to do requires a set procedure. If I can find a computer in English I will be fine, but trying to explain what to do to someone who can't speak English is near impossible.

Getting to the meeting point Ozgur is nowhere to be seen. I give her a call only to find phone is off, maybe the exam started late...or maybe she has had enough of me already ;) Happily I sit on the edge of the Bosphorus and wait.

The bridge connecting Asia to Europe is only 2kms away, I have been dreaming of walking across this gap since first leaving England. You can imagine my disappointment on finding out they don't let people walk over! And they have police guarding both sides to enforce it. I did plan to go and try to sneak across anyway but sitting here, next to the ferry terminal, the thought of walking 2kms up there, arguing with a cop, then probably walking 2kms back all seems a bit silly...

An hour later there is still no sign of Ozgur so I make my move. Asia here I come!!!

Feeling quite nostalgic as Europe slowly starts to fade, which in Istanbul is a distance of about 100m ;), the 10 minute ride comes to an end. My first steps on Asian soil are wonderful. I am filled with a sense of peace and contentment with what I am doing.

Still without a map I am happy just to wander. Zig-zagging my way East, I stumble into Kadikoy, an extremely busy coastal town I would love to spend more time in one day. But having only completed 5kms so far today there is no way I'm stopping.

An hour later I get a message from Ozgur. Her exam was late and she ums and ares about coming over for dinner but finally decides against it. But thanks for the hospitality, it was greatly appreciated :)

Hitting the coast I am amazed with the beautiful walk laid out in front of me. I was expecting it to be hard work leaving Istanbul but along this stretch there is a 50m buffer of grass between the main road and the sea. Pilgrim heaven!

Stopping at a Burger King to jump on the net, Eylul is online and gives me a scare as I get up to go...

"You can't leave now, it's raining!"

Raining! Where the fuck did that come from? When I entered there wasn't a cloud to be seen! Luckily it hadn't started here yet, but I could see the clouds building. Knowing that it was raining in Istanbul to the West and with lightning and huge peeling thunder to the East I know I don't have much time...

I keep my eyes peeled for a hotel but thirty minutes later the Gods let me have it. Another Burger King is perfectly placed to save me getting soaked and I jump back on the net to see if I can track one down. The only hotel I find is €100! I'm not that desperate yet ;)

I sit and wait, preparing myself psychologically to walk all night in the rain. Still being in the city I think this is my only choice. I give myself till midnight before I will make a move...

Right on 23:30 Ozgur appears online asking where I am and what I'm doing. I give her my news and much to my relief she invites me back to stay another night :) Champion!

Normally I wouldn't go so far back over a little rain but I think two days rest made me a bit soft ;) So i grab my stuff and head to the bus stop.

What a mission! An hour and a half later I make it back to Taksim and decide to catch a taxi rather than get lost trying to find it on foot. Unfortunately the taxi driver didn't have a clue where he was going either and after 30 minutes of driving in circles I finally get sick of him and jump out. I know I am close but can't for the life of me remember the exact directions.

Some kids, around 16-18, are working in a parking lot so I get Ozgur on the phone and get them to tell me where I am. I breath a sigh of relief finding out I'm close...

"Wait, wait...I will drive you"

One of the kids disappears downstairs and comes back up driving a brand new Audi! :) One of the perks of the job I suppose! I'm sure the owner wouldn't be so happy but it's 2am and there's no way I'm turning a lift down now :)

Finally three hours after leaving Burger King I stumble back into Ozgur's apartment, absolutely exhausted! Maybe the walk in the rain wasn't such a bad idea after all...


Nicu Panaitescu said...

Wow, Layla, Eylul, Ozgur...! Wonderful, "sultanish" stay you had in Istanbul! Good for you, but don't get too soft! :)
Take care,

Ben :) said...

hahahaha...don't worry, back to reality now!

but it was good while it lasted ;)