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Monday, December 3, 2012

The Picture-Heavy ToUR.KEY

UAE National Day on a Sunday was a perfect offer to get us to a 3-day trip to Turkey (although it's actually a very,very rare luxury to me). I first toyed with the idea of travelling to Turkey when I posted My Dream Trips few months ago, but it wasn't until we (myself and a flat mate) found out a cobone's deal that I thought I could finally make it happen. So the holiday was like a bonus. Think about the most especially animated me. Obviously, I was having the time of my life.

And today I say get marveled with the photos, anyone. Istanbul is fantastic, rain or shine! 
Warning: See title of the post above before you continue on! 

Arriving on the 29th of November with 2 of my friends, I was really in awe with its land terrain while on our way to the hotel. Turkey as a whole, btw, is largely hilly and mountainous but, hey, beautifully! Like WOW! 

Now, let me drive you around Istanbul RIGHT FROM HERE...
Liberty Hotel - The Receptionist! 
Oh boy, your smile stands out! 
You couldn't help but be awed, could you?!?

Now first things first. Before we crashed over, that was.
We had to decide whether or not to book the Helen Holidays' tour package for all of the time. Later after second-thoughts, we opted to get for the first and third days and none for the second. My suggestion to anyone, don't book a tour for all of the time.

And then, we knocked out...

First Day Route/ Itinerary: Bosphorus Cruise - Camlica Hill - Dolmabahce Palace

Up and ready the very first morning, we woke at a temperature of 13degC and it was colddd. Like really cold. However, beaming with much excitement come rain or sunshine after having the hotel's breakfast buffet plus the taken-away boiled eggs, cheese and fluffy bread intended not only to give us energy but also save us money (which did not disappoint), we went to a ferry cruise down the Bosphorus River.

On the coastal edge behind me is called the Rumeli Fortress that is known to be one of the most beautiful works of military architecture anywhere in the world

Sadly, while heading towards the Black River (just cruising past the famous Bosphorus Bridge-connecting Asia and Europe side), something really dreadful happened, Four tourists fall overboard. Like in the same boat!
the ringed four were the harmed ones. Taken few minutes before the mishap. Who would have known? Sigh.

They fell overboard just after a short while climbing to straddle on the hand rails for some good bittersweet (must now be) photos without a care in the world because, I think for sure, they just wanted to have a good time without sensibly thinking the rails could crack and collapse. People's initial reaction (myself included) was shocked. And then it felt real horrible helplessly keeping my eyes on someone kissing to death because he couldn't even swim a little bit to the lifering thrown in maybe an arm stroke close to him. 
Tragic and heartbreaking and I got panic just watching!

Time after time, I couldn't help but picture to myself the same awful incident and think I would have sure died. Like I would have sunk to death without even bobbing back up to the surface.
I have poor little heavy bones like that. And it gets me weak in the knees just thinking.  
I'd better learn how to swim. And float even! 

It wasn't after like nearly 20 horror-minutes when the good captain jumped off and saved the man I cried watching. God bless the captain! 
And thanks to the passing smaller boats to have rescued the other three climbing back aboard.
Lesson learned: 
Act all-out safely and big time sensibly although mishaps can happen any time. Above all, pray for safety at all times!

The boat, of course, pulled over disabling all passengers on board to reach the Black River and the four tourists (3 guys and a lady) were halted for emergency care and assistance while all the rest went to carry on. We were all very sorry for them and sorry it happened but we couldn't feel more relieved and reassured knowing they were all saved and taken care of.
So let's get over that shock horror of a lifetime!

Waiting for the tour guide after the ambulance took away the weak-bodied guy, we made sure we took our time capturing the moments of our photogenic best (Oops.I mean no fly-away hairs for me, y'know.) because the place demanded lotsa them, really. We pretty much looked around and, maybe, 't was just impossible to put the camera down. But you know what? The little truth about it all is half the fun of our travel was taking lotsa fun photos, actually. You can make out, can't you? Well, it's good to have keepsakes a few years down the line and anyone understands what I'm saying is like Smile...no matter what, right? 
 And off we carried on with the remainder itineraries of the day's trip...
the Camlica Hill  - highest point to see the lovely Istanbul 

And the Dolmabahce Palace
Dolmabahce Palace - The construction cost five million Ottoman mecidiye gold coins, the equivalent of 35 tonnes of gold. Fourteen tonnes of gold in the form of gold leaf were used to gild the ceilings of the 45,000 square metre monoblock palace, which stands on an area of 110,000 m². Source: Wikipedia

The beautiful outside of Dolmabahce Palace
While the second day was quite spontaneous. We thought there's something thrilling about going when and where we like. No tour guide. No definite itineraries. 
Above all, no short of time. 
Go and walk on the streets or anywhere to get the true feel of Istanbul.

out in the streets making our way to the tramline

Catch some better spots by our own and take all the time we want.
Try all things Turkish. Turkish Coffee. Turkish Beer. Turkish Delight. Turkish Bar.
Turkish Shawarma
Turkish Tea
 Turkish Beer

Turkish Band
A and H in their dance extravaganzas
And my favorited hot roasted chestnuts (sold by street vendors around every corner of Istanbul).The best treat. Like I seriously pleaded getting a pack or two on our way to the airport to fly back to Dubai. 
Experience getting on the tram (whether or not catching the right line)

Forget about getting lost.

And just wander around some out-of-the-way little places anywhere! 
Note: The handy Turkish phrase cheat sheet we printed out and popped in our bag while hitting the streets was a real fun reading and talking it up with the locals, although we actually mumbled like they couldn't even make out a word or two we're talking about. lol

The Blue Mosque - was our first stop from getting off the tram. 'T was a rainy day but we were set to have fun rain or shine so we walked and jogged part of the way to the mosque but we cared less because we were too excited to care, really. At the entrance was quite a crowd and there was no chance for us getting in because we went perfectly just-in-no-time for visiting. However, outside was gorgeous too that we just wandered around. Beautiful garden of trees surrounded the mosque and look at the colors! What's not to love? 
It, definitely, was worth the walking down the pouring rain!

Next to the Blue Mosque is The Hagia Sophia that we couldn't also wait to get down. Once a church, later a mosque and now a museum. It is is said to be the most prominent monument in the world in terms of art and the history of architecture. It has also been called "the eight wonder of the world" by East Roman Philon as far back as the 6th century (Source). Now, here you go look around outside...

Again, we didn't make it inside. The charming outside was just so getting us all charmed that we didn't insist ourselves spending the extra of popping inside. We spent a while having moments of awe and left the crowds behind to get to the next stop in mind.

The Basilica Cistern was the next place we headed off which is also known as the sunken palace and used to be the ancient water reservoir. It's a cathedral-like that lies underground the Sultanhamet Square (basically the tourists central). It's dark and cold and really scary (if you walk around with a little company of 10 maybe). I've read like people used to get around it by boat and James Bond, for one, did it in his movie  "From Russia with Love" (I've not seen, though). Soo epic, yeah? 
Columns of the Basilica Cistern glowing from the beautiful reflections of light off the water they're built in. The place looks spooktacular, isn't it?
One of the two Medusa head sculptures at the far end of the Basilica Cistern, if you know about Medusa's deadly (stone-transforming) gaze. Otherwise, read here!
And from the Basilica Cistern, we zipped back to the tramline rushing off to catch the bus going to the Miniaturk. But we dropped the plan after quite a long wait because it didn't look like a good chance getting in to the park by night time. Instead, we figured we'd be sweet on exploring a little more of the restaurants under Galata bridge and so we turned around.
Another day over and out! 

A day in the Prince's Island and the trip was over! It was all for the day. 
The boat ride, the birds and the sunset were far more fascinating than the island put together. 
So you get my feeling, don't you?

But so far, Istanbul knocks out all of the places I've visited so far. Oh and I am kidding to say "all of the places" really and you know what I am kidding when I've got only one dream place ticked off from the list today. Someone please add Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Fujairah, anyway. Ha!
Now I'm gonna go make myself some kinda cup of Turkish coffee and pretend I am still in Turkey...

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