Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Christmas & Turkey (The country, not the bird)

As it fell, I ended up having Christmas eve off as part of my weekend, so I packed up my stuff and moved out of the hostel (again), but required Suzanne's help to take all the things I had gathered for my nest (as well as a bag of stuff I was babysitting for my Irish friend while he was home).

The rest of the day was generally chatting and hanging out with Suzanne, and Bevan, once he came home.

We decided that midnight mass at Westminster abbey sounded like a good idea, but due to being Christmas the next day, trains and buses weren't running, so we had to organise a taxi to take us home before we left.

The service was kind of cool, to be honest, which surprised me - just the awesomeness of the pipe organ and the size of the abbey was mind blowing. And considering it was an Anglican service in England, the sermon was actually not too generic or boring.

Because we got home at about 1 or 2am, we didn't actually arise the next day until about 11am.

We feasted on some goodies that Suzanne & Bev had gone out and gotten, including getting some L&P for me, which I was rather stoked about.

The next day we got up early - again hindered by the lack of transport because it was Boxing day. We had to catch a taxi to Victoria (that Suzanne had skillfully negotiated a price for the night before) to catch our bus to Luton, to get the plane to Turkey.

Once we got there, I went through customs, but got called an Australian, despite my Kiwi passport, and the All Blacks jacket I was wearing.

Got a shuttle to our hotel, met the others on our tour, and then we all went out to a nearby restaurant , and then for a beer at an outside bar, sitting on pillows.

Day 2-
Got up, enjoyed the buffet breakfast that the hotel provides, met the tour leader and the rest of the group - it ended up being 4 Kiwis (3 being me Suzanne and Bev), 4 Aussies, and the Turkish guide, 5 guys to 3 girls., and then proceeded around Istanbul for the day - looking at the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia- which was originally a church, later converted into a mosque, and subsequently now a museum. We then had some lunch, I opted for a Turkish hotdog, and the cheapest burger at BK (for example a Whopper was 21Lira - approximately $21NZD)
From there we went and checked out the palace, which was OK, but I didn't really rate it. After that us Kiwis went and had some tea at a place overlooking the harbour - which was nice, despite me not being a great fan of tea (although I have gotten used to it having been to Japan etc, and have made myself drink it in order to be more socially acceptable, as my parents would say). From there we went back to the hotel and had some dinner near by.
Day 3
Early-ish in the day we meet the bus driver and the minibus that was to be our transport for the next several days. We headed off, crossing from Europe into Asia, towards Gallipoli and Anzac cove. On the way there we watched the Gallipoli movie that starred Mel Gibson - which must've been a little old, as he was a young guy in it. The first stop was the museum, which was good in terms of a little background. From there we went to Anzac cove, then Lone Pine (the Australian memorial,) and then to Chunuk Bair (the New Zealand memorial). We then headed back down to the water's edge to watch the sunset, before driving to the ferry that took us across the channel to our hotel for the night. We went out for dinner, and had Pide, which is Turkish pizza. From there we went to a bar and watched a Pop/Rock/Punk covers band, which was quite good, before going back to the hotel and playing scum for a while.
Lone Pine
Remains of fortifications, around the corner from Anzac cove.
Day 4
After a nice breakfast, we headed off, on the journey we watched the movie 'Troy' in preparation for the first stop which was Troy (funnily enough). Troy was kind of interesting, seeing the ancient ruins, however, lacked in comparison to the following stop - Pergamon - which was ruins on top of some hills, complete with a ampitheatre, and numerous columns etc.
An aquaduct - at Pergamon.
Something humorous that happened while we were there was the daily call to prayer came over the loud speaker - which resonated from the mosque in the village below. At the end of the singing it sounded like the guy singing started dialling his phone.

From there we headed to our next hotel. Bevan, me and a couple of the others went and had a Turkish bath, which is basically a sauna and massage, before rejoining the others to go for dinner in a restaurant in the hills in a nearby village.

Day 5
Once getting up we made a short drive down the road to Ephesus - which was cool - again lots of ruins and stuff, but also cool in the sense that I was actually somewhere that is mentioned in the Bible - the first time in my travels that I can say that.
The Ampitheatre at Ephesus
We then drove some more, to Pamukkale - the White terraces, which were rather beautiful especially as it was getting on to sunset. The next hotel was just down the road from there. Once we got there we went for a swim in the indoor heated pool before having some dinner.
Day 6 (New Years Eve)
We got up at 5am and drove for most of the day. Near evening we reached Cappadocia, and went to the underground city, which was rather cool - the history behind it was that the ancient Christians feared prosecution from the Muslims that were beginning to come into the area, and so dug a series of tunnels - basically a city to hide in when necessary, when the Muslims came through. From there we went to our hotel, got changed, had some dinner, and went to a New Year's party in a big cave - where we saw whirling dervishes, and a belly dancers. Unfortunately because we had gotten up so early, just after midnight our energy levels just crashed, and at least Suzanne, Bevan, and I fell asleep at the table. Shortly after that we headed back to the hotel for a well deserved sleep.

Day 7
Got up, had a great breakfast, because this hotel also made omelets, as well as the standard bread, salami (made from beef rather than pork - similar taste just darker and more red) cheese, and hard boiled egg. We made numerous photo stops because of the unique landscape and caves. We went to a Turkish carpet collective, which was kind of interesting for a while, but got a little boring while the others made some purchases. The good thing was they provided us with a free lunch.

From there we went to Goreme open air museum - totally awesome, as it was Churches carved into the rock from the 2nd Century.
We then went to a ceramic/pottery factory before going to a restaurant for dinner.

Day 8
The other's were supposed to go Hot air ballooning, but that got cancelled due to the weather. Basically we travelled most of the day to get back to Istanbul via Ankara, where we dropped off the other Kiwi.

Once in Istanbul we farewelled Barish, had a beer, walked a bit, and had some pancake things for dinner.

Day 9
Got up after a sleep in, breakfast, and then went to the ancient underground Cistern/reservoir. From there we went to the spice markets and had a look around. From there we got on a ferry and crossed over the harbour (to another continent no less). After that we went out for dinner before retiring to bed.

Day 10
Got up at 7am, went and checked out the Grand Bazaar, before heading back and catching the shuttle to the airport for our flight back to London.

All in all, it was a great trip, especially as I was half expecting Turkey to be a bit dodgy, but was pleasantly surprised to find the people kind and genuine.

1 comment:

  1. Its a great place and a great tour as well whether you do it in winter like you did or when I did in middle of the summer! Barish made it all the better as well