Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.
Add to bucket listRemove from bucket list
Travelers at this place
  • Day27

    How bazaar!

    October 17, 2018 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Today we travelled over 2000 years in less than a day as we toured the ancient and contemporary city of Istanbul. There are a few mega-cities on the planet and Istanbul is certainly one of them. With over 15 million people living in this bustling metropolis you certainly notice that number when you hit the road. That's when it seems that every resident owns a car and all of them are heading exactly where you want to go. In Auckland this would cause complete gridlock, but here the drivers just get on with it and wriggle and swerve into spaces you'd swear they'd never fit, but the end result is the flow of traffic continues.

    After 45 minutes we arrived in the centre of old Istanbul and began our walking tour of this ancient place. We began with the Blue mosque, a massive holy building that is over 400 years old. Just next door is the Topkapi Palace, former home to the Ottoman Sultans who ruled their empire from this seat of power starting in the 15th century. Next was the Sultan Ahmed mosque, another ancient holy building, but one which is still used as a place of worship. This means that all women must wear a headscarf to enter, which Jean was pretty excited about. To a westerner this seems a little old-fashioned, but on the same notice was a rule I can get on board with, no leggings or yoga pants are permitted in the building. Now, can we just export this rule to New Zealand please.

    After our dose of culture we headed to Istanbul's most famous shopping centre. In Istanbul even this has a historical twist, as the shopping centre in question was the Grand Bazaar, the world's largest covered market, which has been in continual operation since 1455. Over 90 million people visit this market every year and from the hustle and bustle when we visited it seemed they might have all arrived on the one day. The bazaar is a great place to get a bargain, if you are practiced in the ancient sport of haggling. Half the stalls seem to be selling counterfeit handbags, shirts or football shirts but there are also plenty of Turkish specialties such as rugs, gold and of course Turkish Delight and Baklava. Even before we were within a kilometre of the bazaar we were propositioned by numerous guys trying to sell us their traditional hand knotted rugs. They were persistent and had all the answers to natural objections such as price or no way to get it home. I resorted to telling them that I was violently allergic to any kind of hand made textiles. This eventually did the trick and we carried on unmolested.

    We continued wandering the old cobbled lanes of central Istanbul and made our way down to the impressive waterfront, where you can look from Europe across to Asia. Two continents in one photo, now that's priceless. After admiring the serenity we caught our last taxi ride of this trip back to our hotel. Maybe fate knew this was our last ride because he sent us a doozy. Our driver spoke no English, which is fair enough as I speak bugger all Turkish, but this did make explaining our destination challenging. I bring up the photo and address of our hotel on my phone and point to it in a friendly manner. Normally this works, not today. There are two hotels in Istanbul with names that are very similar. They are in the same hotel chain. Even after reading my phone screen our driver took us to the wrong one. But at least we rode the wrong way at hyper speed. I swear he hit 150kms in some stretches, which was exhilarating. If Formula 1 is ever short of drivers just pick any 5 Istanbul taxi drivers and they'll have their guys. After the wrong hotel we eventually arrived at our correct destination, paid the driver and went upstairs to chillax in our room. Tomorrow we begin the long haul home. Aotearoa we're on our way!
    Read more

    Terry's Tiki Tours

    This is our Istanbul hotel. It's a beaut!

    Terry's Tiki Tours

    The Grand Bazaar

    Terry's Tiki Tours

    Sultan Ahmed mosque

    4 more comments
  • Day861

    The Big Turkish Wedding

    April 7, 2018 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    So the day has arrived and I don’t even know what time the wedding is so hopefully Mustafa hasn’t forgotten about me. I take breakfast early and make my way to the shop downstairs to buy a throw top put over my shoulders and my head if needed. I should have done this yesterday as they only have carvalla or Chanel cashmere and silk and they want 100 euros for it. I pretend he hasn’t the colour I want. I google map for a local mall and it informs me there’s one 15 minutes away so map in hand I set off. The route takes me a strange way and I end up walking through a factory yard with some unforgiving stairs but carry on with a smile on my face saying marahaba which means hello. Eventually I arrive at the destination but no mall in sight just a few random local shops, but there is one that sells scarves/ throws and they’re only 2 quid. I purchase a couple it would be rude not to and make my way back to the hotel when Mustafa calls to say his friend Ahmet will pick me up at 2pm I jump in the shower and get myself ready a little unsure what I’m wearing is correct but I look ok and I’ll worry about it when I need to . Ahmet is fashionably late but that’s just the way it is here due to the traffic. Thankfully Ahmet speaks fluent English and when we arrive at the home it’s pandemonium so he suggests going for tea. We sit in a little bar around the corner and to my surprise a short while after Mustafa walks in looking petrified. I give him a mummy cuddle and tell him to take deep breaths I even offer him a cigarette but he refuses. As he disappears in the distance we can hear the sound of drums and after finishing our tea we make our way down to the house. There is quite a crowd gathered and I’m introduced to multiple members of the family, how I’m going to remember their names is beyond me.
    The drums start getting louder and as they come up the hill they are followed by traditional Turkish dancers who are similar to the English version of Morris dancers, they dance in the street to the music being played by the pope and drums and have a hankerchief/cloth in their hand. The music and the drums play for about 10 minutes before Mustafa suddenly appears being driven bu his brother. Everyone runs to their cars and we all follow in a large procession heading towards Elifs house. All the cars are adorned with a ribbon and has we drive through the streets everyone beeps their horns intermittently for the whole 15 minute journey. We arrive at Elifs who conveniently lives opposite a mosque. Before collecting his bride Mustafa and his male family head into the mosque to pray while we are entertained by the dancers. The boys and I hide around the corner so we can have a cigarette and after 30 minutes Mustafa is ready to take his bride.
    The street is in chaos as people are hanging out of the tower building to catch a glimpse of the bird but the whole road is held up as the dancers continue to dance in the middle of the street. As they come down prayers are offered and were on the road again - convoy has nothing on a Turkish wedding. The traffic is really busy and it takes us over an hour before we actually arrive at the venue which is decorated by huge flower displays sent by multiple companies and banks which stand in the foyer as well as outside. The two sides of the family stand either side greeting the guests but the bride and groom are absent.
    Ahmet has driven well and we are some of the first guests to arrive so we’re seated quite quickly in a room that must have taken so much to plan with over 25 pages of seating plans. All the names are in alphabetical order and although I’m not meant to be with Ahmed and Mohammed they tell me I should sit with them. We are all hungry and attack the bread rolls like we haven’t been fed for days.
    The venue is breathtaking with tables beautifully decorated and in the centre of the room a platform on one side decorated with beautiful flowers two chairs and a table and stage on the other with a band playing turKish music, a huge boom video camera overlooks all the proceedings recording the images to screens throughout the room. A photographer moves throughout the room taking pictures. The starters are put out on the tables as the guests sit down as there are a lot of tables to cover it really is seamless. Mustafas dad takes to the stage and gives the only speech of the night the lights go down and the music plays and the bride and groom enter the room pyrotechnic fountains start flowing and the couple make theyre way down the red carpet. Taking a seat at they’re table they sign a register and take they’re vows. Once all the formal stuff is done it’s time for the photos. They both look really tired at this point but still have so much to do as they go around every table to greet their guests everybody wants a picture and a little chat and after an hour or more they are still meeting and greeting, her bridesmaid follows behind with a basket in which gold coins with red ribbons attached are placed in the basket which was traditional as the men who went to war if anything happened to them the bride had the gold to take care of her financially, There is no dancing until the very end of the night when various groups of men took to the stage from very young to very old dancing to each song slowly first then building with speed at each verse. It’s time to head back and after saying goodbye to the remaining guests the boys drop me to my hotel .
    Read more

  • Day859

    Magic Carpets

    April 5, 2018 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    I wake quite late in the morning and after a quick shower just about make it for breakfast. My room is amazing with a fully equipped kitchen and even a dishwasher. Every toiletry imaginable with luxury bath robes and a mini bar containing about 12 different spirits. Breakfast is on the same level with fruits I’ve never seen before( and I’ve seen a few) a multitude of hot dishes and even a whole honeycomb you cut off for honey. I indulge more than I would usually before making my way to the shuttle bus to take me to the suhmaret district. I get dropped at the airport and head for the metro. With a quick change to the tram It takes about 40 mins but is absolutely packed and after giving my seat to an older gentleman istand in the crushed compartment until my stop.
    As soon as I step off the buzz of Istanbul envelopes me like a warm hug. So many people say to me don’t go to Istanbul because of terrorism but terrorism is something that lives in our own back yard and to be honest the way they drive here is far more dangerous.
    Although I’ve visited the ana Sophia mosque and blue mosque before I’m excited to return as their beauty is breathtaking. Sadly one is closed for refurbishment and the other for prayer. As I turn to leave the area a Turkish guy speaks to me and asks me if I’ve seen the cistern. I say no and he asks if I’d like to? I agree and after a small walk he points to it and carry’s on walking telling me to follow. I can’t believe I’ve fallen into the tourist trap and before I know it I’m in a carpet shop. After nearly an hour I’ve learnt a lot about silk carpets and when I ask the price of the smallest one the guy tells me it’s 1100 quid, I’d expect it to fly for that it’s no bigger than a bath mat. After much toing and froing I make my excuses and leave the shop but before leaving ask if they can give me assistance in buying a wedding gift. I’m taken to a jewellery shop and purchase my gift of a bangle for the bride. This is traditional as when the men went to war the women would have the bangles to be able to survive financially if anything happened to their husband.
    Read more

  • Day859

    The Henna night

    April 5, 2018 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    I leave early in the morning to catch my flight to Düsseldorf then catch my connecting flight to Istanbul. The journey runs pretty smoothly until I get to Istanbul where Mustafa’s cousin picks me up. The traffic has caused massive delays and I’m at the airport waiting for Two hours until finally Hakan arrives. We are due to be at the henna party at 730 and it’s 630 now with an hour and a half drive. There is no time to go to the hotel so just grab a quick wash while the housekeeper irons my dress. I look a show as I touch up my make up for the third time today but at least I’ll make the bride to be look at her best.
    We arrive at the ceremony and it’s in full swing but when I arrive it’s like the queen has just stepped into the room. Mustafa’s fiance Elif calls for me to go to her boudoir where she greets me and we chat for a short while. I had no chance of making the bride look better as she already looks stunningly beautiful x I join the head table and although there are only a couple of people who speak english there is no issue as I just watch and learn.
    The venue is set out like a wedding venue in the uk with tables spread throughout the room laden with food and soft drinks and chairs wrapped with bows. The bride enters the room with an enterage of drummers and tambourines to traditional Turkish music in the most amazing gown. We dance around the bride doing variations of steps that by the time of got the hang of it were on to the next dance and I’m learning all over again. By the end of the 4th dance I decide to sit down to avoid standing on anyone’s toes for a while. Elif disappears again and comes out in a blue gown this time. She really is like a princess and once again we make a large circle and dance around the bride who certainly has a few dancing moves and knows how to enjoy her last night of freedom.
    Towards the end of the night Mustafa arrives and it’s time for the henna ceremony. As one of the selected few we are taken away and dressed in traditional clothes and a small veil and given a candle. We form 2 lines either side before Mustafa and Elif are brought out together this time. Elif now has the most amazing red dress and veil on and they walk towards a seat on the stage has a canopy. Henna is placed in the hand of the bride covered by a paper flower to keep it in place and Elifs mother gives her blessing. Mustafa leaves shortly afterwards and we carry on dancing the night away. It’s time for me to lay my head but what a truly remarkable experience I can’t wait for the wedding. Sorry no photos due to respect ✊
    Read more

    Lynda Lunt

    Have an amazing time 😍 jet setter xxxx


    Nicky Western sounds fantastic - Never cease to amaze me x

  • Day26

    Istanbul-Constantinople (sing it)

    October 16, 2018 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Yesterday was another travelling day. We rolled out the door of our airport hotel at Gatwick and walked the arduous 50 metres to security, then checked in for our Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul.

    The flight left a little late, but we've come to expect this from Gatwick. None of our flights to or from this airport has arrived or departed on time. Despite this tardiness we were very impressed with Turkish Airlines. Comfortable seats, great in-flight entertainment choices and the best economy class meal I have ever eaten. All this at a really competitive price. I would happily fly Turkish any time!

    We arrived at Ataturk Airport, Istanbul and cleared customs without fuss. NZ'ers don't need visas but Aussies do, which gave me a good laugh. Ataturk airport is showing its age, but an impressive massive new airport is due to open in Istanbul...in a fortnight! Doh, just missed it. Collecting our bags, which I'm always happily surprised to see turn up, we exited the terminal and joined the throng waiting to catch taxis. Forgoing my rough and rudimentary command of Turkish I resorted to the cliched tourist fallback of sign language to communicate my destination. However, this being 2018 I was also able to show the driver a picture of our hotel on my phone. Message received and understood we blasted off into peak hour Istanbul traffic. Although it was only 6k's to the hotel that was long enough for Jean to leave finger indentations in her seat, as she held on for all she was worth. Meanwhile I was grinning like an idiot with my head on a swivel trying to take it all in. One thing is for sure, we ain't in Kansas no more and so far I love it.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Gunesli, Güneşli

Join us:

FindPenguins for iOSFindPenguins for Android

Sign up now