At dinner during our second and final night at the Gallipoli Houses we got talking to an American couple and the Aussie motorcycle touring bloke. By a stroke of good fortune, the couple were also going back to Istanbul in the morning – in the van with guide and driver, a package which they had hired for a week – and offered us a ride.
I thought about this. A direct ride back to Istanbul. Or, a taxi ride to Eceabat, some waiting time for a bus, a 5 hour bus ride to Istanbul, and half hour in another taxi, probably 180TL all up. Yes please, a ride would be great!!
Dinner was delicious by the way, cooked by the wife of the Belgian couple who run the hotel. There was a dish that I will try to replicate back at home though I don’t think this should be too much cause for concern for Mike. Probably.
In the morning we were gone by about 8am. It was a shame to be leaving Gallipoli so soon but that was the schedule and I had achieved my (our) goal of seeing the battlefields. I would like to return one day, though the reality is that there’s so much else to see in the world it is hard to justify returning somewhere you’ve already been. Part of me would like to go to the 2015 commemorations; the other part would simply abhor all the crowds!
They were a nice semi-retired couple and we chatted much of the way. The seats were facing each other with Dad and I looking back down the road. I was a little worried about this as I seem to have gradually acquired a greater sensitivity to motion as I’ve gotten older. Luckily I felt fine, until we got to Istanbul where the roads and driving style started to make their mark felt. But I hung in there!
We arrived probably a couple of hours earlier than we would otherwise have. Our good fortune continued because they were staying at a hotel which was pretty close to ours, so it wasn’t far for us to haul our bags.
After a breather, dad and I met back up for some late lunch / early dinner and to tick off another couple of must-sees which we didn’t get to do the other day.
First was the Hippodrome – a must see because it is freeeee! I like free things. The building no longer exists but there are a couple of interesting columns still in place and you get a feel for the size the thing was (480m x 117m!). Tourists in this area seem to be a magnet for traders of various kinds and we both got hit up here.
We continued on to the Grand Bazaar, one of the biggest covered markets in the world and a trading centre since 1461. We didn’t have time to linger indefinitely so didn’t venture too far; just a few streets in to have a bit of a look and tick off some items on a short shopping list. It’s a very impressive building and is lucky to have withstood various earthquakes and fires.
There was a bit of time to kill before the final activity so we adjourned to the hotel. I booked us on a night time bus tour, to not only see a bit more of the city but hopefully also some nice night time cityscapes.
I didn’t realise that the two hour tour stopped half way for an hour and I didn’t really want to muck around with a late night ahead of the early start the next morning. But I’d already bought the tickets by that stage. And the tour was reasonably worthwhile, though dad would probably say it wasn’t! We should have taken more warm layers as the cool night air and wind on top of the bus made it freezing. By that stage the inside part of the bus was full. For the second part the plastic sides of the bus had been lowered so it was much more tolerable.
And that brought our short time in Turkey to an end. Thankfully that big earthquake that is predicted sometime in the next 30 years didn’t strike during our visit. While I’d like to return to Gallipoli, I can’t say the same for Istanbul. There are other parts of Turkey I would like to go to – who knows when that is likely to happen!
The next morning we were off back to England to find mum and continue our travels.