1 week, 4 countries

9 03 2010

You know, when you travel it’s hard to keep things like blogs updated. However all the walking and doing stuff tends to lead to exhaustion and demotivation with blogs.

So, where are we and what are we doing? Let’s work backwards from now covering the past week.

2 hours ago we arrived in Veliko Tarnovo by train. Where? Basically it’s central Bulgaria. We took the overnight train from istanbul which leads up into Bucharest, but decided to head on to Bucharest in a few days time. The trip itself was a bit odd. Getting woken at 3 am to jump off the train for immigration was odd. The fresh snow on the ground was nice but sooooo cold at 3am. A bit of time getting a passport stamp leaving turkey then onto the duty free store to buy the conductor 2 cartons of cigarettes. He isn’t. Allowed to buy them himself but since he was nice and helpful and I was not exactly awake I agreed.

Next was the Bulgarian immigration. At least this time they did this on the train. Still it was an hour or so after the Turkish version. All finished at about 4.30am. About the time the train heaters stopped working. It was snowing out and felt cold enough in for the same.

Awaking about 10am from a fitfull sleep I was given a large brandy by the guy in the cabin next to us, and a horrendous instant coffee by the conductor. Arriving in Veliko Tarnovo our promised lift didn’t materialize, but a quick call to the hostel and we were in a cab.

Before Veliko Tarnovo we spent 3 nights in Istanbul. Wonderful city. Possibly my favourite out of all those I’ve visited. Nowhere else is there that much mindblowingly cool stuff to see and do. The blue mosque, the hagia sofya, hippodrome, bosporus etc. Added to that, we caught up with ex-taebaekian Rebecca who is living and working in Istanbul. It was so nice to just relax for a few days and not have to do all of the touristy stuff as we did most things while we were here last time around. That’s not to say we sat in the hotel and watched tv. Anything but. Rebecca took us out to a few places that were much more local. Local to the point of getting stuck in hours of traffic. Of well, it was great fun.

Before Istanbul we spent a few days in Frankfurt. Why did we fly all the way to frankfurt and then back to Istanbul? Simple. We used frequent flyer points for the tickets and Asiana don’t fly to Istanbul.

Frankfurt was a bit odd. It felt like quite a large city except seemed to be lacking big city people numbers. It was a fun place but isn’t a massive tourist city.

Hopefully soon I’ll have a bit of time to go thru the pics so far and post a few of them up.

Hagia Sophia, in Pink

18 09 2009

Just playing with some filters in aperture and came up with this. Not sure why but I think it works.

The photo is of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Cathedral/Mosque/Museum getting on towards sunset.

Hagia Sophia in Pink

The famous Whirling Dervishes

3 08 2009

This is the real deal, members of the real dervish sect perform the famous dance every evening at their hall in Bursa, Turkey.

All over turkey are fake dervish dancers performing for tourists and charging a small fortune to watch. These guys do it every night for real.

Surprisingly it wasn’t just adults, young kids also take part, seemingly entering the same trance and whirling around with hands up for 10-15 minutes. Unbelievable.

Those that we met are really nice guys, very friendly and willing to talk.

Whirling Dervishes

Whirling Dervishes

Whirling Dervishes

Viagra robot!

3 08 2009

Yes I’ve been lax in posting pics and writing. I’m sorry, but its so nice here I just don’t really have time.

Still, I couldn’t go past this. A genuine Viagra robot as found in the front window of a local pharmacy in Bursa, Turkey.

Viagra Robot!

Istabul, its great

29 07 2009

Well, we made it. Istanbul. City on two continents.

We’ve been here a few days so far, and have begun our Intrepid adventure. More on that later. First just some pics of Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque with cat

Istanbul's Blue Mosque

2 of Turkeys most famous things, Turkish coffee and Baklava. Both excellent and well worth making a trip to Istanbul to enjoy.

Coffee and Baclava

Another of Turkeys famous things, doner kebabs (actually chicken in this case).

Lunch, delicious.

And of course the most famous church/mosque at least in this country. One of the biggest around, currently the 4th biggest in the world, and its almost 1500 years old!

Hagia Sophia Exterior

Notice the varied artworks. Some christian which were covered up during conversion to a Mosque, and the obvious arabic writings on the round shields.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia ceiling

Hagia Sophia Interior

It all used to be lit with candles and oil lamps, now all electric of course.

Chandeliers, light and ceiling

In some cases the christian decorations and mosaics have been uncovered, after they were covered in plaster to hide them.

Recovered Cross

This is the Mimber, the equivalent of the pulpit in a christian church.

The Mimber, Hagia Sophia

On the way out are these stunning mosaics and wall paintings

Hagia Sophia ceilings

One more pic, this time of the safest street I’ve ever seen (sorry, I had to say it)

A very safe street