30 April 2014
  1. Honestly, the jackhammering was still happening at 3 am. Half an hour later the call to prayer rang out from the nearby mosque. Despite 28 hours in transit, beginning at 11 pm on Monday when I left home, and not coming close to sleeping that evening until after my delayed flight finally overcame gravity at 4:30 am, I did not sleep well last night, but apparently I’m not the only one awake in the middle of the night in Istanbul.

    Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul
    Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul
  2. Turkish is a beautiful sounding mess of phonemes I have never pronounced before and possibly will never be able to. The written language contains a whole mess of accents that make it quite pretty but also impossible to sight-read (at least for me. I’m sure Turkish people find it easy). Learning to say “please” and “thank you” from a guidebook is beyond me, for now. I need someone to say it to me aloud, several times, and then correct me, patiently.

    Istanbul Kitties
    Istanbul Kitties
  3. People are very helpful, even when my communication consists of babbled English and apologetic facial expressions. Today I drew a picture of a printer connected to a computer to ask for directions to a copy shop.

    Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
    Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
  4. Istanbul is beautiful and smelly. Everybody smokes and there are fires everywhere for cooking. People have built houses, shacks and other random buildings against walls that are more than six centuries old. That’s nearly three times as old as any permanent dwelling in Australia…

    A wet day in Istanbul
    A wet day in Istanbul
  5. Everyone smokes.

    Dogs of Istanbul
    Dogs of Istanbul
  6. Four hundred people tried to sell me things, all men. Three hundred and eighty of them backed off when I said, “no, thank you.” Smiling only invites flirtation bordering on harassment. “Where are you from?” “You have beautiful eyes!” “Hey, red shoes, come talk to me!” Nineteen persisted. And a group of children shot me with pellets when I wouldn’t buy tissues from them, but other stallholders yelled and chased them away. This was outside of a cemetery. Eventually I started pretending I was deaf / don’t speak English OR Turkish but some rare language like Euskal that no one there could possibly know.

    Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
    Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
  7. There are plenty of free things to do here, but I think I did most of them in half a day today.

    Looking across to Galata Tower from Sultanahmet, Istanbul
    Looking across to Galata Tower from Sultanahmet, Istanbul
  8. There are stray dogs and cats everywhere. For every stray dog there are a hundred cats. They look quite healthy though.

    Birds on a wire in front of Galata Tower
    Birds on a wire in front of Galata Tower
  9.  Apparently I wasn’t supposed to drink the water. Strange, I thought it tasted just like Brisbane water…
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