03/10/06 – I'm writing this as one big update, which covered my week in Istanbul. A week off from cycling… wow! Actually, I'm kind of itching to get back on the road again, but here's a brief update of the last weeks events. For most of the time, I've been based in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul, which is also known as the old city. Whilst in this part I've been staying at the Antique Hostel, which was an ok place for a hostel. Breakfast could be bigger though!
I had several jobs to do whilst I was here, but before I did any of those, my brother flew out for a pint, which was nice of him. Whilst he was in Istanbul, we went for a more upmarket hotel and I swapped areas for the two days he was over. We stayed in Hotel Yigitalp which was a really classy four star hotel, in a similar area full of classy hotels. They were so impressed when I turned up on my crap covered bike! Oh well. After Steve turned up, we went for a beer (obviously!), and had a siesta in the afternoon. In the evening, we went down to the Sultanahmet area, and caught all the major sites lit up, which were quite impressive, and had a meal with more beer. It was good to catch up on what had changed back home (nothing) what i'd been up too (nothing new, he'd read this site!) and other things of major importance! Seriously, it was really good to see him, and we had a good chat.
The next day, we were due to do the culture vulture sight seeing thing, but first, we had to go over to the British Consulate so that I could get a letter of recommendation to take with me when I applied for the Syrian visa. The whole process of getting into the consulate was as new for me as it was for Steve, as we went through turnstiles and security checks to gain access. We found the office where I handed my passport over and told them what I needed. ‘Come back in an hour, oh and bring 125 lira (40 pounds) with you'.
With an hour to spend, we decided to have a look around what was basically the Galatassary area. There were far more bars and cafes here, so that was decision made on where we would be going at night! As we walked around, I was quite looking forwards to seeing what my 45 pounds would buy me from the consulate, so imagine my joy when we returned to collect an A4 piece of paper only half full of writing. I worked it out to be about a pound a word. A marvellous effort on behalf of the British Government ! Still, without that piece of paper, which I then guarded with my life for the next four days, a Syrian visa would be impossible.
(That's Steve on the left in the photo)
The rooms which housed the weapons were by far the most interesting sections, and we both agreed that you can't have enough sharp, pointy stuff in a place like that. After we'd done a bit of sight seeing we returned to the hotel (I'm sure a McDonalds was involved somewhere, a beer was for sure), and had a rest before going out in the evening. We had a great meal and a few beers whilst we talked about, well, actually, neither of us are too sure what we talked about, but the world seemed a righter place for it! A good time was had by the both of us anyway, that's for sure!!
So that's about it really. I leave on stage 2 for Cairo on Wednesday morning. I've updated the rough route page so that you can get an idea of where I will be cycling around Turkey, and hopefully Steve is going to write an account of his time in Istanbul, and I'll post that from the main page (get on with it Briggs!).