Thursday, 30 March 2017

SAW to CGN and DB again (Leaving a nice place)

5 am.

The traffic noise from the road just below.  The exhaust fumes from the chimney just over my roof.  And I still don't want to leave.   This is another one of those places .....

Taskin ordered me a taxi for 6:30 am.  The ferry that I wanted to take doesn't seem to run this early. Ah well, at least I took that ferry coming into Istanbul 60 hours ago.   MUST stay LONGER next time ;-)

One last listen to the wailing from the surrounding minarets and I'm trying to shut my mind to this city.   Otherwise I'd subconsciously try to miss my flight, LOL.

6:20  The taxi is early so I might as well go.   

WTF? LOL. OMG. Ever seen those insane car
drives in James Bond movies through strange cities. THAT IS EXACTLY what THIS feels like.  RACING at > 90 km/h through the pre-sunrise empty streets of Istanbul is an absolutely fucking insanely FABULOUS experience  
Yes, THIS is the bridge that the tanks rolled on during the military coup last July

No tanks today, just an insane cab driver ;-)

8:30 am

I'm going through security THREE times.  
1st time through preliminary security (pretty much the same as regular) to get into the airport building to get my boarding pass
2nd time to get into the building again after having a cigarette
3rd time through regular security to get to my gate.
The metal-detecting security gates here must be especially sensitive because this is the FIRST time ever the metal surrounding the shoelace holes in my shoes sets off the metal detector.  I have to take them off and try again !

Exhausting !

Now a carton of Winston costs 24 Euros.  NO, I will not be able to use them for myself because I still have 5 packs from when I came here AND will buy another carton in the airplane on the way back to Seattle.   But I'm sure I can brighten some smoker smiles with a donation of cheap cigarettes in Germany ;-)  Now if I was a friend of mine, I'd sell them with at least 100% profit, but then that's not me, LOL.

I miss the take-off again. And regular as clockwork I wake up when the seat-belt-sign goes off when the tin can has reached travel altitude.

What happens after landing in Germany reminds me why I hate the place.

When I arrived from Seattle or Dublin, the passport control booths were reasonably manned.  For the whole plane from Istanbul, there are TWO officials working.  And they are taking their time.   Turkish travelers they ask "What is the purpose of your visit?"  "How long are you staying?"  "Let me see your return ticket!" Of COURSE they know that no-one carries paper tickets anymore. But they wait for the Turkish travelers to show their return ticket on the cell phone.   Fortunately I was one of the earliest arrivals in the passport control queue (there is a reason why I race through airports ;-). God knows how long the people at the end of the queue will have to wait.  Turkish faces exclaim in German "Schwachsinn !|"

Have a smoke, and head to the train station.    This is the airport train station.  They have FOUR (4) ticket vending machines and ZERO (0) humans selling tickets or providing assistance. One of the machines is out of order.  WTF? At an airport ?????

Even Germans act glacially at the machines, never mind people who are not used to the complicated menu system.  3 German girls in front of me are buying their tickets separately instead of just buying 3 at once.  Of for fuck's sake, GET  A BRAIN !!!!   The second German girl starts hacking at the machine and the display board tells me I have two minutes before the train leaves.  Oh, screw it. Ich fahre schwarz ! (I'm defrauding the German rail system for 2.70 Euro by NOT buying a ticket and NOT having to wait 15 minutes for the next train to Cologne Central).  I don't care whether I get fined; I'm too old to put up with bullshit like that.

I get to Cologne Central with 15 minutes to the scheduled departure of the train to Mother-Town.   The same story again.  Germans and foreigners are at a loss at the dumb machines. Finally it is my turn; I manoeuver my way through the menu system and try to pay the 21.20 Euro fare with a 50 Euro bill.  OH No, that would be too easy.   "Your chosen method of payment is too big for the chosen fare". YOU DUMB FUCKS!  There are no 30 Euro bills in circulation ! What do you want people to do?????

I run to the Post Retailer.   Could you please change this 50 Euro bill, I ask.  Phony smiles "Oh, NO, we can't".    I exclaim 'Of course you can, but you don't want to' and turn on my heel, not before seeing the astonished faces.  Someone is calling the spade a spade.  The good Buerger are not used to that ;-)

Next store.  Let's buy a pain au chocolate !   The cute guy behind the counter doesn't blink an eye when I pay the 1.50 charge with that bloody 50 Euro bill. Good Boy !!! ;-)

Back to the bloody ticket vending machine.  An elderly woman says "Oh , you're still here as well". LOL  I manage the menu obstacle course again, and pay for my 21.20 ticket with a 20 E bill and a Euro Twoonie.  Now the bloody machine finally gives me my ticket.  

Oh, I almost forgot.  The only reason why I still can get a ticket for the train I originally wanted is that the train is 10 minutes late.  Otherwise, NO GO ;-(NO, this is not a freak accident. I hear sighs of despair and puzzled faces from Germans and Foreigners alike at the surrounding machines.  

So, if you ever considered visiting Beautiful Germany, consider THIS:  I am fluent in German AND I grew up HERE.  And look at the SHITE I had to deal with

I get to RadStation at 4 pm and even though they can't rent me an e-bike, as soon as I sit on the bike hung like a Christmas tree with backpacks, all the nonsense issues of the last few hours just melt away.

A quick trip to Lidl and I'm set for the night.  Wine, buns, cheese, salami, salty pretzels, instant coffee, yogurt.  I shy away from visiting mother this evening.  It won't do any good.

I'm just on my way to the smoking deck with a full glass of wine to call Mom's legal guardian when the phone rings.  Telepathy?  It's the legal guardian calling.  The stories I hear will not be re-told.  Too CRAZY.  But the conversation is insightful.  

To end the evening, I get (yet) another message from my hotel owner in Istanbul. Usually it's me making fun of my last name. But now he is doing it. WHAT is going on here ...?  Does he have a crush on me or is he just trying to advance business?  You be the judge:

Goodevening mr King. Here is your home as you know. This is temple of the king. Seeing you back here will make me very happy. I wish happy to you. And you are a happy man. You don't need anything. King Regards aour Royal visitor. Best Regards.

Stranger than Fiction !  But you know what?  It feels GOOD being talked to like that ;-)  Try finding that in Canada, LOL.   Hail Istanbul !

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Istanbul Day II (My last day here but definitely NOT my last day here ;-)

Yes, I could handle waking up with this view EVERY morning.  
You actually get to SEE the city wake up, not just learn of its awakening by the increasing traffic noise and angry honking as is the case in many other cities (We won't mention any names ;-)

6:30 am
Time to see the Bun Man again ;-) This time I get to use almost ALL of my Turkish words: Gu"naydin (Good Morning), Lu"tfen (Please!), and Tesekku"r (Thank you).  This little effort gets me a huge smile, an onrush of Turkish, and a parting handshake accompanied by more Turkish.  AND the buns are the Turkish equivalent of a croissant. What a way to start a morning, LOL
Yes, so there are cell-phone transmitters and a chimney not more then 10 meters from my veranda.

The view reflected from my Veranda door ;-)   US$ 29 per night, LOL (Don't you fell silly just having paid half a million for a Vancouver shoe box?

9 am

Time to leave. I have to attend mosque !   

But first I'm going back to the grocery store. NO, I don't need the groceries yet.  BUT, from last time I remember that Hagia Sofia and Sultan Ahmed Mosque are situated on a hill.  A STEEP hill, LOL. 

So I'm going to the grocery store to get change for the Istanbul Metro.  A side effect of this is that I will be carrying a bottle of WINE into a MOSQUE, which is probably NOT the proper thing to do, but that can't be helped right now.
From the grocery store it is a STEEP way down to the Metro station.  But it's gorgeous !

I fight with the metro-ticket vending machine for a minute (Hey, I don't speak Turkish and I can't find the language button ;-)

3 stations later I get off at the Sultan Ahmed/ Hagia Sophia Station.  A quick moment of getting oriented and :Hey, there is a mosque over there !

The obelisk of III. Tutmosis (There are stolen ones in London, Paris, New York, so why not in Istanbul?)

And then it's time to enter the outer realms of the Blue Mosque.   

Noticed the chain?  Put there to remind the Sultan arriving on horseback to WALK because he was leaving the area of his power for an area where a different power reigned supreme.

The have loaner long dresses and loaner head scarfs  (Think horrible hospital blue) but I'm a little proud that I arrived properly dressed.  I sound like my own grandfather you say?  Thank you, I'm honored by the comparison ;-)

Right after this it is time to take my shoes off.  They are VERY strict about it and they should be.

 This is the first time in my life that I have set foot in an active mosque.  And I chose well for my first time!   FABULOUS CARPETING.

But NO, I'm entering a place of LIGHT.   The place is fiendishly difficult to photograph, because LIGHT comes from EVERYWHERE and floods the place.

It looks like a solid pile of domes from the outside.
But once you're inside, there is LIGHT coming from everywhere.

From the picture above, turn 180 degrees, et voila:

Hagia Sophia (for interior pictures See The June 2016 Post

Enough for now.  I decide to WALK back instead of taking the tram:

They don't make roofs like this anymore ;-(

No, the soap doesn't actually look like this, it's the packaging tin can that is so colourful ;-)

It's 11 am by now and all I've eaten is ONE bun out of the five obtained from Bun Man this morning.   Conveniently (LOL), the restaurant under Galata Bridge is located right along the way.  Today I receive my handshake already when I arrive. 

I'll be darned. There is that restaurant again, LOL. Wise move to be situated on a bridge ;-)

My least favorite meal of the three I've had here so far.
But look at the VIEW ;-)

I get back to the hotel around noon and can't resist the bed and the DOWN DUVET ;-)

3 pm

I step onto the balcony and am almost knocked down by the HEAT.  A quick check of the weather forecast confirms that it is TWENTY degrees out on my wind-sheltered terrace. OMG, how I have missed that, LOL.  To get to Istanbul's forecast I had to look up Vancouver's and I feel sorry for people I know.  A HEAVY RAINFALL warning.   AGAIN.  OUCH !

4 pm

What to do?   Yes, I could run around and try to see more.  But as a by now slightly experienced traveller, I do realize that this is futile.  This city has SO MUCH MORE to see, that another few hours won't even make a dent.  And a quiet evening can't hurt either.  It's back to reality tomorrow and a bit of rest time might come in handy.

The day is coming to an end.
This morning I saw signs of the sun rising behind me reflected on the other side of the Golden Horn.

Now I see the sun setting there

A place where I get to witness and enjoy BOTH rise AND set of the sun?  
I just know I'll be back ;-)
The varying mix of natural and artificial light is so special.