I was and I was not looking forward to Istanbul.. the mere size of the place scared the bejeebers out of me and from the horror stories I heard, you are totally risking your life on a motorcycle there. The city itself has a population of over 13 million people and it's a 100 km from one end to the other.. unreal..
On the other hand, I knew this is a great place full of amazing history and culture, and I didn't want to just pass it up.
Riding here from Pamukkale was easy, but I thought I'd stay the night outside the city if I can, and be fresh when I go to tackle the traffic. Seriously, I had so many warnings about riding my motorcycle in Istanbul, I was super worried and didn't want to chance being really tired when I go in. Wouldn't you know, Doug Wothke again comes to the rescue and says, "I have a friend in Sakarya on the way to Istanbul you should meet"..
So that night I ride into town, a very busy place 150 km east of Istanbul yet you'd think it's part of the city already! Found a cheapish place to stay and set off to find this Erol and his biker bar.
So the reason for no photos? It's been raining the whole way big time..
I find a place to stay.. and head out the next morning to explore the top spots.. but that big rain was not going to let up for anything.
I went and visited some of the most visited sites in the city.. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, etc. completely drenched!
Now these photos are from the next day, as I wander around the city.. never made it back to the most important places to see for decent photos even though I had such intentions... however, outside of those typical tourist stops, this is my view of Istanbul. (Don't get me wrong, it just turned out this way.. those tourist sites were amazing and I would certainly tell anyone I know going to the city not to miss them!)
My bike stayed nicely tucked up against the building and I set off on foot. The traffic to me wasn't dangerous, there was just far too much of it and very slow!
I'm wandering around the neighborhood where I stay.. and I thought it was so cool to see that kids still play marbles.. must be the oldest game on the planet..
Wandered into a different neighborhood and I am feeling the 13 million people about now!!
A very very Muslim city as is the rest of the country..
I've not been to a predominately Muslim country before this one, but one thing they love to do is sing loudly into a speaker several times a day, calling everyone to pray. I can tell you, there are some dreadfully horrible prayer singers! (sorry Turkey friends ;-) But it's their culture and I tried to sing along with my own horrible voice to cope until it was over.. ;-) Here the guys are following the call and come outside with their matts in preparation.
The streets are quite organized. There is a street with just tools, and another street with nuts and bolts, a street of blankets and pillows, but the street with the wedding attire got my attention!
Far out!! Those are some serious wedding dresses..!!
Reminds me, I didn't get a photo, but I saw a young couple arrive Pamukkale at the last post.. She was in the supersize bright pink gown with all the glitter on her face and hair.. just like you see here. I thought they were going to a prom, but they must have just been married.. oops!
And a little more of a most common attraction.. the food!
Now for some important shopping, in the central Bazaar..
I know, I know... it's really touristy, but ever since I arrived this country, I love these things! I still can't buy any of it, but doesn't hurt to look!
One thing you will see EVERYWHERE in this country is their flag..
Here comes another guy.. plenty of competition in this neighborhood!
This is a walk around my neighborhood at night.. wouldn't have looked much different a hundred years ago.. and it didn't feel unsafe at all... even amongst many abandoned buildings.
This was the most dangerous thing I saw.. two big girls taken the boy out for his play gun.. ! ;-/
And that concludes my Istanbul Turkey experience! I did meet some great guys at a rideturkey.com meeting. I liked this group of riders, a real mix of bikes and people. They get together every Wednesday night for their "meeting", but it's mostly to have a drink and something to eat together.. I arrived very late, but it was still fun to have a chat.. Thanks again for inviting me Bahadir! If you get into Istanbul, you should drop them a line.
And I also might say that the traffic was not a problem AT ALL!! I must have experienced far worse than Istanbul in other cities, because it was all really normal to me.. as usual, the things I worry the most about is just a waste of time.. See you!! ;-)