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Joel Stewart’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 08 Apr 2009

Location: Turkey

Map4/8/09 - Istanbul and tour group

From what I have seen this is a wonderful town. It seems that the main way to sell you something here is to make you smile first. I got to the spice market and the small streets around it and got lost in the different sections of items. One section for kitchen items, one section for suits (tailors with cloth), one section Turkish delight, one section cheese, one section fruit, with a few spices mixed in. In reality the spices in Italy and Mexico were more impressive but the salesmanship here is like watching a new type of art.

The tour group is mostly 50+ crew, there are nine of us 6 motorcycle, 2 women on back, one woman in the van, a tour guide in the van, motorcycle mechanic in the van, and the leader out in front someplace. Today we met the bikes but get on and get serious tomorrow as we ride 300 km to Gallipoli.

Today it was a tour of the Blue Mosque and Saint Sofia, impressive but really I had a better time yesterday exploring on my own and just standing on a corner eating a kebab and sharing tea delivered on a tray with a guy walking through the market with a basket of fruit trying to sell a banana for 1TL. While he was next to me he ordered a tea from a guy with an empty try and when he came back with tea my eyes opened up and he helped me order one for myself. When the tea man came back I was trying to pay for the tea and could not figure out the price (less than 1TL) and he was a bit confused at how to make me change so I turned to the banana man and paid him 1TL and told him to pay the man. He probably ended up getting his tea for free and was very thankful. As I was sipping my tea the banana man wandered off and I was left with an empty glass that the tea comes in. I looked around to see where to take the empty glass and another street vendor saw my confusion and pointed to set it on the curb next to the building I was standing on the that the tea man would come back and find it. I set the glass down and walked off. It is not far wrong to say that this tea is about as strong as espresso.

The Australian tour group seems nice but no way I can keep up with them drinking beers. The amazing thing is that I am the only one of the tour that has not been on one of Mike Ferris’s tours before. A good recommendation for a tour.

Oh, yesterday I say the motorcade of Obama - I guess he got a private tour and what I shared with about 5000 people today. I was amazing - they shut down the main bridge across the golden horn to foot traffic (think a flood of people going down Broadway in New York at lunch time) so he could drive across the bridge. A very different world.

Off to bed and off on the motorcycles tomorrow at 9 AM