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Michael’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 04 May 2006

Location: Istanbul to Mykonos, Turkey

MapEntry 29 - Istanbul post tour (April 27th & 28th) & Transit to Mykonos (April 28th - 1st May)

The morning of the 27th, Kristy, Shernell, Julie and I relocated to the Orient Hostel in Sultanahmet and then headed to the Underground Cistern. Now, in my mind, a cistern in the back part of a toilet. I don't know why I'd pay to see an underground toilet, but I did. Turns out that a cistern is just the name for
basically a water storage area, and this one was huge.

There were 12 rows of 28 columns (336 total), each 9m high supporting the roof. The roof was domed between each square of 4 columns, and was dark, and had some amazing acoustics. That was until the kids on the school trip started squealing. There was still water in the bottom, about a foot deep, with huge
carp swimming around... Even I could have caught a fish here. There were platforms sitting about 3 feet above the water that you walk on. There is apparently another one in the city that is empty and was used as the place for a rave a couple nights before Anzac...what an awesome setting that would have

Following that I headed back to the hostel to take Josh and Sandra there then we headed to the Grand Bazaar. I bought a genuine imitation pair of black Lacoste sneakers as my DC skate shoes are rapidly getting ugly. I also bought an authentic fake O'Neill ski jacket that was the warmest one I could find for
Scandinavia. We met up with Kristy and Shernell, then headed back to the hostel.

That night we went to a restaurant on the side of the Bosphorous and up on the rooftop terrace you could see all the way across into the Asian continent side of Istanbul (Istanbul is one of the few cities in the world built on two continents). The meal was good, but for some reason Julie got all worried about
it, she organised it, and apologetic about going there. Don't worry bout it Julie.. It was cool. Admittedly, they do have a habit in Istanbul of taking your plate out from under you while you are still chewing your last mouthful which can be seen as rude and rushing you out of the restaurant - but I think that is just the norm in the country.

That night Josh, Sandra and I headed out for a few drinks, both at the hostels downstairs night club, which had a free belly-dancing show (back to the crap ones in Egypt and Dubai). Then we headed to the bars on the other side of the road. Eventually we ended up in Just Bar which was playing a classic blend of bogan Aussie pub music, and Josh who hadn't been in Aus for the best part of year couldn't get enough of it. We also ended up talking a kid selling Fez's (funny Turkish hats) down from $10 each to 2 for $2...not that I wanted one, but oh well!

The following day Julie bailed, and the rest of us jumped on a Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour of the city. Well that was pretty overpriced and we never bothered to hop off and just took a 90-minute bus tour of the city, that provided about as much info as the Anzac Tour.

Then Kristy, Shernell and I headed for the Spice Bazaar with just one thing in mind - trippy honey. Apparently there is this honey that has mind-altering properties as was shown on a episode of a British version of Getaway. Finally we locate something that someone believes is the stuff - he called it forest honey and kept it behind lock and key.

He let us sample a small spoon, and it tasted pretty good. We wandered off and explored the rest of the hustlers in the bazaar with no effect from the honey. We headed back to stall with the forest honey, and the guy put on a convincing sell, and said you need more to feel the effects, but he was sure it was the stuff we were looking for. He managed to convince the girls enough for them to buy half a kilo at $40. The jar it went in was sealed and then put in a vacuum sealed bag to get through customs - no sampling in Turkey. So the question remains girls - did the stuff work? Let me know.

We headed back to the hostel as the avo wore on and I said my good-bye's to Kristy, Shernell, Sandra and Josh and began the least exciting bus ride of my life. I left the hostel at 8pm on the shuttle bus, and left the bus terminal at 930pm. Then began a monster bus ride which didn't finish till we arrived in Kusadasi at 10am. The whole way the bus was full, and I was stuck next to some Turk who didn't speak English. It was about then that the genius of the travel routes in the area became apparent.

The ferry out of Kusadasi for the Greek island of Samos leaves at 830am daily, so you have to spend a night in Kusadasi. Then the ferry from Samos to any other Greek island leaves at 630am, so you are stuck another night in a place you don't want to be. Very clever, keep the economy in these shit-all-happening towns thriving on people in transit.

Well the days in transit were pretty boring, but I met three blokes (A.T., A-Ron and Camo) from the sunshine coast on the bus from Istanbul and tagged along with them - well that was an eye opener. I didn't do a whole lot in Kusadasi, besides eat a full english breakfast with the boys at 11am with a beer - man it was good to have some bacon and fried eggs - and snare a pair of Quicksilver double pluggers. That night I headed down with A-Ron to the fish market and picked up a kilo of salt water yabbies and grilled them on the BBQ at the hostel with a couple beers - hell yeah.

Next day we ferried across to Samos and was there around 1030am. Finally we found some accommodation that was much pricier than we wanted but the guy wouldn't budge on price. After that we headed back into town but being a Sunday nothing was open. We found a corner store and got a 750ml bottle of Ouzo for 6.7 Euro and started drinking that back in the room. It wasn't long before that was gone and we were missioning back for a second. By the time we got to the third, which we haggled for 6 Euro as loyal customers, we decided to drink by the water front.

As the sun went down, we wandered around and found a bottle shop selling 2Lt flagons of Ouzo. We picked up the bottle and a swag of Coke and headed back to the room. The rest of the night is blurry, but when we woke up at 5am, A-Ron was sleeping on a broken bed and the television was outside on the balcony - I'm not
sure how either happened.

The biggest problem was that the ferry tickets were on the TV, and couldn't be located. After 10 minutes of searching and missing the ferry shuttle I located them on the other side of the room behind the broken bed.

The four of us walked from the pension to the ferry, all looking shabby, and made with about 10 minutes to spare. Once on, the smoke inside was too much and the four of us braved the cold and slept lying on the bench seats on the outside deck. About 6hrs later, 3 of them sleeping, and consuming about 4 cheese and
ham toasted sandwiches, we all felt better as we pulled into the Mykonos port.

After planning on walking to the Paradise Beach Camping ground, I convinced the boys to cab it, and that was the best decision of the last few days! A 10 minute cab ride over the islands would have taken hours on foot - if we ever found the place.

So finally I get to Mykonos, am staying on the beach, in a place that reminds me a lot of the Torquay caravan park - only with three mega clubs on the beach that are attached to the camping ground. If only the sun would come out - for more than half an hour - the wind leave and more people would show up - there's
no-one here. I can only imagine what this place will be like in July or August, but know that the boys back home would love it.

Anyway, till next time, I'll be lazing about on the beach, sipping girly drinks with umbrellas in em (shit, this whole entry has been written on a sun lounge on the beach, using my PDA, and wirelessly uploaded to the webpage - not bad eh?) and trying not to feel guilty - that shouldn't be too hard!


FYI - Have well and truly passed 1500 hits in 60 days, so that means there is on average about 25 computers out there looking at the page daily. Who are you, and why are you looking at it? Get back to work! But thank-you all.

Also, have listened to almost 2000 songs now (1958 at this minute) which is up to the end of my DMX tracks. I still have almost 4000 songs to go...