DAY 6 SUNDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2012
A beautiful day today so we decided to go to the waterfront in the area of Karakoy near the Galata Bridge.
The stairway was a very steep down to the waterfront and on the way down there were some steps where special care was needed. The area had been dug up to access some essential service.
Along the waterfront, people…
There are many smokers in Turkey because cigarettes are inexpensive, around $2 for a packet of twenty. I heard that if the government forced the price up by applying additional tax there would be a revolution!
It came up cold this afternoon so café patrons don a blanket supplied by the café owner.
Carmen was from Austria and she has suggested we visit her; she lives not far from our friends in Switzerland.
After the promenade we walked into the area where luxury cruise ships berth. They belch thousands of tourists onto the streets. It’s easy to identify the passengers from these ships, they tend to carry nothing, not even a small backpack. Cruise ships stay for only one night.
Near the dock we walked into a film set. We were not sure what the subject of the film was; it could have been a TV commercial.
As soon as the filming sequence was finished she winced as she kicked off her very high-heeled shoes. Obviously she had been on her feet for some time and the shoes were giving her grief.
DAY 7 MONDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER 2012
SISLI TO SULTANAHMET
Today we moved to a hotel in Sultanamahet, a suburb in the old quarter (European side) of Istanbul. The reason for the move was Ferruh’s son was coming to visit from England where he lives and works and our bed was required for him. The move was not all that bad as it is good to be in a new location. Our new abode is close to where the Bosphorus flows into the Marmara Sea.
Soon after our arrival we stepped out and took morning tea at a nearby café consisting of tomato, bread, tea and coffee which cost around $4-00. Dwellings around us are ancient; in fact some of the houses are actually built under the arches or have incorporated parts of the old city walls built in Romans times.
Along one side of the hotel is a portion of the old city wall and the entrance from the main road is through a narrow arch.
The term ‘picket’ these days refers to a steel post but in days gone by it referred to posts sunk into the ground. Soldiers stood on top of the posts when on guard duty (doing picket duty), giving them a height advantage
Walked the southern edge of the Marama Sea this morning. Amazingly, the water is clear, but the foreshores are polluted with modern flotsam such as plastic bags, bottles, polystyrene boxes and general stuff picnickers leave behind. The Marmara Sea, the Black Sea, Bosphorus and Golden Horn are highly polluted waterways. Analysed fish have found to be laden with heavy metals, which is understandable, as muck has been discharged into the seas for thousand of years.
There are two major waterways running through Istanbul, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus is the dividing line between Asia and Europe. It is the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation and connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea.
Water does not simply flow in and out through the Bosphorus. It is far more complicated than tidal and flood flow. Findings from a study conducted by the University of Leeds in August 2010 reveal that there is in fact an underwater channel of high-density water flowing across the floor of the Bosphorus (caused by the difference in density of the two seas), which would be the sixth largest river on earth if it were to be on land..
It is thought by some that the Bosphorus became an active through-waterway around 6,000 years ago when the Mediterranean swelled and breached through into the Black Sea, once an isolated freshwater lake. As the waters surged a dense, salty mass, formed a network of sea-floor channels. People who do not believe the science of the event say it was a biblical happening associated with Noah’s flood. Regardless, sitting on the edge of the Bosphorus and watching ships, boats, liners, small craft and yachts passing by is an amazing experience and without the sea floor channels ships would not be able to pass to and from the Black Sea to the world’s oceans.
The number of shipping movements in 2011 was about 50 000 and I’m not talking about little pleasure craft but big ocean going container, bulk gas & oil and general cargo ships up to 200 metres long.
Navigation through the Bosphorus is tricky because there are two 45 degree bends and ships’ captains cannot see around the corner which makes navigation a bit dodgy. Most masters these days take on a pilot but that has not always been the case and serious accidents have happened. I recently heard a programme on BBC Radio and the interviewer asked a resident of a waterside apartment if she was worried about a ship careering into her home. Her reply inferred she was definitely worried because a house nearby had been demolished by a runaway tanker!
The Bosphorus Strait is 31 km long and its maximum and minimum widths are 3,420 and 700 m respectively. Currents can reach 7–8 knots at the narrowest point, which makes it highly dangerous for ship navigation. There is also very heavy ferry traffic in the Strait of Istanbul, which adds to the danger. The depth of the Bosphorus varies from18 m to 110 m.
The suspension bridge in the distance is the Bogazici. I wanted to walk across it but was told it is closed to the public because too many people have committed suicide by jumping from it. There is a third bridge being built over the Bosphorus for the railway and a tunnel under to accommodate the underground railway.
Shipping movements through the Bosphorus also add to the pollution aspect, especially when one runs aground or collides with another ship.
I heard recently that 50% of bread baked in Germany each day is thrown away because shoppers insist on fresh bread and I wouldn’t be surprised if this applies to a lot of other affluent countries as well. In a world of food shortages this seems to me incongruous.
The walk along the foreshore was without the crowds and hassles like in the centre of Istanbul. There were not the usual touts trying to get us to come see the carpets but there were, however, the odd restaurant owner trying to get us into their establishment. And, of course, the inevitable shoe cleaners.
Another pollution activity along the promenade today was the shooting gallery. Shooters tested their ability by shooting at glass bottles and balloons.
A .22 calibre rifle in action and by the sound of the shots low velocity ammunition was being used. I was hoping the bloke in front didn’t stand up.
The balloon photograph above was not taken along the promenade but in another part of Istanbul. At the time I didn’t know what they were for.
At the far end of the promenade there was an area where boats in various sates of repair/decay were slipped. Just the sort of place I like to poke about.
On the way back to the hotel a couple of locals introduced themselves and the older of the two said he lived in Essendon, a suburb of Melbourne. Apparently he was extending his stay in Istanbul because he broke his legs, he was limping so his injuries seemed credible. Our friend (he called himself that) suggested we go to his embroidery shop and we thought it might be interesting so we went with him in his car. I secretly recorded the number plate, it always pays to have a comeback in case something goes wrong.
It turned out he took us to his mate’s carpet shop, not sure where his embroidery shop was! Alarm bells rang and decided this bloke was a con. Touts like our friend have a strategy and he used every trick in the tout book to get us to buy a carpet. First the tea arrived, then he could see Bev was maybe more receptive than me so he flattered her by telling her how beautiful she was. Meanwhile I’m stating I DO NOT WANT TO BUY A CARPET, but he kept the pressure on. His offsider and the shop owner started laying carpets out in front of us. I told them not to bother, I DO NOT WANT TO BUY A CARPET. The spiel continued with the statements that the carpets were an investment, your children will appreciate etc. I said I would rather spend the money on tools for my children, something they can use. Then he came out with the classic statement, If you do not buy a carpet you are insulting Turkish culture. I asked him if an Englishman came to the front of his shop with a Rolls Royce for sale and he didn’t want to buy it would he be insulting English culture. By then I thought I had made my point that I didn’t want to buy a carpet.
Whist all the bantering was going on I noticed a painting on the wall. It depicted carpet sellers back a couple of hundred years ago in a market examining and discussing carpet design. I found it interesting because when a child I used to dream I was flapping my arms and flying. I never flew very high, just above power pole height. I remember flying over the railway marshalling yards and looking down on the rolling stock in the Sydney suburb of Belfield. The amazing thing about my childhood flights was that I always landed in the same place in a backstreet of some Arabian country where carpet sellers were discussing the value of carpets, just like the scene in the painting on the wall today. I asked if he knew where I could buy a copy of the painting and in a flash one of the attendants shot out the door to get me a copy. He returned with a print on canvas. So the carpet man from Essendon didn’t sell me a carpet but a print instead! I dare say he added a commission to the price.
Bev and I were anxious to get out of his clutches so we bade ‘our friend’ farewell but, not to be beaten, he had one last shot. He reduced the price of the carpet from $650 to $500 and free freight back to Australia. Again, I stated I DO NOT WANT TO BUY A CARPET. On parting, he shook our hands and I thought it’s all a game and I won because he didn’t sell me a carpet. But maybe he made a big profit with the canvas print!
Carpets to us are something to put on the floor but in many Middle Eastern countries they are more than that. For example, when in Iran in the 1970s I saw a man humping a carpet into a bank and I was told he was using the carpet as collateral to get a loan.
Encounters like the one with the carpet man today saps the energy and, to make it worse, after leaving the shop we didn’t really know where we were, however instinct told us which way to go and after a considerable walk we made it back to our hotel. But not before a stop for a beer on the way home.