Istanbul “Turkey Pakistan VISA DAY“

Our time with “our“ kitty is drawing to an end. It’s getting real. Our quest was to pick up our Pakistani Visa. The taksi, as they are called in Turkey, understands where we are going, and the time is the same as on our Google maps we are using in the back seat. We have to watch these drivers, to keep them honest. Most of the time they will go in circles so it can take fifty minutes to get to a 15 minute drive. 

We handed our passports to the Pakistan Consulate and because-of bureaucracies, we would have to come back in four hours to pick up our Visa. So, we headed to a French district to kill some time. Turkey and France were having a tiff, so we are not sure if Turkey has closed this district down. One French Hill, near to our hotel is closed, but we are taking a chance. The sun was just now breaking through the grey marine layer, so common this time of the year. 

Dogs and cats are very well fed and they get free medical services from the Government. The cats live a good life and play and are very friendly. The dogs are listless and stare off in space or just lay around. Nobody touches them and they don’t seem happy. A hand full of the dogs will share an open space and all are fat. Some remind me of hookers or drug dealers as they own one spot on the corner and never move. Day after day they lay by food and water. It’s very sad to me, as these dogs have never had a home, or have been loved on; though cared for. 

The French area was a very popular area with a trolley running down the wide lane, void of traffic. The architecture was impressive with stores on the bottom floor. I got a second pair of pants and a light jacket. Imagine that, I will be seen wearing something different than what I have been wearing. I trade off four different outfits and always wear flip flops. It is amazing how much my clothes weigh. It might be a drawbacks to be tall, in this case.

Back to the Pakistan Consulate, to pick up our Visa. As we drive back, we see a demonstration with police guarding with machine guns and reporters with cameras and microphones. The white coat-clad people turned out to be doctors and nurses protesting not getting paid more for the extra COVID work which has been has bestowed on them. They are on a contract with no overtime. Seven day weeks have been common, and they don’t get to go home to their families.

With our Visa enriched Passports in hand, we have a long drive because President Erdogan was in town snarling up traffic and closing highways. The taksi price was high, but we made it back to our hotel, enjoying our baklava and sandwiches that we picked up on French Street.

Turkey “Istanbul and a Ferry Ride to the Asia Side”

We crossed over to the Asia side of Istanbul on a ferry, from Europe. The marine layer is thick with the Black Sea merging to the grey sky. The sea is smooth with seagulls trailing behind looking for ground up fish from the unintended prop. We slowly emerge from the ferry and spill onto the harbors edge. Asia awaits our arrival. Hordes of people mingle the narrow granite paved streets, the rough surface feels safe, as we rise on the inclines. 

People are so varied in looks and tones. The eye color and hair is much like the US, a mix from all descriptions. Mask are worn by almost everyone. 

One street had vegetable, meat markets and fish mongers. We saw Baklava markets with Turkish Delights adorning the shelves. Quaint restaurants fill the street corners. A lady gets a salad and the waiter poured olive oil and the balsamic vinegar; which poured as thick as honey. 

We see a KFC and made a bee line for the Colonel. We always want what they don’t sell so it takes a while to get the order right. Bunny see a shiny object as I wait, and she comes back with new clothes. My maps takes us to a barbershop close by. I get a scissor cut and get to pay 33% more, when he finds out I am from California. Big deal, that is only $4.00 for a haircut. 

We head back to the ferry and when entering the turn-style Bunny goes through with our Metro card. When I scan it for me , it was empty. The lady behind me was impatient, and pushy. She scanned her card, when I was still trying to figure out my card. I flew through, and then she started yelling at me, but I don’t speak Turkey. She is locked out because she used the last of her Metro card on my entrance, and the ferry was ready to pull out! Bunny gives her some money and the rude lady’s voice faded as we got on the ferry. We don’t know if she made it or not. I felt bad but she should not have been a diesel pusher, when it was clearly my turn.

The ride back was peaceful but the waters had turned a little rough. The sun was casting long shadows with the call to prayer sounding off from four different shoreline mosques. The sound of the call can sometimes be beautiful when you are not right next to a speaker. The sounds float above the waters, all on a separate, yet same timeline. 

Our ferry pulled into port, so we departed and hailed a taxi for our final segment of our day’s journey.  In our room the Colonel catered our dinner that we shared with an energetic cat, she could not get enough of that chicken stuff!

Istanbul “Turkey A Day Cruise with New Friends”

The glorious sunrise and bright sunlight elevated our souls and enlightened our countenance. 

Our animated speech and gestures spoke well of our engagement with a group of newly found friends. A sacred fire burns within me and pierces my mind to share the accounts of the days events. 

Today, we join a family and their friends, to tour The Golden Horn and adjacent Bosporus Strait waterways. We have had the pleasure of living along this famous and important historic area a few times. We pass multitudes of ornate mosques along the skyline and bordering the waterway. We are very fortunate to have a guide who was animated with laughter, on a regular basis. Though he only spoke Turkish, we learned very little history, but seeing Istanbul from this perspective on the water is a joy. It is so peaceful and serine. The company of about fifteen close friends made us feel at home on our floating vessel and entertainment center. Songs break out and laughter is flowing, along with the conversations and drinks.

Fishermen line the waterway with other men staring out at the water, while in deep conversations. Families also are enjoying the bright sunny day. Children ride undersized bicycles, racing a boy with inline skates. A statue of a war hero, wearing armor, is mounted on a grand stallion, pointing towards the opening to the Bosporus Strait.

The Golden Horn waters are flushed by two rivers and water is pumped from the nearby Bosporus Strait, keep the waters clean, making for a delightful passage.

The Turkish flag flies proudly, high from many buildings and the boat has an oversized flag at it’s stern. Bunny and I take charge of the upper deck and have a clear view for our photos. It is Sunday, and it looks like the seagulls are taking advantage of God’s day of rest. The gentle rocking boat is working, and people are relaxing, soon some people join us, up top. I met my new urologists and his cherished love. Conversations flows and the views were fabulous. Little tug-boat-sized-looking fishing boat, passes us, full of fishing nets coming back for the day. 

The sun is crossing our path, making it the squinting hour, as we torture our eyes to make out the outline of buildings. Behind us, the castle is perfectly lit from the setting sun. As we enter the Bosporus Strait, the waters start to churn, twisting the boat to and fro. A storm had passed that tormented the seas for the last two days. One of the ladies could not take the turbulent ride, and turned a little green behind the gills. 

We passed many grand mansions from the days of the Byzantine rulers. Some have been turned into hotels. An Ottoman ruler’s grand home, still in great shape, lies empty. We pass many restaurants and TV towers, then enter an open bay with a lighthouse called Rumelian Lighthouse with a great story. This refers to the “Land of the Romans” gateway to the Balkans. We rounded the structure and headed past more restaurants and a nightclub, where a few years back, one man, a terrorist, shot fifty people. The club never never open again.

We rounded the bend and back down the Golden Horn to calmer waters. The sun has given up the ship and was starting to dip into the sea. Up ahead, we can see the point we took off from. We are almost at the end of our journey and had to give up our treasure for our part of the bounty for the boat, and guide, that we could not understand, but was more than happy to enrich him for his entertainment and his knowledge. 

We strolled back across the boulevards past the old city walls, up to the Inn we reside at. We climb upstairs to the balcony for a feast of fried fish, salad, hummus and all the compliments. The view pleases our senses with an overview of our journey on the Golden Horn, below. We had some great conversations, and we shared stories from some of our exploits and expeditions. All too soon, it got late, We say goodnight with promise of more narratives, tomorrow evening.