Istanbul, Day Four: Onward to Athens

How the hell can this bazaar be so frickin grand if no one can find it?”

The bartender at the Four Seasons said to just follow the tram tracks up to the crest of the hill by the university.

I stopped at a little joint that had chicken kebap sandwiches for 1.50 lira and ate it as I walked since I missed the Hostel breakfast, somewhat on purpose. Hostel breakfasts are usually margarine and corn syrup

I told you I was a terrible backpacker.

BUt I could not this BAzaar thing to save my life.

I walked all over the frickin place until my well-toned calf muscles began to ache.

I stopped for a beer at a local spot that had international currencies under the glass fo the tables. I signed a 50 shilling note from kenya with, downed my beer and asked the waiter about the bazaar.

“Over there. By the university. Don’t get lost.”

“I am lost,” thought the InMo.

I agreed silently.

I walked throught the streets of the university until I saw a crowd of people.

Oh great. Here I am at the book bazaar. All I saw was books and trinket chess sets for the entire street. Until I tunred a corner and saw the entrance way to the Grand Bazaar.

It was frickin grand.

I’d seen bazaars in Italy. I’d seen bazaars in Eqypt. I’d been to the mall of america and the Masaai market and Canal Street. This was impressive. I would be so bold to say it was the only place where one could a fake Rolex and a real one within walking distance. I picked a few guitars and haggled to see if I could get one for $50.

No such luck.

I did manage to find a sticker for the guitar case. . .

I walked further and the bazaar seemed to overflow into the street. It kept on going. I ended up walking nearly all the way down the hill. I found my way back up to the street with the tram and realized I was hungry.

There, like a shining beacon were the Golden Arches.

I’m a foodie. I shoudl hate McDonalds. I kinda do. I’d much rather have a Schoop’s or an In’N’Out. But there was certainly something wonderful about biting into a flat, lukewarm, grey, mostly soy patties, yellowish, tranlsucent, lettuce and orange special sauce with that ingenious third bun. It was divine.

Chock full of enough calories for two days I headed to down to the Blue Mosque. I figured I should check it out since I had nothing else to do. I alwasy thought it was silly calling it blue. It was sorta grey in actuality. But inside, the sunlight through stained glass windows left it bathed in blue.

I headed over to the Hagia Sofia. A byzantine church that had been turned into MOsque that was now a museum, it had minarets and Arabic script but beautiful gold mosaics of Virgin and Child on the ceilings and walls. It was Turkey in a nutshell: not much of a sandwich, but definitely a mix of cultures.

I headed back to the Hostel and took a cab to the train station.

I had some smoked salmon at the Orient Express restaurant. Getting on the train was like a time warp. It was some old french sleeper, there was a weird mix of people, and a surprising amount of americans.

Looking for my cabin I ask an old guy how the hell I was supposed to read the ticket. He explains it and then we realize I am booked into the same cabin as he and his wife.

“shouldn’t ther be a guy in a hat with a whistle and brass buttons?

He laughs and asks me where I’m from.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” I reply.

He says he and his wife are from San Francisco and the couple they are traveling with are from Florida. Just as I’m about to ask where in Florida, as I am quite familiar with America’s Wang, a head pokes out from the next cabin down.

“Did you just say you were from Bethlehem?” asks the head.

“Yeah. I did.”

“Did you graduate from Freedom or Liberty?”

“No shiiiiiiii(t). Liberty. Are you from Bethlehem?

“I graduated Liberty ’90!” He didn’t look ten years older than me. The age difference was enough for us not to play the name game and he was on his honeymoon with his new wife, so I bowed out of the conversation early.

I still had to find my cabin.

I just sat in one and waited for someone to boot me out, and no one did.

The guy came to check the ticket and I was not disturbed until abotu 12:30 at night when I was woken up for customs. A man with a gun took my passprt and returned it 20 confused minutes later. It was stamped out of turkey.

20 minutes more and someone came to stamp me in to Greece.

I hurriedly searched for the Greece stamp but couldn’t find it. Passport stamps are worse than heroin.

I passed out until about an hour before the train stopped in Thessaloniki. I chatted with a Canadian fellow about the lack of cleavage in Istanbul.

The ride from Thessaloniki to Athens was about 5 hours and I decided at that moment I’d take the two hour flight back, no matter what the cost.

Not a moment too soon before arriving on the ‘Express’ to Athens, I nodded off.


One Response to Istanbul, Day Four: Onward to Athens

  1. Portia says:

    Thessaloniki is supposed to be amazing. Two Cornellian friends of mine are from there. They made me PROMISE to visit some time. I have also heard from non-Salonikians that it’s really quite divine.

    But Greece, man, I’m jealous. You’ll have to give me some ideas when I create my travel plans for the fall.

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