Gelibolu/Galipoli and the Dardanelles.
Coming to Turkey (wiki) on 30th of August, this is liberation day in Turkey, the day Mustafa Kemal (wiki) beat the Greek armies decisively in 1922, which is regarded to have paved the way towards independence a year later. We first go to Gelibolu (Gallipoli wiki), huge flags decorate every other building. Gallipoli (Beautiful City in Greek), this too is of great militarily relevance to Turkey, Kemal held control over the Dardanelles against Allied forces especially Churchill’s in WW1.
In Turkey I better get mysel up to speed with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He is responsible for just about everything here. In a few weeks I would understand. If one of these two victories had not been, there might not be a Turkey today. If there had not been Atatürk there would certainly not be a Turkey as we know it.
Marmara coast north.
Spend night in Şarköy, get up early, it is a beautiful morning. For a last time we drive quiet coastal roads Marmares Sea to the right up to Tekirdag. Soon it’ll get very busy.
Istanbul (wiki), enter some urbanised zone 60km before even getting near it, many hours stop and go traversing the huge area of attached polis, cities that never stop expanding, then criss crossing Istanbul’s centre because we don’t know where to go. Where get on that bridge? Asia might be calmer. I am tired after more than 10 hours.
“Sorry, no beer” says a friendly waiter in a cafe/restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus/Bosporus/Bogazi, with a view on Bosporus Bridge, “Oh ja, Ramadan?”, “no my friend” he says “we are just opposite the mosque”. “Oh - ja” again just my brain, I saw the beautiful old mosque (Hamid-i Evvel Camii from 1730 or so) one of 3000 mosques in Istanbul, some old to ancient. “But come, I show you” 3 cafes down the pier, Efes is the fluid so compelling at this hour. Turkey is not so strict, secular, a developed country.
Istanbul is huge, a vast expanse, hills and hills, peninsulas, Karaköy, Taksim, how to get on the ramp to one of the two bridges to Asia Üsküdar (wiki), Kadiköy who knows where to go. I am exhausted. “Test, test” calls through the speakers, they better get them working before the Maghrib prayer call.
Later, we need to find a place to park the car, a safe residential area best. Drive again along the Bosporus this time on Asian side, sun sets over the Boğaz, which means throat, neck, clouds tower over Europe, seems a weather front is moving in.
Later we find what we need, park near a communal park, children play, the muezzin calls. The small BBQ restaurants fill with people, eating after a day of fastening, special Ramazan (as they say here) menus, lentil soup, köftö, rice and fries and salad and Ayran.
Later another prayer call, first one voice, beautifully melodic. Then many, mingling, different intonations, a non synchronous chorus sweeps over me.
Later, all of a sudden every second vehicle outside blows its horn ecstatically, some drivers scream out of their cars, some out of their windows from their homes. Some football match just finished, Galatasaray just won? Who knows? There’s more than just one football club in Istanbul. I am in a new city, a new county and continent, new laws, new unwritten rules, we have not done badly. But I know for sure now I am in Turkey and fall asleep. No flies, no mosquitoes here after all that pounding in Greece.
The night sees some rain drops. A whole lot of rain should follow.
Sultan Ahmed, Blue Mosque.
What can one say, read it up on wikipedia.
I wonder, I must have been very quick and subtle. How did I get the first 3 shots, when hundreds of hardcore tourists don't give a little space to breath? They step on my toes, push me, run me over, have bad breath and smell from their stressed armpits, I swear, more than I after a months on the road.
As I cannot decide which one to leave out I am serving the whole lot. Which one do you like?
Again very special, one of the wonders of civilisation. Read it up on wikipedia.
09 Sep 2009 - Marrakech, Morocco.
Felling the urge to see my boys, they are to enter kindergarden... I take a week off. At the same time torrential rains flood parts of Istanbul, some dead, many homeless. The video on the net show cars, busses taken away buy the floods. I sit in Morocco. The van in Istanbul parked high on a slope, Christina in there is fine.
Casablanca - Istanbul. Turkish Airways.
Casablanca to Istanbul, Turkish Airlines, I feel like a star, like Kevin Costner in the Ad. Catering is Austrian Do&Co, for those who know can appreciate. “Marrakech est mort”, Ramadan, dead, no visitors, a lot of rain, the violent sort; Casa M5, never seen the airport so empty, no landings, no takeoffs, dead, mort; Plenty of time, I work the back pages in the cafeteria. “Why don’t the sockets work”? “They never worked. Not even the first day”. So why didn’t they fix them? The airport is only a year old.
No delays, boarding, straight out onto the runway, takeoff, I sink my head into Andrew Mango’s (wiki) 500 odd pages Atatürk Biography. I feel like a star.