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So, second full day being here in Istanbul and there have already been a few good and bad points; also, a few things have become clear in my my mind regarding my travel habits. I’ll start with…

A day lost. Yesterday, I just felt a bit rough – tired, not active, didn’t feel like doing anything. I made sure to go and see the sea (Marmara), just to make sure that I hadn’t stayed in all day, but didn’t visit anywhere or do anything. I don’t know why – a bit of culture shock on the first time I’d travelled somewhere on my own without knowing the language, maybe a hangover from a difficult period at work and my body just saying ‘Hold on, Mike, let’s just put the feet up for a bit, eh?’. Still, I resolved to be better today.

And I was and it was. I went to bed early (listening to a Radio 4 podcast to go to sleep), got up early and had breakfast. Guidebook in hand, I munched and planned my day. Though, given what then happened, perhaps I should have had a more dogme attitude to my holiday. Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, wait no, not Hagia Sofia. It’s closed on Mondays. Archaeology Museum too. Hmmm. Blue Mosque, take pictures outside Hagia Sofia, yes. Topkapı Palace? Turned out it was overflowing with schoolkids (this being the aborted visit). Pencil that in for tomorrow. Hang on, no, Topkapı is closed on Tuesdays…

Anyway, I walked around the gardens surrounding the palace, popped into the train station, stared a bit at the Bosphorus and 1, 2, 3, .. lots of boats. Said Hayır (no) to people offering me boat tours (I’m doing this on Wednesday now, at least, I might be). I then walked back along the seafront, saw a few guys fishing (I smelt their catches on Saturday and Sunday evenings when I came to look at the sea), snapped a few things with my phone camera.

Here are a few things I’ve found out about myself/Turkey/Istanbul so far:

  • I’m not really a lone traveller type of person. I can’t strike up conversations with absolute strangers. I don’t feel comfortable walking into a bar/restaurant/cafe on my own. Not much to be done here. Next time I travel somewhere I don’t know the language, and am not staying with friends, I’ll get a friend to come with me. Maybe the level of being comfortable might get better with more travelling?
  • I really need to buy a decent compact digital camera. Ok, so my smart phone has a camera, and I also brought a video camera (there may be a video post sometime…) but they aren’t great. Quality is sometimes less, and the speed between pressing the screen and the photo being taken with the phone is a bit laggy. Resolution: fork out and buy a new camera!
  • Either… spend a bit more time pre-holiday planning what to do and where to go OR embrace the holiday dogme and see what happens.
  • I need to get better at saying no! I have already been sold a city guide and a belt so far, without any previous intention of buying these things! Oh dear. At least I might be able to use pictures from the guide for teaching, and I did actually kind of need a new belt.

Below for your perusal, my photos so far (links below go directly to the photos on Flickr)

1. Sea of Marmara, 2. Wasn’t too impressed by the weather on arrival, 3. Rocks, flag and sea, 4. Lighthouse and traffic, 5. Lighthouse and traffic 2, 6. A bit of city walls, 7. Fisherman, 8. Blue Mosque, 9. Feel like I’m in Prince of Persia a bit…, 10. 2 miniarets, 11. Detail of a miniaret, 12. Dog tired (how I felt on Sunday), 13. Side of the mosque, 14. Inside, outside, 15. IMAG0524, 16. Who’se going in?, 17. Religious cat, 18. Detail of the entrance, 19. IMAG0530, 20. IMAG0531, 21. Tour group, 22. IMAG0533, 23. IMAG0534, 24. IMAG0535, 25. To take off our shoes, 26. IMAG0537, 27. IMAG0538, 28. IMAG0539, 29. I, 30. IMAG0541, 31. Detail, 32. A little bit of housework, 33. That’s a big carpet, 34. Hoovering, 35. More hoovering, 36. Bright light

1. Back, 2. Stern face, 3. He’s got the whole world…, 4. That, over there, is Asia, 5. That, over there, is Asia, 6. Better flag shot?, 7. Better flag shot?, 8. Not sure who this guy is, but he’s got his eye on some construction, 9. Fly the flag, 10. Greenery, 11. IMAG0591, 12. A mosque and a taksi, 13. Bosphorus, boats and stuff, 14. Bosphorus, boats and stuff, 15. Bosphorus, boats and stuff, 16. Bosphorus, boats and stuff, 17. Bosphorus, boats and stuff, 18. Choo-choo!, 19. Train station, 20. Bits and pieces outside the Archeology Museum, 21. Away from the museum, 22. Bits and pieces outside the Archeology Museum, 23. Bits and pieces outside the Archeology Museum, 24. Bits and pieces outside the Archeology Museum, 25. Million, 26. IMAG0573, 27. More Blue Mosque, 28. Crack, 29. IMAG0569, 30. IMAG0568, 31. Obelisk, 32. Repetition, 33. And more hoovering!!, 34. Mosque ceiling detail, 35. Bookshelf in the corner, 36. To take off our shoes