Istanbul, Sunday 15 May 2011

Sun 15 May 2011 15:55
N41;   E28:58
Life has taken a BIG turn for the better.  We have left the land of the austere and arrived in the land of Joie de Vivre, or whatever that is in Turkish.  Everybody makes eye contact and speaks to you.  Okay, we know itâs because they want to sell you a carpet, but it feels great.  And itâs hot.  For the first time, weâve been in shirt sleeves in the evening.  We got ourselves a great âIstanbulâ campsite but it was 35k out of town so we came in by public transport yesterday â we took 3 hours getting there, 3 hours in Istanbul, and 3 hours back home! So we used our 3 hours to find a hotel and today we brought the car in and its parked right outside the hotel in a hopelessly narrow street, with the Blue Mosque towering over us. (campsites in that location do not exist)  We havent done anything cultural yet, just gone people watching which is far more fun.  The back streets are a cornucopia of bumpy cobbles and higgledy piggledy wooden and tiled houses, many of them crumbling into decay but really beautiful. The Sea of Marmara seafront today (Sunday) was just a melee of people having a good time.  You can hire a pedalo and go off to sea, you can go fishing, or you can shoot an air rifle at balloons and bottles.  I guess you can also shoot at the pedalos but nobody seems too worried.
We have been seeing a group of grey haired guys on ancient motorbikes on the road.  We came across them 2 days ago, and again today in Istanbul.  They are from Australia and the USA, and bought their bikes in â guess where â Ukraine.  They were all supposed to be restored and ready for a big trip.  We spoke to one of them today and he looked really stressed.  They were held at customs exiting Ukraine for 3 days despite having all the right papers prepared in advance by a local agent, and the bikes are rubbish, constantly break down and drink oil.  So we are not the only ones with travel issues.
Apart from this, no dramas to report.