ISTANBUL, THE DAYS BEFORE AND AFTER NATASA

I arrive by bus, as recommended to do by other cyclist. I check the map, 13 km to my hotel. I negotiate a $20 van to haul me and all my stuff to Marmara Guesthouse. that ended up being a good decision. The traffic was insane and I didn’t see one biker on the streets. When we finally arrived I paid him the full fare, it was worth it. The Marmara Guesthouse was the top rated place in the Lonely Planet guide book. All the Hotels and Hostels include a free breakfast.

20131201-113130.jpgTHE STAFF WAS AWESOME AND THE BREAKFAST MATCHED. FRESH HOMEMADE FIG JAM (my favorite)
My plan was to rent an apartment for the month I’m staying here. I looked at one and thought I can stay at the Hostel for 1/2 price, a get free breakfast and talk with fellow travelers. So I do some homework before Natasa arrives,, figure out the bus, get the phone working,

20131201-113954.jpgHERE’S ERDIOS, GOKSEL AND MEHMET MAKING THE HARD SELL FOR A PHONE COVER.
I soon discover my SIM card needs $100 worth of taxes and fees to make it work, for longer than a week. MEHMET got me hooked up and running on the I-Pad, within a week it was shut down too, taxes & fees need to be paid. There’s so much free WiFi you can save paying all the fees.
I walk the neighborhood searching out that special hotel for Natasa & I. I visit 5 or 6 Hotels and decide on the ALMINA HOTEL. (read A Pinch of Love, Joy, Happiness in Istanbul).

20131201-122033.jpgREMINDS ME OF THE HARD WORK I USE TO DO IN AMERICA.

20131201-122237.jpgTHIS IS A PHOTO FROM THE TOP OF THE GALATA TOWER
We rode the elevator down alone, how many movies have the couple messing around in the elevator? I couldn’t resist the opportunity to exploit the situation. I followed Natasa out of the elevator adjusting my belt and tucking in my shirt. I wish I had a helmet cam on, it was way too funny. The first 5 or 6 people were at first stunned then started all laughing , it was great..
I take Natasa to the airport and move from the European side of Istanbul and move to the Asian side. The European side is a lot of work, constantly being asked to look at carpets ,eat in their restaurant, shoes shinned, go on a tour. I hear the Asian side isn’t as aggressively selling?
I take ferry over to KADIKOY and head directly to the HUSH LOUNGE HOSTEL, this place is a score. Just what I needed, affordable accommodation, clean and most of all a SUPER STAFF!.
They got me up to speed on what to see and do here: Antique street, huge bazaar and vegetable market and of course a TURKISH BATH.
I decided to visit the Bazar Market first, since it’s only twice a week, Friday and Tuesday.

20131202-112759.jpgI BOUGHT SOME GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFTS HERE, THERE WERE SOME INTERESTING ANTIQUES, CLOTHES AND FOOD.

20131202-113211.jpgTURKISH QUESADILLAS, SHE HAND ROLLS OUT EACH ONE. I WENT TO THE KEBEB SHOP NEXT DOOR AND BOUGHT SOME CHICKEN AND HAD IT PUT INTO MINE.(maybe that will be on the menu next time?)

20131202-115758.jpgI KNOW WHY THERE ARE NOT MANY FISH LEFT IN THE OCEAN, THIER HERE.

20131202-120310.jpgTHERE WAS LITERALLY MOUNTAINS OF FRESH PRODUCE.
I walk to the “shopping” district of Kadikoy. Walking has a few advantages over cycling, like stumbling into this custom bicycle.

20131202-121010.jpgI DISCOVER THE OWNER OF THE BIKE IN THE SKATE BOARD SHOP (go figure) DC CUSTOM BIKES of Istanbul, Turkey. MORE PHOTOS

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SOME INTERESTING BIKE ART (by walking)
Staying at the hostel has been awesome, I’ve really connected with great young people from all over; Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, France. This is so much better than an apartment, what was I thinking?
I met Andre from São Paulo, Brazil, street artist who is I guess on tour? He is having a gallery opening on Saturday night, I ask if I can join him? Yes, great! He goes by the name DECOLIFE. I have no idea what I’m going to see, we’ve only talked about his art.- We show up at the gallery, he’s a rock star! It’s totally his show.

20131202-135143.jpgTHIS IS A SMALL SAMPLE OF THE SHOW. MORE PHOTOS
Andre tells me the story about his fellow street artist in Sao Paulo, who climb to some “unique” location to paint something.
2 of his friends were shot while scaling a building, a neighbor thought they were burglars, they both died.
At the show Andre is asked to paint something:

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20131202-140819.jpgFINISHED(15 minutes)
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

FULL GALLERY VIDEO

20131202-142203.jpgTHIS WHAT THE SIDEWALKS LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU HAVE 15 MILLION PEOPLE
I visit the antique street, I came to just look and boy did I find something:

20131202-145600.jpg3 INLAID CHAIRS AND

20131202-145715.jpgTHIS INLAID MIRROR.
These pieces are really special, the amount of work and energy that went to create these are amazing. I’m going back to the shop and check out shipping, what? There were pieces I saw at museums that were of this quality, behind glass with no photos allowed (I maybe took a few pictures?)
So it’s time for my Turkish bath, I heard it’s quite the massage, I’m pretty excited, actually. I get a small room to change in , the key to my door and in I go. It’s all whitish marble and steamy. I pour water over my head with a bowl then take a sauna, he calls me in:

20131202-150842.jpgFIRST YOUR SCRUBBED TOWN WITH THIS SCRATCHY CLOTH, THEN YOU LAY ON THE HEATED MARBLE SLAB, HE SOAPS YOU UP AND USES THE SOAP AS A TYPE OF MASSAGE OIL, I SCREAMED IN PAIN A COUPLE TIMES.
I got a hair cut, super short, that will teach me to learn the language of the country I’m in, I said half. Oh Well!
I walk home and have a fish sandwich, their only $2.50
Thanks for reading and commenting (yes I care what you think, a little)
MORE PHOTOS
RIDE ON
JEFF
NEXT: I RENT A BIKE TO VISIT THE CAR-FREE ISLAND.

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