We're back in Greece again, waiting out the heat of the day in a rather
posh net cafe.
Our last day in Istanbul was a great change. The weather cooled down
considerably overnight. Sounds like it was actually warmer in Canada!
Istanbul was cloudy on Friday and even rained a bit. Just like in
Kingston, the clouds seem to go in circles over the bodies of water, so we
had light rain, full rain and nothing every hour or so. It was so nice.
We left the hotel shortly after 9:00AM and proceeded to the Museum of
Turkish and Islamic Art. It was much smaller than Topkapi but contained
both fantastic exhibits and brilliant explanations of the significance of
the displays. The copper work, inlaid pearl, porcelain and of course
carpets were breathtaking. That many of the pieces were about five
hundred years old was equally impressive.
After the museum, we headed to the port where we grabbed a fish sandwich
and hopped a small boat for a tour up the Bosphorus. The trip was great
and the cooler weather actually drove us inside the cabin for part of it.
The tour was complete with fantastic scenery and delicious cay and apple
tea. However, the best part of the trip was absolutely chatting with the
boat captain and his grandson. The captain asked Sarah if she'd like to
steer the boat - she did so for about 30 minutes! The captain and his
skipper were *very* impressed with her skills and bestowed her with the
rank of "Super Captain". Ben is pushing to have this be her new nickname,
so feel free to call her this whenever you see Sarah next.
We actually wrapped up the above with several hours left before our train
was due to leave, so we swung close to the Grand Bazaar to take advantage
of some excellent local cuisine at a lokanta (soup/stew place). From
there it was a quick trip to the net cafe for a few things and then back
for more food. (Did we mention that Sarah's appetite has returned with a
We picked up our bags at the hotel, bought a few more Turkish treats and
caught the tram to our night train to Thessaloniki. The cabin was nicer
than our cabin to Istanbul but the overall experience was less than
stellar. We were held up for about an hour at both the Turkish and Greek
borders at 12:30 and 2:15 respectively. This delayed our arrival to about
10:00AM instead of the projected 7:53.
However, we're here now. We went to the hotel that Sarah booked
(recommended by Lonely Planet) and it was a dive. The room was clean
enough, but the shared bathrooms were decrepit and both of us started to
have sore throats in minutes! Acting fast, we told the owner it wasn't
what we expected and that we wanted to leave. He was only slightly put
out, but we apologized again and parted on good terms. After walking for
5 minutes, we found our new hotel which is just beautiful (Hotel
Alexandria, phone 2310 536 185 for concerned parents).
Our initial experiences here in Thessaloniki have been quite positive.
We've already found a great restaurant right around the corner from where
we are staying and have toured a gorgeous synagogue. We're planning on
taking in some Byzantine churches this afternoon/evening. It's hot again,
but there seems to be plenty of shade.
Anyway, that's it for now. Take care!
Ben and Sarah