Istanbul (Turkey), 23.04.2013
Two days in this city, and we could stay so much longer, but tomorrow is the day to take off again. Two days of R&R for us, with zero tourist activity. We spent the mornings chilling on the terrace overlooking the Bosphorus, reading, writing, planning the next stops. We refreshed our equipment. The bags somehow are getting smaller, we can see out of the rear window of the car again.
Talking about the car, our rooftop rack has a new cover! We’ll need it when we have to take the obligatory guide on board in Turkmenistan in 3 weeks and will have to make room in the car. Yesterday, Onur found a Rover dealer and service center. We went to see them, but they sent us with their driver to tour the Maslak car district, an entire neighbourhood dedicated to mechanics, dealers, tyre shops, accessories stores, workshops, car tuners. It took us over 1h to finally find a shop that could make a cover like we wanted, since nobody had something like this. Our Turkish language skills consist of a couple of words Helena has learned in Berlin, so it was quite a challenge to communicate with Cinggis from Folyocars. Until we met Orhan, a Range Rover owner that happened to be there and spoke english, and facilitated communication. We somehow explained what we wanted, left them the rack and spare tyre. Today the cover was finished, we went back to the car district, spent 30 mins trying to find Folyocars again, and then finally picked up the masterpiece. It covers 2 spare tyres, 2 diesel tanks, 2 big bags and probably also quite a few sixpacks of water or so. We’ll post pics once the cover gets to action. It was great to see though that in all this we had to trust several people, with the exception of Onur all complete strangers, that we barely understood. We left them equipment worth quite some money without any guarantee. And everything went smooth, everybody was super-friendly and helpful and relaxed. After all the fear and warnings we received before starting our trip we were quite paranoid, these episodes get you more relaxed, and are a strong proof that there are a lot of decent people out there that we will meet in this journey.
But enough of car stories. We also have been eating quite a lot. We will add a page to this blog these days with all the places where we had great food during this adventure, and Istanbul has some on the list. Today at lunch we went to Hamdi Restaurant, a place we tested on our last stay in Istanbul. Great food, great view, great service (incl. valet parking in an impossibly crowded square). But also the Tatumi and Kebap places in Cihangir are great, simple but tasty food. And of course we went shopping on Istiklal Cd. Now it’s time to rest, pack, prepare the day of tomorrow. Once we cross the Bosphorus Bridge, we’ll be in unknown territory. Good night.