NIKKI SOLD FOR 20 CAMELS! FROM THE BAZAAR TO CAMP BAR, OVERLANDERS 1976

MONDAY 18TH OCTOBER, 1976

Bosphorus, Istanbul

Part Two:
Made for a cay shop – (Chris, Nikki, Jan, me and Heidi).  Got lost in back streets, seemed to be cloth factories and shops, with streets teaming with cars and men bent double under loads of bails etc. Eventually found tiny cay shop in arcade – produced a few stools and bought cay and Turkish coffee – place seemed to serve all the shops in the area.

Kept buying all the savouries and sweets that were being sold at street corners – me and Jan the worst culprits!  Made for the bazaar.  Really funny time – blokes haggling for us 4 from Chris!  Nikki was offered 20 camels!  Quite expensive prices – lots of coats, material, jewellery, belts etc.

Found another cay shop!  Then made home in the rush hour with Chris and Nikki.  Everyone dashes for the buses, absolute chaos.  Eventually crammed in one – a fella called Salami told me where to get off.  Then had to waylay a No. 6 mini bus.  Everyone rushes into the street and people in mini buses grab them onto the buses.  Another bloke guided us on, shouting “Schnell, schnell!”

Went to B.P Camp to see if any mail.  Had meal in Camp restaurant – revolting meatballs (probably camp cat!) and cold spaghetti.  Tehran turned up.  Had to say goodbye – others eventually rescued me!
Went up to B.P Camp again because someone said I had a letter up there.  Me and Mark discovered Contiki were there and so stayed and drank with them.  Mostly dull, but driver’s good fun – pretended he was barman – quite a laugh when annoyed people wanted drinks!

Back to our busand had a chat in back with Nikki and Chris.”

EUNUCHS, QUEEN VICTORIA, DIAMOND EGG CUPS – TOPKAPI PALACE, ISTANBUL 1976

MONDAY 18TH OCTOBER, 1976

Part One:
“Decided not enough people to go for fish super, so cancelled it.  Bus dropped us at Blue Mosque again.  Jan, me and Heidi, Bill and Shirley made for the Topkapi PalaceBegan to pour again.  Palace had lovely courtyards and gardens of trees which must be lovely in the sunshine.  All buildings fairly low lying, in pavilions.

First went to the kitchens – large chimneys.  Inside was all the Chinese pottery, some very early stuff, masses of it.  Really beautiful blue patterns, large bowls and coffee pots, mugs, urns etc.  Latter stuff green, pink and mixed colours; some very beautiful.  (Imagine using big china urn to pour the cordial in the bus!  Might have even more spills!)

Next thing we peered into was the Sultan’s library, can’t see inside, but saw low couches and book stand.  Then saw the magnificent jewellery.  Incredible jewel studded weapons – quivers, daggers, pistols etc.  Lavish pendants, bags.  Section with utensils such as diamond studded egg cups, jade carved bowls.  The next section was mainly emeralds, including the biggest emerald in the world.  Various jewel studded thrones – looked rather uncomfortable!  Then there were some fantastic diamonds, including the spoon mason’s diamond – really massive.  Gold candlesticks with 6666 diamonds in them – prayers of the Koran.

There was also a house ful of sacred emblems, such as coffers for Mohammed’s mantle and little casks with his tooth and hairs from beard etc.  Sacred weapons and padlocks from some gate.  We then went off and bought some biscuits before the harem guided tour was due.  Met up with Chris and Nikki.

The harem was fascinating.  Very secluded, over 400 rooms.  Dark corridor of cells for eunuchs.  The bigger rooms had lovely decorated doors of fruit and pink patterned walls, blue tiles, and incredibly intricate ceilings – the Crown Prince’s room had a material covered dome ceiling.  Turkish baths and the Sultan’s room had running water in so that people couldn’t hear what he was discussing with his mother about politics etc.

Fresh fish sandwiches off boats at Galata Bridge

Lovely large entertainment room, low lying bolsters, carpet covered floor, chair with eagle from Willhelm III, and 2 clocks from Queen Victoria.  About 300-500 women in all.

Then we headed straight for the quayside for fish and bread off the little boats –really good.”

A SHERIFF, A TURKISH PUZZLE AND A STICKY (CAKE) SITUATION – ISTANBUL, 1976

Yeni Cami (New Mosque), Istanbul

SUNDAY 17TH OCTOBER, 1976

Part Two:
‘Walked through market, reached Yeni Mosque, flocks of pigeons around the place.

At the quayside we bought fish and bread from a little bobbing boat, with a charcoal fire (looked hightly dangerous!)  Lined up by the rails were salt cellars and a bowl of garlic to be taken with the fish.

A Turk spotted Rob’s sheriff badge and got talking.  He took us to a cay shop up the hill from the Blue Mosque and we had another sticky cake on the way back!

Di, Jan and Rob eating fish at Galata Bridge

Then we went to St Sophia, a museum now so didn’t have to take off our shoes.  Tehran (a medical student) came back to the camp with us, we went up to the bar for a bit.  After supper I went to do some washing and Rob came and told me that Tehran wanted to see me.  Unfortunately he was sweet on me and wanted me for his girlfriend.  Gave me his Turkish puzzle ring!  He fixed for us all to go to a fish restaurant the next day.

Went back to bus eventually – had a little session; initiated the driver of the Encountertruck.’

RED HOT SHOWERS, COOL BLUE MOSQUE & A MOUTHFUL OF CHESTNUTS – ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

SUNDAY 17TH OCTOBER, 1976

Part One:
“Hot shower!  Porridge in the kitchen.  Dropped at the Blue Mosque – people bombed in on the bus with bread, pcs and shoe cleaning boxes!  Jan, Rob and me went to the Blue Mosque.  At the inner courtyard we took off our shoes and went in under a leather curtain.  Lovely inside – blue tiled mosaics – 4 main pillars (called elephants’ feet) with arches and semi arches.  Turkish carpets covering all floor, with wooden trays for extra shoes.  Two taps on wall for drinking water from Mecca – guide zoomed up and told me to drink, but couldn’t get anything to come out!

Inner courtyard of Blue Mosque

He told me about blue being to guard against the devil.  Showed me 3 black pieces of stone set in the wall – bits of the stone at Mecca; two large candles on either side of alcove – all facing to Mecca.  Beside was very steep, narrow staircase, pointing upwards – guide said no one allowed up because top belongs to God, top step to Mohammed, priest allowed half way up and speaks from there each day.  He calls people to prayer through microphone!  Large boards in black with gold inscriptions on 4 sides – the 4 most important prophets?

After (collected Diana too) we wandered off towards the Galata bridge, looking for dancing bears!  Streets very dirty and busy – bought chestnuts from a little toothless grinning man, popped extra ones into our mouths!”

INTO TURKEY – TASTING THE CAKES, AND REVELLING IN HOT SHOWERS AND LETTERS AT ESSO CAMPSITE

By the time we reached Turkey we had been on the road for three weeks, yet this was the first stop where we could pick up mail from home.  Imagine being out of contact with family and friends for that length of time in the 21st century – inconceivable!  Letters were like lottery wins and home entertainment rolled into one!

SATURDAY 16TH OCTOBER, 1976

Early start – dark when got up – no one looked very bright!

Countryside fairly poor, flattish fields, lots of cart and oxen, dirty muddy rivers, mostly dried up; low hills in the distance.  Stopped at grotty town – spent last drachma on biscuits – funny blend of Turkish and European clothing – most women enveloped in black.  Little kids came after us for money – boys pushing smaller kids in prams – pathetic sight; came as quite a shock when felt a little tug at my elbow.

Stopped at border for a bit – some buses were made to empty completely – at Turkish side, bedding and things spread all around.

Long drive for most of the day.  Stopped for a cay stop in town on the coast.  Got a welcome in the cake shop (me and Neva needless to say!) everyone very friendly.  Had an eclair!

Eventually reached the Esso Campsite outside Istanbul – dark by that time, so haven’t seen anything yet.  Kitchen facilities – all ate in the dinning room area – Encounter [Overland] group singing away at other end of room.

Hot showers here too!!!  Windy and cold tonight.  1st mail stop.  Letters from Mum and Dad.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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