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.’

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ATHENS – ACROPOLIS AT DUSK, FLYING SHISHKEBAB AND TAMLA MOTOWN, 1976

TUESDAY 12TH OCTOBER, 1976

” Late morning – 8.0!  Wrote pcs and lazed around in sun during morning.  Snooped round other Swagman bus and played Tamla Motown – they’ve much better selection than us.  Few of us left, had omelette and beans for lunch.

Lift in with Magic Bus.  Tried to get Nanette [girl we gave lift to from Methoni] away on the bus to London, but got there too late.  Chased round square to contact Geoff and get her luggage back to camp.  By late afternoon finally started sightseeing!

Made way up narrow lanes to Acropolis, kept losing everybody.  While at Acropolis most tourists were leaving and sun going down between the pillars of the Parthenon, hazy view out to sea.  View of Temple of Zeus and other hill (Athens not an attractive city – much of it dug up and half built, very dirty).  Guards and band appeared and played while flag lowered.  Men blew whistles frantically when anyone tried to go inside Parthenon.  One attendant gave us a pollo; another called Jan Athena, me Aphrodite and Rob Zeus!  All seem very friendly.

We wandered down small streets, little leather shops etc, till came to restaurant with tables in street, waiter just about dragged us off street and sat us in front of menu.  Presumed this was where we were to meet Fred.  Had Demestica while waited then ordered meal.  Had disappointing shishkebab and greasy cheese salad – flung half on floor trying to get off skewer – dogs ate it!  Loads of cats too.  Nanette came across us – had been lost in area.  Eventually Fred and other Swagman driver Steve found us.

At 9.0 we went up to see Son et Lumiere looking across at Acropolis.  Thought it over dramatic, some of it quite hilarious. “Thwack, wack, build and build” and mad dash of running feet, like something out of the Goons! Afterwards several of us went for a coffee down from Acropolis in big empty restaurant with carpets and bags on the wall.  Got lift home with other Swagman bus.”

LAST SUNRISE IN KATHMANDU – goodbye to Swaggies, KC, backstreets and friendly puppy, 1976

KC, restaurant owner, Thamel, Kathmandu

[Last sunrise in Kathmandu – goodbye to last of the Swaggie friends and final breakfast at KC’s before Nikki and I flew away from the snow-clad Himalayas.  Chrispin waved us off – he was heading off to do more travelling around India, so I took his large suitcase home and leant him my backpack and sleeping bag not thinking I would have need of them again for a while … bad call as it turned out!]

THURSDAY 30TH DECEMBER, 1976 – Part One

“Up very early because Heidi leaving at 6.  As she went I could lie and see the sunrise out of the door.  Lovely winter morning – dark clouds with orange-pink light seeping into sky behind.  Hils dark behind and trees in foreground full of the noise of birds.  Streets quiet for once but dogs already beginning to stir in hotel courtyard (big black one and little black puppy that looks like a baby bear and plays with my tatty jeans!)

Waved off Heidi, Pam and Mark – fresh cool air of early morning.  Met Chris and Nikki and went for breakfast at KC’s – he was still asleep on the chairs!  OK and KC helped get us breakfast – fried eggs, toast and lovely milky KC coffee.  Back to hotel after KC wished us happy journey – amused when I said I’d see him in Scotland.  He has a saying that: Chinese food is best food, Japanese women best women, Nepalese dope best dope and Scotch whisky best whisky!

Taxi waiting for us.  Frances saw us off – Adrian still sick in bed.  Went to airport via narrow lanes – last glimpse of narrow streets inhabited by cows and dogs.  Our into fields then airport.  Chris organised us into right queues etc trying to cheer Nikki up.  Customs nosed around in cases – opened my souvenirs.  Body search – girl helped herself to coconuts and Nikki’s cigs!  Walked out to small Nepalese plane – Chris waving us off from terrace.  From plane, Nikki noticed that he lit up cigarette (she was always trying to control his consumption).  Waved us off even when in the air. 

Circled over Kathmandu – saw terraced brown fields and houses for last time growing more distant – picked out the Boudhnath Stupa.  Great white range behind us, slightly clouded; then left Kathmandu Valley and on into smaller range of hills with roads winding through them.”

SAD FAREWELLS EASED BY COFFEE & CAKE AT KC’s, Kathmandu 1976

[More Swaggie friends departing and feeling jaded after the previous heady day – there’s only one remedy – back to KC’s for coffee and cake!]

Swaggies eating at KC’s, Thamel, Kathmandu, 1976

WEDNESDAY 22ND DECEMBER, 1976

Went to airport to see Pam and Sue off.  Great scenes of tears as said goodbye – especially when Pam said bye to Rob, Mike, Anders …!  Waved them away from terrace.

Washed jeans!  Moved up to Di and Heidi’s room.  Tried to write letter but gave up.  Tried to find diary but gave up!  So went and had cake and coffee at KC’s!

Went to Utze’s quite late that evening with Di and Sally – had 4 dishes between us – lovely food – sweet and sour chop suey, rice, chicken etc.  Then had banana split – enjoyed every calorie!”

SWAYAMBHU MONKEY TEMPLE – the spiritual and then the high spirits of partying Swaggies, Kathmandu 1976

[The spirit was with me in more than one sense on this day: fantastic climb to the Buddhist temples at Swayambhunath, mixing with the monks, worshippers and monkeys – then a high-spirited evening of Nepali rum and country liquor to mark the final evening of Aussie friends Pam (my room-mate) and Sue, who were heading back home.  As ever, we ended up eating at KC’s]

Buddha and me at Swayambhu

TUESDAY 21ST DECEMBER, 1976

Walked to Swayambhu with Chris and Nikki and Fran.  Coldish morning – set off through back streets the wrong way, ended up crossing mud banks and planks over river.  Lots of little people rushing around with huge baskets of earth balanced on poles across their shoulders.  Saw moving haystacks with legs rushing along underneath! – must be very strong.

Got lost among intensely cultivated fields – lovely countryside – saw boys making mud bricks; kids playing, cowpat-type things drying on walls of houses.  Walked up terracing on narrow ridges between fields and across pole over stream!  Everyone very amused at little file walking about.  At least we weren’t plagued by rickshaw drivers.  “Hello, rickshaw …!”

Decided to rest before climbed steps up to Monkey Temple – very steep!  Exhausted at top – loads of monkeys running about and whizzing down railings.  Top was crowded with little shrines – pretty filthy everywhere; spattered with white and red paint.  Saw ceremony outside shrine – people squatting, old man reading from manuscript while others poured water over flowers.

Various monks wandering round the big stupa (biggest in world) spinning prayer wheels, dressed in maroon robes, cropped hair.  Nothing doing in temple (no horns etc)  Found pie shop!  Very reasonable prices.

Wandered back across bridge and back through main way – passed loads of washing.  Got bacck and flopped on bed – went to sleep! (Shows really unfit).

Woke when Fran came in.  Sue came and said Geoff taking her out to eat instead of group farewell meal – Pam fuming – Geoff make it worse by pretending he’d done nothing wrong.  Pam calmed down.  Hans and Little Chris came in – somehow started a booze-up!  Passing round gin, rum, whisky and country liquor!  By 7.30 we were all well away – “Pissed out o’ me skull” as Little Chris put it!  Don’t know how we made it over to KC’s!  Had great meal there – tomato soup and steak.  Managed to eat it with bit of difficulty.  Sat next to Mike who told me how he never drank anymore!

Back to room (after a “Night Life” – rum and lemon) – had great party – room packed with people.  Chris had crashed next door – locked self in, so when Hans tried to get in, we were banging and shouting and chucking things through the window – finally woke him, though he doesn’t remember unlocking the door!”

Little Chris, Hans and Pam at Hotel Star party