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Bursa – Guzelyali – Yenikapi (Istanbul)

Trip Details

Road Trip 2008 I
Date: Wed, 27/08/2008
Turkey
Distance: 25 km
Motorcyclists: Manolis, Ploumisti
Photographers: Manolis, Ploumisti
Authors: Manolis
Translators: Ada
Map: Trip map
Photographs: Link

Sightseeing map

Hotel’s telephone ring was our alarm-clock. I picked up the phone and I heard the receptionist saying: “Hamam OK!” Confirming our morning appointment with the “hot-boiling” water! It took us just five minutes and here we found ourselves at the ground-floor. This time only Ploumisti –alone- managed to jump into the pool, but not for long!!!

We took our breakfast at the last floor of the hotel, enjoying the panoramic view of the town. Later we picked up our baggage and left it at the reception. We took a walk around the place and visited the Karagioz (in Greek Karagiozis too) Museum.

As you walk in the central road, the district called Cekirge (where our hotel was located), it’s almost impossible to miss the Museum! It is a beautiful, traditional building decorated with the figures of Karagioz and other characters of this galanty show.  

The Museum (free entrance) consists of two rooms. We had the chance to learn about the history of Karagioz and Hatziavat, the second main character. Although there is more than one scenario…

Anyway, the fact is that these two “heroes” raise (and still do) a whole generation in Turkey and in Greece also. There were periods during which the apparently “funny” stories of Karagioz were in fact a sharp criticism to the time being governance. Congratulations to the people who worked for this Museum and managed to put together all this history of Karagioz, the hero of all ages…  

The best part of our visit there was the play we watched (5YTL/person). We had been informed that every Wednesday (around 11 am) there is a play. We were lucky enough and the information confirmed! So, we and all the other “kids” gathered together and watched the play… which, by the way, brought us back to the past, back to our childhood.  

Even though the play was in Turkish language, it was easy for us to understand the story. The similarities with Greek Karagiozis were a lot!

The children were so enthusiastic. The man that played the Karagioz figure came in front, talked with them and answered to all their questions. He welcomes us in Greek and told us that his parents were from Kilkis (a place in northern Greece). He visited Greece many times and he also played a few times in Xanthi, Komotini and some other towns in Greece. He also told that he had the chance to meet in Germany the famous Greek Karagioz player, Mr. Eugenios Spatharis. He even allowed us to visit the back-stage and invited us to his antique-shop in town, for a cup of tea.
Unfortunately for us it was like a “suicide” to drive back to the center. The traffic-jam was unbelievable. We had to content ourselves with a visit to the big mosque of Cekirge and a lunch at a small tavern, with home-made food. The specialty of the house was “manti”, the Turkish ravioli. Home-made, delicious and very well cooked. It is a family-run business. The mother is the cooker and the “soul” of the tavern. The father is doing a little of everything, the son is helping the cooker and the daughter is the cashier. They were all adorable…

We left around 3.00 pm, following the signs for Izmir and Madanya (25km). Our destination was the coastal Guzelyali, a place close to Madanya. From there we were going to take the ferry for Istanbul. As soon as we arrived to Guzelyali the strong wind made me wonder about the schedule. Anyway, we got our ferry tickets (40YTL/motorbike & driver) and passed our remain time walking up and down the coastal road until 5.30 pm. That was the time of departure. 

Even though we were among the first for embarkation, they advised us to go in last because of the moderate sea! By the time we switched the engines off, the ferry departed. We barely managed to keep the bikes up. We couldn’t find straps, belts anywhere. Luckily, I had one strap with me and secured my Varadero. After a while, one guy came with another strap and we used for Ploumisti’s Fazer. 

On the way we had the opportunity to meet Serol, a Turkish motorcyclist who was returning from a tour at the south coastal part of Turkey. He gave us useful information about our stay in Istanbul. His grand-father came from Crete. Serol had visited Greece two times and was planning to visit again. We exchanged our mobile numbers and e-mail addresses and invited him to our country. He offers to show us the way to the place we were heading in Istanbul. We are very pleased to meet him…

As we were approaching the port we had the first view of Istanbul. A modern city at the Europe and Asian borders, geographical and cultural speaking. A city with a double population, comparing to Greece! The high sky-scrapers in contrast with the imposing mosques create an impressive image…

The port of Yenikapi (=New Gate) was our “gate” to Europe, after 40 days of traveling in Asia. Having Serol as a guide, we followed the coastal road with direction to Sultanahmet. We easily reached the area close to AyaSofya (Agia Sophia) and start looking for accommodation. After about one hour, wondering around the paved alleys we end up to a nice, friendly, and cheap pension. The name is Star Hotel & Guesthouse (75YTL/double room with breakfast) and it is located on one of the more busy streets. Its only disadvantage is the parking. Most of the hotels in this area do not have parking place. There are private areas for parking but the charges are extremely high (about 20 euros/motorcycle!!!).
The only solution we had was to leave the motorcycles on the pavement. We didn’t block the traffic and nobody could touch them, as the street was busy all the time and of course there were security guards at the nearby hotels…

Sultanahmet looks a lot like a place in Athens, called Plaka. The similarities are many, but I have to say that the hotel prices in Sultanahmet are a lot higher and do not much up to the quality they offer. Tourists were walking everywhere. All the important sights (AyaSofya, TopKapi, Blue Mosque, Galatas Bridge, and KapaliCarsi) are located here, and that’s the main reason visitors prefer to find accommodation in Sultanahmet.

The atmosphere was so familiar… Welcome to magical Istanbul, the city of contrasts!