Dateline: Istanbul, Day 4 – Wrapping Up

Istanbul, Turkey
25 June 2009

For our last day in Istanbul, Charlie and I split up.

While walking down to the pier the other day, I saw a sign for the Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam. Knowing that much of our current math has its roots in Arabic (our numbering system is, after all, Arabic), I was rather curious to check this museum out.

The museum was relatively new and not quite completed yet; which was unfortunate, because several of the models were kinetic, but not plugged in.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

I think I was most impressed by the astroglobes, which were used to predict star locations, and water pumps, which I was interested in for their sheer ingenuity and for a project I’m working on that I’ll discus at a later date.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

I met back up with Charlie at the hostel for one last trip to the Grand Bizaar to get some more Turkish Delight and hopefully a carpet for me.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

With remarkable efficient, we entered the Bazaar, completed our missions, and were back at the hostel.

One snag Charlie ran in to was withdrawing money from the ATM. The aforementioned trip was expensive, 390YTL1 …which actually isn’t all that bad considereing what we were doing and the ground we were covering, and we still had to pay Ali. However, Charlie couldn’t get either of his ATM cards to work! Crap! After calling his bank and some bank and forth to the ATM, we eventually figured out that he has a maximum withdraw limit and was attempting to take out barely more than the limit.

Charlie rushed back, just in time to pay Ali and catch the bus.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

And just like that, we were on to Cappadocia.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

  1. $250 USD 

Dateline: Istanbul, Day 3 – The Bath

Istanbul, Turkey
24 June 2009

Having walked so much the previous day, Charlie and I decided that today would be a good day to take that boat right up the Bosphorus. After a bit of late start, we walked down to the pier in hopes of finding a boat that would take us on for a decent price. It didn’t take long for a guy to get us interested in a two hour boat cruise. It wasn’t the exact ride we wanted, which would have taken us up to Çamlıbahçe or so, but it was good enough, especially given the amount of time we had. The asking price was 20YTL each; after walking away once, we were able to get him to go for 30YTL for the both of us, and probably could have gone lower.

The ride was decent; I was able to take some great pictures. It would have been nice to have a guide to give some background on what we were looking at, but alas we had no such fortune.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

There wasn’t much to see on the Asian side of Istanbul, so I ended up falling asleep for the hour or so it took to get back.

Charlie and I decided that we were both pretty hungry. Charlie heard a rumor that the fish was pretty good here, so we set out to find something decent. We settled on a bustling fish house of sort right on the water.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

The kitchen, and I use that term very loosely, was little more than a collection of grills on a boat docked to the pier. Ordering meant walking up to a guy right on the edge of the pier, handing over your 3YTL and getting a cooked fish sandwich handed to you. For another 2YTL each, we added two cans of Coca-Cola.

Overall, it was a decent meal, at least up until I starting getting bits of bone in my mouth.

We made our way back to the hostel, getting lost in the Bazaar along the way.

Despite my little cat nap, I was still dog tired when we got back. I spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping, which honestly isn’t such a bad thing to do in the hot Istanbul weather.

After I finally woke up, we spent the evening figuring out what to do in Cappadocia and really the rest of Turkey. Ali, the owner of Mavi Guesthouse1, was very helpful in piecing together this section of our trip. It was going to be a grueling few days, but we assured him we could do it.

The plan was such: leave tomorrow night on an overnight bus to Gorme (which is in the Cappadocia region) and go on an all day tour of the northern region of Cappadocia. Sleep at Shoestring Cave for the night. Wake up and go on another all day tour of the southern region of Cappadocia. Then, catch another overnight bus to Selcuk. Spend a day in Selcuk (i.e. Ephesus), staying overnight at the ANZ Guesthouse, and leaving for Samos, Greece the next morning at 8am via ferry. Talk about a whirlwind tour of Turkey.

Content with our plans, Charlie and I headed off to a Turkish Bath, also known as a hamam, with Nick (one of our roommates).

Let me tell you something about hamam’s: they are utterly amazing and utterly scary. We got changed into single towel and slippers and were ushered into the sauna to sweat it out. There was some talk about crossing legs or not, but we decided that we were all mature males, comfortable with our heterosexuality.

Two older gentlemen2 came to get us out of the sauna. They sat us down on the marble and drenched us in water before rubbing us down with a stiff glove. It actually felt good and I wished they went a bit longer.

Next, we were instructed to lay face up on a marble table. There, they gave us a soap massage, intermixed with sporadic slapping (for effect, I’m sure). It’s pretty much what you would expect, although a bit on the vigorous side. They had clearly done this many times before and were not afraid to go practically all the way up my thigh. To put it bluntly, one slip and this guys thumb was going right up my asshole. Seriously. Not an exciting thought.

I just stared straight ahead, looking at the single bare Philips florecent light bulb illuminating the room.

Philips…Lets Make Things Better

Reveling in our newfound cleanliness, we walked back to the hostel, grabbing some food and baklava on the way.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

  1. the hostel we were staying at 

  2. men, yes; gentle…not so much 

Dateline: Istanbul, Day 2 – Touring Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey
23 June 2009

For better or worse, I feel like Charlie may be the end of me on this trip. I’ve already been traveling pretty much non-stop for three weeks and now I’ve got an eager beaver who wants to see it all.

Today, we went to the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Old Bazaar, bought Turkish Delight1, walked across the Galata bridge, walked up to Galata Kulesi, and over to the Kabataş ferry which took us to Üsküdar (on the Asian side of Istanbul).

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

We walked around Ãœsküdar for a while before returning to what we thought was Emınönü”Ž (which would have been for a short walk back), but we ended up going to BeşıktaÅŸ, which is further north (north being the wrong direction) of KabataÅŸ. The north end of the tram only runs to KabataÅŸ, so we had to hike it the 1.5 kilometers to the tram before we could relax in air-conditioned comfort. We later learned that today has been one of the hottest day day in Istanbul this year. Great.

We took a nap before venturing into the somewhat cooler evening to find some well deserved grub. A kebab house fit the bill pretty perfectly and all was good.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

  1. which has led to a slew of rather off-color jokes 

Dateline: Istanbul, Day 1 – A Delay

Istanbul, Turkey
22 June 2009

I got up extra early this morning, around the the crack of 9am or so to find several messages from Charlie.

I finally left the hostel just before 11 and made my way to the central train station via the metro. My plan was to reverse my route that I took coming in.

Amazing, everything worked out great! I got on the metro, got to the train station, walked back through the entire train station to the other side, found a bus to the Boryspil airport, and all was good. Even better, I had lots of time to kill, which was surprising because I had left later than I planned.

My plane out of Boryspil was a bit late, but we eventually did get off the ground and I slept most of the way, as I usually do on flights less than 3 hours.

Getting through Turkish customs was pretty easy. I bought a visa before going through customs1, picked up my bag, and cleared customs via the green line2

I decided the best plan was to wait for Charlie. His plane was scheduled to land in about three hours and I wasn’t sure he could figure out where to go.

I found a food court and grabbed some lunch, which was an adventure in-and-of itself. In my attempt to eat local foods, I try to stay away from places such as McDonald’s and Burger King. I found a nice little place to eat that had a combo meal for something like 13 liras3.

The picture on the menu looked good, so I said “Combo please with Coca-Cola.” The woman at the register asked what I wanted, so I said, “Combo Meal,” trying to repeat the the words on the menu as close as I could. It was no use though. She waved over another woman who was able to translate for me.

Well, as it turned out, you still had to pick what you wanted for the main course with the combo meal. The titles weren’t very descriptive, so I just asked her what she liked and went with that.

Slightly frustrated, and even more embarrassed, I quickly devoured the entire meal (I didn’t have a chance to get breakfast before I left due to problem solving Charlie’s flight issue).

With at least another 2 hours until Charlie’s flight arrived, and feeling a bit worn out, I decided to seek refuge in the local Starbucks.

Not wanting to miss him, I waited about 30 minutes after Charlie’s plane landed before I headed over to the area where the passengers came out. Unfortunately, it would be another hour until I saw his happy face. When Charlie finally emerged, I’m pretty sure seeing me standing there was the happiest moment in his life.

We made our way down to the metro, up to the tram, and all the way to the hostel with a minimum of fuss. Despite the fact that he had just been traveling for over 24 hours, Charlie still wanted to go out. So we made a quick tour of the surrounding area before going to bed.

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Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

In summery, I feel like this day exemplifies exactly why traveling by air sucks.

  1. Note: They don’t take Russian Rubles or Estonian Kroons 

  2. I’ve got nothing to declare! (And I don’t know why I’m shouting)  

  3. about $7.75 

Charlie’s Airplane Excitment

I’m meeting Charlie in Istanbul today. However, he’s had a bit of excitement on his plane ride from the States…

6:30 PM PDT
SO…….I am in Halifax…….we had an emergency landing for a guy who had a heart attack. Didn’t empty enough fuel so the plane was too heavy and we blew out two tires (or so I hear). Probably not going to get in until at least 2pm, possibly three. Keep an eye out for me in case I decide to wait at the airport. What is your flight #?1

9:05 pm PDT
Now I’m going to get in at 3:30….hopefully. See you at the airport!

10:43 PDT
Possibily 6:30 now…….We are Delta flight 72 from New York. I’ll keep and eye out for you if you decide to hang around. See you in a few hours!

  1. I’m Aerosvit Airlines flight #265 

Programming Notes

Just a heads up on some stuff related to my trip you may not have known about.

On my blog, I’ve added two new things to the side bar: Andrew Time and Dopplr.

Andrew Time tells you what time it is in whatever country I’m in. This should help in trying to figure out what time it is where I am without having to deal with any math.

Dopplr is a travel plans sharing site. I’m trying to keep it up to date with my current travel plans since I’m a bit behind in ye old blogging.

I’ve also updated the blog backend to put dates in my local time. What this means is that when you look at the time stamp on a post, it will be for my time zone and not for Seattle time.

Picture uploading has been going marvelously. I’m still a couple days behind, but I’m hoping to get caught up with everything (photos and blogging) by time I fly to Istanbul.

One awesome feature I think you might enjoy for pictures is the map. All (almost) of my photos have GPS data attached to them. Check it out: Map with Geotagged Photos. It only shows 20 photos at a time, so be sure to click the “right” arrow button to see more.

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Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

The Three Amigos

After much convincing, the third partner in my trip is finally on board. Quinn’s actually been onboard for a while, he just finally purchased his ticket today…which means that he’s really on board now.

Charlie’s the the other partner on this trip. He’ll be joining me in Istanbul on 22 June, while Quinn won’t be joining us until around 10 July in Switzerland.

All three of us met tonight to get some logistics figure out. I think it was productive, at least as far as any meeting can be. Charlie’s going to be figuring out how to get us from Turkey to Greece, in addition to what where we’ll be going. Meanwhile, I’ll be figuring out where Charlie and I will be sleeping while in Istanbul and Cappadocia.

Italy is more or less figured out.

For Switzerland, I think the plan is to work our way from the southwest to the northeast, going through Interlaken, Lucerne, and St. Gallen.

Austria’s also mostly planed out.

With only four days left, I’ve finally started to pack. I have most of my stuff already, which just a few small things to pick up here and there. I’ll be releasing an updated itinerary and packing list in the next couple of days.

P.S. Quinn’s on the left, Charlie’s on the right.

Plans for Russia and Turkey

My friend, Eric Boyd, left this comment on my Facebook wall regarding my trip:

That should be a lot of fun. Watch out for Gypsies though. I’ve heard they like to break into train compartments and rob you blind. But I’m sure in your case they will try to unzip your suitcase and find themselves fighting for their lives against an army of death-ray wielding nanobots;)

They’re actually going to be sporting 1.21 jigawatt lasers, not death-rays.

After talking to Jeff the other week, I called up Mr. Staples (Jeff’s dad) to ask about what travel agency they used. Mr. Staples referred me to Mir Corporation. I took a look at their packages, and they’re quite expensive ($5,000 for 10 days), plus their dates don’t line up with mine. They did, however, have some very useful information on their website.

I’ve received my official invitation, filled out the visa application, and had my visa picture taken last week. Today I sent everything, plus my cover letter and a $131 check in the mail to Dad. Dad will add my passport to the set and drop it off at the Russian Consulate in Downtown Seattle. It will take no less than six days to process it, so here goes nothing.


  • Moscow
    • The Central Museum of Armed Forces1
      70 ruble, or 30 ruble if I get the student discount, plus another 100 ruble so I can take photos
    • Kremlin Armory Museum
      700 ruble, or 200 ruble if I get the student discount
    • Cosmonautics Memorial Museum
    • The Polytechnical Museum at the Ilinsky Gates
    • Moscow State University Zoological Museum
    • Underground Moscow

Useful resources:

I also talked with my friend, Erin, who’s currently in Turkey. She gave me the low down on what’s what in Turkey.

  • Turkey
    • Istanbul (2 days-ish, Hackett did 4 days)
      • Grand Bizarre
      • Blue Mosque
  • Antalya
  • Ephesus (1 day)
  • Cappadocia (1-2 days)
  • Ankara
    • Capital
    • Turkish Aerospace Industries2

Erin also says I need to :

  • See a Whirling Dervish dance
  • Eat Gözleme and Kanafeh3
  • Read up on Atatürk
  • “Also, when in Turkey, you can’t miss out on a Turkish bath. Its a fairly odd experience at first, but you have to do it!”

Random thought, do I need a phone?



  3. Erin says, “kunefe, my favorite dessert…it rhymes with ‘tunafay'”