It's not funny, they are all maniacs (The Turks)

Trip Start Oct 03, 2002
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Trip End Jun 30, 2003


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Sunday, June 1, 2003

June in Istanbul

"It's not funny; they are all maniacs... (The Turks)"

I was showing a friend around Istanbul and we had so much to see but in a very little time...we decided it was a good idea to take a taxi from Suleymaniye Camii to Ortakoy. So we waited first for a taxi driver to return to his taxi, one came and I asked in Turkish about going to Ortakoy. He replied no he could not take us there because the road was shut. Ok maybe it was...but it was a major road along the shore of the Bosphorous - how and why would it be shut?! Then the taxi driver suggests we can go but by the motorway all the way to a place called Etiler (it's not even that close to Ortakoy) and arrive there for the pricely sum of 35 million TL. 'No way' we said...I think instantly in English to each other. We walked up the street and found another taxi, who did not hesitate in taking us to Ortakoy and nothing was said about the street being closed. So that first taxi driver had wasted our time, tried to con us and told us one big lie about the road (we thought then). So after being in Ortakoy; camii (mosque), ate gozleme and took the vapour (boat) on the Bosphorous, we needed to go back to Taksim and Kasimpasa yurt (University dormitory) to collect Naylin's things and catch her coach. It was around 5pm, and her service bus would leave at 6:40pm, normally this would be plenty of time to casually get there but not today.

Traffic seemed busy but it was Sunday and Istanbul always had crazy traffic. So we think about the quickest way there, again another taxi except we waited and waited and all were full, so how about the bus we thought, well they were really full, ok then what about a dolmus,so we jumped on (literally) and the driver said to me in Turkish 'you want Besiktas?', no I said Taksim, he said I won't go there so now I was confused a dolmus that's written on it 'Taksim' will not go to Taksim, mmm I thought, anyway we walked further down the street along Ortakoy and some 'bufes' and kebap sellers, to see the last fare exiting the taxi and us running and jumping in - phew! (we thought then).

Traffic was busy as we drove past Ortakoy and towards Besiktas along the wide tree lined street, past Yildiz Park and arriving in Besiktas, we discovered why the dolmus would not take us and even earlier the taxi driver who we thought was conning us. The road was closed. The stretch of road from Besiktas past Dolmabahce Palace all the way to Taksim Meydane, why?...football of course. Supporters were everywhere but they were holding their football team's colours in a flag...the longest flag I had seen (2km long). The main road leading to Besiktas port was filled with 'maniacs' as the taxi driver called them holding proudly Besiktas's flag and the noise was electric, people cheering, blowing whistles and of course cars beeping their horn for Besiktas football team, we later learned the taxi driver supported Galatasarayso that is why he didn't look so happy, when we laughing so much in the back of the can, I kept saying 'cok komik' (very funny) and the taxi driver kept replying 'komik degil, cok manyak var', It's not funny, there are a lot of maniacs (The Turks). The taxi drove up past this huge flag wondering how we could arrive in Kasimpasa, even the driver asked me and I said 'Bilmiyorum', I do not know. On this 'slight' detour I saw a part of Istanbul I hadn't seen before, so now two new things in one day (the first was going inside Yeni Camii). Arriving at Besiktas stadium, here was the epicentre of the 'maniacs'; gathering here to lift the trophy for winning this year's championship. The taxi crawled towards Taksim Meydane, why because now Taksim square was shut...M.F.O. were playing a live free concert right there, ok normally I would sit, relax and listen to the band I'd always want to see live (Suat had bought the cassette, the best of M.F.O. back in November for my birthday). Instead we walked quickly to Kasimpasa, traffic had came to a halt pretty much. Now it was 5:40pm...we arrived in the dormitory to say the least bloody knackered took her suitcase and walked/staggered up the infamous steep hill leading from the dormitory to the Flash TV building opposite the Mercure Hotel (Tepebasi road). My friend struggled, so we took it in turns to pull her suitcase along Istanbul's crazy paving stones!!! We were sweating under the hot sun, walking faster that the traffic halted on the three laned road leading to Taksim from the Halic. Now I discovered, as we walked where the trams sleep at night, of course they must go somewhere, I just did not know where, we saw a tram entering the 'tram garage' two others already inside and I was excited that we saw this as I can come and take a wonderful picture someday. It reminded me of Thomas the Tank Engine and the bunker those trains 'sleep' in at night!

We staggered past M.F.O. still singing and all the people chilling out with something like two minutes to go! Naylin caught her service bus and she was the only one off to Ankara. I went home and lied on the sofa for a rest!

'Dondurama'

I met Pavel and Anna; the two Czech Republic representatives, Pavel being the crazy man back to visit the city again. We drink cay together and then want to eat a special type of ice-cream from a street seller.

The ice-cream is just slices of it slapped onto the wafer cone, the server jokes with us giving us the cone, then taking it away before we grasped it in our hands, he then turns it upside down, the ice-cream sticks, two more flavours are slapped on top and then pure melted chocolate and pistachio. All for one million TL, we ate and had another comedy moment in Istiklal Cadessi.

'Screaming Cat Man'

I met Ali in Taksim and took a bus to go to Yildiz to meet Kelly (Australian), her boyfriend and many of the other foreign trainees. As the bus stops in Besiktas, a loud scream of a cat could be heard...I looked to see if the cat was alright but instead I hear the noise again from a man sitting on the kerb of the bus stop. Ali said look it's that man, he's a cat! So now we are looking at this man and Ali catches his eye, he starts to spell something out with signing his hands, he indicates he is talking to Ali by signing eye glasses (Ali wears glasses) and then proceeds to call him an arse!!! And also says xxxx the whole bus is now laughing and that is really unusual because it's impolite to laugh and talk loudly on the bus, no-one normally even speaks very loudly, now the bus is in laughter and also some people at the bus stop. As the bus pulls away, a lady is running towards a bus to get on, as she goes past the 'cat man' he yelps a loud scream of a cat, and this lady as she runs jumps out of her skin...the bus roared with laughter as it drove off.
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