Istanbul and the Blue Mosque

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Jul 15, 2008

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Monday, October 29, 2007

October 29. 2007
Today we visited the Blue Mosque; no fee just a donation. We also walked around town and riding the Istanbul Metro system. We cannot believe how expensive Turkey is. To give you an idea: a Big Mac sandwich (not the value meal, just the sandwich) costs 4.90 YTL; a ride on the Metro costs 1.30 YTL per section; if you have to transfer that's another 1.30 YTL.
October 30, 2007
Istanbul, Turkey
This morning we visited the Topkapi Palace for 10 YTL per person; and the Harem at the Palace for another 10 YTL per person. In the afternoon we ship out all that stuff which we had bought in Peshawar, Kabul, and Uzbekistan. All that stuff which we could not mail out from Tashkent. We had to go to the main post office which was quite a way out and cost 20 YTL for the taxi, we took the Metro system back. All four boxes weighed a total of 22 kilos and cost 235 YTL to mail.
October 31, 2007
We met Multu, an attorney with an international commercial practice here in Istanbul, and he has invited us to dinner. He worked for 5 years in a large international law firm in New York before returning to Istanbul to open a solo practice and cash in on Turkey's booming economy. He took us to a very sophisticated restaurant on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Multu was dressed like as a solo practitioner in Northern Michigan might be, comfortably in blue jeans and tweed sport coat, so we didn't feel out of place in our back packer outfits. Each course was placed on the table in serving bowls family style, but you don't help yourself, the staff standing behind our chairs did that. When the next course arrived we were given new plates and any food remaining on our plate from the previous course was discretely placed to edge of the new plate and the new course added to the center. We went through 5 plates in this manner. We were impressed. It was long way from our first meal in Indonesia when we found out we could use our fingers to eat everything, except the soup. Irina caught a glimpse of the bill when Multu picked it up and it was nearly 300 YTL, and we hadn't had any wine. The restaurant is at the base of the heights on which Multu's penthouse apartment is located. From Multu's apartment we had a great view overlooking the Bosphorus and the ships sailing between the Black and Marmara Seas. Arvid wanted to know what it was like being a lawyer in Turkey, and Multu related an experience. During an appeal he was handling for a foreign client he received a phone call from an appellate court clerk telling him how much the opposition had offered to pay the judges to rule in their favor. The clerk said the opponents would win unless his client could come up with a certain amount of money. Multu said he told his clients but they couldn't believe it. He said they probably thought he was just trying to get more money for himself. When the decision came down against his client they admitted he had been right. "Isn't this type of thing going to make it hard for Turkey to get in the European economic union?" Arvid asked. "There is a lot of pressure for reform from inside and outside the country" Multu said, "things have got to change."
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