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Simit, snow and staying put…for a bit

Transexual clubs, menemen, Dynasty, minimal techno and Efes Dark

just some of the key components of our festive period here in Istanbul…


Food vendor near Galata Bridge


Panoramic view over the Bosphorus from our friend’s apartment near Taksim Square

It’s taken more than a few days to consider what to write in this next post on our adventure cycling blog. I wasn’t sure how our tales of late boozy nights and long lazy days would fit within the existing themes of wholesome adventure, exercise and intrepid exploration.
Our first couple of weeks here in Istanbul were spent at a friend of a friend’s apartment (I feel confident we are now in a position to refer to him simply as a friend) enjoying the luxuries of a fixed abode: a kitchen, hot water on tap and, specific to this fixed abode, a beautiful panoramic view of the Bosporus. To add to an already brilliant first couple of weeks in this city, we had the pleasure of sharing some of our evenings with Aaron and Jacqui, an Australian couple who have spent the last year and half cycling from Australia to Istanbul. It was great swopping stories and lapping up their wealth of cycling touring knowledge, especially as they had just ridden through many of the Countries we will be heading to on our departure from Turkey:
Georgia > Azerbaijan > Turkmenistan > Uzbekistan > Tajikistan > China


Keeping fit in Istanbul… It’s not really smoking… “I’m exhaling it for a friend”… Nargiles with Natalie…
I couldn’t decide the title to best fit our afternoon of smoking nargiles

After a couple of weeks spent trawling through various Istanbul classifieds websites www.sahibinden.com/en and istanbul.en.craigslist.com looking for a place to call home, last week we finally found a huge and beautiful shared apartment not far from Taksim Square, a modern and lively part of the city. Making the choice to rent a room is obviously incomparably expensive compared to camping, at 700 Turkish Lira per month (apprx £250) for the two of us, not including bills which we hope won’t be much more than 150 TL per month. However we felt that Istanbul would offer an exciting way to avoid the worst of this part of the World’s winter weather.


Simit, Atatürk, graffiti and çay

A few weeks late for Christmas, snow hits the streets of Beyoğlu, the location of our temporary residence in Istanbul. Sat in our living room high up on the fifth floor of a crumbly old terrace building with a bowl of scaldingly hot soup (a confused concoction of packet soup mix and organic vegetables bought from last sundays farmer’s market). As delicious as it nearly is, the combination of budget camping food and healthy fresh vegetables seems to be an apt metaphor to reflect the contrasts of our current situation; scruffy cycle tourists on a tight budget and an equally limited wardrobe, trying to fit in with cosmopolitan city life. I guess in this particular situation we’d be represented by the cheap and convenient blend of dehydrated vegetables and msg, and the beautiful and historic city straddling Europe and Asia would be the aubergines, peppers and button mushrooms…. perhaps that’s not as clear in type as it was in my head.


Christmas gin and tonics at the Grand Hotel de Londres note the Dr. Who decor

With the reality of staying put for three months kicking in, so are the considerations on how we’ll use our time and how can we prevent the spending of time from turning into the spending of money? Prior to our arrival in Istanbul many people told us of the abundance of English teaching positions for native English speakers. As a qualified teacher, albeit not a language teacher, this would seem like the logical choice for me to take whist living in Istanbul. Take a five minute stroll along Istiklal Caddesi, the main commercial street in the modern area of Istanbul, and you’ll come across dozens of English language centres. If you’re reading this in the hope to find out about teaching English in Istanbul you could try looking on the education section on Craig’s List Istanbul. Helping others learn is a beautiful thing, however for the time-being I’m doing best to avoid teaching English.


Fishing on Galata Bridge



*Bike bits ordered from www.sjscycles.co.uk
1 x White Lightning Epic All Condition Lube 8oz Bottle
4 x KMC Z610HX 1/2 Inch x 3/32 Inch Silver Chain
1 x M-ighty Chainwear Indicator
1 x Rohloff 2 Stage Oil Change Fluids Only for Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 – 8411
1 x Rohloff Full Oil Change Kit – 8410
1 x Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 Hub Gear Reversible Sprocket Steel 16T
1 x Rohloff Sprocket Removal Tool for Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 – 8501
2 x Schwalbe Marathon EC XR HS359 HD CeramicGuard Rigid Tyre – 26 x 2.00 (50-559)
1 x Thorn 110 mm 5 Arm Reversible Single Chainring 3/32 Inch – Black 42T
1 X Park Tool CNW2C Chainring Nut Wrench

Discussion

19 Responses to “Simit, snow and staying put…for a bit”

  1. Nice work folks, looks lush. Gin and I are trying to book a flight sometime in early/mid-March – save some nargiles for us!

    [Reply]

    Posted by Ben | January 14, 2012, 8:15 pm
  2. MInimal techno is relevant to my interests. Looks amazers, glad you found somewhere to stay. xX

    [Reply]

    mary Reply:

    Bean! Someone will be otuz üç tomorrow!! Wish i was celebrating with you – well i will be – just not in brizzle xxx

    [Reply]

    Bean Reply:

    @mary, Shh! don’t tell anyone. I miss you loads. I’ve got tonsillitis, which makes it extra special! Xx

    [Reply]

    Posted by Bean | January 15, 2012, 2:24 pm
  3. heya

    don’t get too comfy, you will never leave.

    BTW the little martin is still intact and getting a good workout. Thanks for the inspiration.

    [Reply]

    Posted by aaron | January 15, 2012, 11:00 pm
  4. Hey Aaron.
    Glad to hear Mary’s powers of persuasion have worked out well! but what about Jacqui and her piccolo?

    [Reply]

    Posted by pete | January 16, 2012, 12:08 pm
  5. Are those all the bike parts that are coming to me? nothing as of today…
    Love the photos and can almost smell Istanbul
    xxx

    [Reply]

    Posted by Mum/Marian | January 16, 2012, 4:22 pm
  6. A place of amazing contrasts all round for you two in Istanbul at the mo … sounds and looks good!
    xxxx

    [Reply]

    mary Reply:

    Hi mum! Yep you got that right! We now have internet at home so can skype when you are next free ok . Hope Ezzys party was a goodie! ;) xxxx

    [Reply]

    Posted by Mum - Jen | January 17, 2012, 10:30 am
  7. Hi you too. Well you’re making a whole lot more of your visit to Istanbul than we did. Nevertheless I can appreciate how much you are enjoying the amazing city.Happy New Year to you both. YELG xxxx

    [Reply]

    Posted by Marguerite | January 20, 2012, 10:05 pm
  8. Merhaba Sir Pete and Lady Mary!!

    Just wanted to say big teşekkürler for introducing me to Istanbul and massive teşekkürler to all of your house-mates, beautiful Paige, lovely Ur (cannot spell that one correct, sorry) and genius pastry chef Florine, for putting up with me for a few days :) Bu buyuk bir deneyim oldu! (I hope I haven’t put any swear words accidently!!).

    Kendine iyi bak. Lots of love, N x

    [Reply]

    mary Reply:

    Natasha we loved having you here, you are very special to us and you’ve been a fantastic addition to our little Istanbul community! Won’t be quite the same without you. Speak soon and Görüşürüz!!!! xxxx

    [Reply]

    Posted by Natasha | January 24, 2012, 11:19 pm
  9. Hey there, I can see you have practicing smoking the pipes, very impressive smoke exhaling! Let’s try and skype again soon x

    [Reply]

    mary Reply:

    Gembok! Yes indeedie to catching up with you, Crete was a long time ago you know!
    Hope everything is going well with you guys, let’s talk it over with a glass or two ok :) love to the Danimal too xxxx

    [Reply]

    Posted by Gems | January 26, 2012, 3:21 pm
  10. Hi Mary, Hi Pete. I think about you two loads and wonder how you’re doing. I love reading about your adventures. In fact I feel inspired to cycle from the top of NZ to the bottom. Question of timing though. Are you still heading in this direction? xx

    [Reply]

    mary Reply:

    Becky!! Don’t ride without us! Just give us a bit of time to reach you ok… ;) I’m serious!
    We’ve been planning our next leg of the journey, sorting out visa applications and the like, will be heading through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan – STANTASTIC!!
    I’m loving being here is Istanbul too, keeping really busy as we both have an exhibition here in March, the lounge is now our studio by day, hub of city socializing by night…
    Hope things are good with you, let’s skype to catch up properly ok (you’ll need to tell me your skype name first though) xxxx

    [Reply]

    Becky Reply:

    I think I’ve found you on Skype…if not then I’m just plain ol’ becky.kendall. The next bit of your trip sounds amazing – some countries I didn’t even know existed! Are you sure they do? And great that you are having such a super time where you are. How long til you set off again?
    Ok, The Great NZ Bike Ride is on hold for a little while…I’m thinking this time next year. Miss you xxxx

    [Reply]

    Posted by Becky | February 3, 2012, 7:21 pm
  11. hellooow my friends,seems like you are having realy good time there!!
    a lot of cold and snow though as i see at news…
    i m senting the number of my director friend to meet him if you like,
    his name is boscurt;0090-53231-30296
    hugs and kisses!!!

    [Reply]

    mary Reply:

    STELIOS!!!! HELLLOOOO!!
    Great, thanks for that, we’re living above another film director, perhaps they are friends, wouldn’t that be weird!
    Hope you can make it to Istanbul before we start riding again – fancy coming with us into Georgia and beyond?! We’d both love it if you did. We’ve been playing our instruments loads here – in fact our new friend Bob is with us playing banjo right now. Our house mate plays the guitar too so we’ve all been learning some tunes together… you’ll have to learn how to play ‘wagon wheel’ on the lyra if you are coming to visit us so you can join in ok!!! Hugs and kisses right back at you :) xxxx

    [Reply]

    Posted by stelios | February 6, 2012, 1:51 pm

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