Day 17 - Thr 14 Dec 06
Up at 08:00, did breakfast and paid 40TL to extend my room up until 18:00 - which sounds like a goof plan. Then it was down to the Aya Sofia, got there just as they were opening the doors. I was the first tourist in there. There seems to be a lot more security guards then there where last time I visited.
Headed back to the station to get some tourist info - it's not great, but I get the info that I need to get to Princess Island. I take the ferry back across to the Asian side and then walk around the coast line to the Island. In fact it's not that far off the coast, and much smaller than I was expecting. There's no sign of any boats heading out there. I seem to remember that it's a restaurant so guess if you book a table you can get out there.
From here I can see the breakwater that I saw from the boat last night. So Hydrapassa station can't be that far around the corner. I'll walk over and catch the ferry back, and that will put me closer to the Mosque I want to visit.
The only trouble is that the port is in the way, so I was forced to make a large detour amongst all the HGV's waiting to get into the port - great fun! Eventually I asked a solider if I was on the right road to the station. So after walking miles I managed to get the ferry back to Europe.
A walk up a steep hill gets me to the Mosque, and a voluntary 10TL gets me inside, then it was a quick look at the Grand Bazaar, but it's a pale copy of the Damascus to Aleppo ones. All a bit too clean or tidy. From there I follow my nose back to the hotel, to get ready for checkout.
I've got some food for the train trip just in case there isn't a restaurant car. I wonder if the Swiss couple will be on the train? I'm now in the reception of the hotel after handing back my key.
I walked down to the station at about 21:15 to find the train waiting on the platform, there a number of carriages all heading to different parts of Europe, and yes my Swiss friends are aboard! The train pulls out at 22:00 on the dot. Next door I have an American and a Serb who are discussing which country has the best drugs.
I was asleep but the conductor knocked of the door for the Turkish border. 03:30 out into the freezing cold to get an exit stamp. Turkey is the only country where you have to get off the train to leave or enter.
Interestingly my Turkish visa was for 90 days, and I'm sure that you normally only get a one month visa if you fly into Turkey. The visa queue was long because the Istanbul bound train was also in, so we had to wait (outside) while they were processed first.