I’m leaving Istanbul today – Widex promptly repaired my hearing aid (defective receiver, replaced under guarantee), I’ve laid in provisions, and I’m all ready to go. Will be getting the ferry up the Bosphorus a bit, taking a one-way trip on the “Scenic Cruise.” Doesn’t leave until 10:30, and then gets there at noon, so it will be a bit of a late start. From there, I’ll head along the Black Sea coast for a while, until I make a bus detour to Ankara for visas. Don’t think I’ll be able to catch up with Keith for a few weeks, but we’ll see what happens.
Had a slightly odd experience yesterday – was sitting in Taksim park, reading my book – “The Travels of Marco Polo” – when I first had an American sit next to me, ask some random questions, obviously checking me out, followed by 4 plain-clothes policemen. The police asked me if I spoke Turkish, and where I was from, to which I gave some glib answer. I thought they were trying to sell me a carpet. Then they pulled out the ID, and asked for my passport. After flicking through it a while, I think slightly confused by the multiple Turkish entry stamps I have, they let me go about my business, and went back to harrassing the locals. Must be something to do with the location, lots of embassies around. No doubt will be asked many times in some of the other countries I am going to. Hasn’t happened before in Turkey though.
I also got offered something different to the usual carpets yesterday – women – $10 for a room for an hour and a massage, $30 for full service. Russian women, 20-21 years old apparently. When I declined that, I was offered marijuana instead. Well, it makes a change to the usual carpet patter. If I bother talking to the carpet sellers, I explain I have no home, and that usually slows them down…a little.
When I was first in Romania, I was asked what I thought of the taste of the Coca-Cola. I thought it was a slightly odd question, but now I have found out why. An advertisement in The Economist talked about Romania, and how Coca-Cola is a huge investor, and first went into Romania in 1991 – prior to that, people had never had Coke. Obviously it is a source of pride, I feel a little bad that I said it tasted the same as everywhere. Oh well, I wouldn’t know the difference anyway.