From Ayvalik we took an 8 hour bus ride to Istanbul. Istanbul is a huge city as it has a population of 14 million people. When we took the bus from the station to the hostel there were literally swarms of people pushing and stuffing themselves into the public busses (even though the same bus came every minute).
Istanbul is a pretty city, we stayed at a hostel in the Asian side of Istanbul in a district called Kadikoy which is next to the ferries and has lots of restaurants. After finding a cheap place for dinner (where I had my first Iskander) we were invited to watch the UEFA Cup final at a bar across the street. Beer in Turkey is quite expensive compared to other countries as the price is around 10 Lira a pint or $5.5. While watching the game there was an incredibly drunk Turkish man staggering and shouting around the street. It is interesting that while all the shop owners went out to prevent him from bothering the customers too much they never physically stopped him. If he was in Canada he would have be knocked out by someone or the cops would have been called.
A very drunk man:
The next day was our only full day in Istanbul so we went to the old city and checked it out. When we got to the Blue Mosque I was made to wear a sac that covered me from head to toe. It was only when I got into the mosque that I realized I had been there before in my visit to Istanbul as a child.
Inside the Blue Mosque:
Unfortunately the Grand Bazaar was closed for Sunday but we saw the Spice Bazaar. We also walked around the gardens and other famous sites. The prices for food in old town was at least 2x that as on the Asian side so we went back to grab a late lunch/ early dinner.
That night a bunch of us went out to a bar that had a live band singing pretty good 90s rock covers in English. With that we ended our stay in Istanbul. I would love to sped more time there!
On a side note/ rant, there was a girl staying at our Hostel who was going to be in Istanbul for 2 months to write the new edition of a well know American guide book geared towards university students/ young people. She had been in Istanbul for over 2 weeks and she had not even seen the old city yet. And every night we would invite her to go for drinks or hang out with us but she would refuse and just stare at the computer. Now this guidebook is geared towards young people looking to party, how can she know what to write if she doesn’t like to socialize? She even told us she had not gone out at all nor made any attempts at befriending fellow travellers.