Already 9 days are over and I am sitting in the night train from Istanbul to Ankara. Unfortunately, I still miss two visas. The last week was quite exhausting and went like this: Monday, 2h drive by tram and bus to the Uzbek embassy. Official opening hours are 10: 00-12: 00. At 10.30 the embassy was opened. The ambassador sent us to an internet café to fill in an application form. At 11:00 we were back in front of the counter. "Come back in 5 days!" Was the ambassador's answer. When leaving the embassy, we met Paul van Est paulopdefiets.waarbenjij.nu.
He also travels from Holland to Central Asia and then on the Karakorum Highway through Pakistan, India and on to Australia, New Zealand, South America and up to California. He had a "Letter of Invitation" and was able to pick up the Visa on the same day. At the hostel he met two more bikers. We decided to move there too. On the way back, we had to visit the Embassy of Kyrgyzstan. Although the lady arrived an hour late, she was very helpful. We had to pay the visa fees directly on the bank.
On Tuesday it went to the consulate of Turkmenistan. It is on the other side of the city. The man at the counter first wanted to see the Iranian and Uzbek visas. That's why we went to the Uzbek Embassy again on Wednesday. There it was said that we should come back at 15:00 clock because he must first call in Tashkent. At 15:00 clock there was a negative decision. Annoyed, we tried to find out if there was a possibility at the Kyrgyz Embassy. In between we met Emmanuel Cornuau and Alexandre Mondėsert surlaroutedesdispensaires.over-blog.com. The two drive with their self-built car from France to Central Asia and back via Russia.
At the Kyrgyz Embassy, we were able to deposit our passports and collect the visa at 2:00 pm the next day. I love Kyrgyzstan!
On Friday we were back at the Uzbek Embassy at 10:30. We should come back at 12:30, which is outside the official opening hours. When we were there at that time, the ambassador was suddenly very friendly. No wonder! He demanded $ 110 for the visas. In the hope of being able to apply for the Turkmen transit visa on the same day, it went again to the other end of the city. The ambassador was in a bad mood. When I gave him my complete documents, he just said, "I do not speak English!". Unbelievable what these people can afford. Luckily, the rest of the evening went much happier. My mother came to visit with my uncle's family.
After five days at the embassies we were able to relax for the first time and visit the city. There are many attractions in Istanbul.
Alphonse de Lamartine has aptly described this: "If you could have a single look at the world, you should go to Istanbul."
On Saturday we first visited the Blue Mosque.
Sultan Ahmet the First (reigned 1603-17) wanted to commemorate the construction of the mosque that bears his name. It has six minarets and the largest forecourt of all Ottoman mosques. The interior is also magnificent: a huge central prayer hall with 260 windows and tens of thousands of blue tiles, which gave the building its unofficial name. Ahmet ascended the throne at the age of 14 and died a year after the mosque was completed, at the age of 28. Nearby, nearly a dozen of his children are resting. Wealth and power do not protect against tragedies.
Next to it is the Hagia Sophia.
The Hagia Sophia (Church of Divine Wisdom) is Istanbul's most famous building. Emperor Justinian (reigned 527-65) had planned to revive the Roman Empire. One of his actions was the construction of Hagia Sophia. In 537 it was finished and remained until the Ottomans in 1453, the largest church in Christendom. Mehmet the Conqueror had them converted into a mosque. As such, it served until Atatürk declared it a museum in 1935. Some mosaics from the 9th Century are still partially present.
Especially the harem and the treasury. The inhabitants of the harem often came as a girl in the Tokapi Sarayi. They were sold as slaves or given away by nobles and potentates. Foreigners in the harem were taught Islamic, Turkish and culture. At the top stood the valid Sultan (sultan's mother). Often she owned huge estates, which she managed by black eunuchs. She was able to issue orders directly to the Grand Vizier and often had great influence on the Sultan. Under Islamic law, the sultan had four wives (Kadin). He could have as many concubines as he could afford. Some afforded up to 300, but not all lived in the harem at the same time.
On time at 9:30 am, I stood with my mother again in front of the Turkmen consulate on Monday. This time I was finally able to submit my application. On the way back to the city we discovered a Turkish Migros.
But also compare prices and practice bargaining until one's head buzzes. Finally, we did a 1.5 hour boat trip on the Bosporus, which spreads the city over 2 continents, along with Gordon Yeats facebook.com/Gordon.D.Yeats. He also lives in the hostel and cycled through the whole of Europe last November from England. From Istanbul he now flies to Dehli, continues to cycle through India, Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea until he runs out of money.
My mother dragged me to Kuaför (hairdresser) in the evening. Something like that can not be avoided when Mum comes to visit! I feel a bit relieved now, as far as my head is concerned, and also had the best shave of my life.
Many thanks Mommy for everything! Tom has moved on, too. His girlfriend comes to visit him in Samsun. As a British citizen, he has not received Iran visa and is now traveling via Georgia, Azerbaijan and ferry to Central Asia. I was able to leave my bike in the hotel and took the night train to Ankara to apply for my visa for Tajikistan. At the given address there was a tennis court. Luckily the Turks are very helpful. A salesman put me in a taxi and paid for the trip to the other end of town! At the embassy everything went very fast: After the form was completed, I had to transfer $ 25 to the bank and I could immediately receive my visa. That's what I call diplomatic masterpiece!
Tajikistan is now at No. 1 of the "Top Ten" messages (Sorry Kyrgyzstan). On the way back to the train station I tried my luck at the Turkmen Embassy. The ambassador did not speak English and did not want to let me in because the embassy officially closed on Wednesday. Finally, he gave me an audience with the vice-consul. He was very cooperative and said that after consulting with Istanbul I could pick up my transit visa at the beginning of July at the consulate in Mashhad (Iran). What a nice day! Now it's back to Istanbul with the night train and on Friday, after 11 days of forced break, finally on to Kapadokien.