We were ready to move on from our very positive central Turkey experience; Ellie to Paris and Vic and Rob back to Melbourne… except for the lure and unexpected surprises that awaited us in Istanbul.
Arriving in the Old City at the end of the day, we quickly orientated ourselves to the spectacle of spice markets, opulent palaces, bazars, rivers and waterways, mosques and above all, food.
But we also had a feel for this city of 17 million with expansive trade, development and an amazing transport system In fact, Rob became very excited about travelling the Articulated Tram which weaves its way through narrow streets. Istanbul should win the Olympics bid on their transport system, alone. Turkey, with a conservative government, has committed to a huge infrastructure project called Marmaray, which is a 76.3 km rail transport project linking Asia to Europe and will run under the Bosphorus strait, transporting up to 75,000 people an hour! Total cost? Something like $US 3 billion. And Melbourne? It chooses to spend 8 billion dollars on an 8km road tunnel when it could build a Metro system for less and move more people from point A to point B? Go figure.
Our leaving date arrived all too soon and this whirlwind adventure has come to an end. It has seen Rob, Vic and Ellie visit four countries, including four amazing cities and four small villages, absorb music, cultures, experience food and kindle new and old friendships.