Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kebablogging

Right. So, I went to Turkey, where I found myself too busy to blog in both Norwegian and English. Now I have returned, cursed with the task of preparing a selection of a decent number of see-worthy photos for you, from a pile of about four thousand.

I'll get it done, Imshallah, but it will take a while. To prevent you from forgetting all about me, I'll translate some of my blog entries into English and publish them here while you, Imshallah, wait for the photos. Here we go:

In Istanbul
I'm here! Right on the border between Europe and Asia, so far away from home that the keyboards don't even have commas on them, and there's a ç where the period is supposed to be. This will take some getting used to!

From inside the Blue Mosque
The flight here was just fıne. (Rats! I just noticed that where there should have been an i, there's an ı! What a country!) Turkish Airlines fortunately continues to have experienced only 13 major accidents in recent years. Even the food was fairly good, although the card that came with the meal worried me slightly:

"We hope that taste in your mouth will last after your journey."

I was eager to learn how they intended to attempt terminating my taste buds. But they didn't even try, as it turned out.

Another noteworthy moment during the flight was when a father who apparently never studied physics was challenged by his young son to explain how the plane would get airborne. "Well," he said, "the pilot makes the plane go really, really fast, and at the end of the runway there's a bump. When we hit it, we just fly upwards. When we need to get down again, the pilot will put on the brakes, and then we descend". Well done! Almost on par with the theory that birds of passage fly in formation to avoid shitting on each other. (Of course, everyone knows that they do it because their trip is a long one, so each bird can only remember part of the directions they have to follow. The bird in front at any time will be the one responsible for remembering the area they're flying through. Clever birds!)

I'm beginning to come to terms with the language. More and more obvious heritage from the Norwegian language appears. A small boat is called a "sharkı", just like at home. "Who?" is "kim?", like in Norway and in Portugal. Unfortunately, the Turks must have misunderstood when the Vikings who came here said "Ghastly!" when they first saw Persian rugs. "Güsel" actually means "nice" in Turkish.

Oh, yes, the Vikings used to go to Istanbul all the time. They called it "Miklagard", "Big city". You can still see their influence in Hagia Sophia, a massive rat's nest of a retired cathedral in the middle of the Old Town. "Halvdan something something did something" can be read in ancient Viking runes on a banister in the building. There's lots of other graffiti too, all between five minutes and 1500 years old. Quite impressive, really. They've preserved even that.

Anyway, I think that of all cities I have visited with more than ten million citizens, Istanbul may very well be the friendliest and the least busy one. The only sad sight I have encountered yet turned out to be just funny after all. As I wandered the quiet streets of the city last night, I came upon a policemen that appeared to be about to shoot a cat. Just as I realized this, I discovered that what was actually going on was that he was bored. To amuse himself, he played with the cat by using the laser sight on his gun to make it run around on and chase the light spot.

Cat in the spotlight
However, I'm already fed up with the shoe polishers in the streets here. I walk around wearing my Doctor Livingstone hat, so that everyone obviously considers me to be the most stupid and gullible tourist around. So when a shoe polisher passes me on the street, he will pretend that he drops one of his brushes without noticing it. Any polite tourist will of course pick it up and go after him and hand the brush back over to him. Then the guy will say, "Oh, isn't that kind of you! I shall give you a free shoeshine for that!", which after a while presumably turns into a job that you will pay for anyway, I suppose. So now I've started picking up the brush and throw it onto a nearby roof instead. That really pisses them off! No, of course I don't. But I have started hiding the brush in my backpack or under my t-shirt and pretend like nothing has happened. This puzzles them to no end, until finally I can't hold back my laughter, and I return the brush to the guy. Then he will also laugh, so I think it's okay.

I might hang around Istanbul for a couple of days, but I will soon have to find somewhere smaller. Preferable somewhere with great scenery and hiking nearby.

I'll see you there!

Bjørn
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