Salzburg has two. As soon as you get off the train at the Hauptbahnhof, you are bombarded with two images that stay with you throughout your visit: The Sound of Music and Mozart. Sort of When Maria met Wolfgang.
I really liked the film about the Von Trapp family and their multi-talented governess, and I have never fallen asleep at a Mozart opera. But I started to get irritated when my subconscious singing switched constantly from "The hills are alive with the sound of music..." to "Doe, a deer, a female deer..." and on to the overture of The Marriage of Figaro, with occasional snatches of Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
Relief came only with the train out of town, back to Munich and its large repertoire of clichés.
Thankfully I don't know any songs about beer, sausages and sauerkraut.
A quick internet check – now that I'm back in the EU I can surf with my phone without it costing a fortune – showed the official rate to be 313 forints to 1 euro.
The large print giveth,
And the small print taketh away!
I left the queue and took money out of an ATM. The machine offered me two options: take the "guaranteed" rate of [I can't remember] or let my bank decide. I chose the latter. Let's hope!
And the smiling lady behind the window didn't look at all like a robber.
NATO bombed Belgrade – without UN approval – in 1990. Visiting the city today you wouldn't see much damage as they've done a lot of development since, but there are still traces. One fairly big building near the centre in still a bombed-out carcass. Presumably they left it as a reminder of darker days.
The city itself is interesting, though not beautiful in my opinion. In that way it reminds me a little of Nantes: you don't go there for the architecture, but for the atmosphere.
The street I stayed on is in a pedestrian zone, well supplied with cafés, bars and restaurants. The prices are great value by western European standards: a nice three-course meal, with aperitif, mineral water and two glasses of wine for around €25. And there are many cheaper options. A coffee and a cognac on the way home at midnight cost me €5.
And they're really nice people now that we've put manners on them!
But if bazaars are what you like, you ain't seen nothin' till you've seen the bazaars of Istanbul!
Last week I had a first taste, accompanied by George. We arrived late-ish so we didn't have time to really explore, though I did manage to buy a carpet (see previous post on that subject: http://iranturkey2014.eblana.eu/2014/07/unexpected.html).
Today, on my last day in Istanbul, I decided to investigate further.
Wow, it's big! Or rather, they're big. Between the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar there is an unbelievable maze of stalls selling everything you could possibly expect in a market, and more. You want clothes, food, carpets? No problem! But what about kitchen taps, car parts or solar panels? They've got it!
You could spend days wandering the alleys if you were curious enough, and a fortune if you weren't careful.
I visited this time with my eyes agog, but left with my wallet unopened.
You see pictures of Atatürk everywhere: in shops, hotels, restaurants, even in buses taxis. There are buildings, roads and public utilities named after him. This is something he has in common with the current great leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This wannabe sultan's face is all over the place! And his name is appearing disturbingly frequently on the name plaques of new public constructions.
He is a very wealthy man, his fortune allegedly coming from kick-backs from builders. Planning laws are no problem when it comes to building what he convinces the people they need: more mosques and shopping centres.
Recent protests have shown that people are on to him, however. He wanted to demolish one of the few green spaces in Istanbul – Gezi Park, the small garden in Taksim Square – and build a shopping centre. As if the city needed another one!
Now that he's going to be elected president he will probably achieve his goal of building the "Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Shopping Mall" on the site of Gezi Park.
At least Atatürk had the decency to die before buildings were named after him.
|"Dur Yolcu" memorial,|
Bilmeden gelip bastığın
Bir devrin battığı yerdir.
Which translate (I believe) as something like this:
This ground you tread
Is where an era ended.
The Gallipoli Campaign was an imperial bloodbath that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men.
The beginning of the end of several empires: British, French, Russian, German, Ottoman.
After all my years singing those songs...
When it's the bus station of that name!
I took a ferry across the Sea of Marmara this afternoon from Istanbul to the port of Bandırma to connect with a bus to Çanakkale, my final destination of the day.
The ferry lived up to its advertisement: modern and fast (two hours). And relatively cheap at 60 lira (€20) for a trip that would have taken many hours by bus at around the same price.
On arrival there was no indication to the bus station, though I could see lots of buses parked. I finally found an office and a helpful man who spoke English. I had to take a municipal bus to the bus station where I would get the required connection. I got there in about 15 minutes.
The bus to Çanakkale cost 25 lira (€8) and would take just under three hours.
When they say "to Çanakkale" they really mean to a bus station in the middle of nowhere, a 30-lira taxi ride from the town. Compare that to the price of the three-hour bus journey.
I think they must have borrowed the Ryanair naming method. ("Paris-Beauvais" airport is 90 kilometres from Paris.)
I quickly got over the annoyance when I saw my hotel. I booked it at the last minute for €40 per night (a "genius" rate on booking.com) based solely on on the review ratings . It really is a four-star joint!
I'm sitting having a beer in the rooftop bar, watching the boats come and go in the harbour below.