Travel Poetry – 2

Travel poem number 2 about Istanbul.

I depart the shiny new tram

taste sage tea hundreds of years in the making

consumed near a Muslim graveyard,

where I espied silhouettes of crescent moons, stars

under pitch black skies.

As I dodge mutant dancing zebras,

vehicles screech to halt at the light.

Garish clothes, piled on the pavement, are sorted

by six grey men, women

the smiling trader haggles with all.

My linen shirt feels clammy, I sniff fresh orange juice.

Men rock on wooden chairs, debate

unending traffic above on the concrete flyover.

Scrawny cats wail, hiss over a discarded kebab

A welcoming dolmus awaits travellers to distant destinations.


‘I’m walking, skiing and canoeing from the Russian Arctic all the way to Istanbul’

Explorer Charlie Walker is traversing the length of the Ural mountains as part of a triathlon adventure – and a bid to understand the nature of the east-west divide

‘Standing by the Bosphorus gives me goosebumps’: Jason Goodwin’s Istanbul

For the novelist, Istanbul is rich in Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman history, and is a place where Russian submarines, supertankers and tourist boats all glide through the heart of the city

Istanbul – Bazaar – 5

This extract is from ‘Travel Tales from Exotic Places like Salford’

I thought that I would offer the shop owner 50 Turkish Lira for the piece with a view to paying around 100 Lira maximum. I walked away to look at some other jewellery pieces and then returned, after getting lost because I took the wrong right hand turn – the Grand Bazaar is like that – and by this time the owner was outside.
I crouched down and looked at the badge.
“How much for the Lenin badge?” I asked.
The owner looked at me and said,
“Five thousand US Dollars.”
“Oh,” I said, “that’s slightly more than I was expecting.”
The owner nodded as if to confirm his own suspicion of me. He then pointed at the badge.
“The gold colour is 24-carat gold.”
“Ah that explains it,” I said and left the area in some embarrassment. I didn’t think that countering his opening price with 100 Turkish Lira would have got me very far.

Four days later I was in Tallinn in Estonia and I went to the Occupation Museum on the edge of the Toompea district.

Istanbul – Bazaar – 4

This extract is from ‘Travel Tales from Exotic Places like Salford’

Not all the souvenirs on sale in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul are tourist tat. Some areas in the market sell some seriously expensive articles – the way to tell which shops these are, is that the people selling these antiques and collector’s items don’t hassle passers-by. They just watch the people browsing. Such was the case with me when I looked in a shop window and saw what I thought was a little Lenin badge. He was looking earnest as usual with a hammer and sickle and a Soviet flag in the background. The red and gold colours were radiant and I thought it was a beautiful objet d’art. The owner was inside his shop but made no move to come outside


Istanbul – Spice Bazaar – 2

This extract is from ‘Travel Tales from Exotic Places like Salford’

“You should come into the shop and then when you have bought a carpet you will have even less money,” he smiled.
“No thank you.”
“Where are you from?”
“No, further north.”
“Business is bad this year – due to the globbal cresssssus.”
“The what?”
“The globbal cresssssssus.”
“Oh, the global crisis.”
Although it’s called the Spice Bazaar they don’t sell just spices.

I was writing down all the things on sale there and I was asked what I was doing by another stallholder (they can all speak good English and other languages too).
“I have written down everything on sale here.”
“Really? Why?”
“I wanted to remember – cushion covers, Turkish viagra, lamps, plates, caviar, silver, carpets, cashmere, sausage, the evil eye, kebabs, linen, watches, belts, t-shirts, frilly baskets, bowls, glasses, jewellery, cups, ice-cream, rings, and perfume.”
“Yes we sell everything here.”
Two days later I visited the Grand Bazaar and was still taken aback by the size and scope of this covered market. After having my camera bag searched, I entered via Gate 2
and quickly found myself in the area selling T-Shirts, which I was interested in buying. The repartee of the stallholders was soon illustrated.