14. Apr, 2016

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TUESDAY 21-4-15

Well today's the day. It's 01:00 and having had a quick wash and checked over the vehicle we set out for the city of Istanbul. The Satnav was already on, I left it turned on the whole time we were parked up for fear I wouldn't find my way around the menu again. It was motorway much of the way, or rather a toll road and when we reached the end of it we realised there was nobody to pay the fee to. We later learned it was all done by number plate recognition paid by prepaid cards, so we'll probably get a fine for that and to top it all we narrowly missed a huge pothole on the way in. It must have been about 15-18" across and about 6" deep. If we'd hit that it would have destroyed the tyres and suspension. 

Now down in to the great metropolis of Istanbul, as expected there was very little traffic about. I've dropped my speed right down. I then realise that the volume on the Satnav didn't get saved at its highest setting as I'd wanted, and found myself leaning forward to hear what ‘He' is telling me to do. At the same time as leaning forward I'm noticing that not only is it dual carriageway but the nearside one is the bus lane - and I'm in it. Sugar, probably more fines on the way, but at the speed I'm travelling the motorists behind me would have been less than happy if I'd changed lanes. Sometimes the satnav graphics weren't too clear as to what I should be doing, but at each stage it seemed to work out ok. We were heading for the Municipality Football Sports Court, Kennedy Caddesi (Avenue), Fatih, Kumkapi. I had the exact latitude and longitude written down for it but hadn't had time to work out how to punch that in to the Satnav, but I had a location that was very close to it.

Then we hit road works on Kennedy Avenue as we neared our destination, with very lumpy, bumpy, detours. I was fearful the Satnav would tell us we'd arrived and all we would be able to see were concrete barriers etc. Luckily we'd just cleared it all when we were told we had arrived - nothing! We carried on when suddenly I spotted a floodlit artificial football pitch over to our left across a central reservation. With that we did a U turn at the earliest opportunity and arrived much relieved at about 02:30. Believe it or not they were actually playing football at that time of day. Back home we have the Sunday League, here they must have the Middle-of-the-night League, fortunately for us they have, otherwise we probably wouldn't have noticed the location***.

Parked up in the car park next to the pitch with two other motorhomes we were greeted by the manager who showed us the ropes and took our first nights payment of €20, then it was back to bed. I told Rosina I couldn't believe we had actually pulled it off, and we both agreed that without that new Satnav and the benefit of coming in at night we would never have done it.

This is not a campground as such, they simply don't exist in Istanbul itself, no more that they do in the centre of London. The nearest one is on the Black Sea coast about 30 miles away, but what this 'car park' has got going for it is location. We are very close to the main tourist attractions

Up a few hours later, with the vehicle spring cleaned and hooked up to the electricity, we decided to have a little wander out; It was later in the day as it had been a bit wet earlier. We looked around The Grand Bazaar and took just a few pictures; going out today was really about getting some fresh air and stretching our legs.

We're getting used to the noises around us. Outside the car park we have a dual carriageway of traffic congestion. Down the road we have a small mosque and so get the call to prayers wailing away (why they need to do that I don't know, are they aware the alarm clock has been invented?), we get the yelping of the two puppy dogs owned by the on-site security man who lives in one of the other two motorhomes, and down the road in the other direction we get the amplified passenger broadcasts from a train station. We know this because the electric train line passes right behind our motorhome on the other side of the wall. On the other side of the track is the Mother Theresa slum for retired border staff.

*** I have since checked the location of the complex using Google maps and it is situated at the end of Yenikapi park co-ordinates N41.0042 E28.9561