Europe 2016 Day 2.2: Galata Tower

Picking up from yesterday…

After the epic failures in the morning, I made my way to the Kabataş tram station. This is the first (or last, depending on how you see it) station of the T1 (Blue) Line, the Kabataş – Bağcılar line that I mentioned yesterday. I did not have any specific place in mind that I wanted to see. Mostly I was just trying to get into the air-conditioned carriage to hide for awhile and see if along the tram route, anything would catch the interest of my eyes.

So I hopped onto the tram and ended up going 3 stops, getting off at the Karaköy station. I got off here because this is the last stop of the Beyoğlu area. If I went any further, I would find myself across the Golden Horn into the Sultanahmet area, and I had no intentions to go there on this leg of my journey.

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Seeing across the Golden Horn from Karaköy

I took a brief stroll along the waterfront. The tram line that you see above runs through the Galata Bridge. I noticed this bridge actually has two tiers. The upper tier is for the trams and cars, while there’s a lower tier complete with shops, specifically for pedestrians. There are also a whole stretch of shops along the waterfront.

I also saw people fishing here. In fact, I captured one such fishing picture which highly amused my imagination.

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Daddy fishing with rod, Son (playing) fishing (game) with iPhone.

I totally made this up. I don’t even know if they are related or not. Did not see them talk to each other at all…

I spent about 15 minutes wandering around the waterfront. Then I turned back and looked towards the city.

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There’s a not-that-tall tower in the distance

Hmm, that’s the Galata Tower. Maybe I could go there and check things out…

It didn’t look that far to my eyes. It looked a lot further in the picture than to the naked eye. Anyway, let’s go!

So I crossed the main road and made my way into the cluster of buildings. Immediately, I was confronted with…

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Fuck! Oh no! Stairs again!

In fact this flight of stairs lasted longer than the one I went through earlier in the morning… My thighs were literally screaming as I grudgingly climbed the stairs.

When I finally got off the stairs, I was almost ready to rejoice, only to find myself staring at…

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Steep uphill road! Oh shit!
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More steep uphill road!

I was basically cursing myself for my lack of attentiveness. I should’ve known that this walk would be an ordeal. This Beyoğlu area is literally built on a hill, much like San Francisco. And I was at the foot of the hill. Any walk into the city would be a torturous hill climb.

Well the climb was quite interesting though. I was able to catch glimpses of proper back alley shops that are probably only patronized by the locals. I noticed a few grannies smiling at me. I also noticed a few gramps giving me what looked like death stares.

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Also saw a lot of hipster art on the walls and gates

After almost half an hour of climbing and whining about climbing…

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The road finally flattens out

and…

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Finally! The tower!

Hmm, up close, it looked a lot taller than I thought it was…

I did not feel hopeful that I could get to the top of this tower for free. After all, this is a historical site and a tourist attraction. Still, I thought that I should go and confirm and at least check out the prices. Who knows, maybe after all the “bad luck” so far, I imagined I was due some “good luck”…

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Entrance

So I went inside. And guess who I saw?

Oops… let’s rewind to the beginning… to… before I hopped onto the tram…

So I was going to scan my Istanbulkart through the gates, to enter the waiting platform. I noticed a blonde lady beside me who seemed to be struggling with her own Istanbulkart. Apparently she did not realize her credit was low. And there was no top-up machine here.

You know, I’m an introvert, but if I notice someone needing help and it is something within my powers, I would help, right? Especially if the recipient is a damsel in distress.

So what I did was, I did not even ask her or anything, I basically just touched my card on her gate’s panel and opened the gate for her (I paid for her entry). She was surprised (obviously), but she entered nonetheless.

You also know that I only help people, but I’m no bloody good at following up and making friends. She thanked me, we got talking for a bit, I learned that she is a Swedish university student, she learned that I am a Malaysian solo traveler… then we got off at the same station and went our separate ways…

Okay, back to the present. Guess who I saw? The Swedish student lady!

So she saw me, and she asked if I wanted to go up the tower or not. Since she had a student card, she could help me to buy the ticket at a heavily discounted price. So I said yes immediately.

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Now I know what you want to think. No, she just got down and was just leaving, so no, we did not go up the tower together. After she bought me my ticket, we said bye bye again, for good this time.

Anyway, even with student card discount, the ticket to go up the tower costs 10 TL (Turkish Liras). If it was without discount, then 25 TL.

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Now that I think about it, given more time to consider the offer, I probably would’ve thought even 10 TL was too expensive. I didn’t know why I took the offer up.

I was actually worried about the prospects of climbing the tower.

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Luckily, the have lifts

I couldn’t rejoice too quickly though… The tower top is on the 9th floor, but the lifts only reach the 7th floor.

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So I still have to do a bit more climbing of stairs

Darn… they just don’t make anything easy do they??

I made it to the top floor to find myself seeing this…

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A restaurant?

Yes, a restaurant! What the…? I thought I just paid for a ticket to get up here. Had I just paid so that I can come up here to pay even more?? Surely not??!

Fortunately, a quick glance around indicated a door to get out of the restaurant area and into a walkway around the restaurant/tower. Actually, it wasn’t even that fortunate. The walkway was very narrow, about the width of… me. Only one person can fit. This means you cannot overtake. You go out the door, walk in clockwise direction, and exit back at the same door. If the person(s) in front of you take his/her own sweet time, then too bad, you’d have to wait it out.

galatatower

Well, at least the view was good. I actually looked down on this tower for being too… short. But a short tower has its advantage. With those KL Tower or KLCC Sky Bridge, you are so high up in the sky that any buildings you see are so small and indistinct.

On a short tower like this Galata Tower, you can at least identify the buildings clearly. Surprisingly, this made the views nicer it their own way…

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Not that tall, but still plenty tall for people with phobia of heights

By the way, I do still think even 10 TL was too expensive. Given the choice, I would not do it again…

I couldn’t spend a lot of time up there anyway. You get to go one loop and it takes about 5 minutes. Unless you want to go another loop or want to have overpriced tea in the restaurant, then it’s time to head down… and get out of the tower…

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Street nearby

It was a good time to get out of the tower, because I began to feel hungry. So I had lunch. The restaurant was at the far corner, left side of the picture above.

And then I made my way back to Taksim by foot, via Istiklal. The walk back was a lot easier, because the hill climb parts were over. There’s a short alley that connects the Galata Tower area to Istiklal, and Istiklal is a relatively flat road.

I was very tired from all the walking and climbing, so the only thing I wanted at that time was to head back to the apartment and crash… But I did have one more thing to do…

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Mavi: Turkey brand jeans

It is now time to reveal a horrible truth. I actually ruptured my pants on the plane, when flying to Istanbul. So I had been walking for a day and a half with a pair of pants that had a hole beneath. It was a small hole and not visible to others (I think), but it made me extremely uncomfortable anyway. It was time to buy new pants.

It was very difficult to buy pants here, let me tell you. It seems like men in Istanbul are all very slim and fit. I could not find pants of size thirty-… well, let’s just say most of the pants here are of 4 to 6 inches smaller than my size. I had to visit a few different shops before finding one that carries pants of my size. And they only had 2 of those, so I bought them both.

This was how I discovered that Mavi jeans are more comfortable than Levi’s. Not to mention much cheaper. This is now my new favorite jeans brand. Pity they don’t sell it directly in Malaysia 🙁 …

Anyway, I got my pants, went back to the apartment and crashed immediately, and then came back out to have dinner (you can see in the same link as lunch, above), and then went back to sleep.

And that’s how my Day 2 went…

26 Comments

  1. Not a bad finish to day 2. And bumping into yet another beautiful woman again. Hint of romance on this trip 😀 Pity the tower didn’t have any other attractions. It doesn’t sound like there was much to do there.

    Oh dear, ripping a hole in your pants. Luckily it was a small hole but I’m sure you had other pants in your suitcase to save the day if need be. We have Mavi jeans here in Australia. Come, come 🙄

    • Hahaha, no hint at all. I am as of now, still single. 🙄

      No I didn’t have other pants in my suit case. None that I could wear anyway. I wore a long one and brought a short one which I couldn’t wear outside because of the cold. So I basically had no choice but to buy…

      What the.. They can open shop in Australia but not in Malaysia?? Malaysia is closer and a Muslim country for goodness sake! 😐

      • I don’t blame you. Long pants can take up quite a bit of room, and generally I take no more than two of them on a trip. Besides, I’m one of those people who can wear a pair of long pants like jeans every day for two weeks 🙄

        Mavi jeans here don’t have their own shop. Rather, it is stocked in department stories and those jean stockist shops. It is quite a common brand here.

        • I swear to Buddha, when I find myself in Australia (and I will) and someone asks me this question: Why do you want to come visit Australia?, this is how I’ll answer: Because an influential Australian blogger told me that I can buy Turkish jeans here.

          I would either earn a legendary status or get a black eye thanks to you. 🙄

  2. so much walking and climbing stairs…I see also wanna give up liao, summore still need to pay and go up the tower…I wish they would have escalator in the city (something like ‘mid level escalators’ in Central HK). Luckily, the view was nice and clear from the tower (instead of a foggy one).

    • It was foggy on the Bosphorus Straits, but the other parts of the city have cleared up, fortunately.

      Hahaha, Istanbul is not as modern as HK lah, in fact I think escalators are foreign in these old city area… 🙄

  3. One good turn deserves another. The blonde Swedish lady (was she pretty?) was very grateful for the rescue and I bet she was glad to return the favor by getting you the discounted ticket 🙂

  4. I liked how you told the story….by rewinding to the beginning…like I’m watching a movie or something….hahahaha! 😀 You see, kindness begets kindness. When the pretty Swedish student opened her mouth, you heard nothing coz you were fixated on looking at her and just nodded your head. When she left, you realised that 10TL was too much to pay….wakakakaka!! 😀

    • I had a Deadpool moment midway through writing, that’s why hahaha…

      How the heck did you know exactly what happened with the tower ticket?? Gosh… 😳

  5. I love those places! The many narrow steps with old ladies staring are so interesting. I would definitely visit this tower to enjoy the panoramic city view no matter how high or low the tower is. I agree that when we view from lower height, we can see clearer with details.

    You must be cute and chubby to always attract ang moh ladies everywhere. What happens after that, no need to convince us!! They adore Asians like you! Wakakaka

    • Hahaha… I did not attract anyone. I helped her, that’s why we got talking. If not, then there would be no story to tell. Not that there’s a whole lot of story even with now… 🙄

  6. eih I’m wondering how the Istanbulkart works.. can scan two times and has no problem?? I mean many places are two-ways, need to scan once upon entering and correspondingly another scan to exit, so this is just one-way scan??

    haha, luckily you do not have to dine there to have a glimpse of the city on the tower, else I think it would be like 10LT + another 60LT..

    • Here scan for entry only, and you can repeatedly scan for entry. Then if you switch trains at those transit stations, they have special gates for transit (to charge 1.65 instead of 2.30) and normal gates. So you can share and repeated scan the same gate.

  7. Galata? I thought I saw Gelato, hahaha.. Ok, it’s not funny, I feel so jakun..Wah, got restaurant at the top floor? Sure expensive, reminds me of KLCC restaurant or ParkRoyal restaurant..

  8. But hor I like the tower leh, it’s very unique, build in 1348 with Roman style, must be lots of history to figure out. (paiseh argh, I’m not only like transportation but also architecture, hehe!)

    • Hahaha, for me, it is just a stone tower. Once you go inside, there’s lifts and restaurant and souvenir shop, so it didn’t feel very old at all. 🙄

  9. I like your Day 2 because I like walking and walking and walking around foreign cities on foot to see the surroundings. Last time when I went to Copenhagen I walked until I can no longer move my legs and my spouse had to drag me or else we would have missed the last train back to our hotel.

    1. Since it was very, very cold, when you mentioned air-conditioned carriage in the tram, does it mean that they have heating on?

    2. Although 10 TL can be considered expensive but it was worth it because the actual price is 25 TL so you got the ticket for more than 50% off. So the views from the tower is worth paying for.

    3. The lunch that you ate, I forgot to ask in that previous post, are all the vegetables included on that plate, all raw?

    4. When you went to buy jeans, does everyone speak English so you didn’t have any issue communicating?

    5. Did you pay by cash or credit card? If by credit card, were you prompted for a pin?

    6. How did you find out that your trousers have a hole? Did you hear the cloth split?

    7. Didn’t you bring another few pairs of trousers?

    8. How much did the jeans cost you? Is it cheaper than here?

    OK, 8 points for this post too. Thanks for bringing us on your long walk.

    • Hahaha! I like walking too, it’s the climbing that I do not really like… and I cannot let myself get into your predicament, because nobody would be dragging me when my legs are gone. 🙄

      1. Hmm… no, I remember I wanted air-con because I was sweating like a pig due to the climbing, and the tram was indeed cool. I guess all those sweating warmed my body up quite effectively even in the cold. Also, I think as the morning progressed, it got from very very cold to just cold. But I still did not enjoy climbing so much and making my thighs so sore. 🙄

      2. Yeah, I think I paid up because I thought it was more than 50% off. I guess the view is worth paying for, what I did not like was how narrow the perimeter was, you can hardly enjoy yourself up there. You basically go up there just for photos. If you are someone who wants to go up there and relax with the view, then you will feel shortchanged regardless. It did feel that way to me. I suppose it felt like someone from Petaling Street quoting me RM 2000 for a fake Rolex watch, then give me a 60% discount. Still freakin’ expensive…

      3. The green chili was grilled lightly, all those shredded veggies were raw.

      4. No, not really. They had ONE guy who spoke English. Most of the shops in Taksim are like that. Unlike touristy Sultanahmet where EVERYONE speaks English.

      5. Credit card. The shops here have smart POS systems, they can detect the card is foreign and automatically uses PIN-less mode.

      6. YES!!! (Embarrassed… :oops:)

      7. I wanted to pack as light as possible, so I only had the pair of long pants I was wearing, and another pair of short pants. The short pants were safely tucked in the bag for the entire trip…

      8. I don’t know, there’s no Mavi outlets in Malaysia to compare. They’re cheaper than Levi’s from the premium outlets though…

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