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"Turkish Delights" Tour
Fool
crazycrone
Spent the night before takeoff in Heathrow's EasyHotel. Not bad at all, really. Very clean, pleasant staff, and there was no charge for the TV after all. (Of course, it didn't work at first, but a change of handset, and some tinkering by the bloke sorted it.) I had the cheapest room, and there are no chairs or tables, just a bed under the window. For a night or two, though, perfectly fine.
On the flight I was stuck between two men with strong leg-spreading tendencies. It was hot, and there was turbulence. Felt sick. They showed PADDINGTON. I couldn't hear it as I couldn't figure out the earphones. It seemed rather better than I would have expected, though, with a couple of laughs. (Paddington discovers the bathroom!)
Just flaked out when we arrived at the hotel (the Antis, right next to a railway track, on a steep hill, but otherwise fine. Well located, comfy room, clean, nice brekky buffet.
I wasn't expecting such a planned-out itineray. We were actually transported everywhere by a jovial chain-smoking guide, which actually was OK, for me, in a place like this, with only short time to see a lot. All the tickets were pre-paid for, and we missed a fair bit of queueing, etc.
We saw  the Hagia Sofia, cruised the Bosphorus and landed briefly in Scudari, thus setting foot on Asian soil. (First time, for me-) strolled around the Hippodrome, and visited the Spice Market. We had drinks at a swanky place overlooking the Bosphorus to finish day one.
Then we went to the Suleyman Mosque, the Blue Mosque, the endless Harem quarters of the Topkapi Palace, and the collections of clocks, etc. etc. All a bit too much for me. Following this was the rather stressful Grand Bazaar.I don't like all that aggressive stuff, and I had virtually no spending money. The Turkish Delight samples were great, though. Didn't see anything I considered to be a great bargain, though. The hawkers all called me 'Ma', too. Grunt.
The last day, we went to the Dolmabahce palace, which was more appealing to my Eurocentric tastes than Topkapi, and a more managable size.We were let loose in the modern shopping streets of Beyogu, where I checked out the Italian and the French Churches. Both were fairly uninteresting, 20th century, with ugly, mass-produced statues, etc.. To avoid spending on lunch, I had a simi from a stand for one TL. It tasted like a stale bagel, but yes, it was filling. We finished up at the church of St Saviour, with its fine frescoes and mosaics. The nave, unfortunately, was shut for rennovation. If you have money to spend, though, this is the place. The prices in the stalls outside are excellent, and there are loads of very attractive decorated tiles and crockery things to choose from.
The farewell dinner was less excruciating than it might have been. I enjoyed my first edible meal of the trip, and we were in another posh venue with panoramic views of the city. Nice.
I would have liked to see the whirling dervishes, but otherwise, I think we took in just about all of the major sights.
It was fascinating, but I don't think I'd particularly want to return, unless I was offered an all-expenses paid visit.
My very favourite spot was the Basilica Cistern, which despite being fairly busy (Istanbul must be total hell in the summer-) retained a numinous quality, although the Medusa heads weren't as big as I expected. There are a lot of fish swimming around, some of them enormous carp. Loved it.
cistern medusa
There were plenty of plump, jolly, ear-tagged dogs lolling about everywhere, but the cats don't seem to be quite as well-tended. An awful lot of them are pregnant. They seem fit and reasonably well-fed, though, and enjoy a chat.
Flight back delayed by high winds in London. I went to the wrong gate, as it had been changed, but made it back in good time. I also scored an aisle seat. Heh! I was glad to be home and have a cuddle with Amazy, but it was a good trip, and Jules Verne
Voyages is really good value. It seemed a lot, but so much was included, it was really excellent.
This morning I discovered nothing is working in my disabled bathroom,and  the kitchen is also kaput, with all the food in the freezer spoilt, and no heat or hot water. Heh ho, waiting in for the workers now...
Hope to post my travel diary eventually, but again, no working scanner.

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I'd been wondering how the trip was going, and am very glad that it was well-organised and pretty stress-free.

I NEARLY fell over so many times, but the gods were good...I never could have coped at all a few years ago, though. It's a very cobblestony, slippery uneven sort of place...but yeah, picturesque,

Sounds pretty great all considering. I've always wanted to see the Cistern.

It is wonderfully strange and spooky.

Glad you had a good time. That Medusa Head is fab.

Oddly, the Cistern seems a bit less frequented than the other big tourist sites, but for me, it was easily the highlight.

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