We started out Sunday with a two hour cruise on the Bosphorus, but the weather was overcast and the water rocky, and it was hard to see much. Just before we got back, I had a touch of Mal de Bosphorus. Jasmine marched us into a Turkish cafeteria for lunch, but after a shouting match with the owner, we left and went elsewhere. We descended through the crowds to the impressive Roman cisterns, a dark and forbidding world of ancient columns rising up from a reservoir of water filled with strange grey fish. Next up on the agenda was the Topkapi Palace, filled with thousands of tourists, and accompanied by chill winds and pouring rain. Foolishly unprepared, I got soaked. Jasmine had us sit around a table on the grounds for a long, long time while she gave us the Turkish history lecture and I shivered. Then a slow visit to the grounds of the palace, all four courtyards, including a forty-five minute wait to use the ladies' room.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Backtracking to Sunday
Sunday was the awful day, the day I wondered what we were doing on this trip. Larry and I kept reminding ourselves that this was NOT Stanford Travel Study, but something else entirely. Honestly, Stanford Travel Study's high standards kind of spoils us for other trips, because they are so attentive to details and solicitous of the participants. The guides all seem to be selected for charm as well as knowledge and articulateness (is that a word?). Jasmine, bless her, is probably a wonderful woman. She has written books about Turkish wildflowers, is a mountain climber, and is quite kind, but she is very difficult to listen to, and her voice is a kind of irritating singsong, interspersed with "how do you say" and "let's take a look" and various hemmings and hawings. It's also a quiet voice, and unless we cluster about in a tight knot, hard to hear. I did spend Monday anxiously trying to follow her through a long recital of Turkish history, but by now I am more at ease with just wandering away on my own (but careful not to get lost).