Saturday, May 2, 2015

Istanbul at last

Surprisingly, a big comfortable plane for the flight to Istanbul, and still surprisingly, a beautiful flower lined ride from the airport, until we arrived near the old city and then...gridlock.  The taxi inched its painful way along through narrow streets where traffic moves in both directions at once, accompanied by much hand-waving, rude gestures, shouts, honks, and general pandemonium.  Our taxi driver couldn't explain the situation to us in English, but I am assuming it is a pretty normal state of affairs.  I was a little concerned that we wouldn't be able to get to the hotel in time to meet up with our new group of travelers in time for dinner, but when we very eventually arrived at the hotel, there was a note asking us to take a taxi to the restaurant where the group was having dinner.  Imagine my horror at the thought of another taxi.  However, we did this, and with the help of Jasmine, one of the tour directors who guided the taxi cab driver via a cell phone call, and who met us at a corner, we joined our group.

We ate outdoors (the weather here is much warmer than in Amsterdam).  Lots of mezes (appetizers) like in a Korean restaurant, little bits of octopus and calamari, and a choice of sea bass or anchovies for the main course.  I memorized the names of all 14 fellow travelers.  They seem to be a nice bunch mostly, although one lady seems to have a touch of dementia.  She reminds me of my mother in the early stages.  Her husband seems a little confused as well.  Another lady was suffering from perhaps a bladder infection, and desperate to get antibiotics to treat it even though its a weekend and the pharmacies are all closed.  Jasmine was spending lots of time on her cell trying to sort that one out.  

After dinner, we walked (thank goodness) back to the hotel passing through the magical blue Mosque, beautifully illuminated, and listened to the evening call to prayer and watched the birds fly overhead in the dusk.  The walk was a complete maze, we're going to have to stick close to the group to avoid getting hopelessly lost in this confusing, chaotic city.  

This morning, we're going to take the tram or train to the Bosporus for a two hour cruise, and then visit the Topkapi palace this dinner.

To any of my dear readers, wish us luck!


  1. This certainly is an adventure! You're braver than I. :)

  2. After re-reading this (to John), I think you've cemented my decision not to go to Istanbul, despite others' claims that it's a wonderful place. Sounds terribly chaotic and unpleasant to me!

  3. Hi Gail and John, Sunday was a mostly awful day in Istanbul (I don't think I've written about it yet), but we really enjoyed the Monday activities, mostly because the weather improved dramatically and the crowds became more manageable. We ended the day Monday with a most beautiful sight of a full moon shining over the Aya Sophia Mosque from the terrace of our hotel. One of our fellow travelers will send us a picture of that.