Saturday, April 23, 2011

London to Istanbul

Eurostar back to London is always exciting. Stephanie, whose working visa had expired, easily negotiated British immigration in Paris, the officers joking with her about her wish to stay on for an extra week to 'attend' the royal wedding.

Gammar back to Jummy and Sam's joint the three intrepids hopped up at the ungodly of 4:15am to snaggle off to Luton for an early flight to Turkey. This was a really weird trip as there was no traffic on roads that normally only allow snail's-pace progress. Zip bang whack and we were standing in the queue for check-in! This we did not need to do, however, since we only had carry-on baggage! This we discovered with only metres to go in the line! Never mind.

3-hour trip in the plane sees us landed in Istanbul, buts ails-pacing from Sabiha airport the 20-or-so kms to the city over a 2 1/2 hour period (the return trip a week later took one hour). Andy, Grazyna and their daughters landed later on the day and experienced the same grinding journey. They had had a few days in Capadocia (spelling?), which sounded like a neat (please pardon the archaic American slang here). Houses appazzas are formed by tunneling into the scoria and carving out rooms in which to dwell and carry out all other manner of activities associated with life in that part of the world.

Here are some of the places we visited in Istanbul: the Blue Mosque, the mosque across the road from it that is now a museum, the Grand Bazzar, the Spice Market, a gorgeous, ancient orthodox church, lots of cafes and restaurants and the Mighty Bosphorous (the waterway leading from Istanbul to the Black Sea. We also spent some time in the Museum of Modern (Turkish) Art which commanded wonderful views of the Asian and European sides of the aforementioned Bosphorous.

Here is an incident that took place on one idiot strolling days: Steph had had her shoes polished by a little boy whose cutely pleading eyes she could not ignore. 5 TL (Turkish Lire - $3) the cost, including tip. That gives you an idea of the going rate. Some time later, as we strolled along, a much older (20 years?) shoeshine chap walked in front of me and dropped his brush. I picked it up for him and handed it back. "Gentleman!", he shouted, "Gentleman!", and made to offer a free shoeshine in gratitude. Soon, however, it became apparent that this was not to be free at all, and that the price would be 18 TL. By this time Andy was having his shoes shone by the first chap's colleague. I do not know how I could be so stupid, but I handed over a 50 TL note an asked for change! What a dill! JUST THEN I CAME TO MY SENSES (with Andy's and Grazy's help) and demanded the 50 TL back. This they (surprisingly) did and they were left with only 5. Quite reasonable in the scheme of things. It was annoying, but quite a-typical of the attitude of all the Turks with whom we had dealings.

Dear Jude had not observed the above incident, and the next day the same thing happened to her. A MUCH older shoe-shine chap dropped his brush in front of her and she was about to pick it up when Graz all but pushed her over to prevent her act of kindness. As we walked on, the smiling shoe-shiner was seen to be laughing to himself and acknowledging that his little trick had not worked. All very good-natured.

Gotta go. More later.

Hoo Roo,


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