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We’ve been trying to figure out that song since we arrived, and still can’t seen to get it to fit.  Perhaps we should settle for Istanbul.

 

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We arrived in rush hour.  Except that it seems to have been rush hour from early morning until late at night.  This city never sleeps, nor does it go home, it seems (however much it might want to).

Two hours after landing, we were still sitting in a traffic jam, reassessing our thoughts for tomorrow when we’d hoped to scoot around and do a bit of the old town.  We’d not given it much thought but had assumed that we’d go to the Spice Market, soak in a little atmosphere and make the most of the very short time we had here.  But one thing after another made us think differently.

Firstly, tomorrow is Friday and the city will be particularly busy as the Mosques open for their main weekly service.  The traffic will be worse as a result.  Next, it was announced that our transfer to the ship was scheduled for 1pm – peak time for mosque services and people moving around the city.  Finally, we hadn’t reckoned on our hotel being quite so far from the old town.  We swiftly reached the conclusion that we’d be foolhardy to try to do too much in such a short time and decided to reconsider.

We did a super-quick turnaround and walked the short distance to Taksim Square, somewhere we knew would be a good place to begin to find some fun.

 

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Thursday evening, 7.30pm, Taksim Square.  Just the place to meet friends, have a photo taken in front of the Memorial, relax and enjoy being in the city.

Which is exactly what we did.  Except we haven’t any friends to meet.

 

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Joining the pedestrian migration towards Beyoglu Tower, suddenly we were here. In Istanbul.  Still in Europe but not quite.  Faced with a plethora of choices

 

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Roast chestnuts?  Not yet.

 

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Baklava?  Ooooh….maybe later.

 

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Kebab, meatballs, pasta, cheese….so much to choose, all there in front of our eyes.  What did we fancy?

 

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No decision!  Seeing these two jolly souls making flatbread in the window of a traditional style Anatolyan restaurant by the name of Otantik, we dived straight inside (really, they were laughing and chatting until they posed for my photo, when they turned serious!)  We allowed ourselves to be persuaded into sharing a recommended filled flatbread starter, followed by an assortment of specialities and tucked in enthusiastically.  The filled flatbread was delicious, the platter full of familiar looking skewers and meat dishes with some tasty couscous there in the centre was just what we needed and the perfect choice on this warm evening.

 

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Of course, we couldn’t resist dessert, Anatolyan style, which came with a floor show

 

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This strangely chewy ice cream was said to be made of ewe’s milk and tasted fresh and good.  But the texture was a little odd.

We made our way back up the street, towards our hotel and our comfortable bed.  Strange how doing nothing but sit around waiting, travelling from one place to another is so tiring, isn’t it?  And funny that, however far or near we fly, it always seems to take a day.

Yes, we did resist that baklava on the way back.

No, we didn’t resist the Turkish Delight shop…

Changing the Guard – in a different palace

Before we go…