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Istanbul; Initially

 I’ve just come back from a few days in Istanbul, and I thought that I should write some things and show some pictures before it fades from my memory.  I have to say that it was a fantastic experience, one that I really will never forget and one that I recommend to everyone and anyone. On Tuesday, I met my good friend, Ange, at Victoria station in London, to make the journey to Gatwick airport.  After a flight of nearly 4 hours, we touched down at Ataturk airport at about 20.45, local time.  We got a taxi to our hotel in Sultanahmet, the historical centre of Istanbul.  We settled into the hotel, and immediately went to find a bar.  We found a great bar, with an outside area which had great atmosphere and shisha – hurrah! One of the best things about Istanbul is the architecture, especially the Haghia Sophia (Aya Sophia in Turkish), which, in its current incarnation, was built in 562.  The above picture shows this grand building at night – I haven’t been very good at night photography, but I think I got some good shots; more on this later.

 Another fantastic piece of architecture is the Topkapi Palace.  We visited here on our first full day, and we were rightly unimpressed with the weather.  It was freezing, raining and just downright miserable.  Before visiting anywhere, we had to warm up with a coffee in the museum shop, which was, incidentally, filled with Japanese tourists.  Tourists are everywhere.  Damn them all…oh, hang on…. Below is a picture taken inside the Harem, within the palace grounds.  This, for me, was the best part of the palace, with ornate walls, decorative ceilings and just awe-inspiring architecture.  We were rather annoyed that we didn’t get to see the Circumcision Room, as I think this was at the top of Ange’s To see… list; mainly in order to torture me with imminent danger.  I just wanted to see Ange in the Courtyard of the Favourites.

 Our second, and indeed last, full day, was mainly spent on a boat and getting royally drunkard with a cat.  For the record, the cat wasn’t drinking, although maybe he’d had a few puffs of the shisha. Below is a picture of two continents.  Europe on the left and Asia on the right, split in the middle by the Bosphorus heading out to the Black Sea.  It was a great experience, and one that was a little unexpected, but more on that later.

 There are many more stories to come, and I’m going to write them here as a pre-text to what will follow, although as that is what a pre-text is, there was no need to write that.  Ho hum. These are the posts I’m planning to write, but given the fact that I’m gonna have a lot of planning to do, goodness knows when I’ll be writing them – although I’m sure I could do one tomorrow.

  1. Get lost in the Grand Bazaar (but no photos – apols.)

  2. Mat-man and the great pressure debate

  3. Marmy, aka Kebab, and the multitudes

  4. Bosphorus-for-us

  5. Haghia Sophia, or how to walk around in an orderly fashion

  6. Several types of weather in 4 days

Needless to say, the reason for this trip was to recharge the batteries and feel ready for the next challenges that I will face.  I think it has done that.  With bells on.

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