Istanbul : 27th March – 3rd April
Second weekend of BA strike. Boarded plane, waited ½ hour for extra cabin crew. Somewhat late, arrived Hotel Erboy in time for excellent supper. Brilliant shower.
Pleasantly warm day for boat trip into Sea of Marmara. Good way to get our bearings, crossing Golden Horn by tram to Karakoy, then sailing to Buyuk Ada island. Happy stretching our legs, whilst many take horse drawn carriages up pleasant wooded hillside to monastery with fantastic views all around. Ominous clouds appear, caught some thundery rain, but trusty waterproofs protect us! Returned just in time for superb supper at fish restaurant.
Visit Topkapi Palace with our local guide, Cem (pronounced Jem). Cold, wet day, little protection from the weather in this largely outdoor residence. Lunch at Pudding Shop – famous during 70s as an essential stop on the ‘hippy trail’.
Long walk with Cem across city to the Church of St Saviour in Chora. Most brilliant 13th century mosaics show childhood of Virgin Mary. This is surely a highlight of the holiday. Returned via Spice Market, tea and cakes at patisserie almost spoiling wonderful supper!
Another boat trip, to Genoese Fort overlooking Black Sea. Steep climb from shore, with rewards of magnificent views and the echoing sound of muezzin from either side of Bosphorus.
Blue Mosque and Aya Sophya. Lunch again at Pudding Shop, then set out for New City. Cross bridge on foot this time, seeing cafés on lower level and fishermen all along top. Tram to Taksim Square. Walking back, found Armenian Church and ascended Galata Tower for the panorama on clear, sunny day.
Museums in the morning and the afternoon in Gulhane Park, reading under trees with cranes nesting above.
Archaeological Museum. Amazing collection from 2500 BC Mesopotamia. Just time for a Simit for lunch before leaving the excellent Hotel Erboy for last time.