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Des’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 19 Aug 2006

Location: Istanbul, Europe

MapTalking Turkey
Had to visit Istanbul and Vienna so went to Turkey on Saturday, spent Sunday walking about, did business Monday and flew to Vienna on Monday. As you do.
Hadn’t been to Istanbul since the Transit training trip in 1976 but they remembered me. The Turks……both of them….
Hot as Hades, packed with summer tourists – more coaches than I have seen in my lifetime, noisy, smelly, hazy – all the things that make Istanbul interesting. I shopped but my shopping consisted of Turkish delight, chilli paste, all spice whole, apple tea, Turkish coffee and some tea glasses – sounds like I am turning into a middle aged bachelor. Now, I thought Turkish delight (call lokum) was THE flavour but there are a thousand flavours, with and without nuts, chocolate, coconut, etc
Highlights :-
• the spice market- all types of pastes, powders, sticks and stones that pose as spice; a pet market selling the most manky chickens, birds and bottles of leeches, yes leeches, not sure for medicinal or nefarious purposes.
• having dinner on a balmy evening on a rooftop café, looking at the Blue Mosque;
• a cruise on the Bosphorus looking at Asia on one side and Europe on the other;
• and seeing a swimming pool in the middle of the river, on a platform with a café and ferry boat service to the river bank. Guess if you can’t swim in it, swim on it.

I called into the Pudding Shop, a café/restaurant that Transit used to use in the 70’s just before I grew up. Anyway, I made out I was a Transit courier and they plied me with beer and coffee. I didn’t tell them I didn’t actually do a trip to Turkey with Transit. (Photos on BtB* site) * Back to Blighty

Let’s talk turkey for a moment (haven’t we been doing that ?.Ed) and the stereotypical images. It seemed to vary between the swarthy type you picture as Turkish (picture for a moment, Midnight Express) and the fey effeminate type (picture Alexander played by Colin Farrell, all blonde hair, curls, and soft features).