This post was first published on the blog "Tuk-tuks, chicken bouquets and bicycle bells" on kerrytolsontravels.com
Our Turkish Crush started the moment we stepped off the plane and into the terminal. The surge of people was incredible and it was as if all the planes sitting on the tarmac had disgorged their passengers all at once and the race for Customs was on. There didn't appear to be any order as everyone pressed forward in a great wave towards one funnel line. We tried to find the end of the line but that was impossible as the crowd became bigger and people started slipping under the barriers and in some cases completely ignoring the 'guide ropes' and went up the sides and around in front of those who were waiting right at the front. Mal and I grumbled and mumbled together about the rudeness of people, shaking our heads and"tsk tsking" and tried our best not to be pummelled from behind into the people in front of us. What we should have been doing is taking notes in the art of cue jumping and learning the Frogger step for we are going to need it during our time in Istanbul.
There is a reason why Turkish Delight is called just that - divinely delightful, it is the essence of Turkey. So sweet, so exotic, you bite in to it not knowing what is hidden in it's colourful pastel exterior and its ever so moorish, you can't get enough. This sums up Turkey and definitely Istanbul to a tee for me. The moment we step out of the airport and into the taxi we are surrounded by stunning colour, great swathes of flower gardens with pansies and tulips in swirling patterns adorn the sides and middle of the highway leading from the airport to the area we will be staying in. Elaborate fountains spray forth, laced minarets with magnificent domes pop up through the muted pastel coloured housing blocks. It's all a feast for the eyes.
Our taxi pulls up at the hotel we've arranged to stay at and Mal and I let out a collective sigh of Whew! One of the things we hate is pre-booking. We like to look first then commit but still have the freedom to run away if we see something better. But as we walked up the steps of this stunning historical ottoman building we are delighted. At reception we meet Genna (pronounced Kenner) and feel so welcomed as if coming into someone's home. Genna books us in then after all the formalities, regretfully tells us that we can't have a
on the steps of the Blue Mosque I thought. After hours cramped on a plane, there was no way I was going to stand hours in a cramped line.
We head towards the Aya Sofya and see that it was the same - disappearing lines of people shuffling along. The park between the two is beautiful, filled with flowers and the most gorgeous fountain with fabulous tiled mosaics depicting scenes of Turkey. Across from it is the Baths of Lady Hurrem, a beautiful granite block building built back in 1556. Compared to the age of the Aya Sofya and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, it is reasonably "new".
The sun is setting and a swift breeze has sprung up, funnelling down the streets. We zip back to our room for warmer clothes, then up to the rooftop terrace to take a look at the view. It's stunning....and there's also another surprise to stun us (or I should say, me). For on one side is the fabulous Blue Mosque in all it's glory, across from it a huge pink and white building that is a roosting area for seagulls, tho they are awfully BIG seagulls and we soon realise that they are small albatrosses. On the other side of our terrace is a full blown construction site complete with pole driving banging and enormous cranes. My buoyant spirits fall at the thought of hearing construction all night. Behind the construction site is the Marmara Sea, covered in massive ships and small boats. The sea is so still, it looks like a painting and the ships have just been plonked there, like models. Mal is so excited, he just loves boats and anything that goes bang. The call the prayer rings out over the city, more calls echo back from the smaller mosques that dot the cityscape. My spirits lift. The melodic call is mesmerising.
Turkey, you truly are too delightful.
This blog on Turkey originally appeared on my blog site: Tuk-tuks, chicken bouquets and bicycle bells at kerrytolsontravels.com in 2014
Hello! I'm Kerry
. . . a plan-nothing, have no idea where I'm going travelholic.
A daughter of the gypsies and the wife of a workaholic, I'm forever wondering 'What's over there?' and devising ways to squeeze through the barbed-wire fence of small-business ownership responsibilities and every-day life tangles to discover it.
. . .and this is my book