Greetings from Istanbul, Turkey.
After flying in-style-in-economy class with Turkish Airlines, we arrived safely on Wednesday afternoon and caught a cab into town. The cab driver responded to the onslaught of "traffic problems" with very pious profanity and several out-of-vehicle tirades at obstructing drivers. Forty minutes later, he gave up on even finding our hotel and suggested that it would be faster to just walk towards.....well....he pointed vaguely to somewhere back behind the traffic problem.
The hotel was actually in the other direction....
We have spent the first few days getting over the cultural shell shock of landing in the heart of the Old City, Sultanahmet and finding our feet again in the New City, Beyoglu. We are grateful for the modest progress of:
- finding our Air BnB apartment again without staring at the Google Maps app;
- loading up our Istanbulkart transit pass to take the tram across the Bosphorous;
- meeting up with some friends-of-a-friend-of-ours who set us straight on a few issues;
- seeing a few of the marvellous historical sites in the Sultanahmet district;
- jet-lagged kids sleeping through the night and even wishing they had stayed longer at historic sites (#roadscholars);
- finding more-or-less the groceries we needed. NB: that bottle contained salted yogurt smoothie, not milk, Trish.
Today, Isaac even successfully haggled for his first purchase, using his winsome smile to dicker down the price of a Fernando Torres jersey from 45 TL to 25 TL and winning an affectionate kiss from the proprietor. Our Turkish vocabulary so far consists of 3-4 mangled phrases, so we are grateful for the kindness of local merchants.
My first impression of the city is that it is a marvellous soundscape of cultures, and religions, teeming with pedestrians and small businesses that crowd up the gnarl of streets that are piled on layer upon layers of empires....
....Oh dear, I'm lapsing into competing metaphors. Clearly words fail me. So I'll think that I'll just pour myself a bit more raki and share a few first impressions for now....