Turkey: Istanbul

Although I’ve got a bunch of things left to write about Africa, here’s a few first impressions of Istanbul and a little of what we’ve done so far so our parents are up to date.

We caught the red-eye from Nairobi airport, which partially, and quite spectacularly, burned down a few weeks ago.

Photo courtesy of euronews.

Unlike everything else in Africa, authorities managed to get it up and running again within days and so our flights were on time and everything ran smoothly. We did get there several hours early, but due to the wonders of technology we had plenty of entertainment watching David Attenborough Africa doco’s. If you haven’t seen ‘Savannah’ and the rest in the series I highly recommend them.

All five of us slept through pretty much the whole flight and missed the evening meal, which is almost unheard of for me. When we landed I felt almost normal. We arrived in Istanbul at 10am but couldn’t check in until 2 so we perused duty free,  I drank an iced chocolate from Starbucks that was as big as my head and we used the internet until it was time to get a cab.

Everything was so quick and painless and as the scenery slid by we marvelled at how clean and modern this place is. Cities on hills always have a special charm and Istanbul, or at least the part we’re in, seems to be nothing but hills.

We found our accommodation without a hitch, and apart from the 70 steps to get to our top floor apartment, it’s pretty cool with a small kitchen and a stunning view over the Bosphorus to Asia.

We unpacked a few things then walked up the hill through little alleys lined with cafes and shops to a main road that runs to Taksim Square. It’s Istanbul’s equivalent of Trafalgar Square, I suppose. A big open paved area where tourists and birds gather, people sell food on sticks and there’s not much shade. The boys marvelled at the variety of kebabs on offer and then we walked back, stopping along the way to get bits and pieces of food to snack on later.  We’ve all been looking forward to the food here – having all the food cooked for us on the tour was great but it was all the kind of food you can cook easily in large quantities. I’m so happy to be able to buy small, tasty snacks like borek, olives and cheese. We’ve also bought some fruit that isn’t bananas or pineapple – hooray!

View from our balcony.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to head to the Grand Bazaar and whatever else I can fit in. There’s also a pile of belongings to be sent home so my pack doesn’t weigh as much as a baby elephant.

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