Goodbye Dick and Marilyn

Marilyn and Dick in the Surrey with the Fringe on the Top!

Marilyn and Dick have returned home and the apartment seems empty without them. We had such fun while they were here. On Friday we took the ferry to Heybeli Island where we stayed in the, very grand, Halki Palace Hotel. The original building is thought to have been built between 1852 - 1862 and was a fine example of Ottoman architecture. Although the hotel burned down in 1991, it was completely reconstructed as an exact replica of its earlier grandeur. That evening we enjoyed a meal of mezzes and fish in one of the restaurants by the harbour before returning to our hotel to sleep enveloped in the silence of the island - such a change from the hustle and bustle of Bagdad Street!

The Halki Palace Hotel

The next day, we had planned to go to Büyükada - Big Island - but we discovered that the Prime Minister was visiting it that day and it would have been very crowded; also Marilyn wasn't feeling very well, so we opted for a tour of Heybeli instead. On Heybeli, private cars are not allowed so the only form of transport is by horse and buggy. This is a very relaxed way to travel and there isn't even noise from the horses' hooves as they are shod with rubber. That evening it was raining, so we ate in the hotel dining room - another sumptuous meal! On the way back to Istanbul on the ferry, a rather large lady decided that David should shove up and let her sit down - even though there wasn't any room. He would have stood up and offered her a seat if she hadn't actually sat on him!

After all the eating we had done over the weekend, we decided to be more active on Monday. David went back to work and Marilyn, Dick and I took a dolmuş to Kadıköy and the ferry to Emınönü. There we disembarked and walked across the Galata Bridge, took the Tünel up the hill and then walked along the three kilometres of Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) to Taksim Square (often called the heart of modern Istanbul). (See photo of old Italian Church off Istiklal.) Our ultimate objective was the military museum to see the daily show. Unfortunately the museum is closed on Mondays, so we were foiled. Dick and Marilyn will have to come back again so we can do that another time! On our crossing we were fascinated to see the cruise ship, The Queen Victoria, in harbour. It is very impressive!

Tuesday was Marilyn and Dick's last day, so we went to a must-see in Istanbul, the glorious Aya Sofya. Hilmi, our driver, snaked through the Istanbul traffic to deliver us right next to the museum. The Basilica of St. Sophia, was built by Constantine the Great and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century. It is an impressive building and we marvelled at how they could possibly construct it without modern tools. After admiring the mosaics and exploring the site, we left for the Grand Bazaar so Marilyn could buy some pashminas, only stopping briefly for a less than memorable lunch - the only one disappointing one in 12 days. Finally, Hilmi whisked us back to Bagdad Street in time for Marilyn and Dick to pack before going to the Mid-Point restaurant next door for a wonderful dinner - thank you Dick and Marilyn!

Cheers, until next time!

Spoons at the ready for the amazing desserts!


Kadiköy and Şile, Istanbul, Turkey

Dick hard at work!

Exercise Turkish Style

After waving David off to work on Monday and having a leisurely breakfast, Marilyn, Dick and I walked down to the sea of Marmara and along the walkway. Although it was very hot, we stopped to play on the the machines in the exercise area before relaxing and watching the world go by from a nearby pavement café.

We then caught a bus to Kadiköy, a warren of pedestrian streets with lots of bars, shops and restaurants. One of Turkey's biggest fresh markets is there, and we saw wonderful array of fresh products, ranging from dozens of species of fresh fish and seafood to all kinds of fruit, vegetables and spices. An exotic sight! Our lunch was in a typical Turkish restaurant - very cheap and quite delicious!
On Tuesday we left David in Istanbul, while we went to Doğa Tatil Köyu - the company's resort. We arrived at 11 o'clock and immediately went to the pool as the weather was glorious. We almost had the whole pool to ourselves, there was only one couple there! Wednesday morning was also bright and sunny, but in the afternoon it began to cloud over so we went into Şile for a spot of sight-seeing and shopping. Although it began to rain, we found sanctuary in a restaurant with an amazing view and gorged ourselves on chocolate cake - such is life!

Marilyn and I had the whole pool to ourselves!

Overlooking the harbour in Şile

Now we are back in Istanbul and preparing to go to the Princes Islands for the weekend. More of that next week!


Marilyn and Dick come to Istanbul

Marilyn, David's cousin, and her husband, Dick, arrived on Friday evening – our first guests! We gave them no respite, as on Saturday morning we rushed to catch the ferry to Eminönü. The old city really is a wonderful sight as seen from an approaching ferry. We pointed out the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya and the Topkapi Palace, clearly seen as they rise above the other buildings. Once on land we walked around Sultanahmet and through the courtyard of the Blue Mosque (closed for prayer) and past Aya Sofya to the Yerebatan Cisterna, then stopped for lunch before moving on to the Grand Bazaar. This latter is mainly for the tourists, but we carried on through the bazaar and downhill through the streets to the Golden Horn. We were swept along by the mass of humanity as we browsed the shops where the Turkish people shop.

Dick and Marilyn look at Medusa's head in The Sisterna.

We had intended to go on across the Golden Horn and take the Tunnel to Istiklal, but that would have been too exhausting, so we saved that for another day. Istanbul is such an exciting city and everyone we met was very kind. It was such a fun day! That evening we returned to Bagdad Street and dined out in Café Cadde, just across the road from where we live. There we were well looked after by our favourite waiter, Hakan.

On Sunday, we took the ferry to Beşiktaş, where we caught another ferry to Anadolu Kavağı, a pretty fishing village on the Asiatic side of the northern end of the Bosphorus leading out into the Black Sea. High above the village are the ruins of Anadolu Kavağı Kalesi, a medieval castle that was first built by the Byzantines, it was restored and reinforced by the Genoese in 1350, and later by the Ottomans.

After eating a delicious fish lunch, David, Marilyn and Dick climbed the hill to the Genoese Castle while I went to find a taxi to ride up – they were very grateful for the ride down!

Dick and Marilyn by the entrance to the Black Sea.


Bağdat Caddesi, the Champs Élysées of Istanbul

Aliens visiting Bağdat Caddesi

Now we have our patio furniture, we often sit on our balcony watching the world go by on our street, especially as the sun goes down. I've heard Bağdat Caddesi referred to the Champs Élysées of Istanbul, and it is thought that it is the beginning of the ancient Silk Road that ran from Byzantium to China. A fascinating thought! Our apartment is next door to a Restaurant called Mid-point, so we think we are somewhere in the middle of this amazing street, that runs for 10 km or so, from Bostancı to Kadiköy.

We are continually enchanted by the happenings here. At the weekend we watched a magician perform in the window of the shop opposite, until we were distracted by a group of aliens passing by. Everything normal then!

I have been making an effort to keep fit, although it is tempting just to sit and watch the beautiful people wandering up and down the street. Apart from my long walks exploring our area, I have been taking the stairs up to our 4th floor apartment, all 75 of them! We do have a lift, but I only use it when I have really heavy shopping.

I have also discovered an 'alternative gym' under our block. They offer courses using 'power plates – the same machine Madonna uses to keep fit. I went to have a look and they offered me a free introductory lesson. They claim I will lose 10 cm from waist, hips and thighs in only 5 weeks! I just might take them up on it - although I don't really want to look like Madonna, I think she is looking quite scrawny lately.

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