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!

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