I Love Turkish Air

What is it about Turkish Air that makes it different from many other carriers in this region? One major difference is that Turkish Air still serves real food - as opposed to those dreaded boxes that are appearing on most continental airlines. On our flight we had a green lentil salad; a choice of Turkish-style sautéed chicken with fresh mixed vegetables and rice, or grilled salmon with fresh mixed vegetables and potato puree; followed by vanilla pancotta, biscuits and cheese. There were also hot, fresh rolls served separately; all manner of wines, beers, spirits and juices, as well as endless cups of tea and coffee. I chose the salmon and it was delicious - most restaurants couldn't have served better!

Because I am on the short side, my legs are often left dangling on flights (potential cause of DVT). Not so with Turkish Air, they have foot rests, so much more comfortable. Also, because of my height, I have often found most airline seats to be very awkward as my head is pushed forward by the so-called head rest. Turkish Air, on the other hand, has a much better design; they even have those wings you can pull out to stop your head lolling if you fall asleep. One teeny problem is that the seats are rather close together, but nobody's perfect!

I met some lovely people in the airport, and on the flight. One was, Erin, a young girl from Brisbane, Australia who is working in Cork, Ireland; a young Iranian from Wymondham who works at the Kettles Crisps factory and is also an English/Farsi translator, and the Turkish man sitting next to me on the plane, who lives in England and owns a fish and chip shop and a kebab shop in Edmonton. With all these new friends, the time passed really quickly and we were soon at Stanstead Airport where Clare was waiting to take me home to Jessica's birthday tea.


Life is Fun in Istanbul!

Last week we went to a charity performance of Turkish classical music, sung by Merve Utandı, a music teacher at David's school, and her father, Münip Utandı. The concert was given to raise money for the Mother and Baby Health Foundation and was really well supported. Münip Utandı is known as one of the most prominent interpreters of Turkish Classical Music today. They were accompanied by a traditional Ottoman Music Ensemble. The instruments being played were a kanun (Turkish zither); kemençe (a violin-type instrument); an ud (played like a guitar); a tanbur (another guitar-like instrument); a violin and a cello.

Merve and Münip sang about Istanbul, in songs dating from the 18th century onwards, against a backdrop of ever-changing slides showing scenes of the city from days gone by. The audience were ecstatic, many of them singing along, and they gave the performers a standing ovation.

Our street continues to entertain; this week, I noticed some filming taking place right outside our apartment. I was highly amused by the passing pedestrians, many of whom just walked into the action, quite oblivious of what was going on!

I suspect they were filming a local soap, it was too long to be an advertisement.

The weather has improved dramatically and today was almost like a balmy spring day. Being Tuesday, I was off to the Salı Pazar (the Tuesday Market). The market has recently moved location and for the first few weeks there was chaos. They seem to have sorted themselves out now and the market is huge, and in full swing.

The colourful Tuesday Market.

Next Monday (Jessica's birthday) I am off to England to stay with Clare for three weeks, during which time I am helping out at the Search Recruitment Fair in London. David, meanwhile, is off to Toronto, then London to recruit teachers for his school. Life is busy, but fun!

In my last post I showed our apartment from the outside. Here is our lounge-dining area. Our dining nook is behind the TV which is showing our fish tank, (actually it is the radio station on the TV, it shows a live fish tank - so easy to keep clean, and I never forget to feed the fish!)


The Rain it Raineth Every Day in Istanbul

Just when we think the rain is going to stop, it starts again. Fortunately we have a perfect vantage point with which to view the street - without having to go out and get wet ourselves. (Our apartment is the one on the top left of this block.)

We have brought in the patio table and chairs from the balcony (too chilly to sit out there) and we have made a breakfast nook, in the window to the right of the balcony as you look at the photo (although we often eat dinner there as well!). From here we can look down on the comings and goings in Bağdat Caddesi.  It's such a busy street with
a constant stream of cars, motor bikes and pedestrians. Even I can name many of the luxury cars that pass by; I am getting quite an expert in spotting the make of vehicles.

This street is endlessly fascinating. We can see the street sellers running when the police are around; a group of boy beggars who run after the smartest cars and cadge for money, or 'help' people park and expect a reward; the fashionable shoppers; the mad drivers; the jay walkers and the window cleaners (they are always around, no wonder the windows sparkle). 'Watching the world go by' has taken on a new meaning!

Despite the weather, the restaurants nearby are still doing a roaring trade. Next door, on one side, we have Mid-Point, with The Nook on the other.
Across the road is our favourite restaurant, Cafe Cadde (Street Cafe). These restaurants mainly cater for the 'Beautiful People' who rock up in their Ferraris, Corvettes, top-of-the-range BMWs and Mercedes, not to mention the odd Bentley! Although they don't seem to mind when we turn up!

All day and every day these restaurants are full to capacity, often with queues waiting for tables. I thought, with the miserable weather, the clientèle might drop off a bit, but no, they are still bustling with activity. I'm really looking forward to summer when the restaurants move all that glass partitioning and they become street cafés again!


...and a Happy New Year from Istanbul!

A Very Happy New Year, and may this be the best year ever! Fortunately, judging from the number of lights, our local bank, pictured above, doesn't appear to be suffering from the credit crunch.

New Year's Eve was a bit of a wash-out in our street as it was pouring with rain, so everything had to happen indoors. Our spirits were not dampened, however, and we spent a happy evening together and stayed up to welcome in the New Year.

The next day was drier and we were able to walk up and down Bagdad Street taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the lights. It seems as though Turkey has adopted all the trimmings of Christmas and transferred them to New Year's celebrations.

There were Christmas trees and Santas and sparkling lights giving a festive air; there were even hoards of shoppers buying presents - absolutely no sign of a recession here!

Clare, John and Jessica flew out early Saturday morning and we miss them already, but we have lots of memories of their stay. We had such fun while they were here. One day I hope all our far-flung family are able to spend Christmas together.

We finally managed to celebrate my birthday in our favourite restaurant! 
(By the way, Marilyn and Dick, Hakkan says, hi!)

Clare, John and Jessica had a great time at the Fitness Park, despite the cold, gloomy weather!

We were lucky to find a dry day to visit the Market.

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I couldn't resist this one!