I’d wondered what sort of person books a ‘Grand tour of Turkey’ and kept my eyes open at Heathrow. Sitting at the departure gate, I got a glimpse of my first pair. ‘Oldies’ travelling friend called them, they must be mid seventies, and I said ‘That’s not old and anyway I like old peeps, I hope to be one someday.’
I asked the Mister if he was indeed on the Grand Tour and he replied ‘Yes hopefully, pleased to meet you.’ Hopefully? Does he think he won’t make it? Maybe he knows something that I don’t. There had been terrorist bombs in Istanbul in recent weeks, so I’d been informed by my colleague, who warned me to be careful. ‘I’m not going to worry about things like that’ I reply, ‘If my numbers up that’s all there is to it.’ ‘Just be vigilant’ he says. I am touched by his concern, check the reports and find there had been a bomb in a tourist market, just the sort of place I head for.
Missus Twinset is actually wearing a Persil washes whiter blazer, embroidered with pastel coloured daisies and she is very ‘Keeping up Appearances’. I wonder if this holiday is going to be quite me. I’m more the trekking trousies, hoodie and vest and my concession to dressing for the evening, are flip flops with sequins in case I have the energy to join in with any belly dancing opportunities. Missus makes me feel scruffy, I wouldn’t ever want to dress like that, but …ladies of her ilk usually leave me feeling a tadge grimy, like I’ve bought all my clothes at Oxfam and have been under canvas for a week. You get the picture don’t you? Because when I’ve said this to other people I’ve been told that I always look ‘well turned out’, ha! Like a Peter Pan collar over a hand knitted navy blue cardy? The briefing meeting will be interesting, if they are all fogeys I’ll have to try to ruffle them up a bit.
At the arrival meeting we sit beside the above crusties, Frank and Betty – yes really! And are joined by Dave and Lesley, more our age.
We walk with them along Istiklal Caddessi towards Taksim Square, a lively area, pedestrian except for the odd tram carving a path through the crowds. There were fabulous shops, but apart from buying water really cheaply, I was in too much of a daze to soak it up. I’d just been told that breakfast would be at six because we leave at seven-thirty, meaning I would have to get up at five because I’m slow. I didn’t go to bed the night before. Instead, my body had fought against being asked to settle, on the Red Eye, with my head against the cold window, brain whirling with excitement.
We found dinner and sat outside the café with a spinach crepe and an Efes beer for around £8. The beer was just what the doctor ordered to help acclimatize in the sizzling heat, the food just so-so and the Crusties – hilarious!
The room at the Grand Halic (Halic means horn) http://www.booking.com/hotel/tr/grand-halic.en-gb.html?dva=0 was pretty good for a City hotel, but I woke, God only knows how in my depleted state, several times in the night because the noise was dreadful. Do you know what? I really didn’t care, I was right beside the Golden Horn in Istanbul, a place I’d wanted to visit for years.