#MarchSquare 24

I’ve just spent a lazy hour browsing my photos from past travels and I’ve found lots of potential squares in Turkey for Becky’s March challenge. You may be fed up with me by month end!

This photo was taken in Istanbul on my last day, I was shattered by then, my head exploding with images from travelling 1500 miles in that incredible country.

Here I am looking a bit dazed in the Grand Bazaar, not lost, there wasn’t enough time unfortunately. Becky, if not perfect circles, there are some rounded shapes for you. She has a soft sepia eye today.

Sunday Post: Morning

I’m very much a morning person, a lark not an owl, up before six most days. But up doesn’t mean out even though  I know its the best time of day for photography. So I have very few early morning photos. This one was taken at 6.02am of the Halic or Golden Horn.  Istanbultrails.com says ‘The Golden Horn (Haliç) is an inlet of the Bosphorus with two rivers draining into it at the far end. It is considered to be the world’s largest natural harbor and separates the European shore of Istanbul into two.’ It’s a very beautiful place and I like the light, but my through the window shot doesn’t do it justice. I’ve posted this for Jakes Sunday Post: Morning so do go and visit!



Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

My photo this week is of the Bosphorus.  Between Asia and Europe, the twenty mile stretch of water links the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, at Istanbul. It’s a lovely place for an afternoon or evening cruise with drinks, nibbles or dinner. On both sides the architecture is outstanding,  palaces, hotels, colleges and homes of the Istanbullu glitterati. Europe is to the left and Asia to the right.


A Summer of Boats, England and Turkey

For someone who doesn’t do boats and knows nothing about them, this has been a boaty summer. It began on a glorious April day with a short trip across the Tamar River in Plymouth, Devon on the Cremyll ferry with my lovely daughter in law and granddaughter.

One of the best things that Plymouth has ever done was to buy the Cremyll along with Cornwall Council, for fifteen minutes you have the most wonderful view of the Sound, Royal William yard and the spectacular coastline.

The boat was full of day trippers who like us were heading for Mount Edgecumbe Country Park, on the Rame peninsula that’s actually in that foreign land of Kernow.

Plymouth is a bustling city with little charm having been badly hit in the blitz, but stepping onto the ferry really is another world.

Everyone is excited to be going on a mini holiday to the countryside, the ferry ride is less than five pounds for a family of four and the destination has acres of grounds and gardens to walk, picnic and relax for free!

My next boat experience was crossing the Dardanelle straits, which both connect the Aegean to the Sea of Marmara and also separate Asian turkey from European Turkey. The Dardanelles have been an important stretch of water throughout history and strategically relevant in the Crimean and First World War After an emotionally moving time in Gallipoli I crossed to Canakkale on a large boat where I’d foolishly chosen to sit upstairs for the best view and nearly froze in the draft for an hour. Soon after landing my travelling friends and I reached the site of the ancient city of Troy but that’s for another blog.

Ten days and around eighteen hundred miles and I’m back at another ferry port, this one takes me back to the European side of Istanbul. It’s a large ferry this time with lots of strange chunks of metal, cables, ropes and good strong coffee. The view in all directions is amazing and it’s a real thrill to arrive in a cosmopolitan city I have waited so long to visit.

Later in the day it’s time for a cruise on the Bosphorus, we are just a few on Edim, a posh boat that had the capacity for fifty people with a bar and café. We cruised along one bank beside painted wooden houses, stylish restaurants and clubs frequented by Istanbul’s’ glitterati.

Pootling along for what seemed like hours, the waterway was busy but with space enough for everyone it was quiet and relaxing. The size of the city became apparent from the perspective that the water gave, I lost count of the number of domed mosques and minarets.

Some of the grandest buildings were foreign embassies, palaces and military colleges. The Bosphorus was a lovely place for a relaxing cruise, next time I’ll go by night.

In August I had a brilliant day out with friends in Gloucestershire, a couple of hours on the train. Gloucester Dock, a very ‘Gentrified’ area has the prettiest of canal barges,  well   maintained with shiny bright paint jobs. I’m very curious about who lives here and just what they are like inside. I imagine it’s like being in a wobbly caravan,lovely in summer but a bit bleak in winter especially if the canal froze.

A complete contrast for my last boats of the summer, on Exeter quay where there is a working boatyard. It’s one of those places that look out of bounds and until last year I had only stood at the gate to peep, until one day a man said that it’s public and okay to go in. It looks like a very male environment until you see pots of geraniums flowering their little heads off. A very sensory place with smells of engine oil mixed with oily fry-up, sounds of oars, hammers, rap and classics and boats of all shapes and sizes. I’ve watched this one

develop and now it’s nearly completed it may be gone next time I go down. I’d love to see it hit the water.

This one saddens me, the council have deemed it rubbish and an eyesore.

An official letter is pinned to it stating that they will dispose of it unless the owner removes it by a date that has now passed, and they will charge for doing so. Someone has been working on its restoration, just not as quickly as the council would like, it’s a massive money pit of a project. I talked to one of the boat owners and he said that the mooring fees had been paid and apparently it’s a trawler, obviously very old. Who knows what its history is?I believe it would be beautiful once done, surely the purpose of a boat yard is to mend and build boats? Bureaucracy drives me mad.

Twinset and Pearls at the Golden Horn

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.