A very easy start to the day….we had another She Tour booked for this afternoon and didn’t get collected until 1.15pm. So a sleep in until around 8.30am then breakfast at the hotel and catching up on emails etc. Around noon we headed out for lunch in a nearby cafe off Taksim Square. The food was very nice….but a bit too “hot” for me….Vince loved it!. I managed to finally get the mashed potatoe I have been craving for the past few weeks…..yum! Along the way we saw a group of people in Takim Square putting a floral tribute below a statue and there were police with rifles nearby….not sure what was going on but it all seemed fairly tame.
We made our way back to the hotel, freshened up and waited outside for our Guide. Before long we found ourselves back on the bus on the way to the old city, where again we had to change buses and Guides according to our tour (No 5 – Two Continents (Asia and Europe) costing 40 Euro each). The tour normally covers the Beylerbei Palace…the summer residence of the Ottoman Sultantans with original furniture, magnificent gardens with the Harem on the Asian side. But this is closed on Thursdays and is replaced with the Chora Museum….originally a Church then a Mosque and now a Museum. It has very interesting mosaics depicting not only the life of Christ but that of the Virgin Mary also.
We crossed over the Bosphorus River on the Bosphorus suspension bridge (No 1 Bridge) with the crazy traffic and then drove to Camlica Hill, one of the highest points in Istanbul. From there we could see over Istanbul. We had stopped at one of the terrace cafes….and ordered one banana split…..for the tidy sum of 24 TL….Vince said that should have bought us a whole meal in some places….but NOT in Istanbul.
The tour was also schedule to stop at a leather and fur factory, and Vince was concerned we might be pressured into buying his and her matching jackets or something (LOL) but luckily none of the 11 people on the tour wanted to go….so we finished early getting dropped back to our hotel around 4.15…so all in all around 3 hours on tour.
We want to get an early start tomorrow to try to avoid the traffic as best we can….so we planned an early dinner and when we were out we organised a pair of sunglasses for me, as mine got really scratched in our top box. We narrowed it down to a pair of Ray Bans (415 down to 350 TL) and a pair of Red Bull Racing (350 down to 210 TL) ….we settled on the Red Bulls….I’m not sure if they are boys glasses or not….but Vince likes them so that’s fine by me.
Whilst out we saw a large contingent of police with riot shields and rifles along side a water-cannon…we then saw a group of protesters coming towards us….I’m not sure what it was all about but we got out of there quick smart!
We were tempted to see the new Jurassic Park or Terminator movies….but as we wanted an early night we gave it a miss. On the way back to our hotel we saw a large group of people about to break their fast (we are two weeks into Ramadan here). We have seen places set up like this all over Istanbul.
Back at our hotel (Emerald Hotel) we said goodbye to Fatih Yapici (the Front Office Manager) and thanked him again for all the assistance he has given us. Vince asked if we could take a photo for our blog (we gave him one of our stickers) and he was happy to do so. We would certainly recommend this hotel to anyone wishing to be well looked after in Istanbul. He popped up to our room later with a gift of Turkish Delight and a keyring of the Evil Eye which he explained to Vince (I was in the shower) was to keep us safe on our travels.
So it is an early night for these little black ducks tonight….wish us luck for tomorrow in that CRAZY traffic!