Thursday 16th August (Istanbul)
Picked up again promptly and taken to the departure point and transferred to the tour bus. As we pulled away, the summary of where we are going only loosely resembled my programme. When I queried this, the explanation was that when the smaller agencies book tours they are doing it with a bigger company. If that company does not have enough people to justify a particular tour, their clients are simply moved over to the nearest approximation of the tour that was requested. The problem is, where we are going today is remarkably similar to where I have booked tomorrow. The tour rep on the bus's attitude was tough sh one T. I've spoken to Fezbus in Istanbul who say if today is no problem for me, they'll sort out tomorrow. I've got to say that at the time of writing (9pm) I've got my doubts. But we'll see.
|The Blue Mosque From the Bosphorus|
|View From the Bosphorus|
The day started with a cruise on the Bosphorus to the Golden Horn. The Golden Horn encloses a peninsula, forming a deep natural harbour. The Byzantine naval headquarters were there, and fortifications were built along the shoreline to protect Constantinople from attack. During the trip we passed under the bridge joining Europe with Asia.
|Pierre Loti Cafe|
|View From the Cafe|
|Istanbul from the Pierre Loti cafe|
Following the boat trip we then went to the Pierre Loti cafe. P L was a famous French author (I assume in France!) who lived in Istanbul. The cafe is at the top of a steep hill, and we travelled back down by cable car.
|Yildiz palace Museum|
|An Istanbul Tram|
Lunch was at the same place and with the same menu as yesterday. Lentil soup, meat stew with rice and chips, followed by melon. Drinks you pay extra for.
Hardly typical Turkish fare. Do these tour operators not even think about the product they are providing?
On to the Yildiz Palace museum. Apparently on the programme because the place we were supposed to go to is closed on a Thursday. Nice enough in its way, but hardly spectacular.
From there it was to the Camlica Hill. This is one of the highest hills in Istanbul, and the views of the city and Bosphorus are spectacular.
|Istanbul Fish Market|
Unfortunately a coach came up behind him so he had to move, turning right against a no right turn sign. He then had to turn round to go back the way he came by turning into a side street and backing out. Into the path of an oncoming tram which for fairly obvious reasons couldn't swerve out the way. (Our driver fairly promptly pulled back into the side road.) On the way back for his friend, the road wasn't quite wide enough for all the traffic that wanted to use it, so he used the pavement instead.
I tried to get to the Byzantine cistern when I got back to the hotel, but I got there just after it closed. Hopefully I'll find some time tomorrow after my planned day. I'm being picked up from my hotel for my train at 6pm, though, so I don't hold out a lot of hope