Back in May myself and my loved one booked tickets to go and see those grand old rockers Aerosmith, in Istanbul. We were particularly excited as we’d seen that Slash had joined them on a few previous dates and figured that would be a sight to behold. Mind you, I’ve never liked being in the company of people who have more luxuriant hair than I do so I might have had to deal with some jealousy issues.

But, not only would we get the chance to witness pensioners exhibiting more athleticism than I could ever hope to achieve, I’d also get the chance to tick off no. 41 on my Bucket List – visit Istanbul.

So off we toddled to Dalaman airport; a quick hop on and off the plane, an even quicker apology to a guy for making him move seats and then realising he was already in the right one, a short bus journey and voila, there we were in the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. We checked into our perfectly situated boutique hotel, where I temporarily felt guilty for interrupting the receptionist as she tried to arrange her social life by text – but the guilt stopped when it was clear that we weren’t going to interrupt her at all and we could damn well wait until she was finished before she took any notice of us. Luckily the room more than made up for her lack of social skills so we dropped off our bags and, after the obligatory check of all the draws and the toiletries on offer, went for a walk. It turned out to be a fairly long walk as we turned left when we should have turned right and both of us were far too stubborn to admit that maybe, just maybe we weren’t going in the direction we planned.

Anyway, after a few hours of strolling (both in the wrong and right direction) we returned to the hotel and put on our glad rags ready to rock and roll the night away. We wandered down to the stadium and were surprised at how quiet it was. Had we got the wrong night? Had we got the wrong time? Had we got the wrong city? Well, no, unfortunately it wasn’t something as simple as that. We found out that the gig had been cancelled due to the tragic and horrifying accident suffered by the miners in Soma, Turkey. Well we couldn’t very well argue with that could we? And indeed we didn’t.

So, with thoughts of their families, friends and the miners themselves we went and sat in a cafe by the Bosphorus and passed the time relaxing while thanking the stars for our blessed lives, before returning to the hotel where we noticed the receptionist had finished her shift – hopefully she’d wisely chosen to pop out and get a personality transplant!

Next morning we woke up bright and early and set about becoming crazed tourists until it was time for our flight home. But first we had a very exciting appointment to keep. As luck would have it, all the Board Directors from my old company were attending a Board Meeting (or maybe a bored meeting!) in Istanbul. After a few emails the previous week it was arranged that myself & Ronnie would meet up with two of the big cheeses I used to work for. It was great to catch up with them, for them to meet Ronnie, and for me to finally say out loud that I thought one of my other old bosses was a bit of a knob.

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After filling ourselves up with croissants, eggs, fruit and various other goodies we said our farewells and jumped on a tram to Sultanahmet, then got off it 5 minutes later when it terminated early due to tramline works. We strolled (struggled) up the hill to where many tourist attractions are gathered within a very walkable area. We meandered round the Blue Mosque (not as blue as I was expecting), took out a second mortgage to get tickets to wander round the Hagia Sofia, then took out a third mortgage to have a couple of glasses of cay (tea) at an eye watering price of 5.5tl each (they are 1tl where I live).

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But the most exciting venue for me was the Basilica Cistern, an underground water cistern that was built, erm, a long time ago, to provide water to the city in case of siege. It’s eeriness and pure beauty was a sight to behold and even the arrival of a class of Turkish school children did nothing to take away from the aura of the place.

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And then, of course, I had to drag poor Ronnie to the Grand Bazaar, a place no female who considers herself a woman would miss out on. I’ve never seen so many shops in my entire life! If we’d been travelling with more than just hand luggage I would have spent a fortune but luckily that probably saved me from having to find space in my apartment for a load of stuff I probably, ok definitely, don’t need.

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After a quick jaunt around the bazaar (got lost again), it was then time to head back to the airport and return to our little piece of paradise in the sun.

Istanbul is a great city to visit, I would highly recommend it to anyone that thrives on hustle & bustle, or anyone that likes to pick up a quick bargain, or anyone who likes to wander around without knowing where they are going and I’ll definitely be visiting again but this time I guess I’d better pack a map!

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