Archives for category: Travel

Last month I was given the opportunity to tick kayaking off my Bucket List.

Now, as we all know, kayaking is simply a case of getting into a small boat and paddling in a straight line – easy huh?

Well, actually, no.

First you have to get in the ruddy thing and if your aim is to do this elegantly I suggest you just turn around and go home right now. I did manage to slither down into my seat in an undignified fashion without falling over purely because my instructor was holding on to the kayak. And then there’s the getting into the water bit….picture a beached whale trying to get to the water line…yep, that was me.

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And she’s off…and already going backwards

Anyway, finally we were off and this is where I paddle in a straight line right? Ha! Obviously years of swimming in a circle because I’ve got one ear bigger than the other had got me into bad habits and that’s all I did – I went round and round and round and round. I tried to pretend I just wanted to look at the scenery behind me but I don’t think anybody was fooled.

DSCN0652After a bit of ‘1 paddle with the right, 2 paddles with the left’ I did manage to go in a forward motion and got a fair distance away from shore and actually managed to enjoy myself.

Since this first attempt, I’ve been another two times and my straight lines are getting a little longer although I do still occasionally like to take a second look at the cliffs I’ve just passed.

DSCN0671The ‘fun’ of learning wasn’t over with that first session though – during the last one I got a bit too over-confident and decided to kayak in between some rocks. Unfortunately these rocks didn’t want a mere mortal getting too close and, as the rocks above me started to close in I did the one thing you should never do in a kayak – I leaned sideways…

Cough, cough, splutter, splutter, eurghhh, water in my nose, eyes, ears…hat floating off into the distance.

Yes, that’s right, I capsized.

It was horrible.

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Me infiltrating enemy lines

And nearly 3 weeks later I’m still suffering from a ear/sinus infection…those rocks really, really didn’t want me taking a closer look.

But I will not be beaten. As soon as I gain the hearing back in my big ear I’ll be back on the water and I’ll be coming to get you rocks…this fight isn’t over…

On the 8th April 2017 I got up early, and by that I mean really early. I had to be on a bus at 7am to meet the girls to start our second journey along another section of the Lycian Way. You may not think that 7am is particularly early but when the bus stop is a 45 minute walk away from where you live, and you’ve got a dog to walk before you leave, then, trust me, it’s early.

But I made it and the girls jumped on my bus so we could get to last time’s finish point, Faralya, and get walking.

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I guess I found Doctor Who’s first mode of transport!

Our aim was to get to Alinca which is all well and good but there’s no public transport from Alinca back to where we are, so we made a plan to go round in a circle and end up at Kabak where we could jump on a bus home. Luckily there are two different routes so we avoided the ‘oh I remember that stick’ scenario on our return journey.

We began by walking to Kabak, a nice easy stroll once you got over the first steep incline. We planned on ending the day’s walk at Kabak beach so, instead of going that far this time, we turned left and headed inland into a forest that most probably, somewhere, has a Magic Faraway Tree in it (that’s just aged me hasn’t it!).

The walk was varied, quite heart pumping in places but generally ok but, since the book we were using was written, Alinca itself had obviously been moved further away, a lot further away. There were a few times when we nearly turned back as the famous red roofs of Alinca weren’t showing their faces. We soldiered on though and I quite literally jumped up and down when I first saw a roof that was red. At last, we’d made it.

IMG_3001We stopped at the first cafe/restaurant we found, ordered drinks, and delved into our packed lunches like marooned sailors who hadn’t seen a meal for a week.

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Nothing like a healthy lunch, and this is nothing like a healthy lunch!

After a half hour of drinking in the spectacular scenery we started our journey back to Kabak. The first part is the same well trodden path but then you get to a fork in the road that takes you on the coastal path. All I can say is I’m glad we went down it rather than up or I never would have made it. It was a killer of an incline and I know I would have, in a very adult fashion, stamped my feet and refused to carry on unless someone carried me.

The highlight of doing the journey this way was that we ended on Kabak beach, a beach that still retains a slightly hippy vibe and even on days that have gorgeous weather doesn’t get too busy.

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Of course, the relief and happiness at reaching our destination was short lived when we realised that it was too early in the season for us to get the transfer from the beach to the road. Jeezzzz….if I’d had enough energy for that foot stamping this is when I would have done it. The walk up to the main road was practically vertical and made a lot worse by the fact that you could see most of the road rising in front of you. However, after a few complaints from all 3 of us, we made it and by this time we’d decided there was no way we were getting a bus. After a 25km walk we damn well deserved a cab which a local road worker very kindly called for us.

The cab took us as far as where the girls lived and I carried on by bus as, although my heart & legs wanted a cab all the way home, my bank account didn’t.

I eventually jumped off the bus about a 10 minute walk from my house and there, across the road, like a knight in shining armour, was my landlord just getting out of his car. He waved me over and told me to wait in the car and he’d take me home – I have never been so glad to see a man I have to regularly give money to.

Anyway, that was walk number 2 which covered parts 2 & 3 of the Lycian Way. Watch this space for the next installment.

 

A few weeks ago I, along with my sister, popped back to 1962 for a few days.

We didn’t go by DeLoean, hitch a ride in the TARDIS or slip through some sort of wormhole – we actually got there by, erm, ferry.

Ok, so I’ll confess, we didn’t actually go back in time but we did pop over to the Isle of Wight (a small island off the South Coast of the UK for those not in the know) and stayed at a caravan park for 3 nights. Not your ordinary caravan park though – this one was comprised of around 12 classic Airstreams. You know the ones – they look like silver bullets and nowadays you are more likely to find people selling hotdogs or deep fried donuts out of them.

20170430_094155We chose a 1962 Safari Airstream and what a little beauty she was. In estate agent speak she was ‘compact & bijou’ but she had everything you’d possibly need for a holiday. Well, apart from a loo which, if you don’t need one during a 3 night visit, you should probably go and see your doctor.

20170427_161513There were two double beds but one was a pull out and we were far too lazy to do that every day so, being the close sisters we are, we snuggled up in the permanent double bed. I guess we should just be grateful that neither of us were suffering from wind during the trip!

The bathroom didn’t have a loo but it did have a shower, absolutely perfect…for anyone under 3ft 8in tall! Luckily there was a shower and toilet block just across the other side of the field and nothing says ‘British’ quite as much as a girl walking across a field in shoes and a fleecy dressing gown at 8am.

The rest of the Airstream was kitted out in items befitting it’s original era, with lots of little cubby holes containing vintage crockery, books, games and the like.

Of course, we also explored the delights of the Isle of Wight over the next 4 days but that was just by chance as the real reason for going there was the sleeping accommodation which also resulted in me being able to cross off another item on my extensive Bucket List

If you are interested in checking out this unique caravanning opportunity, check out their website.

Oh and we went to the donkey sanctuary too which was pretty cool and this little guy seemed pleased to see us.

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Here’s a tip for you – if a friend has recently started hiking and asks you if you fancy going for a walk, think very carefully before you say yes…

Unfortunately I didn’t think it through and jumped at the chance. Fortunately, it turned out to be one of my better decisions and the beginning of a love affair with the Lycian Way in Turkey.

Luckily for me and my traveling companions, Carol & Clare, the start of the 509km Lycian Way trail is right on our doorstep and we took our first steps of a one day hike on the morning of 26th March 2017.

1 copyThe best way to describe the first part of the walk is ‘up’. Simple as that, ‘up’. In fact, probably more ‘up’ than I’ve ever been before. Of course being generally unfit and asthmatic (thank the Lord I’d already given up smoking!) I got about 30 minutes into the ‘up’ before I felt I was going to be quite violently sick. Slightly embarrassing seeing as I’m the youngest of the 3 of us but the girls were very gracious and patient and no finger pointing or laughing was involved.

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‘Up’, ‘Up’, and more ‘Up’

Any remaining breath a hiker might have during this stretch will have no doubt been taken away by the stunning coastal views.

2 copyAnyway, when I’d got over this feeling we trundled on and ‘up’ finally became ‘flat’ and not a minute too soon I have to say!

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Flat (finally!)

There was even a bit of ‘down’ which was bloody marvelous in my eyes.

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The girls demonstrating what ‘down’ looks like

We eventually stopped for a sarnie and then later on for cay (tea) and a ‘squat over a hole in the floor’ break before soldiering on to our final destination, Faralya, which marked the end of Section 1 of the Lycian Way.

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Made it! A quick refresher before our bus back home

There are loads of other things I could mention such as me thinking I saw an elephant (don’t ask) and meeting the largest Ukrainian biker any of us will probably ever meet but I think I’ll just finish off by saying that this 16km stroll taking 4.5 hours, is just the start…in fact we’ve already covered another 50km since we took these first steps but more about that next time…

 

That’s how the tour guide described my marriage prospects during my recent trip to Alaska with my mum. Luckily I like beards or the odds wouldn’t have even been that favourable.

It was mum’s 70th last year so she wanted to go somewhere different and as she isn’t hugely keen on the heat or foreign food Alaska seemed like a good choice.

The first thing that hit me when getting off the plane was the weather – after four months of searing heat in Turkey, the sight of drizzle and grey skies was a wonder to behold – for the first 2 days anyway!

p1070995So, what can I say about Alaska? It’s big, it’s roomy, it’s not highly populated, it’s a tad nippy and there’s lots of animals there that you wouldn’t invite to join you on the sofa.

The highlight for me was a visit to the husky kennels which has led to me becoming completely obsessed with the Iditarod (a 1,150 mile annual husky race across Alaska) so that’s my 50th birthday treat to myself sorted – no, not doing it (I’m not an idiot), but going to see the start of it in Anchorage. Did you know that not all Huskies are the typical fur laden, blue eyed dogs that you see on the big screen? No, me neither, but they come in all shapes and sizes, all of which are beautiful obviously.

I doubt any visit to Alaska is complete without a visit to Denali National Park – 6 million acres, 1 road. The Scottish Highlands on steroids. A 7 hour (yes, 7) bus tour only shows you a little bit of it. That 7 hours was made all the more joyful by the little baby who poo’d itself shortly after we got going (bless) – I’ve never been so glad I chose to sit at the front of the bus, and thank the lord for windows!

14388810_10154226901365141_1811242726_nOf course, the more comfortable way to see everything is on a glass roof domed train journey, watching the vastness go by as you tuck into a hearty breakfast then move on to smoothies (my mother is going to hate this picture!).

And, Alaska being Alaska, there were glaciers and icebergs to visit. Now that, I think it’s fair to say, was a pretty chilly day. Luckily though we were kept warm with clam chowder and, even more luckily, weren’t added to the ‘ships hitting icebergs’ statistics.

Speaking of ice, the icing on the cake was getting the opportunity to sit on Santa’s knee in September but if you are going to visit a town called North Pole you’d be very disappointed if it was Santa’less wouldn’t you?

p1080109All in all it was a pretty memorable trip and if you like wilderness then it’s definitely one to try.

As for me, well no bearded Alaskans caught my eye so I’ll have another look next time.

 

Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve been on here but, due to an unexpected change in my living arrangements, I now have a bit more time on my hands (isn’t it amazing how much time is spent picking up someone else’s underpants!).

One thing that has never and will never be on my Bucket List is diving. I’m asthmatic, I’m terrified of the thought of drowning, I can’t swim very well…so, what did I do in August? That’s right, I went diving…

My attempts at yoga in the last few years gave the opportunity to meet a young lady called Maria who, with her hubby, owns and runs a Diving Company here in Fethiye. Dolphin Diving to be exact. One day I was just walking past the dive boat and thought ‘ah bugger it, you only live once’ and found myself booking a ‘Try Dive’.

So, there I was on the day, crapping myself, nervously making conversation with the other divers, and convinced this was going to be my last day on earth.

After a beautiful journey to a small bay, and some basic instructions from Can (Maria’s rather dashing husband), I was sewn into a diving suit, strapped into the tanks and weighed down with a weight belt.

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Try Dive’s are really simple; you don’t have to learn about controlling anything except your breathing, the Dive Master holds your hand the whole time and all you have to do is flap your legs and look around.

The first dive was wonderful – so many fish, feeding the aforementioned fish, not drowning – you know, all that sort of stuff.

Second dive? Well, not quite so successful. Almost as soon as I got in the water I got water in my mask. I obediently did what Can taught me but forgot one crucial step and ended up with more water in my mask. So what did I do? Well, I did the thing any sane person would do, I panicked! But it was ok because my hero, Can, was there, calming me down, making sure I didn’t forget to breathe and before I knew it I was back on dry land (boat) relieving my journey into the deep.

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Will I do it again? I don’t know. Maybe. Possibly. Hmm, probably not. But I can at least say I’ve tried it and now go off and do something else that IS on the Bucket List.

 

I’ve recently spent an entire week with my mother in a confined space and, yes, we are still talking to each other.

Luckily this confined space had views, fresh air, cheesy cabarets, fridge magnet making classes and more food than you could possibly eat in a lifetime – yes, that’s right, we went on a cruise.

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Neither of us have been on a cruise before, or even fancied going on a cruise before, but we wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords and this, without doubt, is the best way to do it.

So, anyway, we trotted off to Tilbury (might as well start with a glamorous location huh) and boarded the MS Magellan along with approx 1,200 passengers and exactly 562 crew (133 of which were Ukrainian). We thought we’d splash out (excuse the pun) and get a cabin with a window – well, when I say ‘we’ I actually mean ‘mum’ as she paid for the whole thing – she’s a good girl.

After our first night at sea and a hearty breakfast we docked in Amsterdam and spent a very brief few hours tootling down the canals admiring the architecture and city life and marvelling at the fact that you can buy Cannabis stater kits at the flower market. I had to stop mum from buying one which now makes me wonder what on earth she gets up to when she’s on her own.

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We got back, had lunch, walked around the ship, had dinner, went to see the onboard cabaret, had some chocolate then went to bed and woke up on what was going to prove to be the longest day EVER…

It was the first of two days at sea. Now I can certainly see the appeal of a cruise for a lot of people but today was never ending for us. With neither of us wanting to participate in the aforementioned fridge magnet making class, with us both being a little too quiet and self conscious to take part in the quizzes and with mum not being able to read for more than 10 minutes without her eyes aching, we were left with little else to do. Luckily I had booked a spa treatment for myself and, of course, we had 3 meals to look forward to but the only other option open to us was to sleep so that’s what we did (we’ve both had a lot of practice after all).

Anyway, it all seemed worth it when we woke up the next morning in Norway and to possibly the most stunning scenery I’ve ever witnessed. My eyes actually hurt looking at it. We looked at the scenery from the boat, we looked at the scenery from a coach, we looked at the scenery on foot and we looked at the scenery from a train – which ever way you looked at it, it was beyond beautiful.

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After 3 days of starring wide eyed at mountains, lakes and waterfalls, we reached Bergen – a lovely city within walking distance of the port and a delight to walk around. But of course, our first trip was up to the top of a mountain to…you guessed it…look at the scenery.

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All too soon the holiday was over – apart from one more DAY AT SEA…oh dear god.

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But we made it, and after getting off the ship, catching a train to London, meeting a friend for lunch, catching a train to Gatwick, catching a plane to Turkey and getting a lift from the airport, I finally made it back to my own personal paradise In Fethiye.

And you know what, no matter how stunning or beautiful a place might be, there really is no place like home…

Every so often I like to write a little post about someone who has done the same as me – given up everything they’ve ever known and moved to a new country for a new beginning.

So when my friend, Sue, invited me to lunch I figured it was as good a time as any to have a chat with her about how she ended up here in Fethiye after spending most of her life in Alberta, Canada.

SueThe first thing I learnt about her is that when she invites you to lunch you say yes – and make sure you wear lose fitting clothes. There’s me strolling down to meet her at her home, expecting a sandwich, maybe some ice cream if I’m lucky but, blimey, how wrong I was. There on the table was a chef prepared meal including salad, a chicken thingy with mushrooms and cheese (not sure that’s the technical name for it but hey ho) and some chips in honour of my British upbringing.

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Anyway, after stuffing myself and getting away with gently suggesting I take a doggy bag home with me, we began the interview and this is what I found out…

Sue originally discovered Fethiye after being on holiday in Marmaris in September 2012, where a friend suggested a gulet trip that departed from Fethiye. She admits to being a bit reluctant but ended up falling in love with not only the area but the boating lifestyle. Soon afterwards she started looking at ways she could orchestrate a move here and how she could make a living legally.

Like most of us, myself included, it was a bit of a pipe dream but then tragedy struck and her house in Alberta completely burnt down on Christmas Day of 2012. Not only did Sue lose everything she owned, she also lost some of her beloved pets.

As if this wasn’t enough to persuade her it was time for a change, a few weeks later she suffered a series of detached retinas and lost a significant amount of vision in both eyes so couldn’t continue her Project Management career that she’d worked so hard to establish.

Now, at this point, I think a lot of us would have said ‘oh **** it’, settled down with a large bottle of vodka and locked ourselves away from the world.

Well, not our Sue, she saw this as the opportunity she had been waiting for – after all, aside from family and friends, what was there now to keep her in Canada – no home, no job, no pets, no nothing.

Of course, we can’t forget the issue of her not now being able to see particularly well. Before coming to Fethiye she had to have extensive operations that involved something like fluid being removed from her eyes and replaced with Freon gas (must admit I cringed and stopped listening at this point!), and a dreadfully long recovery which included many, many months of “face down” bed rest, starring at the carpet of the hotel where she had stayed since the house fire.

The upside of this was that it gave her time to consider her options – it was either that or watch Jeremy Kyle – and she came up with the idea of buying a gulet, living on it and offering week long cruises around the gorgeous coast of Turkey.

Swiftly moving on to January 2014 and we now find Sue the proud owner of the Neşko gulet thanks to a travel agent in Istanbul and his contacts who helped her find the boat. It wasn’t in great condition mind you. So with the help of some great Turkish friends she renovated the entire vessel, installed new bathrooms, air con, seating – you name it, it was replaced. The same friend introduced her to Kamil, who is now her Chef and she also employed a Captain, Master Sailor and a Cadette and on April 1st 2014 the gulet hit the water for the first time. It didn’t sink, which I think is always a good thing for a boat and they took their first paying passengers in May this year.

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The most popular cruise route, and Sue’s favourite, is the Blue Cruise from Fethiye to Kekova, where her guests have seen turtles, dolphins and colourful fish as well as some stunning scenery.

Of course she doesn’t quite know what she’ll be doing in the future but for now, sailing on the open seas and sharing this wonderful country with visitors from all over the world is enough to keep her smiling. And, let’s face it, when you think that a mere 17 months previously her whole life was a smouldering pile of ash, I reckon the girl’s done good.

If you’d like to know more about Sue’s gulet cruises you can visit her website or Facebook page.

Me? Well I’m hoping she’ll get so much business from this blog that I’ll get a free trip but, in the meantime, I’ll settle for another one of those chicken thingy’s…

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I’ve just returned from a 10 day trip to Edinburgh in Scotland, well Musselburgh to be exact, where I got to meet 972 members of my partner’s family. Well, that’s what it felt like anyway – they were bloody everywhere. He’d promised me that I’d only meet them in small groups so when, on our first day, I met 23 of them at a birthday party, I knew that our understanding of ‘small groups’ was a bit different.

Anyway, I survived the clan gathering (just) and, with Ronnie and his son, proceeded to explore the delights of Edinburgh and it’s deep, and sometimes dark, history. But the event I was looking forward to the most, probably one of the most famous traditions in Scotland, and an evening where I could openly ogle men’s legs, was the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The show started off with a marriage proposal – don’t panic, it wasn’t us – which was gleefully accepted and kicked the evening off on a high note.

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Then, after the compere welcomed visitors from all over the world, the festivities began with a, if I’m honest, rather lacklustre performance from the Maltese contingent. Luckily they’d started with the worst and the show just got better and better with performances from many different countries.

I saw Scottish men in skirts, Maori warriors in skirts, Zulu warriors in skirts…ohhh and some Marines…there may even have been some other guys in trousers too but I don’t remember them (ahem).

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P1040212 P1040190It was completely different to what I’d been expecting. I’d steeled myself to spend 90 minutes listening to bagpipes, which I think we can agree, isn’t always the most restful listening experience in the world, but instead we were subjected to sights and sounds from all over the world. And, not only that, I became mesmerised with Edinburgh Castle itself which changed appearance every few minutes. In fact, if I’m honest, I probably spent more time looking at the Castle than I did at the performers.

Here’s just some of the ‘faces’ of the Castle:

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Finally the night came to an end with a haunting performance from a loan piper standing on the walls of the Castle and then we all filtered out, in a very British manner, feeling like we’d shared a very momentus occasion. The only person who obviously didn’t feel that way was the geezer shouting out of his window down the street, complaining about the noise. Ha! Well that’ll teach you to stay in a hostel on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Festival you dipweed.

Anyway, to finish, here’s a little snippet of the grand finale. Don’t judge me, I’m no Steven Spielberg…

 

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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