14. Apr, 2016

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FRIDAY 24-4-15

We woke to a lovely sunny morning, and having scrubbed up I noticed our neighbour Reece and Norma's habitation door open and so I popped across with a slab of traditional creamy English toffee as a treat. I don't normally buy much of that sort of thing these days but felt in the need of 'comfort sucks' for the journey down here. Shortly before setting out (it was fairly early as we were making a special effort - this is Topkapi Palace day) Reece popped over to invite us over for a drink at 18:00. I thanked him and said that would be very nice and would indeed do so should we be about. After our 45 minute walk to the tourist hotspots we made our way to the Topkapi Palace Museum. Rosina had already visited it many moons ago, but on that visit hadn't paid the extra to visit the harem, so that was on the 'must do' list. We joined yet another long queue, passing through X-Ray scanning whilst the operator caught up on his mobile phone texts or something. I think it was at this point that I announced that I was joining no further long queues whilst I'm here.

We had a nice wander round the complex including the terraces which offered nice views out across the Bosphorus Strait and the Asian side of the city.

The Chef then announced that she would like to look in The Treasury, which involved another long queue; I told her I'd be sitting on the wall waiting for her when she came out.

I appeared to have picked the spot where large organised groups met up. I was joined on the wall by a few people clearly waiting for the rest if their group to return. They were on a cruise onboard the 'Saga Sapphire', moored in the harbour.  One of the chaps there passed a remark to a fellow passenger about the last time he was here was on 'Minerva'. I took that to be HMS Minerva, a frigate I believe, in the 70's, long since turned in to razor blades. Sadly there wasn't time to strike up any conversation with him as their tour guide returned holding an open pink umbrella. I asked them if they were on the ‘Mary Poppins’ tour and they had to embarrassingly confess they were.

After they disappeared I felt a bit sorry for the poor chap who I assumed was an ex-sailor. Probably the last time he was here, he was young and fit and off ashore to sink many pints of local beer and hoping he could stay upright long enough to get back to the ship before the Naval Shore Patrol got their hands on him. Right now he was probably sat on the shuttle bus waiting for fellow passenger’s wheelchairs, crutches and zimmer frames to be loaded in the baggage hold before being taken back for lunch, after which they would have the choice of an afternoon nap, or attending interesting talks and workshops.  On offer are perhaps 'Bendy Art' where instead of twisting blown-up balloons to make different shapes they use catheter tubes, presentations such as 'Dementia - Five useful tips to remember' and  'Flower Arranging - make your own wreath'. Oh how that poor ex-matelot must have sat on that bus mourning the loss of those younger days. But hats off to all of them, they have my respect, they're out and about, making the very best of what opportunities they have in their remaining years.

The Chef returned from her look around The Treasury soon afterwards and we continued wandering. Then she popped in to another area, and on exiting told me that on display was a piece of dried bread remaining from the biblical feeding of the 5000 with the loaves and fishes, and a saucepan belonging to a prophet. Well you can't call them liars can you? But if I were in the middle of nowhere and somebody gave me a piece of bread when I was very hungry, I don't think I'd hang on to it hoping that one day somebody would create something called a museum where I could have it put on display. And as for the saucepan, well, it's probably part of a stainless steel set of three which stack inside one another, and two other museums have the rest of the set.

Then it was off to the Spice Market. My word what a busy place. It was very similar to the Grand Bazaar except that it specialised in all things food. We didn't stay in there too long as there was a real risk of crushing, everybody was pushing and shoving yet were going nowhere.

Once out I noticed a stall selling all kinds of nuts. I was seriously considering treating myself to a load of cashew nuts until I watched the store holder scoop up some nuts and invite passing people to try them before tossing the remainder back on the pile. I then remembered the tests they carried out on pub bar nibbles enjoyed by those who don't always wash their hands having 'been'. That was it - no nuts today.

We returned 'home' the easy way. Intending to walk as usual we spotted the metro underground station entrance. Two tickets purchased and we were back having travelled just one short stop. This allowed us to arrive home at about 17:00, in time to get straight and get over to Reece and Norma's. They were a lovely couple and were retired farmers from South Africa. It was very interesting to listen to their tales and discuss with them all manner of things. They told us they stored their motorhome at their sons' house in England where they would come to pick it up on their 6 month visas. Having collected it they drove off in to the sunset each year for those six months. It seemed a very interesting lifestyle.

They had come to Istanbul via Italy, crossing the Aegean Sea then driving through Greece. Huh! That's the easy way; anybody could do that (now I wish we had). That was when he told me how bad things seemed to be in Greece including the roads.

He was telling us that he was getting pain in his abdominal area (he'd had major heart surgery, bypasses etc in the past) and had arranged to talk to a friend of a friend who was a Gynaecologist via Skype, that took place whilst we were there but it didn't seem of much help to him, not surprising really given the guys speciality, so I asked him if he'd checked his GTN spray. He was certain he had, he'd bought a new one. On checking it found that he'd bought the wrong one with him, this one had expired in 2012. So with some advice on what to do next I closed my surgery, thanked them and left as they were going out later on to visit his sons’ former children's nanny. He told us that they may be gone in the morning, intending to set off at 05:00 heading deeper in to Turkey. We wished them well.

As we'd already eaten a kebab knowing we would be eating quite late this evening, a meal of sautéed potatoes, ham and beans was most welcomed. This was followed by the first half of the Gallipoli documentary DVD I had bought in the UK to brief us on the background of the campaign before we visited the area.