The 6th of November was a dull and grey afternoon when we left for Istanbul ,Turkey.
It was our first time flying from the famous Terminal five, and I was quite looking forward to seeing this the most talked about place.
It is vast! The description said that it s the size of six football pitches. Not having seen a pitch, I had to take their word for it.
It has shops galore, various eating places and food shops and a duty free shop which did look like an unending pitch. I wandered in for a while , marvelling at the brand names I have never heard of . And when I spotted a hand bag by Christian Dior with a price tag of £ 12,340, I made a quick exit!
We took off on time. As we gained height, I could see a thick grey blanket of clouds covering our island and shimmering sunshine above. But I always feel a twinge of sadness leaving home. Even if am going towards sun and sand.
Our hotel was one of the boutique hotels, recommended by the “trip advisor” and also by one of the bloggers on this site, who comes from that country. A medium sized place with very traditional décor. Chandeliers seem to be very common in that country, everywhere you go they have the biggest and the brightest ones.!
The hotel was fine, apart from the fact that their best rooms, one of which was ours faced the back, which had the view of the sea, but a railway track ran quite close to the building. And obviously it was a very busy line. Trains thundered past every half and hour or so, all day and until the early hours of the night. There used to be a bit of respite and then it started again from six in the morning.
As you stepped out of the hotel, the cobbled path led us to the local bazaar. Row upon row of shops ,selling trinkets, carpets and jewellery. As soon as the shop keepers spotted visitors they will pounce with the selling hype and trailed you,
They will start by asking where are we from. And when replied ,will shake their heads in dismay and keep asking.
where we “Actually” from!
There is a lot to see. The Topakapi palace is magnificent. But the Harem is ,in my opinion a reminder of barbaric and unjust treatment of women. The word Harem means Private. Every Muslim household has this area for women.
But this Harem was slave women. As Islam forbade enslaving Muslim, the women of this harem had to be foreigners. Girls were bought from poor parents or were given as present by other rulers. Mostly from Cssia,north of the Caucasus Mountains from Russia.Ths was a place where the Sultan could engage in debauchery at will. (Murat the third did after all fathered 112 children.
I couldn’t bring myself to visit the place. I felt that the walls still bore the imprints of those women’s pain.
We were invited to a Turkish wedding. one of the blogger from here was the host. We were driven to and from the hotel to the little village. The family of the blogger and himself were extremely generous and hospitable to us. We were shown overwhelming kindness and generosity.
I found it hard that most of the shops and restaurants had no one who spoke good English. Communication was restricted.
Majority of women on the streets wear head scarves and traditional dresses. I was amazed at the lack of hair and beauty salons or any other grooming places. There were no chic boutiques or smart shops. Most of the merchandise was identical and cheap.
So we visited the site mostly on foot, and saw mosques (there are rather a lot of them), and took one organised tour of others. The palace where the worlds largest chandelier is, and the amassed riches of the Dolmabache palace. Where the interior was designed by the opera designer from Paris. Which probably explains the exaggerated theatricality of the interior!
And then it was time to come home. I always get a thrill when the plane starts its descent over London and I can see the shimmering land, embedded in greenery..
And then come home . Last night the silence was so welcome. And to wake up to bird song , rather than the train noise.
Ah bliss. It is good to be home.