Today we went to the Grand Bazar with Linda and Michael and it reminded me of both "the Pottery Factory" in Williamsburg, Gongbei in Zhuhai and Filene’s Basement so you get the idea.  Except there were fewer bargains to be had.  It was really a tourist destination so we just walked through and that’s about it.  Linda and Michael bought a small, bronze whirling dervish.  I was tempted to by a smaller one but the price didn’t tempt me so I skipped it.  My souvenir will be the books I’ve bought.  One is actually by Mary Lee Settle who lived many years in Charlottesville, VA.  She spent a great deal of time in Turkey and her book Turkish Reflections is teaching me about Turkey in a very entertaining way.  I also bought a murder mystery set in Istanbul, Belshazzar’s Daughter by Brit Barbara Nadel who has spent lots of time here too.  The owner of the bookshop more about him later, recommended both.  His comment about Barbara Nadel was that she was, through her writing,  killing off all of the men in Istanbul.  We will stay here in Istanbul three more nights and then take the train to Izmir working our way south to Marmaris.  Today was cold and rainy but I don’t miss the tropical heat.  I just didn’t put on enough layers!



Emirates Airlines has the best airplane food and some of the nicest staff. 

On our flight from Dubai to Istanbul we had the middle two seats in row 40.  There were 41 rows so we were just about as far back as you could get and still be on the plane.  The flight was delayed as the staff worked to get a family with 2 young children 4 seats together.  That took about 40 minutes because several people had to be juggled around.  The plane was just about full.  One of our row-mates was a young man in his early 30s.  I’m guessing his age based on his 4 years of college basketball and 12 years in the Professional Turkish Basketball Association.  We started to chat when I gave him my dessert.  He gave Randal a cigarette lighter from South Africa where he had been for 6 months studying English.  Randal and I were wondering how he got the lighter on board.  Jennifer from Mustang had bought water in the airport in Male and that was taken from her before she could board but Stu from Heartsong had a small bottle he’d filled with rum and he boarded with that.  But now one stopped Randal and his boots glued with sikaflex so that was good.  And I talked a mile a minute at the immigration desk about our expired visa but our 7 day crew check-out stamp and how Ibrahim at Immigration had told me over the phone that we had until Friday to leave that the official at the desk just shook his head and stamped our passports out.  I slept during the first flight and then some at the Dubai airport during our 6 hour layover.  We were lucky enough to find some chaise lounge chairs so could stretch out and sleep.  They also had wifi so I could finish downloading my 300 email to the Outlook on this little Acer.   I couldn’t find a way to avoid that but now it’s all caught up and seems to be working fine.


Turkish has its won phonetic rules and I still stumble through the 5 syllables that make up the two words of “thank you.”


We found the white sign that said Randal and Ruth Johnson and were then driven the 40 minutes from Ataturk Airport to our hotel.  We were given water and cake to eat during our ride.  I stored my cake with the cheese and crackers saved from the airline meals.  All came in handy the next day when we toured around until our lunch at 2:30.


NAZ Wooden House Inn our first hotel of Istanbul.

We had booked a room for several nights at the Deniz House Hotel in the Sultanahmet area but had to keep changing our arrival dates as our loading plans kept changing  Being as gracious as most Turks we’ve met seem to be, the  Deniz House Hotel was quite kind and worked with us.  Our fist actual night in Istanbul they were booked so found a room for us at a ‘sister hotel” for 30 Euros more than the 40 Euros we had contracted originally. We are now in “the high season,” so it was not to be helped.  The hotel was quite amazing and the breakfast wonderful.  Our second and third nights were at the Deniz House Inn for the originally agreed upon 40 Euro rate though we had moved into high season and ANZAC days. Istanbul is not far from Gallipoli and thousands of Australians, New Zealanders, and Turks come to honor those many thousands of men killed there during World War One.  Events there take place April 25th.   But, if we had continued to stay we would have had to pay 80 Euros per night.  So now we are at the Akdeniz Otel Hamam very close to the Blue Mosque, the tram line, and lots of restaurants and book shops.  The NAZ Wooden House Inn will certainly be my favorite.

The “wooden part” of NAZ Wooden House Inn is 130 years old. When it was built walls and archways from the 8th century Byzantine Empire and latter Ottoman Empire were incorporated into the architecture.  On the roof terrace we had a view of the Sea of Marmara and the Blue Mosque.  “During their golden time rich lived in these wooden houses as they preferred living close to the big mosque.  The houses were built to compete with one another and each had a distinct sense of architecture and artistic decoration.”



The front door and walls are wood as you can see.


The lobby and the spiral staircase leading up the 3 flights to the roof terrace where breakfast was served.


Looking at the door to our room you can see the Byzantine arches.


The corner of the room had a small frig.


Looking out the window you can see tracks used once upon a time by the Orient Express.  Trains still use it and go day and night but I didn’t hear them during the night because I slept so well.

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Several different kinds of breads and cakes as well as goat cheeses, yogurt, dried fruits, vegetables, olives, eggs…..I ate the yogurt and added some of the jams and then toasted some of the plain brown bread and had the slightly salty goat cheese with some of the cherry or strawberry jam.  It was so much food and all wonderful.  Our current hotel doesn’t include breakfast, but has an electric kettle and tea or coffee.  I’m actually looking forward to not having all that food to tempt me.  I feel as if I’ve gained 5 lbs since we’ve been here.   So much for the Mediterranean diet.

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A huge rope tacked down is used as a speed bump.  Many of the streets in Istanbul are made of these blocks which don’t get slick in the rain like the tiles in Puteri Harbor.  A building from the 1500s…..


Hotel # 2 though we were in the B section.


Our room was roomy, the Internet was fast and free and breakfast was wonderful.  But our room faced the road and was just behind the reception desk so could be a bit noisy early in the evening.

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Our first meal was light after eating oddly throughout our flights and layover.  I had “mountain salad” which was like tabouli.  Randal had a green salad with chicken and they gave us enough bread for 2 really, really hungry people.  We couldn’t even finish the salads.  We also had our first glass of hot apple tea which is like hot cider.  This one came pre-sugared but it isn’t always served that way.  The painting is of the whirling dervishes. 


Lots of cats about and all look well fed and healthy.  Each morning we have passed by this spot cat food as been put out on the newspapers for the cats.

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Ruth and Randal

Boston Red Sox hat travels the world.