mardi 25 février 2014

Amsterdam and Istanbul

At last we have taken our much delayed honeymoon and we headed off on Thursday for Istanbul via Amsterdam. The weather alas was decidedly Devonian, but it was great to travel somewhere new.

Flight times had made a brief overnight stay in Amsterdam convenient and as luck would have it we also managed to pick up tickets to see Nederlands Dance Theatre who were performing in Amsterdam. We saw an early piece by Jiri Kylian, a premiere of new work by Geoke (which neither of us much liked) and a premiere of a new piece by Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, which I liked and Susie loved! She even managed to talk briefly to the choreographers who happened to be at the performance and sitting near us.

In the morning it was off to Istanbul. We'd booked the lovely Sultania Hotel, close to the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. We unashamedly did all the tourist sites and pampered ourselves.

The Hagia Sophia is immense and all the more impressive as it was built in 537AD.

The Blue Mosque is simply beautiful.

The Grand Bazaar was as you'd expect with lots of vendors hassling us for trade and the goods being a mishmash of quality items and nasty junk.

 We also visited the Spice Market (though there's not so many spice traders these days).

The Topkapi Palace is sumptuous and gives an insight into the luxurious life of the Sultans.

We walked across the Bosporus into Asia, though strangely the Asian side is very European whilst the European side is has many mosques and markets and the Sultan's Palace.

One evening we watched the religious ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes - who spun for 35 minutes in perfect synchronisation with each other (but not the beat of the music) despite having their eyes closed. In their religious trance they never became giddy - quite extraordinary.

We swam, had saunas, hammam and turkish massages at the Hotel, as well as dining on delicious turkish cuisine for breakfast and in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views of the city.

A long flight home and although a lovely sunset from the plane, is was the usual rain, wind and a very hairy landing at Bristol.

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