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5th June – A Day At Sea Cruising To Istanbul

Got up early to go to the safety demo in the Marquee. We had to bring our lifejackets with us and try to put them on etc. (I had brought a dress with me – the same colour as these lifejackets (orange/grey – from Primark), that won’t be getting worn now!) Then we went to look at perfumes for sale and had breakfast at waterfront. All very nice except for the scrambled egg which was nasty – I wouldn’t mind but that was the one thing I was looking forward to. It looked like wallpaper paste……. We took Laura up to the Kids club “The Attic” so she could enrol. They are playing “Italian diner” today so we are to go back at 3.30pm for our pizza. Me and Paul watched a Bike Balancing show on the deck. I had my first cocktail (a pina colada) and I was congratulated by the entertainments team for being the only cocktail drinker!

We later went to Connexions and I had a salsa dance lesson. Good fun, I had to dance with a stranger though because obviously Paul wasn’t having any of it! No worries, I enjoyed it anyway.

Then back to room for a cuppa on the balcony.

Went to The Attic at 3.30 for our pizza. They did a really good job. Cakes, chips and allsorts. Laura was a drinks waitress.

Me and Paul had a look at the gym and decided to go up later but then we changed our minds because we were too lazy so we sat on the balcony and watched the ship going through the skinny narrow slipway to Istanbul. Laura called up with her new friend and announced that she had already taken tea, so me and Paul went to Plantation on our own. Had some lovely chowder followed by salad ham and veg. Back to room.

Then we went to the Marquee and watched a fella singing. He was called “Amazing Rae”, and was like every other lounge singer you have ever seen. . I had a banana type rum cocktail, ACE! Next up, there was a magician who was very good. A Cuban guy, cant remember his name. He got people up on stage and done some pretty cool tricks involving a woman’s diamond ring getting ground to powder! Laura came back to her room, joined us on the balcony and showed us her magic trick with her glowing fingers. Unfortunately, she nearly dropped them over the side of the boat and followed that performance by going back in the room where she managed to knock a pint of coke all over the table. Magical, I don’t think!!! I went to plantations for a coffee to escape the drama……. Run mum, run!

Came back and we had an early night. Went to sleep watching a film. I found my earplugs so I got a good nights sleep. Still heard Laura coughing through them, but they cut out the A/C noise thankfully.

6th June – Istanbul

Woke up bright and early to be down in line for “Discover Istanbul” meeting. Got issued with stickers that said C17. We had to wear these on our trip, just in case anyone did not know we were tourists! Later we would realise these stickers are actually “markers” to identify us as suckers, ready to be fleeced………………………

We all piled on the coach. Lovely and cool. Istanbul is such an exciting place. We drove over a big bridge which had literally hundreds of people fishing off it.

We all got off the bus and waddled along like a line of ducks behind our tour guide. She had a great big orange umbrella which came in handy because she was a very fast walker and quite difficult for some of us to keep up with! As soon as we got off the bus we had people trying to sell us pashminas and tour books for 5E, which was a bit rubbish because we did not have Euros with us, we had Turkish money! Damn. But luckily everywhere else took it.

First stop was a place called Sofia Palace, which I think was the 4th biggest cathedral in the world, but it was the first ever cathedral, that’s for sure. There was scaffolding through the inside but when you consider this building is 1500 years old it was in pretty good nick. Thee was a pigeon flying around inside it and everyone was watching it whilst getting ready to move in case it looked like it was going to poo (well, I was looking out for poo) The rep got tormented by a cat. I thought she was going to have freak out she obviously did not like cats, mind you these stray ones you would not know when they are going to attack. This was a weird church, it had Christian stuff and muslim things too. It also had public toilets that were 1500 years old as well I think. Haven’t smelled toilets like that since I was at Junior High School. Some of us girls were getting ready to faint. YUK

Over the road to the Blue Mosque. We were taken through the entrance and then made to turn back on ourselves so we could take a nice photo of where we had just been. You have to take off your shoes before you go in these places, and I was given a shawl to cover my shoulders. Blue mosque was gorgeous. It had lovely thick carpet, loads of low lights what in the past would have been candles but are now electric. This was a massive place, space for a few thousand people to pray, at the back there was a small room about the same size as my kitchen where women were allowed to pray………

The carpet in here was lovely and thick and springy – but someone on our trip had the smelliest feet! I had to keep moving away from it.. Another small drama was one of my ear-rings must have fallen out in here and it was quite a big crystal one. I hope some poor soul has not stood on it in his bare feet, it would really hurt. Imagine the headlines “bloodshed in mosque, catholic suspected”

Then we were taken en masse to the Hippodrome. I was unsure what this was meant to be. It looked just like a bit of grass in the middle of the street. There was a big metal snake statue without a head and a big Cleopatra’s needle type thing. We were allowed to go off for a walk. Found a little shop and got some Turkish sweets and biscuits and I got a lovely can of cherry pop. Lots more pashmina sales people here, but they were not in the slightest pushy which made a real change.

Bus then took us to the Grand Bazaar. This is the largest market in the world yet every store seemed to sell the same things, ie Aladdin lamps, rugs, bowls. There seemed to be a real push on the sale of leather jackets (apparently leather is considerably cheaper here). I could not walk past any of the shops without “Lady, you want to look at nice leather jackets!” Laura bought a sweet little bowl for her pot noodle. We got “lost” but I knew if we got out and kept turning left we would get back to where we were to begin with. Luckily, we soon came across the very first shop we seen so we knew we were okay! I went into this shop and bought 10L worth of stuff. Gave 20L, got 10 change. Then a few minutes later the lady gave me another 10L as change. I did not notice until I was half way down the road, but I was honest and went back to give her the 10L. Don’t want them thinking I have ripped them off – they might get me with one of those big swords. Laura managed to buy a bagel that was as big as her head – the guy did not speak English and she kept saying “is that a bagel” – whatever it was she got one anyway! Then we went and got beer, where I was encouraged to down mine in one. Did some haggling with a street dealer, got him down to half price! All great fun.

Back on the bus and back to the boat.


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