Friday, 25 May 2012

A trip to Istanbul

The view from the restaurant (no windows!)
Bingo, a freebie with work to Istanbul, a couple of days away, hard work but somewhere I've never been before. Do I know anything about Turkey? Well I went on holiday there in 1995, it was hot, the waiter in the hotels name was Elvis, we went to Ephasis, an old ruin Roman city and spent an ace day on a boat drinking and diving into the sea.

Was this likely to occur in Istanbul on a work trip, no.

So did I have any preconceptions, well I had been told that it was a nightmare to drive around, it's a developing country and the city is massively populated, 18 million unofficially. So in my mind I was expecting Istanbul to be like Calcutta. I was wrong, landing after a 4 hour flight I needed. visa for £10, walking towards the visa sign there was a massive massive queue. I was not overly impressed, but a little local knowledge led me passed the queue to the other end of the airport where there was a bank of 3 windows with old ladies in doling out visas (no significant signs) and no queues, bingo!

Out and into a taxi and the slow journey from the European side of the city across the Asian side, across the Bosphorus, having passed the Galatasaray stadium (really impressive) and the river was beautiful, the island where Octopussy was filmed is on there Pparently, plus a well preserved castle.

Arriving at the hotel, the journey not being too bad, it was typical European, Standard, really nice, stood on the top of a really impressive new shopping arcade, the venue for tea, wandering round we a kebab restaurant was picked and we had lots of bits and bobs, whilst being watched by the waiter. We had mini pizzas, salad filled with pomegranate juice, a massive puffed up bread, some fries, and then kebabs. Mixed kebabs, and I've no idea what was in them, but they were some of the tastiest meats ever, with a bit of a kick to them. Sadly as the asian side is a Muslim country it's dry, and as a result no alcohol, a bit like the no alcohol in the Jack Daniels distillery, another fun trip in the states. So we quelled the kick with 7 up. Then a wander round the resort, lovely weather but cold for the locals who were wrapped up whilst we were in our shirt sleeves.

Hotel bar, and a few local beers in a typical bar like Cheers off the tv and bed.

Next day was work, round the factory, nice new build, lovely people, power outs 3 times in the day, bizarre fruit at lunch called Eric's. They look like a little green apple, have a stone in the middle, are a bit plummy, but nice, I'd buy them if they had them in Sainsburies. The other Fun bit at lunch was sitting in between everyone who talked Turkish over the top of me, while I smiled like a tourist.

Really friendly people who offered to take us for dinner, the question was simply do I like meat or fish, well not a big fan of fish so I said truthfully meat. They were very polite, took me to a nice restaurant by the side of the sea, in a street of wonderful fish restaurants and one meat one, serving the same kebabs as I had had the day before. Great setting though, open fronted which was interesting when the sky's opened for. Monsoon type 2 minute shower.

Back to the hotel, more Cheers beers (accompanied by a lady playing the harp who i wanted to ask if she knew wake me up before you go go but didnt have the bottle), bed and up for the crack of dawn flight. Fags from duty free (I think I may have bought too many and smuggled for the mother in law) and some Turkish delight with pistachio nuts. Flight home and then work in Brum which ended with a Day getting up at 3am and being with clients until 6. Knackered.

So my overall impression of Istanbul, didn't see enough but what I saw was a modern, European, thriving City, and a great free trip. Who said works dull in the profession of accountancy.

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