So, we leave Istanbul and the whole place erupts in a riot...
The Western media describes Istanbul as "simmering with tension in the days prior"... well, in the immortal words of Daffy... not according to this little black duck.
It is almost with disbelief that we viewed the Taksin Square footage of heavy police response and rioters bleeding. The Istanbul we encountered was calm, friendly, incredibly clean and welcoming.
If tensions were simmering, such attitudes were well hidden or we are mega unobservant.
Fortunate to have the company of our new friend Osman who provided local knowledge and canny ability to avoid the queues (most times) we saw an Istanbul that demanded one become ensnared by its charms. Having done all the major items on the must see list... Topkapi Sarayi, Blue Mosque, Ayasofya, the Spice Bazaar... we also hit the mosiac museum and then on the last morning, the surprise package... the Archaeo Logical Museum (sic) where one strolled through so many artifacts from the Byzantine era and more... all within touching distance, wthout ropes, glass and guards... or significant cost.
The back story to the development of the museum itself is a cracker. Once again, an individual (in the late 1800s) had the foresight and capacity to push through the bureaucracy and slap dash approach to curation and ensure that proper buildings and display processes were instigated (in a logical fashion perhaps...?) and laws passed to stop the marauding Brits and Yanks from digging up anything of value and spiriting it back to their respective countries... How about you return the Elgin Marbles to Greece Britain...?
Osman and Anne walk the square prior to the riots...
The 72 TL (Turkish Lire) 72 hour museum pass which provided access for us to Topkapi Palace, the Harem, the Mosiac Museum, the Archaeology Museum and Ayasofya proved to be good value for us.
But let us go back to the beginning of the Istanbul leg...
WIthin an hour of landing we were in a Hammami or Turkish Steam Bath, being steamed, loofa'd, soaped and soaked. Built in 1777... yes 1777... the experience left us wondering about who had preceded us and did they too leave with skin that was rejuvenated to the point where the analogy of the posterior of a new born comes to mind.
This experience revived the body from a long day of travel from Bangkok . "A long day" based on our aim to not fly more than 10 hours in any one leg. Our tix are a "code share" with Thai and Turkish Airlines ~ which once again has been voted "Best European Airline"...again We have no complaints about the quality of service, seats, food or checkin procedures.