Istanbul – some observations

DSCF0112I’m enjoying a very short sojourn in Istanbul. We are staying in a hotel located in the shadow of the Blue Mosque looking out onto the Mamara Sea into which flows the Bosphorus.The district is called Sultanahmet. It is connected to Taksim Square, another centre of interest, by a modern tramway. Our hotel is the newly-built Magnaura Palace Hotel. Extraordinary place. The breakfast room is on the roof with a fabulous view. Would recommend.

February is optimal in terms of travel and hotel deals, if not the weather. It has rained today and the temperature is around 8 degrees. As one might expect, there are a lot of very friendly people, largely men. The desire to sell is high. There are also large populations of feral dogs and cats.

Eating is very easy for vegetarians. Vegetable casseroles and Kebaps are ubiquitous and come in at about 20 Turkish Lira (about 8 pounds). The wine is excellent. In particular we enjoyed Yakut. We’ve also tried some of the Turkish dark beer, EFES. At 6 per cent proof, it is strong. But it has lots of flavour.

Tipping is expected at 10 per cent. Service is, however, to a very high standard. There are a few well maintained and clean public toilets. Charges were 1 Lira – about 35 UK pence.

Picture – Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 28 February 2012

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