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Seemingly oblivious of the long queue behind me the Turkish border guard gave me a midnight language lesson lasting a good 90seconds or so.

Result – got the Roman alphabet back.

8.30am and not a soul is stirring at the Blue Mosque.

8.45am roll in the tour busses! It’s an endless procession.

So much easier to learn Turkish than other languages on this trip, what with everyone chattering loud and clear.


I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again; Japanese tourists really do shame their nation when abroad.

How ever do people manage to answer the calls to prayer amid city life?

Istanbul sure has changed a lot since 2005… when my guide was published.

…case in point, “one of the city’s most subtly elegant mosques” is now a construction site.DSCN0673

…although another case in point “Istanbul’s Metro system is very much a work-in-progress.” Still is.

These Istanbuls sure know how to keep a guy fed.

The monosyllabic “thanks” is so much simpler to end on than “tesekkur ederim”. Nobody’s stayed still long enough for me to try it out yet.

There’s a touch of Muslim-style Disney magic tonight. Mosques and minarets brightly lit, parents buying kids candy floss and corn cobs, and there are a few characters to boot.

Brilliant Cai (chai).

I shall not be eating from street stalls: 1) chicken thighs, 2) heaps of rice, 3) steamed (allegedly) muscles.

C&A still going here.

No matter how many signs I see, I can’t seem to find the Otopark…

…oh wait, ‘Oto’ means car. That explains it.


Same cafe, same breakfast. But today I order in Turkish. He seems impressed!

Turkish brekkie is Boraki (a filled pastry), so there’s an easy one for the phrasebook.

“This 82carat diamond was once sold at market in exchange for three spoons.” And I bet those spoons didn’t even grow a beanstalk.

Will this lingerie street never end?!

I consistently spend only 20% of the LP recommended time on any one activity.

Barman shamelessly refilling his ‘Absolut’ bottles with cheap vodka.

How does anybody stand to live in the USA? Their accents grate so very much.

I must look Turkish. Touts aren’t talking to me, and waiters in touristy places keep addressing me in their own language. Am I that tanned?

Took the wrong boat, but what does it matter?

Why not install a Greenwich-style Europe/Asia line? It’d have to be in the sea, i guess. They could at least put up two massive signs.

Ramadan is an even more monumental achievement in this city full of kebabs and snacks.


Istanbul has 9.3m official population, 20m unofficial. People go home to villages during census to ensure their government funding… leaving Istanbul massively screwed.

Every time I enter any building there’s a metal detector. Every time I set it off. Not once has anybody checked why.

All that effort looking for dinner, and there’s a rooftop restaurant with first class views on top of my hostel.

I learned the word ‘welcome’ within a day of arriving in Turkey, because everyone says it so much. Isn’t that nice?

This is an absolutely first rate weekend-break destination.

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