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Driving from the airport to the city in Istanbul was very ‘special’ as the spring bulbs and blossom gave us the most wonderful welcome. The sky was cloud free and the temperature was crisp and fresh. My last visit to Turkey was 8 years ago and the city has transformed itself in that time for the better but the old is still the highlights for me. Istanbul is one of the biggest cities in the world with a population of 22million in the wider area. 5 million people travel into Istanbul every day which means they have an extremely modern and efficient train/tram system which is new. Of course having the Bosphorus at their doorstep they have a very modern ferry service which is also efficient. There are several huge bridges that link Europe with Asia. With all these locals coming and going plus the million or so tourist coming and going I was so impressed with the fantastic city. We did a huge amount of walking and always felt very safe. The tourist areas were very efficient in moving the tourist through.

Highlights – Blue Mosque, St Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome, Byzantine Church, Basilica Cistern, Kariye Museum and strangely
enough I looked forward to the Mosque call at 10 to 5 each morning. Really made me feel I was somewhere special.Loved the Turkish coffee, pomegranate tea, sampled too much of the Turkish delight, window shopped for jewellery, silky leather jackets and magnificent carpets. We wondered through the Grand Bazaar and its 3,000 covered shops until we got lost and
had to find our way back to gate 1 the meeting point. Our group enjoyed learning some of the language and were
always appreciated when they tried new words on the locals.
Merhaba – Hi
Allahaismarladik - goodbye
Cok fazla - Too much money (the men on the groups favourite)

To me Istanbul rates high as a modern European City but still fascinated me with its history and incredible architecture.

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