Sights seen in Istanbul so far…

A report for friends and family from Istanbul.  Some sights seen in the last 36 hours…

A packed American Airlines 777 coach cabin with static through the audio system connector rendering the fancy multi-channel video system unusable.  A Danish novel called the Exception that got a great review in New Yorker magazine but that I can’t appreciate (all about office politics).  Lines long enough for the interterminal buses and security at Heathrow that it took more than one hour to get to the gate for our next flight (connecting through Heathrow almost always involves a terminal change and going through security again; it is actually not very different in time and hassle than flying into LGA and flying out of JFK, which nobody would consider doing).

Duty-free Haribo Tropifruit at IST, Oya’s smiling face, heavy traffic, the continent of Asia underneath our wheels at the other end of the bridge, a 50-lira note disappearing in exchange for a bottle of red wine and a Diet Coke at a convenience store (i.e., the wine was nearly $40), a view of shipping in the Bosphorus from Oya’s terrace, and a delicious cooked-by-the-household-staff meal topped off by baklava made with olive oil.

Mallory wandering down from bed at 11.  Breakfast of bread, tomatoes, olives, fresh basil, and olive oil.  A 1-hour trip downtown to Sultanahmet through heavy traffic (this city desperately needs congestion pricing).  The Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and a museum of beautifully restored mosaics from Justinian’s palace.  A $40 fast food lunch at the palace.  Views of the full moon rising over the city from the ferry boat taking us back up the Bosphorus.  The ferry barman returning 90% of the money that I mistakenly tried to give him for a bottle of water.  A girl in a tracksuit wearing headphones bringing a cigarette to her lips, the ferry waiter lighting it for her, and she cheerfully smoking it…. all right underneath a “no smoking” sign on the upper outdoor deck of the boat. A business guy in a gray suit helping us figure out which stop to get off at.  Oya’s driver meeting us at the ferry dock.  Another home-cooked meal.

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