Don’t Miss This Splendid Tour


An inscription which means “I am the city of learning and Ali is its gate.”   Part of an exceptional collection of Islamic scripts we saw in the afternoon.

script2 The one above, a long elegant scroll, painfully detailed, is simply a land lease renewal.


But those are shots from the afternoon.  Here's one from the morning.


I stopped to take a picture of the mezzanine at the hotel; the original family were antique dealers. Their overflow stock was displayed here. Today, the shelves are mainly empty, but there is a clever and captivating outlook to the café below.

city garden

On our morning walk, on a busy street, I saw a long corridor and went down to have a look. In behind all the shops was a two plus acre garden, with rows of vegetables, a small orchard and chicken coops. In the middle of the city of 14 million!

The BBC predicted today would top 30; it was already 28 when we left the hotel. Despite the occasional cloud, with very little wind the heat was too much for another day on city pavement. We went down to the Bosphoros (the strait with a dozen spellings) and took a ferry towards the Black Sea. The breeze off the water was a life saver. We did a “hop on hop off” trip, $7 CDN all in per return, but only disembarked once, at Emirgan, a leafy burb about 20 km from the city centre. At the dock where we bought our tickets we were sternly warned not to miss this splendid tour.

 dol mosque

dol palace

The ferries left at a dock adjacent to the Dolmabahçe Mosque and Palace, where we'd been yesterday, so we got a good view of both from the water.

We passed some of the high end waterfront hotels, including the Shangri-La and enviable Four Seasons.

italian villa

In amongst the new builds were several sultanesque dwellings on the decline including an art nouveau summer house from 1903.

zeki pasha

The Zeki Pasha Palace, miserably situated underneath the Faith Sultan Mehmet Bridge was, according to Google, for sale in 2013 for 75 million pounds sterling. Makes Point Grey Road look cheap.

sail boat

An actual sail boat sailed by.

At Emirgan we went to the Sakip Sabanci Museum. The Sabanci family bought it from Princess Iffet Hassan in 1949, replete with her antiques. Sakip, the son, inherited it and lived in the home from 1975 until he bequeathed it to his namesake university. Now, some of the main rooms are preserved, but it’s mostly a modern art gallery in the lower levels, with historical treasures upstairs and lush, well manicured gardens sloping up from the sea.


The original entrance.


Sitting room.



Jasmine in bloom at the entrance.



Art in the garden.

The upstairs had the calligraphy exhibit.  The current downstairs  show is an uber modern retro of Heinz Mack, most of which had about as much appeal as a cubic zirconia necklace on HSN, but there was one installation, reflective steel in sand, which was (in artspeak) transformative and reductionist. Well, I’m making that up, but it was of interest to look at.



There is a spectacular Wallpaper-ish restaurant attached to the museum Müzedechanga. We had an exceptional lunch, far and away our best meal in Istanbul, although it certainly came with a price tag.

garden3 Exterior view of the restaurant.


This was the view left from our table at lunch...


...and this was our view right.


Some fried cheese with marinated zucchini and purslane as well as spicy sausage on hummus with baby greens.


Only one of us eats dessert you know.


Obama coaster.  Meaning was lost on me.

On the ferry home we hugged the Asian shore.

asian homes The homes on the Asian shore were more "typical" and generally older than the European side.

kucuksu kasri

 The Kucuksu Kasri Palace, an old country stop for the sultans, has a noticeable and precipitous slope to one side. Architectural fun fact: It was in The World is Not Enough (so, older than Pierce Brosnan, but just).

In the evening we went down into the arty boutiquey somewhat trendy streets below our hotel to a place called Peymane, which was in a listed heritage building with a private and lively courtyard.

peymane dinner

Our table was the empty one on the left.


"Melons for sale." Before we went in for dinner we saw a horse cart outside with a local selling fruit.

East is East

[caption id="attachment_4063" align="alignleft" width="900"]Sayanora Vancouver from the runway[/caption] Why are we flying Montréal Istanbul, a five hour flight and a nine hour flight with a four hour layover? The cryptic rules concerning how additional costs are levied. The sweetest part is that two biz class tickets on points cost us $41.60. Seriously. Nearly halfway around the world. It’s $450 in taxes and surcharges for one person to fly biz Vancouver to London. I just like to write that. [caption id="attachment_4053" align="aligncenter" width="250"]Good morning Good morning[/caption] The pointster bloggers write their trip reviews like this: AC150 J Class YVR to YUL, TK 036 C Class YUL to IST, with business being C, D, K, Z and J for whatever reason. They shoot the lounge, the aircraft exterior, the seat, the menu, the meal, the lot. The YVR domestic lounge, once the CP flagship, is I think nicer than their international space. It was brimful of Americans moaning about the Conservative convention and Vancouver’s weather; why were Americans voting at the Canadian Conservative convention? I couldn’t figure out the source of our flight, it had the pods as in overseas flights, but was showing signs of age, to say nothing of the flight crew... Breakfast, pancakes or an omelette, were no great shakes, nor was the reasonable facsimile of coffee, but they came through the cabin umpteen times with beverages and snacks. Jim Sinclair was sitting behind SS, not that I’d know; I guess that’s sort of like seeing Bernie Sanders up front. [caption id="attachment_4058" align="aligncenter" width="250"]Only in QC.  Even in Paris it's simply Starbucks. Only in QC. Even in Paris it's simply Starbucks.[/caption] In Montréal, using SS’s Fitbit we walked from one end of international to domestic and back, 3,000 steps, then took a lounge break, then repeated it. The international lounge had the Dolce and Gabbana touch. With departure past 10, though, we had to move on to the domestic lounge at 8:30 when the international wing shut down. How provincial is YUL? [caption id="attachment_4051" align="aligncenter" width="900"]The Star Alliance International Lounge at YUL The Star Alliance International Lounge at YUL[/caption]     [caption id="attachment_4056" align="aligncenter" width="900"]The very lonely domestic lounge at YUL The very lonely domestic lounge at YUL[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_4050" align="aligncenter" width="250"]Artemide floor lamp Artemide floor lamp[/caption] The Turkish Airlines flight was quite a trip. There is a chef on board replete with toque. Dinner is an amuse bouche, a drink with warm nuts, a salad or selection of mezze, soup, a main course. [caption id="attachment_4057" align="aligncenter" width="250"]mezze by candlelight Mezze by "candlelight" at 39,000 feet[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4060" align="alignright" width="225"]The "bed" they provide. The "bed" they provide.[/caption] By that time SS went to bed. I stayed up for the dessert cart which had a superb baklava and some rich fruit ice cream, among a wide selection of other treats. Then came the tea cart, samovars, black tea and coffee, herbal concoctions, etc. Plus more dessert. I got five hours of sleep, not bad. Woke up to a huge breakfast, really over the top, yogurt, fruit, muesli, juice, cheese, and I said no to the omelette! They gave us water and Godiva chocolates for landing. Plus the toiletries kit came in a leather Cerruti bag. Not bad. good morning Smooth disembarkation, bags were first on the carousel, no hold up in Customs. Then an hour and a half in a cab in traffic to the hotel; 21 kms in 1.5 hours, including, at the end, 500 meters in reverse up a cobblestone alley (as our hotel sits on a pedestrian boulevard).   We’re staying at a residence custom built in the Deco style over a century ago for an Italian antique dealer called Ravouna. Restored this century it now houses a coffee bar on the street level, eight suites, and a roof terrace. We have a nice room with a spectacular view towards Asia across the Bosporus. hotel room [caption id="attachment_4061" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Exception view from the room Exceptional view from the room looking southeast towards Asia[/caption] We were both exhausted but it was too early to crash so we wandered the Beyoglu neighbourhood; previously called Pera, as in “the other shore”; it does have the feel of Paris’s Left Bank, a few decades ago. With the sunset coming on we went up the Galata Tower, originally built by the Genoese as a dungeon for prisoners, where we watched the mosques across the water in the Sultanahmet neighbourhood light up in the dusk. [caption id="attachment_4052" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Dusk from the top of the Galata Tower, looking towards Sultanahmet Dusk from the top of the Galata Tower, looking towards Sultanahmet[/caption]