We set out early for a reconnaissance mission to locate our new hotel without our luggage. We found that it was just five minutes away and that our room was available immediately. Great stuff.
We then returned to the original hotel for breakfast and to consolidate the baggage. Our fellow travellers were busy with hectic plans for the day as they will all leave, either for home or for adventures new, over the next few days. After completing our first delivery of baggage (which does not bode well for getting stuff home!) we set out for the second time with Wendy and Sarah as we had decided to stroll to the spice market with them prior to making the most of the sunny day to do a boat trip down the Bospherous.
Although there are signs of the spice stalls being taken over by other elements, it is still pretty impressive and I could have lost Keith there for days!! When we emerged at the other end we just had to cross the road to board our boat, the timing was perfect. It is a very popular thing to do so the boat was crowded, but it was very pleasant, if a little rocky where the tides meet. A number of cruise ships were berthed across the river – apparently they totally eclipse the view from the new art gallery on the waterside where they are docked. It must be very frustrating!
After our little cruise, we decided to take the advice of the guidebook and have lunch by the riverside at one of what Keith declared as ‘the best fast food ever’! Three exotic boats were moored by the river. Immediately in front of each boat were small primary school sized chairs and tables. Rather remarkably, on nearly every child sized stool sits a full sized adult tucking into hot mackerel sandwiches. We joined the diners. The sandwiches were delicious and the system very effective. People purchase their food, eat it and, given that the sitting area is not very comfortable for a long sit, get up and walk away. A team of young men efficiently literally sweep away the debris and another set of eaters take over the table. Genius!
We then strolled back to the hotel and had a luxurious siesta before returning to the hotel of our chums to have a pre dinner last drink before our last supper. Simon and Emma joined us and they had put together a slide show of the trip from their photographs. It was great – we remembered, we laughed, we hooted – such a rich tapestry of events.
In high spirits we set off for our last meal together. We shared our individual highs and lows, the fun, our original chaos and marvelled at our later slick handling of truck lunches and camping. We were told we were a good group to be with – but I guess they say that to all the groups! We thanked Emma and Simon for their contribution to what has been the most wonderful experience.
You take your ingredients – a group of people from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England and for a short time Holland. You throw them together and sit them in a metal container for hours on end, throw in a lot of experiences, some challenges, add laughter and the occasional tear. You heat them up, then expose them to cold and what do you get? A group of very happy people who have shared so much, learnt a lot (not least from and about each other) and arrived at the end wiser, a bit sad to part but with a shared treasured memory that will never be forgotten……..
25th October, Istanbul.