Ah! Just came back from a lovely dinner in a very local place in Asia; amazing how far 50p will take you in Istanbul.
So far my impression of Istanbul is very good. It's most definitely a dramatic city, buzzing, vibrant, historic, crumbling; and I feel just a little uncomfortable - it's been quite a while since I've felt that in a new place, and it's a bit intoxicating.
Our hotel's in a great location - we're literally a five-minute walk from the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque. Five times a day we are greeted with competing calls to prayer, which is exotic and exhilarating, apart from the sunrise call, which is just unforgivable. Last night we had a really great dinner at a place called 360 which overlooks the city. I was forewarned about this, but it was still odd - you have to go up past several floors of apartments to get to the restaurants and bars (there were a couple). And the entry of the building belies the existence of commercial premises above, so you feel like you are just tromping through someone's lobby.
Side story: when we got on the plane there was a lady wailing, rather loudly and uncomfortably. The flight staff then explained to use that she was being deported and was not happy to go, but there was appropriate personnel accompanying her, so we need not worry. An auspicious start...
Tonight we're venturing to the bars, which I alternately hear are totally safe or not. I might get pick pocketed - how very exotic indeed!
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