Friday, April 22, 2011

Istanbul Day 1

My Mum is 84 years young and fit as a fiddle. "Maşallah," is the comment of my Turkish friends when they hear her age, she's still driving and plays golf twice a week, depending on the health of her golfing companions. She still loves to swim in the sea in summertime, in water temperatures that would make them wince here in Turkey!

She has not been to Turkey with us after her  first disastrous visit here six years ago. I tried to spoil her, she thought that I thought she was incapable because of her age. It was also in the extreme heat of August, and she wouldn't take a siesta in the midday heat because only "old" people lie down in the daytime.

 My friends here have heard so much about her and her "naughtiness" e.g. her road rage,. they were dying to meet this supermum. I also felt she would thrive on the attention. So last Christmas I suggested to my brothers that we would all chip in and buy her a ticket to Turkey as her Christmas present with a three day stopover in Istanbul to see the sites. They agreed, so I checked with her and she was delighted. The plan was to come for Easter, The weather would be warming up, but not too hot. Ideal for relaxing in the garden or going sightseeing.

For my sanity, I also suggested she bring a "little friend to play with" She gave this some thought and eventually invited Bee, a mere baby in her mid 70's.

For everyones sanity I'll skip the details of the week before we left, the problems of what she should pack etc. She had room to take the kitchen sink. Turkish Airlines give a very generous 30kg baggage allowance.
Finally on Friday evening, we set out for Bewleys Hotel at Dublin Airport where we were staying the night.
Early next morning we flew to Istanbul. All  went smoothly and  our pick up from the hotel was waiting for us.
The city is a riot of colour. Istanbul is awash with tulips, the Tulip Festival began on Saturday.  Many people associate tulips with Holland but common cultivation of the tulip began in the Ottoman Empire.

On arrival at the hotel the fun began. I had pushed the boat out and booked two suite rooms for us. Mum and Bee sharing out of necessity. They brought us upstairs and we discovered Mum and Bee had been given a normal twin room. It was very nice, spacious for a hotel of it's class but there was no jacuzzi or no balcony. The porter said there was only one suite room. I am elected to go back down to the desk to sort out the problem. I use the opportunity to practise my Turkish. We had booked the hotel on which said there were 5 suites but in fact the hotel website says there is only one.

We did a lot of talking. As it was Mum's first time in Istanbul I wanted them to have a room with a view and all the amenities. For Sean and I it was not so important. There was one obvious solution, switch rooms. Wait, too obvious. The suite had only the one bed and there was no way these ladies were going to sleep together!

But don't forget , we are in Turkey now. Nothing is a problem, everything can be sorted. Before you know it, we have reached an agreement. There is a sofa in the room, they will remove it and replace it with a bed. In addition to this they gave a substantial reduction on the other room price. Everything sorted! Yes, an hour to relax and then we would go out for a meal. First though, I wanted to place our extra cash in the room safe along with our passports. Oops, no key for the safe, back down to reception. Mindful of the fact I have begun an exercise programme I take the stairs. We are on the third floor. Halfway down I meet Bee's bed coming up. I guess I'm  not the poor porters favourite person at the moment.

I'm given the key to the safe deposit box and I'm told they'll send up the key for 401 when they locate it.
Guess what? Yes, you're right. The key didn't work. The lock is stuck in the locked position and won't turn with the key. Upstairs to the suite. I search the wardrobes for the box. There isn't one. Downstairs again.

What, it isn't working????? Surprise, surprise. Well it's Saturday evening so not a hope of getting it fixed. But there is a box in the managers office. I'm given the key to this. Back upstairs again. Get our belongings, downstairs once more. Julie will be pleased with me. I ignored the lift. If I can avoid chocolate now I'm on the pigs back. Time to put my feet up before we go to get a meal. Oh no! so much time spent running up and down the stairs, it is time to go out and get something to eat.

We walked up through the back streets to the centre of Sultanahmet and this is what we saw. Immediately our tiredness fell away as we looked in awe at the scene.

We have three days in this magical city.


  1. That is AWESOME Mary! I love the photos, and I felt like I was right beside you on those stairs! Can't wait for the next post.

  2. I loved to read this ! Women like your mother are my example ! Getting old like this is wonderful.
    My friend's mother 85 with her 81 year old girlfriend went last year on a round trip Israel, Jordan and Egypt ! They even visited Petra. The year before she was in Russia !

  3. I hope to have her drive and energy when I am her age. I already have her stubborness:-)

  4. I still love this post the second time around!
    ~cath xo

  5. Your Mum sounds like quite a formidable lady. Sorry to hear about all the back and forths at the hotel but if the city was anything like that last photo, it was certainly worth a visit. Magnificent.


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