Tuesday, June 10, 2008

...ain't nobody's business but the... er...

***Grandparent Warning: Non-Traditional Post Alert... almost no news about the spud... nothing to see here... move along, move along***

I am posting from the exotic confines of a zero-star hotel room in Istanbul. I'm here on business for two days which is absolutely not exotic or fabulous in any way despite my high hopes.

It all started off well, if you don't count the hour flight delay, as I was met by my client's driver in a Jag and whisked through downtown Istanbul at breakneck speed to be handed over to a swish hotel lobby. I was feeling all smug and under-dressed until I was led to my room. Via the cellar.

I will leave to your imagination the state of things in Sparx central and furnish you only with the following words: dirty, small, scuffed, 70s. At least the pillows are new and the sheets clean.

I do feel very provincial having never been here before... and with no visits to the old town, to the bazaar or any palaces, to Hagia Sophia or the museums, I am not doing it justice. What I've seen is 100% from the taxi window and very much airport-traffic-hotel-traffic-office. Like a bad wine tasting... "I'm getting hints of the Vancouver airport area... is that an undernote of Paris? Oh, it's redolent of Tunis and... perhaps just a zip of Brussels?"

Modern highways, hotels and highrises give way to run-down 70s apartment buildings patched with character and hung with laundry; between them hide the odd deco or even nouveau buildings, often just husks. Some streets seem completely sterile while others have so many shops and businesses packed into them that there is nowhere safe to look, but I love how scaffolding here is covered in planks of wood so buildings under construction look like big old pirate ships about to sail into the street.

The one thing I hadn't realised is just how enormous Istanbul is - 17 million people and the third largest city in the world apparently. Shame that all I can think about is that 'They Might be Giant's remake of 'Istanbul not Constantinople'

This evening I went for a walk and while I didn't make it across to the old town, at 9pm the streets were packed with people doing what looks suspiciously like the Spanish promenade - walking slowly around, sampling dishes from stalls, talking, laughing, racing their engines. I ate a small meze and on the way home bought some lovely ripe, sweet cherries so that I don't have to repeat my experience of the hotel breakfast table.Sadly though it is no great culture shock to be here: I finished off my evening, cherries in hand, walking past the starbucks near the hotel.

Home tomorrow to see my little menagerie. I spoke to the spudlet on the phone today and all he did was give it back to his father. Sigh.



Anonymous said...

Don't feel ashamed. Our trip to Istanbul last year had only one track in my mental sound track, too. But, that's nobody's business but the Turk's...

Shame you haven't had more time. That city is quite an experience.

Anonymous said...

When I was smaller I used to go on business trips with my mum a lot. Apparently when we were in Brussels I asked her if we were in Birmingham - that shows how much we went out of the hotel, doesn't it? I think actually (shock, horror) buying things locally kind of counts. Doesn't it? Ok, well, you took pictures. That definitely counts.

Jen said...

That is really a shame you won't be able to see more. I love to travel, and experience different cultures, and often the people you meet are so fascinating! Sorry your accomodations aren't ideal. I'm sure the spud is missing you!

DJ Kirkby said...

Starbucks...lol! Also lol to the Vanc airport wine tasting experience...that brought back memories...of the stupid airposrt tax! No idea why that popped into my head but it never fails to piss me off when I have to pay it!

Michelle said...

I know that song! How fun for you to be traveling. Being away just makes going back home that much sweeter.

girl with the mask said...

... what more do you need other than clean sheets?!

Sparx said...

Jennie - glad it's not just me! Yes, would love to go back, it's an amazing place.

Raz - you mean, actually purchasing something outside of the airport? Is it possible?? Heh heh... Maybe next time...

Jen - It was my first time not actually being a tourist and able to do what I please in a new place. Not great, to be honest, but worth it for what it was.

DJ - you know, I had a conversation in the airport about the Vancouver airport tax and how much I hate it too - and the Canadian behind me says that it's now included in your ticket... for the life of me I can't remember and I was only just there. Must be or I'd still be seething...

Michelle - you are so right! I'm very happy to be back.

Girl - you are so right, which is why I didn't complain to my client and get an upgrade. So long as I don't wake up with bug bites, all is good!

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