***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.