I think I am quoting my new friend Firdevs correctly 🙂 She is a native of Istanbul and a great ambassador for her native city. We met on my first night in Istanbul. I arrived via a very turbulent flight. There were moments when I envisioned the headlines, “Swiss Air Flight 1804 enroute to Istanbul has plunged into the Bosphorus.” At least it would have been a dramatic ending. We saw the Bosphorus unfolding before us, straddling Europe and Asia, as we hovered in the air awaiting our final instructions to land. It is a truly breathtaking sight. A proper backdrop to my most dramatic plane journey to date. There were THREE rounds of spontaneous applause when we landed!
Once I left the airport, it became clear why it had been such a bumpy ride. It was cold, windy and pouring rain. I thought I was in Vancouver 🙂 I was very glad at that point for my extravagance in having the hotel arrange transport for me from the airport. I was whisked away into a luxury vehicle and just got to sit back and enjoy the ride as my driver braved the elements to deposit me right at the door to the hotel.
I decided to be a wimp the first evening and just hide in the hotel. That was how I met Firdevs. She was very gracious and seemed concerned whether I could wait for her to return from room service before I ordered my dinner. One of the great perks of being on vacation is that I can do anything in slow motion, a luxury I never get at home. So I was happy to wait for her return.
And it was well worth the wait! She is protecting me from the advances of Turkish men (I have only been here two days and have already had a marriage proposal and broken some guy’s heart!) and is a friendly face at the end of the day to share my stories. She is also introducing me to Turkish wine.
Luckily I was reading the HSBC ads when I arrived at the airport in Paris. Thanks to HSBC, I learned that Turkey has more acres of vineyards than South Africa. And my new guide is teaching me that Turkish wine is delicious.
I am just about to head over to the Pera Palace Hotel to have high tea – Firdevs’ recommendation since she used to work at that hotel. It is where Agatha Christie wrote parts of “Murder on the Orient Express”. When I was a child, I read every Agatha Christie murder mystery published so having high tea in “her” hotel brings my past and my present together in a manner I never would have imagined huddled on a sofa on the small town prairie devouring Agatha Christie and imagining what it would be like to be on the Orient Express. You can still take the train. It’s on the list and will no doubt make it onto this blog at some point.
Only into day two, I totally understand why everyone raves about Istanbul and Turkish people. They are the world’s best salespeople. They are so friendly, gracious and warm you just keep buying things from them. Firdevs knows. Every night she gets me to order at least one more glass of wine than I planned on. But chatting with her is so enjoyable it is impossible to say “no”.
So today’s thought… come to Istanbul! Stay at the Marmara Pera. And ask for Firdevs. You will have a new friend – and the best possible introduction to Istanbul 😉