Istanbul is a lovely city. Whenever I try and think of ways to describe it, “balmy”, “atmospheric” and “bustling” pop into my head every time. It truly is each of these things, but it is also very touristy. We did stay in Sultanahmet though so didn’t really wander into the city proper. The streets of Sultanahmet are windy and hilly and full of shops selling Turkish delight and restaurants serving Mezze and kebap. It’s not a place of hidden wonders, mainly due to it having rather large wonders directly on display. The blue mosque hogs the skyline as does the Haghia Sofia (definitely the more interesting of the two!) and everywhere you go, you’re offered boat trips on the Bosphorus.
I pride myself on being a light packer, so when I eventually caught up with the girls (after an incident where we all waited at Aksaray for varying amounts of time to meet up, to discover later we were on opposite sides of the road) I boasted that my luggage only weighed 8 kilos.
“Look at me!” I said. “I am surely the proficiando of packers, a practical contortionist of luggage making and my suitcase is as light and airy as I am not.” (NB: Is proficiando a word?)
“Well,” my friends replied. “That’s very impressive.” *Cue good-natured eye-rolling*
But yes, I was very proud. Especially in limiting myself to two pairs of shoes. On my solo adventure to the apartment, I soon discovered that the shoes I had worn on the flight were not going to be suitable at all. I love them and wear them religiously in the UK, but then in the UK I’m not constantly walking up and down hills throughout the day. It’s also not incredibly hot and therefore I’m not tortured by foot sweat that causes this particular pair of shoes to rub and cut into my feet in cruel and imaginative ways. Well, good on me for having spontaneously bought a pair of sandals the day before the holiday, the only thing I actually bought to purpose. They were flat and had minimum straps so logically, would rub minimally. Definitely a plus!
No. Flat shoes? Just no. Istanbul is one of the hilliest, slopiest, up-and-down-iest cities I have ever visited. By the end of the first whole day, my ankles were physically screaming so loud that I’m sure passers-by were beginning to hear them. My heels burnt like I was balancing my entire body weight on top a pile of burning coals. But my pride? My pride hurt most of all.
For of course, if one boasts about one’s amazing packing skills and then realises that one must eat one’s words before the first day was out, it is sure to point out that one is a bit of a plonker.
Not wanting to let the girls down by whining constantly (I managed intermittently instead) and unwilling to buy a cheap pair of shoes at tourist prices, I soldiered on.
This did lead to a rather amusing incident later on. After a day of walking, we finished our sightseeing at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. Now, I quite like modern art. (Not contemporary modern, mind you, but classic modern… I’m getting a bit confused with my own definitives but I’m sure you understand my meaning.) We went the wrong way and were subjected to the modern-modern-modern art first. This included a lot of wacky sculptures and video exhibitions amongst the expected plethora of canvas and such. I soon began to look out for the videos because they would take place in darkened nooks that were sectioned off with heavy red curtains away from the rest of the gallery. It was enough to put up with the “art” behind those curtains just to sit on the comfy seats and afford my heels a temporary feeling of weightlessness. I kept an eye out for the curtain and at every opportunity, I would dash behind it, seemingly an avid fan of the video concept art. It was so lovely; to sit in comfort in the cool, dim darkness; to curl up and feel my eyes grow heavy…
Yes, dear reader, I fell asleep.