Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Istanbul: a walk to the harbourside... and no sign of 'Boris' bikes (yet)

I awoke at 0810hrs Turkey time – two hours ahead of the UK – and jumped out of bed and into the bathroom for a quick shave and a shower and then 'up' to breakfast. My room is on the fifth floor, the breakfast room is on the sixth and I know why: the view. It was a beautiful sunny day, very clear, and, as I tucked into a healthy breakfast of muesli, walnuts, hazelnuts, a tangerine and stewed pear and peaches (for stewed read 'tinned') I took in the view, wishing that instead of being here to cover a conference I was here with my family on a holiday.
Looking down towards the harbour from The President Hotel.
I decided to take a walk and turned left out of the hotel and down towards the harbour along cobbled streets, wet with water, but not rain. Restaurateurs on both sides of the street were hosing down the cobbles and preparing for the day. There was an abundance of fresh fish being sold near the harbourside and most of the restaurants were serving fresh fish for understandable reasons. It's good to have such a wide variety of eateries within yards of the hotel.
Another view from the sixth floor of The President Hotel.
The President is located in an interesting part of Istanbul. It's a bit like an opening scene from an Indiana Jones movie: men carrying carpets, drinking Turkish tea on the roadside and, oddly, there's a lot of manky old cats just sitting around in front of darkened doorways, taking in the early morning sun. Yes, it's warm here and the sun is shining. I have a jumper and a lightweight bomber jacket on, but to be honest, I could ditch the lot as this is very much tee-shirt weather (or it will be later on).
Down by the harbourside, a shortish walk from The President Hotel.
After walking down to the harbourside, admiring the fresh fish and taking a few photos, I headed back up through the cobbled streets past the fish restaurants and then up a steep hill that brought me out on some kind of plateau where I discovered a tram – just like the one in Croydon. Earlier I'd discovered that the hotel where I need to be later this afternoon is about 30 minutes away by cab, but I've just worked out that a tram will take me most of the way there so I'll probably have a snacky lunch and then, having donned a tie and some sensible trousers,  head up the street towards the station and take it from there.
Fresh fish for sale near the harbourside.
I'd imagine in the summer it gets very hot here in Istanbul. I can tell by the appearance of the buildings and the whine of mopeds.

Cobbled streets lined with restaurants where fish is a speciality.

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