Saturday 22nd September 2018
Given the excesses of the previous evening, some people were less keen than others on a morning walking around the streets of Istanbul, but it takes a lot to put me off a little bit of sightseeing ... and Ben, potentially against his better judgement, agreed to accompany me on the tram from our hotel into the city centre
Our first destination was the famous Blue Mosque. We were going to go inside, but the queue was huge and there was a lot of restoration work going on meaning there wasn't so much to see.
Instead we headed over for a look at Hagia Sophia, a one time Greek Orthodox cathedral, latterly an Ottoman mosque and now a museum
We had to queue for quite a while for the security checkpoint before entering the grounds of the Topkapı Palace through the spectacular archway
Inside, the grounds were beautiful and tranquil. We had a welcome sit down with a nice cup of coffee and cake in the shade.
Following the break, we caught a tram towards the Grand Bazaar
A busy Istanbul street
The Grand Bazaar dates from the fifteen century, and is one of the oldest covered markets in the world
One of many Turkish Delight shops
Hustle and bustle in the Grand Bazaar
With the help of Tripadvisor we found a restaurant for lunch down a small side street with a view of the sea
Feeling satisfied, we headed back to the hotel to collect our luggage ready to travel to the airport
Our coaches dropped us off at Atatürk Airport ready for our flight back to London.
The airport is due to close next year when Istanbul's brand new airport will open and it was clear to see that Atatürk was old and tired.
On the other hand, while Turkey might be old - ancient in fact, it is definitely not past its best.
Both the country itself and its theme parks were rich, vibrant, welcoming, and well worth exploring.