I flew to Istanbul by Singapore Airlines. I took a stopover, which was very good.

It was one of the roughest flights I have had (Melbourne to Singapore), with the seatbelt sign on most of the time! At Singapore I found the 'Stopover' counter, and got a bus to the Allson Hotel. Our luggages went separately - but arrived after a while. The hotel was lovely, and I got in straight away at 8am! I rang home, and had a lie down. As I was wandering out about 9.30 I spotted my suitcase sitting lonely down stairs!

There was a free bus from SIA (Singapore Airlines) which runs around the city. It only costs $6 if you don't have a Stopover card. I used this on my first day. I had one night, but my stay was from 6.30am one day to 11.30pm the next!

I was going to try to get to the Jurong Bird Park by bus and Met on the second day, but passed the 'tours' desk, and decided to take one. I paid AUS$35 on Visa, and had a very nice buffet breakfast. When I appeared for the tour the tour clerk appeared, in a tizz. The computer must have revealed that I was on a Stopover, and didn't have to pay for the Bird Park, so I was re-charged $23. The Stopover ticket includes free tickets to many attractions.

I spent some time in the Bird Park. I was being picked up at 6.10, so I had a shower on the 4th floor near the pool. I found the shaver only worked if you switched on the hair dryer. It was so humid in the room I could barely shave, and I sweated for some time afterwards! This was my only negative, and I could have waited and showered at the airport, which is an airport one could while away quite a few hours in!

At Istanbul I had been told that the taxi service was very good, and the easiest way to get to the ship. I easily got a taxi, and the driver spoke reasonable English. The ride was the most exciting I have ever had. It was like being in the Grand Prix, with our car about a foot behind the car in front, sudden wild lane changes, and high speed. But I figured his car did not have a mark on it, so I relaxed and enjoyed it.

Unfortunately I could not board until noon (this happens to me every time!) so I sat in the terminal and read for about three and a half hours. I could have left my stuff and walked about, and I think it would have been safe, but I didn't take the chance. Once aboard I began to walk, but decided (a) I was pretty tired, and (b) I had no idea where to go, and (c) every second person I met wanted to sell me something, so I retreated. Next day we did our tour.

We did not see a lot of the city, which is very big, but got an impression. It seemed a pretty clean place, in spite of having an unknown number of inhabitants! Apparently there are so many refugees in the city, its population is unknown! We went to a shop where I took some pictures, but don't have room for them here. Our big stop was at the Blue Mosque.

The roof (in case you could not guess)

We had to remove our shoes, and were asked not to use flashes for photography - but some did. But sometimes the camera just decides to set off the flash when you think you have switched it off. These are with the 17mm lens, so a flash would be useless anyway.

We next saw the Topkapi Palace, where the Ottoman emperors ruled from,

This is one room inside the palace grounds, which were extensive. It is, I think, the old harem area, or a council room.

We stopped at a carpet place, where beautiful carpets were spread around the floor. I don't know if any were sold, but they were expensive.

Finally we were dropped at the Grand Bazaar for a brief walkthrough. While being constantly harassed to buy something is not my idea of a good time, it was a clean, attractive area. I did not have much money, not intending to buy anything, but I did have two dollars US, and ended up with a Tshirt.

Like everywhere we went on this trip it was very hot.