. Had they ventured out into Istanbul without telling me? They had and I found them enjoying a morning stroll along the river. The water was pretty choppy but the sun was out and the views in every direction presented something good to talk about. The megatropolis of Istanbul is overwhelming at times and today we exhausted ourselves walking around and around trying to take it all in. I dragged parents back to our hostel to highlight the contrast in lodgings. As they climbed the dark stairway to our dorm room we talked about how they had enjoyed their salmon and crepes for breakfast. Lunch was spent picnicking under the imposing dome of The Blue Mosque. A wonderful fountain performed its merry dance, only becoming a nuisance when the Mamara Sea breeze swept across the jets to cover us in a fine mist. The resident cat also made the most of dropped salami. The afternoon call for prayer put our mosque entry on hold but when we did get in we really enjoyed the experience. Shoes off and head scarfs on we soaked up the atmosphere in this great building. Back at the hostel we met yet more cyclists. Two guys had arrived having cycled from Germany. They had also bumped into our English walker friend, Adam, who had sent them our way. Adam should walk into town in a couple of days and we agreed he deserves a true welcoming party. We hooked up again with the folks for supper, this time finding a very good local fish restaurant. We were pleased to have escaped the tourist trail and felt very 'local' as we dipped into the different fishes presented to us. Another stroll to the mosque to see it by night turned into tea and Baclava. I’m pretty sure that is
how you should end a day in Istanbul.
The view from the roof top terrace at the youth hostel meant that there was only one place to enjoy breakfast this morning. Looking out one way to the Bosphorus and the other way to Sultanahmet Camil (The Blue Mosque) made the eggs and olives taste even better. Over breakfast we met a NZ couple who have also been cycling in Europe. They had left France and made it to Belgrade following a similar route to us. It was great to talk to Robin and Graham and share stories of our trip so far. We also laughed at how we all need cardboard boxes to pack our bikes onto the plane, unfortunately the local bike shop owners are quoting us 20 Euros per box (10 quid for some used cardboard!) After breakfast Polly had the unenviable job of scrubbing the tent down ready to be packed away for India where we anticipate doing no camping. I had no choice other than to leave her to it (!) as I went to pick up Mumsy and Pops from their hotel. I was a little concerned when the receptionist said there was no answer from their room and that he had not seen them all morning