It has been a long and interesting few days. On Friday we met up at Tim’s in Manchester to but a few last bits and pieces, finally start packing and meet old friends for a few drinks. The packing wasn’t nearly as stressful as expected, after the first effort we were around 4 kg over Turkish Airlines’ 30 kg personal limit, even with wearing our boots, jackets and trousers onto the plane. We set about cutting out every little bit of unnecessary gear, not an easy task when your life may depend on it in an emergency.

The ever chivalrous Fhyndho gave us a lift to the airport in the gangster bus and the plan was at last in motion.

The flight to Istanbul left on time (with free Turkish Delight on a stick on take off), the in flight food was pretty good, lots of “eggplant” with a Turkish version of a burger, some chicken and rice.

We touched down at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport around 11 pm local time and headed to the metro line into the city centre. After a brief delay acquiring some of the local currency (apparently dollars just wouldn’t do!) we stepped out into thousands of people in a funfair atmosphere, thanks to it currently being Ramadan.

Our accommodation was Istanbul Hostel, cheap, fairly nice but not easy to find without a map or address, just a sketchy memory of its general location. About 1 am we found it, bought cold water bottles and collapsed into bed.

The next day (Sunday 22nd) was to be a whistle-stop tour of Istanbul’s sights and sounds. With a flight at 9 pm that evening we had to make the most of our free time. Unfortunately John’s fairly hefty B3s wouldn’t fit in his hand bag, so he was forced to endure the heat of a turkish summer in them. Lots of minarets, mosques, muezzins later we made it to the main attraction: Taksim Square. Unfortunately it had all calmed down a lot, so we didn’t see anything more exciting than some overheating dogs and locals playing football.

We headed back to the airport for our next flight, arriving with a couple of hours to spare., and very much looking forward to it.