Friday, May 15, 2009

Dispatches from Istanbul

Arriving in Istanbul this afternoon was somewhat reassuringly just as complicated as I last remember. This time however, in addition to the easily overlooked purchase of a visa on arrival, there was the added bureaucracy of Swine flu screening. The far from rigorous process consisted of fighting my travel sickness to complete a meaningless form which looked as though it was a photocopy of a fax of a scanned document and perhaps better suited to testing my appreciation for abstract art and visual acuity rather than risk of transmitting H1N1. As we touched down on Turkish soil, the Istanbulite sitting alongside me and Mrs Africanus promptly pulled out a 5TL note, flashed it before our eyes and pointed to the ageless image of Ataturk, I presume to give his bizarre welcome gesture some stately gravitas.

The city itself is thankfully as welcoming and relaxed as I remember. We took a lazy stroll through Sultanahmet, lunched whilst gazing at the Aya Sofia and spent the evening indulging in some caffeine fuelled people watching on Istiklal Street in the lively Beyoglu district. Tomorrow can't come soon enough...

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