Sīmīt are everywhere in Istanbul. Simple, sesame-encrusted bread rings. Some call them the Turkish bagel. Sold from stationary red-painted government-owned carts, and from men who roam, swirling them on a stick, carrying them in baskets, setting them down on makeshift trestle-tables, or balancing them niftily in wicker trays on their heads – they are impossible to escape. Arranged in impressive towers and pyramids, the jengo … Continue reading The Humble Sīmīt.
The Harem. Ugly Beauty. We were standing at the heart of four hundred years of Ottoman intrigue. If I half closed my eyes I saw black eunuchs and concubines, diaphanous fabrics, ewers, jewels, court musicians and the sultan’s dwarves. When I opened them I saw selfie-clicking tourists and tunnels of thick polythene sheeting hiding no-go areas. Not so much the soothing sound of water fountains, … Continue reading Istanbul – Topkapi Palace.
We can see the Bosphorus at the end of our street. It’s like living at the seaside. A five-minute walk and we’re at the ferry terminal; but that’s not counting the ten minutes we need to cross the road. Traffic in Istanbul is awful. A seething mass of buses, dolmuses, cars, sunshine-yellow taxis, all tooting and hooting, swerving, impatient to be somewhere. Most folk just … Continue reading Istanbul. The Morning Commute.
We’re living on the Asian side. Our flat is on the fourth (top) floor of an old building. No elevator. Winding stairs that seem to never end. Past shoes outside doors. Once a person sitting smoking. And sometimes rubbish that needs to be thrown away. We know we’re almost there, as the stair well becomes lighter, and the seagulls screech louder. Their claws, tatter-tap-tap on … Continue reading Istanbul. For One Month.
My mum burst out laughing when I told her I was tired. I could almost hear her thinking. ‘You tired? You don’t do anything’. Or as another friend recently put it. ‘How is it going with your walking from tea-shop to tea-shop’? I don’t blame them. I do lead a life of Riley. But sometimes life on the move becomes too much. Our ‘Orient Express’ … Continue reading Grandma’s House In Bran.
Making Waves at the Gellért Spa in Budapest. The Orient Express – or the spirit of it – is the theme of this trip. We’re thinking history, wealth, luxury – and budget prices. We’d eaten copious quantities of cake in Budapest’s grand cafes, and now we were about to share a public bath with a few hundred other people. We’d planned our trip to the … Continue reading The Big Splash.
When I heard about Budapest’s cafe history I was in pastry heaven. At one time the city was bursting with around five hundred cafe’s. How I wish I’d been able to see it then, before wars and communism changed things so. The cafes were visited by all and sundry. Ordinary folk, at weekends for a spot of the latest news with coffee and cake; while … Continue reading Kávéház in Budapest.
I am in love with Paris. I feel that I lived there in another life and sometimes I wish I lived there in this one. When we hit upon the idea of our faux Orient Express trip, of course we started in Paris. But what if you’re a Paris newbie? Inspired by The Telegraph’s ‘My Kind of Town’ set of questions, here are my thoughts … Continue reading We Started In Paris.
The Orient Express. The very name conjures glamour and intrigue. Black tie donned counts wearing monocles. Countesses with cigarette holders and gold-capped front teeth. Servants and trunks. Finery and frippery. Decadence and dosh. But we were not on the real Orient Express. We were hurtling across Europe on a budget; travelling from Paris to Istanbul – hoping for some of the luxury at a fraction … Continue reading The Budget Orient Express.
A place to call our own. For three weeks at least. We only had to share it with Coco, Derecha and Maisie. ‘We’re in the campo’, Jackie told us. We’d imagined Alora as a quaint little village, cobbled streets falling down a hillside. Don’t know where we got that idea from. Must have been the mention of ‘pueblo blanco’ that did it. In reality, Alora … Continue reading House-Sitting in Alora, Spain.