Well, it has been a rather lovely half term thank you! For us, I expect like just about everyone else, the Christmas holiday is so chaotic and family filled that we don't really get to relax, so by the time the February half term arrives we are more than ready to kick back and take stock. I say that, but ours has been quite jam packed this year, but I can tell you that it has been a pretty damn fine one so far! Last Thursday saw us head off at stupid O'clock - really, it was 2.00am - to Heathrow terminal 5 with 3 other staff members and 44 rowdy teenagers to Istanbul. I have never had the opportunity to go to Turkey before so it's fair to say that I was pretty excited, despite the fact that I hadn't been to bed Wednesday night and it was unlikely I was going to get any sleep until the evening!
When we got there it was just starting to snow, and for me, that really was the icing on the cake, the city is stunning and looked even better with a substantial blanket of the white stuff! I even got to wear my fur hat from last years trip to Russia! The city itself is very easy to negotiate and the tram makes life very easy indeed, especially as our (upgraded) hotel was right next to a main stop, in fact the kids all managed to find their way around without a hitch, The only two people who got lost were two of our colleagues - ha! Says a lot doesn't it!!!So, here we are buying our "jetons" for the tram.
First stop - the grand bazaar - Oh. My. God. I was in heaven - the fabrics, the ceramics, the Turkish delight, the mad gold sellers, the whole place is mental and so very colourful - Ivan's (Mr Bicknell's) idea of hell, but not mine.......!
Piles of fabric
heaps of bowls
hundreds of people
Ivan (Mr Bicknell) making a break for freedom
and dodgy bling.
Whilst outside the snow kept on coming....
Getting to grips with the tram
Sneaky peak at a sneaky purchase - well, you have to grab every opportunity when Ivan (Mr Bicknell) is in charge of the itinerary!
So while we were all bargaining hard, Lewis was taking advantage of the hotel services! I trust he wasn't offered something for the weekend.......
But it was all too much for Mark.......
Our first night in search of food led to brightly lit windows and literally piles of Turkish delight - it was clearly going to be a calorific trip, especially as it transpired that the locals in the markets get very upset when you don't try their wares! Charmian proved to be a bit of a trooper in this!
And it carried on snowing!
Even Ivan (Mr Bicknell) got excited!
The BTEC hooligans - right before the snowballs starting being thrown!
Charmian at Ivan's (Mr Bicknell's) mercy!!
Always a sucker for a cat - Istanbul is home to many!
Ill-dressed girls are made to wear these fetching garments when visiting a mosque - I was included in this, but they look better!
Quiet time before prayer time
Sam - doing her best impression of being a foreign correspondent!
The Blue Mosque
Cold pretzel seller - whilst we didn't eat what he was selling we did take advantage of the roasted chestnut carts!
Hmmmm, funny how the BTECers are snapped outside on the brink of a snowball fight whilst the A level students are discovered actually absorbing the culture.... can you guess which ones I teach......!
Jamie, Louis and Lewis trouble with a capital T!
Oh I do love a bit of texture!!
Yerebatan Sarnci - underground cistern
World famous fortune telling bunnies - my fortune said that I would soon be with my lover again, so I needn't worry, now considering Ivan (Mr Bicknell) was standing right next to me, I did begin to wonder if I was at last going to be united with David Tennant........!
Mark's fortune told him that he would need the support of his friends for an important decision he had to make at the beginning of the week, - hmmmm, it did actually take him until Monday to make a decision on a bag he wanted to buy, so maybe there is actually something in it and Mr Tennant will rock up soon - must shave my legs!
Oh yeah, did I mention the cats?
Somewhere religious - I was too busy eating mezze in a lovely roof top restaurant when Ivan (Mr Bicknell) took this!
The Spice Market, which funnily enough sells tons of Turkish delight too!
Queueing for coffee - seriously, here you snooze you loose, the server had served 4 other people behind Mark by the time he managed to get his money out! You think I'm kidding? Well, watch the film below to see how fast they work - this has NOT been speeded up!
The streets around the spice bazaar - they sell EVERYTHING!
There was going to one very disappointed shopper!
Oh, err, and another one....
Istanbul Modern, aside form the piece below, I didn't really go a bundle on the art here, but the cafe and the actual building were rather cool!
The police were out in force on Saturday in anticipation of what appeared to be a relatively peaceful demonstration - despite my best efforts I am afraid to say that I have no idea what it was all about.
On top of the Galata tower - warming up now and virtually no snow
It also proved to be a bit of a playground for the seagulls!
The Sultannahmet district, stunning at night
twirling and whirling with the Dervishes - made me dizzy just watching!
Our big posh meal of the trip and Mark was looking forward to a fish this big............
Just to prove I was there - ughh, just as photogenic as ever!
Our supper was on fire - literally! I LOVE how the owner of the restaurant was so quick thinking in promoting his restaurant when he clocked the fact that we were all taking photos!
Impromptu dancing - these two were guests - in different parties - who the hell goes out to supper dressed as a belly dancer???!
A little cruise on the Bosphorous - Drew looking all whistful - wisely he mainly kept his distance from us - well there is only so much that you can take of watching Mark try to buy a bag!
Mark, the water and an OJ - what more could a man want?!
Hannah - serious photographer!
Hugo - not so serious photographer!
And God Hugo, stop pulling that stupid face!!!
Charlie and Lizzie - gorgeous girls
Rachel and Viki - dappy girls!
Ivan (Mr Bicknell) - just stupid!
Apple tea, apple tea, apple tea - Turkey's very own Manuel - blimey the man worked hard at keeping us refreshed - it was a revelation in salesmanship!
Apple tea and a fag - hmmm, how to take the tone down guys!
Ivan (Mr Bicknell) still stupid!
Topkapi palace and the tiled Hareem
Ivan (Mr Bicknell) and Mark - Simon says.....
Not all Turkish craft is desirable.......!
Mark and Charmian getting stuck into the negotiations!
Sunset in Sultannahmet
Late night fish market
This would not encourage me to buy a bonnet for my baby!
A street full of trimmings and ribbons - WHY do I find this place with only minutes to spare?????!
Back to the coffee shop for some last minute purchases!
Coffee, tea and spices
And errr, I had no trouble buying a bag! Fake Jil Sander? Don't mind if I do!
If you haven't been, go!