One more sumptuous breakfast under the pergola with Periangelo the peacock then off to the airport in Brindisi. Once again David, the young man who helped us on arrival, got us through the paperwork and transfer to the HondaJet. Thank you David! The flight was just 90 minutes long, and beautiful!
Landing in Istanbul, the same feeling came over me as when we landed in Morocco. While the Straits of Gibraltar mark the gateway between north and south, between Europe and Africa...Turkey is a bridge between west and east. Two of the bridges in Istanbul literally connect Europe and Asia. Still, Istanbul is unique. The city is certainly influenced by both east and west, but its own flavor of calm and chaos, politics and people are decidedly unique.
Our welcome to Istanbul at the airport was warm, organized and so efficient we found ourselves at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet in no time at all! We wanted to stay in the thick of the old city and the hotel could not have been better situated. But, given the location and busy streets, we were not prepared for the serenity within its walls. We loved our time at this hotel. The Four Seasons in Casablanca had been in touch with the management in Istanbul, explaining our trip, and we were welcomed with such graciousness by all. We had the pleasure of meeting the Hotel Manager Nihat Yucel, who arranged for the most remarkable amenity in our room: a glass globe representing the world, with Around the World in 80 Stays written on it with icing, our logo copied onto a cookie, and treats inside. We were blown away!!! Thank you Four Seasons Sultanahmet for a memorable stay!
As soon as we arrived we were keen to explore...so settled in quickly and hit the streets. We were less than a block away from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. We walked the area and then had an afternoon treat of baklava and Turkish tea on the square. Oh, Turkish tea!!! There's nothing quite like it. And the baklava...well, suffice it to say we ate a LOT of it in Turkey.
We returned to the hotel and freshened up for a dinner date with Hasan, a friend we had met in Pensacola some months ago. He is a successful businessman, and perhaps the most well travelled person we know. He took us to an exquisite outdoor restaurant on the Bosphorus by one of the "east/west" bridges, brightly illumined in the evening sky.The weather was perfect, very warm but with a light breeze, and dinner was delicious. We learned so much about Turkey during our conversation and deeply appreciate the obvious principles and spirit Hasan holds. He then took us on a drive to see more of Istanbul...it was overwhelming. The city is huge, with one neighborhood after another. We were grateful to have a larger picture of the city, and more enlightening conversation along the way. Hasan, you are the best of ambassadors for your well loved city, and we are grateful for your hospitality and the depth of our conversation together! We hope to see you again in Pensacola.