Subject: Istanbul
Hello Judy, We just got back from a month in Turkey and Greece a couple of weeks ago. Istanbul was wonderful, and the weather was warm even in early May. You've made a wonderful choice with the Apricot Hotel. I'm still planning to send info for the Hotel database, but meanwhile I will say that they were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. They picked us up at the airport as promised and arranged anything that we wanted. When you leave, there is a very economical Shuttle service that they can arrange. Breakfasts are truly a treat. The spread was generous and so appetizing that I took a photo. Lots of breads and cereal, jams etc, the typical cheeses, cucumber, tomato, olives, boiled eggs, warm bourek (?)--spinach pastries, juice, good coffee, but, best of all, custom made omelettes. While eating breakfast you can enjoy the view of the Bosporous and over your shoulder see the Blue Mosque and also Aya Sophya. We were lucky enough to be able to see the minarets and domes of the Blue Mosque from our room. If you can see it also, watch for the group of birds that spirals around the minarets in the moonlight--it's stunning.

With regard to restaurants, we enjoyed Doy Doy (recommended by Burhan at the front desk), and another restaurant across the street from Doy Doy (both near the Apricot) and both were typical Turkish food. Both would easily accommodate a group of twelve. We also ate at Winebar Zeugma down the same street from Apricot, and the food was very good, but it was western style rather than Turkish. There is a little pastry shop around the corner from the Apricot with baklava to die for; every night after walking around the Blue Mosque (make sure you go to the Sound &Light show) we would take baklava back to the hotel and have it on the roof garden watching the view.

We did a lot of exploring on our own, including a walk down Istiklal Cadessi from Taksim Square to the Galata Tower. This takes you through some of the main shopping area, past lots of embassies and interesting buildings and the fish market. I highly recommend it. The one organized tour that we took was a boat trip on the Bosporous with a lunch and a trip to the Rumeli Fortress.

I will tell you to try to get to Sulimanye Mosque. The interior of the Blue Mosque was incredible, but it was jam packed with tourists. Aya Sophya is worth seeing, but full of construction and tourists. But Sulimanye is simply beautiful and we were almost alone there. It was well worth going.

And Topkapi is not exactly a hidden out of the way place, but it is not to be missed!

Have a good time. Any questions, please email. (I'm curious about where else in Turkey you might be going?) Collette Saunders Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada