I’m sitting in the lobby of the Innova Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey awaiting our van which will arrive in less than an hour to take us to the airport for our 12 1/2 hour flight to Los Angeles. What a blast this has been. Don’t have pictures loaded to show you, but last evening we visited the grand bazaar here that consists of 5000 vendors that constitute the largest market place in the world. Our final dinner was  . . .guess what?. . .Burger King! First American meal we’ve eaten since we left. Not bad. We were worn out, Jerry was resting in the hotel awaiting a sandwich, so we grabbed a burger. Cool experience to see veiled women walking about shopping and eating hamburgers.

At the far side of the Grand Bazaar we hailed a taxi, Steve showed the driver our hotel card, and we roared down the narrow streets and the furious bustle of this the third largest city in the world. Taxi driver, I said. Yet he stopped five times to ask directions; one from someone on the street who ignored him, four from other taxi drivers. He and Steve in the front seat were roaring with laughter, talking to each other . . . in some strange language consisting of Turkish, English, sign language, with perhaps a bit of Spanish thrown in. “Is right?” he asked Steve several times. He, the taxi driver. Finally we saw the outline and brilliant light of our hotel, saying “Yes, yes, this is it.” Taxi driver was laughing uproariously. Steve tipped him well. The experience was worth it.

One of the things we’ve had to guard against (as is true in any part of the world) is pickpockets. On our last night in Rome as Steve was trying to locate a restaurant that had been recommended, two men lunged from a dark doorway and snatched his phone. They ripped the sleeve of his shirt, but he was able to trip one of them so that the man fell against a car, and Steve was able to retrieve his phone. His knuckles were skinned. The picture below is of a nice-looking lady, either in Israel or Jordan, who was pushing a child in a stroller, had another toddler, and tried to take the purse of one of our group.

Our room faces the Mediterranean Sea. Early this morning I watched through the fog as large ships slowly passed. It is Monday night in California; early morning here on Tuesday, April 1. Seems inappropriate to arrive home on April Fool’s Day, for this trip has been anything but that. Cheers! Onward! Bon Voyage!

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