When your children are older, you forget some of the things that were second nature to you, when travelling with them as youngsters. You also, with your grandchildren, are lucky enough to have a whole different relationship, not the boss and child, but the more experienced one and the less experienced one. Grand-parents are really lucky to have such a different relationship from that the parents have with the children. I was thinking this morning why this might be, and decided there were several reasons. Firstly, there is little or no pressure on grand-parents to show the little ones as perfect. If Brenden say farted in public, I don’t have to pretend he never farts, I can just accept that he did that, and react however I like. Equally, I don’t have to make everything a lesson, or act as though his every fault is crucial to his happiness, I merely can explain, if I like, in a friendly way, why I think that fault is a fault. No pressure on either of us, so we can really enjoy each other’s company.
Bearing that in mind, I was thrilled when he asked if I would take him to London, and even more thrilled when the opportunity arose to not only bring him to London but to take him on a cruise with Crystal Cruise Lines, frequently voted the very BEST cruise line in the world, travelling from Istanbul to Monte Carlo.
So, we flew on Air Canada from Calgary to London last Friday night, and over-nighted at my brother Robert’s house in Camberley, before heading back to the airport for a BA flight to Istanbul. While in London we took a quick side trip to Windsor, to see the castle and town, and have a short boat ride on the river Thames, along Eton Reach. Thankfully, we had flown business class on Air Canada, and Brenden listened to me and had the fast meal, and then a long sleep, so we both could cope with the day. Air Canada does have one of the best Executive class set ups of any airline, and it is a great way to travel. Brenden enjoyed the town, as well as his first visit ever to a pub for dinner with Robert and his children and grand-child. We got to bed by ten and up again at 4.00 to catch the flights to Istanbul.
I love Istanbul. It is a great city, with a vibrant international culture. The city has myriad interesting sites, dating as far back as Roman times, and as varied as Christian, Jewish and Muslim places of worship, the Topkapi Palace, the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar, and so many other things. The first evening we were lucky enough to be invited to Karen Fedorko’s house, a beautiful Ottaman mansion in the old town which she and her husband have fully renovated, a labour of love that took several years. Four Seasons Hotels catered the party in her garden, so we had a super time. When the party broke up, we boarded buses to return to the ship, but Brenden and I got off at the start to the bridge over the Golden Horn, and ambled over the bridge like two old souls. The fishermen fishing off the bridge coupled with the numerous ferries heading back and forth across the Golden Horn or over to the Asian side of the city across the Bosphorus make for great scenery. Getting to the other side, I headed left and up the hills, knowing there is a great street there rather like the Ramblas in Barcelona, with lots of pedestrian street traffic, plenty of restaurants and bars, and wonderful opportunities for people watching. There was Turkish dancing at one point, rather like Greek dancing, and happy faces all over. The street itself is at least a kilometre long, and throngs with people looking like any similar scene in any other city, with perhaps one in a hundred women wearing a veil. After wandering around, we headed back to the cabin for a well earned sleep
The next day we decided against going on an organised tour, and took the shuttle bus into the Grand Bazaar, 4,000 small shops under one roof, thronging with people. We set up a system of ever moving points where we would meet if separated, but stuck to each other like glue. Leaving the bazaar by a different entrance we were by the tramway, so decided to take that back to the ship. A local young man who spoke little English helped me buy the tokens needed to get through the turnstile, and ensured I was going the right way, and off we went. Clean, efficient, smooth and highly practical, the tram, more like an LRT with three coaches, took us back over the Golden Horn Bridge and back to the ship. I think Brenden was impressed with how easy it is to communicate with a combination of smiles and sign language.
After a swim and a great dinner, it was off to bed as the ship set sail for Greece.