So, keeping our wits about us, we walked to a shopping mall in the modern part of Istanbul, and, unimpressed, then transferred from the tour's fancy Renaissance Hotel to our more modest former hotel in the Old City, travelling by bus which meant creeping along choked roads at less than walking pace. Then we took the funicular, and at the top dragged our cases across busy Taksim Square to the hotel, past a taxi organiser raging at a driver who had jumped the queue: shouting, thumping his fist on the bonnet, eyes flashing, teeth bared.
Venturing out again for dinner, we were beset by restaurant touts on our cruise around the streets, and were finally snared by the clever Serdar at the Natural Grill House, who was funny, energetic, clever and hard-working. He spoke six languages and engaged instantly with passers-by, hooking, reeling in and landing group after group to fill his tables as we watched, totally entertained. Sitting down for a light meal of perhaps soup, we found ourselves persuaded to eat a delicious three-course dinner with beer, raqi and tea, using up all the cash we'd brought out with us, and not regretting it one bit. He was a star.