Wednesday 7 October 2015

Away and home

Mohammed (pbuh) had red eyes and his sweat smelled of roses, you know. You’ll never find a picture of him, but there are written descriptions in the Mosaic Museum, as well as bits of his beard done up in crystal bottles adorned with gold.

It’s a sophisticated museum on the Hippodrome, in a restored building that’s light and spacious – but resentment festers in its airy halls. Read the labels on the exhibits and there are numerous references to artefacts “stolen by a Danish private museum in Copenhagen”. I’ve seen that elsewhere in Turkey, too, in museums and at archeological sites where some of the best bits are now in Boston or London or Germany; and soon we’ll be in Greece where the Elgin marbles belong. I don’t blame them: these things should be returned. There’s no excuse today.
And that was that for Istanbul – for now, anyway. I wonder if I’ll ever be back again? I certainly never expected to come here twice in one year. After a nostalgic wander through Taksim, where I happened across a proper cat hotel, and a couple of tulip glasses of apple tea on the waterfront watching old men chasing cats away from the buckets of under-sized fish they’d been laboriously catching on over-sized rods, it was time to board the Silver Spirit and head off on our 9-day cruise.

It’s their newest ship, and biggest – though still fewer than 600 passengers – but not so different from the Whisper and Shadow that I didn’t feel at home right away. It helps, too, that the host is Moss again, who claimed to remember us. It’s good to be back.

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