Monday, April 7, 2008

It's supposed to be about travel, right?

So very soon we will be off to visit friends who are now living in Surrey (SW London 'burbs). My old college friend and former flatmate Wendy grew up all over the world, with a father working for an international corporation. For the past 6 years or so, she and her own family have been doing the same. Her husband works for a company with offices all over the world, and prior to their living in London he was posted to Bangkok, Thailand and then The Hague, Netherlands. We've made it a happy practice to accept their open invitations to visit them everywhere they've lived, so when they found out they'd be moving to London, Wendy told me they were moving just so I'd have a different place to visit.

Having lived in London briefly in the mid-80's, it's not a new place to visit, but a perennial favorite. There is just an endless amount to do and see. My favorite museum has to be the Wallace Collection, an oasis of serenity and beauty (and arms) just a few blocks off the commotion of Oxford Street. I also love Kenwood and wandering around Hampstead Heath (Freud Museum is neat)...the food halls at scene (this time it's David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow" at the Old Vic with Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum, thanks to Wendy's eagle eye and fast ordering fingers--it sold out right away for the entire run). And of course given my millinery background for a quarter century I am crazy for the textiles and costume collections at the V & A!

After that we'll be going to Istanbul, where we don't know anyone; one of our good friends grew up there and still visits family in the summers but that's as close as it gets. In this case we'll be renting a flat in Beyoglu, the lively heart of "modern" (mostly less than 200 years old) Istanbul. We'll certainly spend a couple of days across the Golden Horn in the old part of the city, seeing Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, maybe the Grand Bazaar, but I feel the pain of the weak dollar so intensely that I don't want to go where I might be tempted to buy something! Then one day we'll spend on the Bosphorus ferry, another on Buyukada, one of the Prince's Islands, and the locale where our friend spends his time in Istanbul when he visits. I don't think we'll be in town for the right day for a whirling dervish session (twice a month in the off-season) but we should be there at exactly the right time for a splendiferous display of blooming tulips all over town. Did you know tulips are actually Turkish, not Dutch? Of course, there will be time spent in the Beyoglu area where we'll be headquartered, and we'll be near a large market where we hope to shop and do some of our own cooking with fresh local seafood and produce.

My ever-lengthening to-do list includes the following thus far:
*order & pick up GB pounds, euros and Turkish liras
*find out the details of using my phone in UK and Turkey
*investigate weather--monthly averages for the times we'll be there
*find out what American groceries we need to bring to Wendy (for the kids, mostly)
*finish client trip plans for those folks who will be leaving while I'm away
*pay bills
*return library books!
*finalize arrangements for pets
*decide what hats to take *{:-)

and on and on...

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