Istanbul, April 24, 2006

When we left the cabin this morning, we found a note on our door saying that the Sema Ritual & dinner for tonight had been cancelled due to lack of interest. I'm stunned by this; & very upset as this was one of the most important events we wanted to see while in IST. This was to have been a performance of the spiritual dance of the whirling dervishes & dinner at the Sulimaniye Palace. We went to the tour desk to get details to see if we could arrange this on our own. We could not. It was a special performance just for the cruise lines. The only other opportunity to see this ritual is on Tues. & Sat. nights at the old Orient Express train station.

Today started out like all the rest have, grey & cold. We tried to slither up to the buffet breakfast incognito (w/o makeup). Some buffet items look better than they taste; but most are good & the variety is great. Those chocolate croissants that I had read so much about on the Oceania message boards have lived up to their reputation. It looked too cold & yucky to hit the streets at this time; so we went back to lay down & watch a movie in the cabin. After a little lunch, we took the bus up to Taksim (sort of the central square in the new town area).

There's a pedestrian street (Istaklil Cadessi) lined w/ shops & packed w/ people. It could have been NY or any other major city in the world. It was hectic & dirty; not the side of IST I wanted to remember. The most exciting thing we saw was a huge floral stand w/ the most beautiful array of different color roses. So glad we didn't choose the new town area for our hotel stay.

We took the bus back (w/o buying a thing) about 5; & went to check out the D.R. menu. While we were standing there, up walks Elaine & Brian. They recognized us from the picture I had e-mailed a few weeks ago. We chatted a while. They asked us to join them & their traveling friends (Alistair & Mary) for a drink after lifeboat drill.

And we later shared dinner w/ them (minus Mary, who wasn't feeling well). Unfortunately, we got the same jerk waiter we had last night. Katie had the timbale of blue crab beautifully wrapped w/ a long slice of cucumber for her appetizer. I had a tastefully arranged plate of beef carpaccio w/ caramelized onions. Katie had a huge veal loin chop w/ buerre blanc sauce. I had a fabulous ginger spare rib stirfry w/ linguine. Katie had a delicious pistachio creme brulee'. Katie went back to get an early start on sleep (my snoring is obviously cutting into her rest). I went to the computer room to write our travel diary e-mail. It's cold enough to hang meat in there; & AOL is as slow as Christmas. I was in there until after we set sail at 11. Boy, does it ever feel good to be on the water again.


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