I read an admonition once, that went something like this: "If you don't want to find yourself at 90 years old, sitting in a rocking chair with a blanket at your feet and a basket full of 'I wish I had done this...', then step out of your comfort zone and do it. And so it goes. Today, we spent the morning and early afternoon in Istanbul. Yesterday, we found ourselves negotiating with some taxi drivers to get us to the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. I've wanted to visit the Hagia Sophia for some time now, as it is considered one of the architectural wonders of the world. It's easy to see why. With the 4th largest dome in the history of the world, it's a marvel to behold. No less so is the Blue Mosque. Amazing. It boggles the mind to see history in living color. It's a shame in some ways that our society no longer places value in what I would consider timeless, beautiful architecture. As with yesterday, today we did not have a planned tour and decided to wing it. This is a city of 14-16 MILLION people depending upon who you ask. My thought: At that many people, what's a couple million? We met for breakfast in the fabulous, but casual Lido cafe and then proceeded to disembark. We hailed a shuttle for a few lira - headed to the Grand Bazaar. There's not much I like better than haggling over a good find. Be sure that I did! Turkish hospitality is legendary and for good reason. Tea is offered everywhere regardless of whether you buy a famed rug. The rugs are gorgeous, and probably well worth the money - even if it is what I consider a sizeable sum. We toured around the city in a double decker bus and we really got a feel for how large this city is. Situated on two continents (Asia and Europe), the diversity of it's people is amazing.
So, back to my point about doing things that are out of your comfort zone...it was a little unnerving to go to a foreign port without a real plan - but I'm thankful we did. We went our various ways at one point, but we each deemed what we had chosen to be wonderful! No regrets here. :-)
We enjoyed a FABULOUS meal at the Pinnacle Grill - Holland America's alternate restaurant onboard. It was a gift from our travel agent, and we enjoyed it immensely. How can melt-in-your-mouth sterling filet mignon with asparagus, mushrooms and an amazing mustard sauce be bad, I ask you? Better yet, the dessert and even the dessert appetizers (yes - really!) were phenomenal. I can't say enough about this luxurious alternative to the traditional dining. Although, I certainly wouldn't complain about that, either!
Tomorrow is our first day at sea and our first official formal night. I'm going WAY out of my comfort zone and making good on my promise to provide a few laughs with my turn at the ballroom dancing lessons. I'm sure that medics will be standing by...
After that, I intend to visit the art auction and procure some additional Tarkay pieces or maybe even another Kraznyinsky. In the afternoon, it's onto the Shuffleboard tournament, then to flower arranging and somewhere in between all that, I'll be scouring the ship for usable items for our Ship Building Contest (did I say "Out of My Comfort Zone" yet?). Tomorrow night we'll dine formally and will end the evening with who knows what?
The next day- which I think is actually Wednesday, will find us in Sochi, Russia. Who would have imagined?
By the way...what's in your basket when you're 90?