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Pole to Pole

Day 43: Istanbul

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAs I step out of his elegant, unostentatious house on a small sloping street in Emirgan, I could be in the South of France, with the blue waters of the Bosporus catching the sunlight, people taking a drink or a coffee beneath the shade of ash and mimosa trees, and the almost unbroken line of passing traffic.

Down by the Galata Bridge, close by the old spice markets, the pace of Istanbul life is at its most frenetic. Ferries are constantly loading and unloading, providing a regular and copious passing trade for the street food-sellers. Fishermen dart in, light up charcoal braziers and, rocking crazily in the wash of the ferries, sell their grilled catch then and there. You could have a street dinner every night of the week here and never eat the same menu twice. Apart from the fish, served in luscious sandwiches of hot fresh bread, tomato and onion, there are kebabs, pretzels, walnuts, pancakes and stuffed mussels, corn on the cob, succulent slices of melon and as much sweet tea as you can drink.

Back in England, it's the first day of the football season and in my hotel the new BBC World Service Television is showing Episode five of Around the World in 80 Days.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 43
  • Country/sea: Turkey
  • Place: Istanbul
  • Book page no: 96

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