Istanbul to Bombay by ship 2000: 1
This email is being sent to all of your at once, as the
satellite email system on board costs $45 per hour (yes, that was per hour,
not per month) measured by the part minute. Fortunately, I brought along my
computer and can put this on disk then just send it off to everyone when I am
on line and the meter is running.
As seems to be my style this year, we started off with some
basic airline problems. The flight on Continental from Costa Rica to Houston
was smooth, on time, and with good seats. When we went to check in with
Lufthansa we found they would not be leaving at 4:00 PM, but rather at 9:30
PM, which would ensure that we missed out connection to Istanbul.
The Lufthansa people, once they finally showed up, got us on
standby with Air France via Paris. Standby, because airline regulations forbid
allowing passengers being allowed on board if there are no meals for them! We
said ?forget the meals, just get us there?, but no way - no meals, no go.
Having a couple of hours to kill, we took a car to a shopping mall and had
lunch. When we got back to the airport, Air France had us confirmed with good
seats and away we went to Istanbul via Paris. Everything was smooth, and we
arrived almost three hours before originally scheduled, except out baggage
didn?t go with us.
At Istanbul we met up with two friends, Paul Jensen who we met
on a riverboat on the Irrawadi River in Burma, and Tim Carlson who we met on
the Lost Islands cruise down the middle of the Atlantic. It was with Tim that
I did the trip through West Africa last fall, as well. They had both wanted to
take this trip, but neither had someone to share with, so I put them together.
Tim?s baggage did not arrive either, so we jointly did our baggage
The cruise line had busses to pick everyone up at the airport -
everyone, that is, except Marilynn and I - we weren?t on the list to go. We
could go with them, however it would cost $15 each, while the cab fare would
be $10 for both of us - we took the cab. This was the second black mark
against Orient lines - the first was their absolutely hopeless sales
We spent a couple of days in Istanbul, one largely wasted on a
nothing tour, and the other with a boat trip up the Bosphorus. We had both
been to Istanbul before, so the most enjoyment was walking around the small
neighbourhoods. We had both been over most of the tourist attractions before,
in years when there was a lot less tourists swarming over them. We were woken
up at 12:30 AM at the hotel the first night to tell us our luggage had
arrived. After the Bosphorus tour we were dropped at the ship.
Our cabin was really a pleasant surprise - lots of room, more
closet and drawer space than we could possibly use and very comfortable twin
beds. The bathroom is big, with a full shower, and there is a desk and a table
with three easy chairs, making the room practical for entertaining. You could
put two of the Explorer cabins that we are used to in one of these!
The rest of the ship is newly renovated, with everything in top
shape. The only thing that is small is the swimming pool. So far the food has
been superb, with great choices. There are three restaurants to choose from,
as well as a half dozen bars and the main show lounge. Entertainment is great,
with two really good dance bands so it looks like survival over the next month
won?t be too onerous.
We were in Kusadasi yesterday for the day. What a change in the
place since I spent four nights here five years ago! (This is where I backed
the Rolls into a stone wall at the hotel and pushed the back bumper in so the
trunk wouldn?t open. A local body shop guy who I am still in contact with from
time to time sorted it out.) The city is at least ten times larger, with
massive new high rise hotels and apartments. I liked it a lot better before!
Marilynn, Tim and Jens went with the bus tour to Ephesus, the ancient Roman
city, while I wandered around town purchasing some essentials such as mix and
a steam iron to avoid the outrageous pressing charges on board. Irons are
forbidden on board, but I have decided to make an exception in our case.
From the description, Ephesus has also change hugely in the
past five years - it was pretty much in natural state when I was there - one
simply wandered around. Now it is very organized, and there is a lot of
restoration work under way.
Tomorrow we have a daylight passage through the Suez Canal,
which we are looking forward to. The day after that we visit Cairo and Giza to
visit the pyramids. I?ll keep you posted as to further progress!