So, yes, I've been abroad. It was nice, although clearly these days I don't fly well. It was nowhere near last year's spiking horrors of having to spend 24 hours flying back from Australia, but flying to Turkey not pleasant.
It didn't help that we had two security alerts. One was due to a false passport and a lot of suspicious luggage. I find this reassuring. Nothing says "we're not taking off until we're absolutely sure there isn't a bomb on the plane" more than being told to collect all your luggage and assemble on the tarmac while they empty out the hold.
The other security alert was on an internal flight. It was caused by a little old lady trying to smuggle five tightly wrapped packs of goats cheese in her hand luggage. Clearly, she'd never heard of semtex. Once the security staff had stopped shouting and ringing bells, they started laughing and taking photos of the x-ray on the phones. Bless.
So how was Turkey? Much the same, really. My Turkish is the same as ever (good in restaurants, hopeless elsewhere, and if you're hoping for a verb in a sentence then you'll be waiting a long time). But hey - it's an unusual skill to have, so I'm very proud of it. Even if I'm not very good at it. It's like making a mediocre creme brulee.
Not much happened really. Istanbul was its dumpy rude self. Cappadocia is still the most beautiful place on the planet:
Odd to think I've been going there for nearly 20 years. Every time they say "oh, tourism's ruining it..." and yet, it's still there, as magical as ever. Although this time we found a whole new underground city and a monastery, which made up for them putting really overweight-American-friendly superwide steps in the more popular cave churches.
Two lovely new things. One was trying out a night train from Istanbul. The guidebooks are all sneery about the trains, but the amazing seat61.com assured me it was possible. And it was cheap and lovely.
The other nice thing was going to Safranbolu. It's an old Ottman town that they never really got around to knocking down in favour of something in peach concrete. It's charming and friendly, but the best thing of all was that they've turned a 14th Century caravanserai into a luxury hotel:
It was like staying in a museum. Amazing, but you'd occasionally find tourists in your bedroom. There was also the day when I stuck my trainers to dry on the roof and the Turkish government had hired the hotel to launch some kind of policy initiative. We hid in some caves while important looking people stood on our balcony chain-smoking and doing a deal.
We also went to the Black Sea Coast, which turned out to be very hot and not much else. A nice old man took us out in his boat so we could look at jelly fish and dolphins and watch him smack the brains out of several small fish with his shoe.
There were a lot of cats in Turkey, all trotting around with the quiet certainty that they run the place. It's like a benevolent dictatorship - they control the vermin and charm the tourists, and they also tell you how propserous a place is. Safranbolu and Cappadocia had plump sleek cats. Istanbul had bedraggled street mogs. We watched one eating bread. I was not allowed to pack any in my luggage.