We flew to somewhere really quite exotic for a week.
Our hotel terrace had a rather good view of the Hagia Sofia.
We visited the harem at Topkapi Palace.
And while spending the whole day wandering through this beautiful place, saw many treasures such as dozens of doors that were inlaid with tortoise shell and mother of pearl.
And beautifully painted Iznik tiles.
We cruised the Bosphorus.
Bought tea and spices at the Spice Bazaar.
Nearly came away with yet more plants from the plant market.
Sat with a bubble pipe, Turkish coffee and apple tea in the warm morning sun.
Marvelled at the underground Basilica Cistern.
Soaked up the atmosphere of the Whirling Dervishes.
Having gone in during the daytime, spent most evenings transfixed, as the seagulls flew over the Blue Mosque during the muslim call to prayer.
The Grand Bazaar was vast, and amazing.
With whole areas dedicated to different things, such as the book quarter.
In fact, this wonderful city had far too much to put on this humble blog.
But the highlight of the trip for me was when we visited the most significant mosque in the city, the Suleymaniye Mosque. A treasure inside.
And the gardens a treasure also. We met some quiet and gentle muslim gardeners. They couldn't speak English, I couldn't speak Turkish, but we communicated, and understood that we were all gardeners.
They invited me to join them, planting up these amazing flower beds, in this incredible holy place, an honour that I will not forget.
We didn't understand one another, but both sides found a familiar common ground as bedding plants went to and fro.
Afterwards, I walked with Amanda around the grounds, still a little amazed by the experience, and then there was the call to prayer.
We are home now, and on our return, one of the first jobs was to water the allotment. I did this while Amanda watered at home, and while I went backwards and forwards with the watering can, I thought about how 24 hours earlier I had been gardening at Suleymaniye Mosque.......WOW!!!