It took us a while, though. Here’s Lara at Marco Polo airport in Venice: she loved the glowing balls outside.
Step One: get into the departures lounge and find our first flight is cancelled. Not delayed, cancelled. The only one to be cancelled, too. Oh well. We go to the Turkish Airline booth… and a LONG WHILE later, depart again sans W&W for the Hilton nearby. We’re to board a plane the next morning at 10:30. Here’s the Woofie and Lara being quite incensed.
Step Two: Eat Pizza. Mighty fine it was, too. I ordered a nicoise, thinking it would be ‘light’. Boy, was I wrong. The dish it came in was a family serving bowl.
Step Three: take the child to the gym and put her on the treadmill. She absolutely loved it: I had to pull her off the machines with some insistence before she did herself an injury, right after a large pizza.
On the cross-trainer...
... and later, in our very comfy bed, tucked in with Berkshire and Marvin. Unfortunately I slept very little, despite the fluffy pillows and warm duvet - which wasn't the best way to start (or re-start) a trip of considerable duration. Lara did much better, luckily.
Pleased! For some reason she was dead keen on riding on the mini-bus that took us to the airport. What a smirk.
Displeased! Turkish Airlines kept us waiting for hours again in the morning because they still hadn't found us the replacement flights. We hung around for at least two hours, probably more. At last, it came through - and we were at the gate at this point but Lara had simply had enough. And the trip hadn't even started, technically.
I don't know what had happened. Must have been shocking.
Finally, starting out from Venice. Little Grey Riding Wolf is delighted, and Lara's eating shark jellies.
Flying over Serbia, just south of Belgrade, and waving to Aunti Pie (off-screen). Jolly snowy down there.
Istanbul airport. This is why all the flights were in such trouble.
The delights of cacti.
After our rescheduling, it turned out that we had over 10 hours in Istanbul. Initially this seemed like a bit of a bind, but turns out they let you out and about in Turkey quite easily, as long as you buy a visa for 15 euros apiece. So we did, and hit the town.
Here’s Lara on the tram. Again, something must have been exceedingly surprising.
All the mosques were called 'Puppungs'. 'Ohh, it's another Puppung!' It's Lara's appelation but frankly I don't think I'd do any better. I have no idea which one this was, except that it was along the tram-line in from the airport.
Lara going mad in the snow
Sultanahmet. You wouldn't believe how slippery polished marble is in the snow.
Inside Sultanahmet. We only just made it: got a quick peek before they chucked us out for prayers.
Barely got to take this one as was busy being accosted by the first of many little men trying to sell me carpets. I guess they could have had no idea what a dead loss I am on that front. For some reason the offer of 'carpets' always seems to come together with 'tea', which sounds both oddly British and puzzlingly insidious, a bit like 'come up for a coffee.'
Talking of 'little', I noticed (with some surprise) how very short everyone seems to be in Istanbul. The trams were crowded as a tin of pilchards, but I had an almost uninterrupted line of sight way above the heads of most people. Even Lara came up to practically chest-height for the average Turkish person. Suddenly felt as if I had been afflicted by gigantism.
Hagia Sofia... at last! But alas, closed! We missed the opening time... had the flight not been late, we would have seen it. It closes at 4 in the winter, and this was about 4:30. Oh well, perhaps in another 20 years I'll get to go back. I've wanted to see the inside for so long. Well, here's the outside, at least - and surely it must be rare to see it under quite so much snow. That counts, doesn't it?
Lovely even from the outside, through a blizzard.
I was surprised when the tourist information guy at the airport said I should go and see the cisterns, but reckoned it was too strange a thing to make up so we nipped in. Boy, I see what he was talking about. 'Course, he didn't mention they were built by Constantine and then Justinian. Going to see 'a cistern' just doesn't sound ... impressive.
Strange upside-down Medusa. No-one knows what the hell is going on here, it seems. There are two of these, this one upside down and the other on its side. I reckon they were 'avin' a larf.
There are copious amounts of fish down there.
Was snowing even more heavily when we got out.
At the covered bazzar. 64 streets and about 3,000 shops. no wonder we got ever-so-slightly lost in there. Endless entertainment and browsing. Lara chose a toy camel for her keepsake: named him Humph. You'll see him later.
No idea why she looks so guilty. She was actually being quite good.
Pomegranates in the snow, looking like delicately frosted monkey brains.
By about 7 p.m. it was well and truly dark and exceeding cold, so we were glad to get back to the airport. What a fortuitous cancellation, though: without it, we wouldn't have got to see any of all that. Guess what Lara had at the airport for dinner? Yup, pizza.
We bought some Turkish Delight from the market - delicious! Also some stunning concoction of pistachios crowded indecently into a near-solid jelly mass of pomegranate juice and sugar. Oh, yum. OH, yes. 'I'll have what she's having.' Here's Lara peering into the sweetie bag and deciding which one she'll have.
Ah, Humph. Isn't he hadsome.
Istanbul airport... again. Even snowier. We waited for about two hours on the runway, but eventually took off after de-icing. Mind you, it meant that we had almost no wait at the next stop, and besides, Lara slept through it all so it didn't reall matter.
Can't remember what it was but something was hilarious. In the bus to the plane.
Jaws eating Lara's breakfast scrambled eggs. This is towards the end of the 12-hour flight from Istanbul to Singapore.
'OMG that shark, how could he, he left no eggs for me!'
Coming in to Singapore
A bit of a merry chase ensued, around Singapore Changi airport. Where to get the boarding passes from? They hadn’t been able to print them out initially, and people kept sending me to different counters and there was either no-one thre or they redirected me… In the end they got printed and we finally found out that it wasn’t Lufthansa (as on the ticket they’d printed out at Marco Polo) but Singapore Airlines. Huh! First thought: what a ****ing HUGE plane! Never been on one of those things before. One of the airbuses with a top floor that’s bigger than most jumbo jets. It was great, much better than Qantas. The staff never seemed to stop floating round, handing out endless drinks, checking everyone was OK, giving meals to children specially early so that they could be sure to choose what dish they liked best, and possibly get a head start on their sleep… marvellous. Love the uniforms, too – the girls’ ones, that is. The men got a bit left out on the glamour factor there. There was more legroom than any Economy flight I can remember this side of puberty (economy flight? How redundant is that, what other flight do I ever take?) and the food was frankly delicious. Whatever the ‘dragon salad’ (to celebrate the Year of the Dragon) was, boy, they can make more of that any day, far as I’m concerned.
Still, it was a jolly long flight, and we were already tired. Lara had slept almost all the way on the 12-hour one, but this leg was less of a success somnolence-wise. We were ready to get off by the time we landed.
Here's Lara with her kiddy freebie, Kung-Fu Panda, the hand puppet.
The queue at customs in Sydney was, of course, interminable. Ok, well 45 minutes long, to be precise. Packed like the bottom of a wine-press at harvest time. After some confusion at the baggage carousel, I found out that not only had we missed the luggage coming out (we were so long in the queue they’d been and gone) but our cases had never even arrived. So we got a reference number and trotted off to the trains. Again, fortuitous. I’d been dreading the thought of lugging those things through Sydney, and hey presto I didn’t have to. Someone’s going to deliver them to our door tomorrow afternoon instead. How much more civilised it that? I guess they still hadn’t found the third case when I last spoke to them but I’m sure they will.
By this time we were both well and truly whacked. I had to spend a good five minutes waking Lara up to get off the train at Broadmeadow. She was an absolute zombie. A quick taxi ride and… home! Bliss. Ian had bought us milk, bread, biscuits and currant buns, so we could have tea and buns immediately. Only we didn’t quite… first of all I ran a huge bath and we washed and scrubbed until the grime of the last couple of days was quite gone. Then we had tea and buns.
Lara watched telly while I unpacked our hand luggage and went around opening all the windows (it’s still terribly musty even now). I came back to find her slumped and asleep. Woke her up, the which she took with remarkably good grace. Here she is, woken but still slumped. As she put it, ‘I think I can’t walk any more. I’m walkless.’
Ian came round at about 5:30 or so, and stayed playing and being updated on the latest for a couple of hours. In the end Lara went to bed at gone 8, which is incredible, considering. Seems there was no jet lag at all. I thought I’d fall into bed immediately she went, too – but no, got caught up in doing ‘stuff’ and didn’t retire until midnight. Woke up again at 6 and seem none the worse for it… not sure what’s going on. I wonder what was in that dragon salad.