We've decided to eat at the Grup restaurant where we and the Walters met every night for dinner after we got stuck. Nefise has brought a friend called Cihan who speaks excellent English. We have a most enjoyable lunch but are rather taken aback when Nefise and Cihan insist on paying - they are most insistent so we concede, but agree later to send a gift from England to say thankyou. They insist on walking us to the Blue Mosque - where Cihan explains that the chains draped under the entrance were to fordce the Sultan to bow as he entered - and we insist that they both let us return their hospitality in the future.
We pass along the street behind Aghia Sophia to admire the traditional wooden houses, then take Alex to see the two hotels we stayed in before and visit the parrot from the Safir, who has moved to another hotel. He looks significantly more motheaten than I remember. Next stop is the New Mosque which is crowded but apparently more with Turks than tourists. A boy is dressed like a prince for his circumcision, playing happily with his sister, either oblivious to or resigned to the ordeal in store. The spice market behind is our next stop and Alex is captivated by the colours and aromas. Finally we go round he corner to the horticultural section which also includes baby rabbits, chicks and leeches.
We catch the tram back across the Galata bridge and return to the ship. As usual, the call goes out for latecomers to identify themselves. At our departure time the gangway has been stowed but one passenger is apparently still absent. Half an hour later we're still dockside, although it's unclear whether weare waiting for him or a gap in the traffic - it's a ridiculously busy waterway.
This is a port where our balcony really pays off: our view is of the two principal mosques and Topkapi Palace. We enjoy some marvellous views as we sail away and turn towards Asia. Later at dinner, Alex hails this as one of his standout days. Mine, too.