Monday, December 7, 2009

Welcome to the Sultans Suite

Even Turkish dogs bow to Austrian Airlines Senators!

I haven’t made Spaghetti Bolognaise for a while so today I decided it was time. I bought some prime minced beef for the Spaghetti and some lesser (cat grade) mince for the small furry creatures who abound in this apartment. At about 4:00 I fed the cats – then went to make the Spaghetti. There is no need to tell you more. But the cats really enjoyed it.

Our Christmas wreath with the four large candles did not survive out trip away. Sissi decided that she would like to be a circus trapeze artist and in the process demolished in completely. This was not entirely unexpected and indeed the only place it would be safe from Sissi would be in the basement.

Cate has decided that if we get a Christmas tree (which we probably will) we will not put our ornaments on it as this would be too great a temptation for a small, climbing cat. We will have to think about whether the lights will be too provocative.

We had arranged to rent a car with a navigation system – mainly to get in and out of Istanbul. When we arrived to collect the car the man said ‘we don’t have a navigation system available – but I will give you a map.’ The map turned out to be a small map of Turkey showing only the main cities and towns. For navigation purposes in Istanbul it would have been totally useless.

However – having anticipated this very situation – I produced our Tom Tom navigation system – complete with a map of Turkey which I had downloaded last week – and away we went. It proved to be an almost painless experience and it was a doddle getting out of Istanbul once Cate had mastered the art of driving in Turkey. To do this you need to visualize yours as the only car on the road and drive at full speed into any gaps that appear.

We did get lost taking the car back to the airport but in mitigation mention that there are NO signs anywhere (at least in English) telling you where to take rental cars. You actually have to drive into the car park before you see any signs – which we did eventually – and someone came to take the car away from us.

He was not happy as we had covered the car in mud at Gallipoli and had not filled the tank. This is what happens when you run a car rental business – you get thoughtless clients like us who make your life a misery.

We stayed at the Kervansaray Hotel in Canakkale (pronounced Chanakkally) which is a ferry ride across from the Gallipoli Peninsula. We were in the ‘Sultans Suite’ which was without doubt the weirdest hotel room we have ever occupied – and contained the only shower we have ever used where we could not stand upright because of the low ceiling. The suite was on three levels and the stairs to the top level were the steepest I have ever seen.

There were no blinds on the windows – which looked out onto the main courtyard - the bedroom was above the hotel main electricity box which popped, cracked and snarled all night, there was a strange room under the stairs from which emanated strange whirring and clicking noises, the air conditioner had apoplectic hissing attacks every hour or so and we had a direct audio link to the nightclub on the next corner. I don’t know how this happened by there could well have been catacombs. Whatever – it sounded like we were on the dance floor.

We concluded that the Sultan must have been a blind, deaf, very agile dwarf – but we were quite happy there.

Çanakkale is a lovely little town – or what we saw of it was – with narrow cobbled streets and hordes of funny little shops and funny little houses.

We found that the Turks drink only their own coffee and tea (and why wouldn’t they) and that it is nearly impossible to get an espresso coffee. We found only one place which did espresso and we haunted it for two days.

Very few people speak any English (or French or German) which means that we usually had to resort to charades – but managed like everyone else does.

We just love Turkish food and I have been commissioned to start cooking it. Unlike the Viennese – the Turks throw the occasional vegetable onto the plates with the meat so it has some health giving potential. I imagine that there will be hordes of people selling Turkish condiments at Naschmarkt so will trundle down there this week to have a forage.

There must also be some excellent Turkish restaurants in Wien and I shall investigate.

Cate enlivened the trip back to Istanbul by trying to rear end the car in front of us in the wet and missed it by less than a millimeter. Scared the life out of both of us.

We were travelling economy on Austrian Airlines – but as Cate is a ‘Senator’ a flight attendant from Business Class put on rubber gloves and came down to the economy section to ask Cate is she would like anything – a pillow perhaps – or a copy of Newsweek. What Cate really wanted was an upgrade but she took the pillow and I took Newsweek.

The man next to me was Austrian and had a bunch of advertising brochures from Vienna. He was totally transfixed by the Mobelix brochure and pored over it for ages.

I simply cannot imagine what he wanted to buy – although they do have a great range of Christmas presents for under €2 and perhaps he had a large family.

And incidentally – ‘ Bitte Keine Werbung’ signs only work if the person delivering them can read – or cares. While my door handle is blissfully free of advertising material – the letter box is still stuffed full every day. Not sure what to do about this.

And finally – I have nothing at all to say about Tiger Wood - well - except – why do these high profile people – men and women – conduct relationships using text messages and voice mail.

Does it never occur to them at all that when it goes belly up (as it inevitably does) every excruciating thing they have ever said will be on the front page of The Daily Bugle, every man or woman with whom they were involved will sell their stories to The Daily Toe Rag and if there are sex tapes they will end up on the Internet.

Tiger may be the world’s best golfer but in matters of illicit relationships he is - like all men - dumber than a Mud Duck.



  1. Our kids like KENT Restaurant:
    Brunnengasse 67
    1160 Vienna
    +43 1 4059173
    They actually have a separate non-smoking area.
    Better make reservations, they seem to always be busy.

    Maybe you could hang a little fir tree from the ceiling?
    Out of cat-reach. ;-)

  2. Well now that you have shown us about upside down trees we can give it a try.