Tobia couldn’t believe she was actually in Istanbul. The city was intoxicating with its white minarets of mosques rising into the sky, sweltering summer heat, crush of the crowds, sidewalk salesmen bearing carpets, smells of salt water and Middle Eastern spices all competing for her attention.
Her friend from university, Alice, picked Turkey two weeks ago as they stood in front of the Flight Centre agency on High Street, Oxford, browsing the cheap getaways posted in the window. There was Jersey, and Portugal, and New York, and Iceland, but none seemed quite as exotic or beckoning as this mad whirl of colors and cultures straddling the Bosphorus Strait between Europe and Asia.
Today, they were winding their way through the Grand Bazaar in Sultanahmet, a centuries-old market where traders sold spices, cloth, jewelry, kebaps, track pants, toys, and anything else they could round up to peddle.
“Look!” pointed Alice at a grizzled old vendor selling dozens of beaded necklac