Great start to the day – the hotel is right by the seaside and when I fling the curtains open I have a great view out from the 24th floor towards the glittering waters of the Sea of Marmara with many ships at anchor and the Prince’s Islands beyond.
Busy morning at our distributor’s office discussing the market situation and our strategies, then we move out to visit a few customers to the west of Istanbul. The city is expanding rapidly, with a lot of migrants from the Anatolian countryside. As a result, housing development and construction sites are everywhere and high rises dot the hills. Where houses go, mosques will follow, I see many minarets taking shape.
The companies we meet are a wide mixture: from modern, professionally managed organizations in smart, functional premises, to distinctly dingier outfits in dimly-lit concrete prefab buildings. One thing in common – the Turkish industrial areas all seem to have dirt roads full of potholes! As part of the meetings, a cup of Turkish coffee (kahve) or tea (çay) in a tulip shaped glass is invariably served.
After our last afternoon meeting we head off to a cocktail party! The transport company used by our distributor is hosting a “Happy Hour” for their customers. The location could not be more spectacular: a cocktail bar in Ortaköy, right on the shore of the Bosphorus. We sit by the lapping water, sun setting over the green shores of Asia on the other side of the straits. Huge tankers and small fishing boats ply the waters linking the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, the domes of a white 19th century mosque are just in front and the minarets of Sultanahmet in the distance. With this great view, we pass a Happy Hour indeed!
Ortaköy is a trendy area of Istanbul, narrow streets with old wooden buildings and small squares lined with cafés and restaurants. It is here that we choose to dine, in a balik (fish) restaurant. We ate a few snacks at the cocktail, so we have a light meal – the usual starters, salad, aubergine, börek, and then a plate of grilled shrimps. Turkish drink: raki and water!