Martin Gaisford from ADP Events recently had the pleasure of working on an event with Belmond on-board the VSOE on its journey from Sirkeci Station, Istanbul to Paris. Arriving late afternoon at Sabiha Gokcen airport on the Asian side of Turkey, I was collected by my driver and we started to weave our way through the horrendous traffic that fills Istanbul. Not surprising really when you realise there are over 15 million inhabitants in the city which seems to operate 24 hours a day non-stop. Although a journey time of 1 ½ hours due to the traffic, it was broken by the splendid views of the numerous minarets and mosques silhouetted on the skyline by the setting sun over the Bosphorus.
We arrived at the boutique hotel, 10 Karakoy, Istanbul, (part of the Morgans Hotel Group) to the sound from the minarets calling people to prayer. The hotel, an ex-quarantine hospital and fish market, has been beautifully renovated and tastefully decorated. At check-in, I was upgraded to a Superior Room which was very comfortable although no view of the city. The hotel generally was very comfortable with probably the quietest and smoothest lift I have ever experienced! The staff were very friendly and attentive, nothing was too much trouble. Up to the Sky Terrace for dinner overlooking, perhaps not the best part of the city, but ok for atmosphere and comfort. The food was good, served quickly, and just what I needed after the journey. Sea Bass, vegetables and jacket potato all for £11.90. The hotel is very reasonably priced, around €92 Standard room rate and €108 Superior room, obviously an attempt to increase trade following the recent terrorist attacks.
Hotel Review – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/turkey/istanbul/hotels/10-karakoy-hotel/
The following day I set off to join the VSOE, calling in on the way to the Egyptian spice market, well worth a visit for spices, Turkish Delight and pottery, leaving a visit to the Old Town and Blue Mosque until tomorrow. I arrived at Sirkeci Station, a beautiful period building and sat down to my first Turkish tea…. Hmmm! Not sure about that. The event went ahead without a hitch, after a wonderful dinner onboard the VSOE, I disembarked at the Bulgarian border and was driven back to the hotel where things started to go wrong. Food poisoning kicked in, picked up 2 days earlier in the UK, which had me bed bound until 3.00pm the next day, transfer to airport 4.00pm, arrived Stansted 11.30pm, home to bed for 2 weeks.
Unfortunate end to the event, which was a great success, but it meant I missed the Old Town and Blue Mosque but, I will return one day and explore more opportunities for future events.