From the sunwashed ruins of ancient Greek towns to one of the world’s major cities, the transition was stark. After a week in small towns and villages, Istanbul was a delight: the crowds, the bad traffic, loud noises. It was like coming home! Our hotel was closer to the Topkapi Palace than I’d realized.

So we had a quick lunch at a kabab shop outside the hotel and walked up a massive gate which was the entrance to the park known as Gülhane, rose garden in translation. Lavender was in bloom (featured photo). This was more interesting than roses for us, since lavender does not grow in India. And then we discovered an interesting fountain!