Today, again, began with much activity though happily not quite as early as yesterday. The room had been muggy all night even though the air conditioner read-out/thermostat said the temp was set to 16 C and the fan was blowing like a hurricane. I called the desk to ask that maintenance come have a look at it. They arrived shortly and I went out in the hall to send some e-mails as the internet signal in my room was too weak, another problem altogether. A few minutes later he came to where I was sitting with my laptop and handed me his cell phone. On the other end was a very nice lady's voice who informed me my AC was in-op. Yeah, I'm hip. She told me they were changing my room. Wellllll......wait just a minute there. I like the room I'm in, even though it may be a little close and internet is crap. It's got a balcony that overlooks the Olympic size pool, palm trees and beyond that, the Bosphorus. She assured me I would be moving into a 'deluxe' room with balcony and view. It's 11 in the morning and I've had no coffee of breakfast but now find myself packing my bags to change rooms. About ten minutes later a bellman came round to collect my stuff and show me to the new digs. A large deluxe room indeed with foyer, sitting room, bed and bathrooms and large balcony with a view for days. Right. Unpack...again.
At last I made it to the grand pool where Danny and Guy had already taken up residence, staked out my claim on a lounge chair with thoughts of finally ordering a pool-side coffee, took off my shirt and shoes, shut my eyes and laid back. No sooner than I did, I remembered I'd left a shirt on the balcony of the room I'd just vacated. Shit. Shirt and shoes on, back to reception to explain that I needed to get back in my old room. "Certainly, sir. My colleague will take you right up." The same fellow who moved me out escorted me back upstairs and we retrieved the shirt. At this point it was so close to the time to leave I simply got in the shower and made it to the lobby with seconds to spare.
A long drive to the Istanbul airport, aggravated by the usual traffic congestion. In a city of 15 million, you can imagine what the traffic's like. Made it to the airport at 3:30 and had to clear passport control, then wait. We finally got on the plane around 4. I hadn't had anything to eat since the night before, not even a coffee today. Alex our hostess had wonderfully hot and creamy cafe lattes waiting, deep crimson strawberries and the ever present basket of candy were also on hand. Dive in. Once we took off she had arranged some typical Turkish bits and bobs, little spinach and cheese filled pastry triangles, stuffed peppers, vegetables and yoghurt dip that was monstrously delicious and madly devoured.
We arrived in Sofia and were driven to the National Palace of Culture. The place felt like a serious hold over from the eastern bloc. Large, concrete and loads of chrome, glass chandeliers and orange, velvet-like arm chairs that were so tired and grimy that one didn't want to sit down. More problems with the equipment trucks arriving late and the stage was barely set up when we'd arrived. The rigging of the lights was still going on and it was getting very late indeed. We did a meet and greet for Minister of Culture and various people who seemed to appreciate what we were up to. A decision was made to hold the show until nearly 9 due to the lateness of the crew and the audience coming in slowly.
The NPoC is a theatre with proper seating and several balcony tiers. It was filled to capacity of 3,800 when we took the stage. A wonderful audience and good show then a runner back to Istanbul. Tonight's show was the sixth in a row, very common for us, and as we wind down the last few days of the European leg, we're VERY tired. I can't imagine how our wonderful crew must feel. It was another series of good-bye's and tonight we bid farewell to our wonderful Legacy air hostess Alex who anticipated every wish and served up fab food. Also, fond adieu to three more of our drivers and pals, Manfred, Thomas and Bob. We hope to see you all again in a couple of years.
Tomorrow is a day off and it can't come soon enough.