Istanbul, Turkey – the last stop on the tour

photoThe ride in from the airport was fascinating. I’d never been to Turkey before, although I have friends who have visited. Istanbul is very cosmopolitan. Here, you’ll note the flag. It was a big national holiday, something my publisher hadn’t realized when they scheduled the date. Would that affect the turnout for the signing?
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They put me up in a gorgeous hotel, the Hilton high on the hill with this balcony overlooking the Bosphorus (which is a strait), near Taksim square.

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At night, the view turned into this, accompanied by a mix of disco and traditional music playing from a party venue. I could only hear it if I stood on the balcony and I welcomed this incredible soundtrack. Istanbul, you are magic.

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Here I am in Trump Tower, a beautiful complex. I had a full day first meeting bloggers and then a group of girls who had won a contest to meet me (never thought I’d ever say that). Starters has been out there since the US release, so they all knew about the book and asked great questions.

At one point in-between meetings, I asked if I could go upstairs a few floors to see the bookstore. I wanted to see the layout to have a better idea of how my presentation should go.  Imagine the look on my face when I saw the girls were lined up an hour ahead to get their book signed.

photo (5)Here is the entrance to this large, gorgeous bookstore that was stocked mostly with books! They also had cds, dvds and a small selection of stationery items.
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My signing line!

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Fresh flowers, a display of Starters behind me, my interpreter by my side, and a movie theater type of barrier to keep the photographers at a distance. Wow, I say.

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There were three professional photographers and they stayed the entire hour and a half it took to sign. The others are patient parents.

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I did have a couple of boys in my line. I loved getting to really talk to these fans, because they had waited so long. They were adorable. To speak to a girl who lives halfway across the world, but she understands my writing, my story — to see her eyes light up — this is why I do this.

Just when we thought we were finished, a few more fans came running (they made announcements on the loudspeaker throughout the mall). I posed for final pictures and bought a beautiful cd of Turkish music.

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They had posters like this on every level of the mall. I couldn’t fit it into my suitcase!
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After the signing, my wonderful editors took me sight-seeing to the beautiful Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. These were amazing places and I felt very fortunate to see them (I came prepared with a head covering). Then they took me out to a lovely fish restaurant that was light and airy where we enjoyed some delicious traditional Turkish dishes, including Raki. My editors spoke perfect English and have the same sense of humor I do, so we laughed and chatted away the night.

The next day I saw Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar (where I quickly bargained for a small gift and also got some Turkish Delight in the spice market for friends) before dashing to the airport to make my way home. Things would change very quickly in Istanbul, in a matter of days, and I hoped that none of the people I had met had been hurt.  The more I travel, the more I see the similarities in us, and this is such a wonderful country. I hope you all stay safe and well.

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