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Pole to Pole

Day 44: Istanbul

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe crew are up early to shoot the sunrise from the top of the 600-year-old Galata Tower, where in May 1453 the Genoese Christians handed over control of the city to the Ottoman Muslims, a key moment in European history. It is at breakfast at the Pera Palas Hotel that I hear the first news of modern history in the making. Those with short-wave radios have heard word from the Soviet Union that Gorbachev has been overthrown in a right-wing coup. Nothing more is known at the moment. I think of all the friends we made - Irena and Volodya and Edward and Sasha the Lenin impersonator - and I know that if the news is true things can only be worse for them. Selfishly, we can only be thankful for our extraordinarily lucky escape. If this had happened three days earlier, the Junost might never have left Odessa and we would have been stranded. If it had happened three weeks earlier we would never have been allowed into the Soviet Union.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 44
  • Country/sea: Turkey
  • Place: Istanbul
  • Book page no: 96

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