So the trip to Istanbul is just a couple of days of down time - time alone to chill, relax, wind down before I fly to the south of Turkey to meet my friends for the holiday proper.
The last time I was in Istanbul it was new year's eve four years ago, and it was cold. Grey, wet and cold.
This time the weather couldn't be more different if it tried. It's hot, sunny and dry. It's blue skies and not a cloud in sight. It's better this way.
The last time I was here I had a sticky moment with a belly-dancing lovely.
You see, me and my Best Girl Friend had come to Istanbul to escape the christmas overkill.
We'd been successfully avoiding the worst of the holidays for a couple of years by travelling to countries where christmas isn't the done thing. Morocco had been great for us, twice. Egypt had been excellent. Both had given us cold days, but blue skies.
While Istanbul didn't deliver on the weather, we fell in love with the place for many other reasons, including the friendliness of the locals.
Having visited a particular restaurant twice already (it was handy for late night food near the hotel) BGF and I ended up being invited to see in the new year there too - the owner told us it would be a special evening with good food and entertainment.
He didn't lie. The food was excellent, and there was entertainment in the form of local musicians and dancers. Alas, because of how my seat was positioned, I couldn't see much of the entertainment without pulling a muscle in my neck.
Thus, I was more than a little surprised when BGF whispered "She's coming for you, watch out".
And that's when I found a belly-dancer gyrating next to me.
As she wiggled her charms, the restaurant started to clap along to the music. I wasn't sure what to do next.
Should I stand and dance with her? Should I too clap along? Should I smile and hope it all stops soon?
I didn't do any of these things.
You see, she had on a sturdy-looking brassiere type device that had got notes tucked into it - obviously where she keeps her tips from the other customers that she had danced for. So being a brave man, and wanting to do what I presumed everyone else had done, I reached into my pocket and got out a 10 lira note.
I stood up in front of everyone, folded the note and tucked it inside the lady's brassiere.
Everyone stopped clapping.
She looked at me stunned, turned and ran off.
"What did I do?" I said to BGF.
"Everyone else just handed her the money...." she said.
Seems that I had just treated a lovely Muslim lady like a common or garden hooker, in front of the whole restaurant.
She didn't reappear. The rest of the restaurant soon got back to chatting and clapping to the musicians, but for me and BGF the mood was lost. The service from the waiters deteriorated immediately. When the time came to pay the manager, the money was received with a grunt rather than the usual friendly request to come back soon.
I walked past that restaurant this afternoon.
Well, that's a lie.
I saw the restaurant, I crossed over the road and I walked faster until it was behind me.
I'll be seeking out new eateries on this trip. Let's hope I can stay out of trouble.