Talking Turkey

Ah, where did it all go wrong eh? There I was, a few years ago, a bored merchant banker predicting the end of the economy as we knew it and deciding there had to be more to life.

Well, I was right about the economy - although, admittedly, I was a little early baling out partly for that reason in, er, 1997. I was certainly right about there being more to life. Journalism might not always be the best paid of roles but goddamn the perks can be good. Hence I'm writing this on a hotel balcony at the Mardan Palace, overlooking the poolside dining area where tonight's opening gala will take place. And I'm also overlooking the stage

where tonight's cabaret - Seal, Tom Jones, Mariah Carey - will perform...

Sadly cameras are banned at the dinner tonight, so no extreme close-ups of my share of th
e promised lobster, king crabs and 45Kgs of Beluga that have been brought in. But here's a few from the journey so far.

First lesson: private jets are very convenient. And, whether that's the reason for a not bad at all airline meal or the fact that SAS, where the jet was from, is just a better airline remains to be seen. But it wasn't bad at all. Good smoked salmon, a piece of chicken that tasted of chicken and - hurrah, fans of 70's retro lagers - cans of Tuborg. Haven't seen that for years. I also liked the mini cruet set and the tiny clothes peg holding the rolled napkin together, because then I can play Land of the Giants...

Dinner last night was also fascinating. The Mardan - at £1bn it's Europe's most expensive resort, apparently - has 17 bars and restaurants within its vast grounds. Most of these took a station at a banquet in one of the four ballrooms. The wine flowed, and we got to wander back and forth between amazing seafood (some of the best oysters I've ever tasted, a beautiful piece of lobster), sushi, Chinese, Indian food (an excellent lamb curry), Italian, classically British (okay beef but artery-clogging and delicious gratin dauphinoise), salads, Turkish (they even had a doner table which we all secretly hoped would stay open later than the others), Japanese, Russian... and then, once sated on the savouries, about a third of the room was dedicated to puddings. Wibble.

Anyway, must dash. A very nice member of staff - one of several thousand it seems - has just brought in today's room snack: a long elegant box of pretty good chocolates...


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