An armed guard directed us round to the other side, which turned out to be quite a trek. The city is fascinating for all sorts of reasons, the cats only one small part of the general fascination. There are cats all over Istanbul in the way that some cities sport dogs. But not scrawny fearful streaks of fur glimpsed diving for cover, these are sleek shiny well-fed beasts that look like family pets, except that there are so many of them.
A grass verge followed the path of the metal bars keeping us out of the museum site as we made our way round the perimeter, the grass sometimes spilling across to the civilian side. And there in a corner sat a tray of dry cat food, a dozen or so felines strolling around it, casting narrow-eyed glances at each other but showing no concern about the tramp of pedestrians within inches of their noses or the racing traffic. I even saw one of them cross the road, with far more aplomb than I'd managed.
In the growing dusk pools of fur dotted the grassy expanse. Cats asleep, catching up on their 18 hours. No wailing and spitting, just an occasional raised hackle. I was to find out at a later event that these cats are as friendly as any family pet and tolerate no liberties.
Given the unpredictability of Istanbul's traffic, the buses had allowed an hour but made it in half that time, leaving stacks of thirsty delegates waiting for the bar to open. We arrived bang on time and were offered drinks as we stepped over the threshold.
The venue was chosen so we had a grandstand view of the city's firework display which was spectacular. The lights were dimmed so we could get the full effect. Alas my camera isn't up to nighttime photography, but the blurry splashes of light hide an incredible show.