Scene-setter: Ask Blake to recite any scene from Good Will Hunting or A League of Their Own and she’s got you covered, but there are some serious gaps in her cinematic education. Take, for example, that she had never seen a Bond film before 2014. How they let her graduate from the 90’s without seeing GoldenEye is baffling to MacKenzie. After Skyfall sucked her in, we moved on to the classics, starting with From Russia With Love, the 1963 James Bond romp that finds Sean Connery in Istanbul, navigating cisterns and collecting countless STIs.
Pound-the-table recommendation: Sometimes the biggest tourist attractions are the biggest mehs. The Statue of Liberty is way smaller than you imagine, and Blake, a Plymouth native, will be the first to tell you that you can skip the rock. But for all the eating and strolling and coffeeing that we do, we also see sights like real Lonely Planet-clutching tourists. I mean, you aren’t about to go to London and not visit Buckingham Palace (JK, we only drank beer and sang karaoke and got haircuts and tattoos in London). But in Istanbul, we did visit the Hagia Sophia, and it exceeded our already high expectations. It’s flat-out mind-blowing in its size, construction, and beauty. Don’t miss it.
Back-pocket fact: There are a couple of stunning mosaics in Hagia Sophia, but we’re partial to this one featuring Jesus, HBIC Zoe, and her who-cares third husband Constantine IX. Zoe, although she ruled as co-empress of the Byzantine Empire with her sister Theodora, apparently took little interest in governing, preferring instead to spend her time concocting beauty potions and boning down with courtiers. She first married when she was 50 and ran through three husbands in quick succession; the first two died under “mysterious circumstances.” But seriously about the beauty potions—she apparently stayed wrinkle-free until her 60’s.