Four matches in Turkey including a Europa League game in Istanbul.
18th September Besiktas 1 Asteras Tripolis 1 Europa League 7,760 (c. 30 away)
This initial Group C game was played in the Ataturk Olympic stadium because of the redevelopment being done to Besiktas’ Inonu ground.
On a night of heavy rain in the capital a moderate crowd turned out but those that came provided typically noisy encouragement with the fans going through a full repertoire of chants.
This was my first visit to this stadium since Liverpool’s ‘Miracle of Istanbul’.
And there would no miracle for Besiktas who should probably have taken the three points after they led following a neat combination finished by Gokhan Tore.
Asteras mostly played on the break and it was only later in the second half that they established consistent pressure.
Eventually they found space down the left and equalised when Argentina sub. Parra volleyed in with a couple of minutes remaining.
For a team with very limited European experience it was a great point and it certainly dampened the locals enthusiasm.
I took the long metro ride back to Taksim while trying to dry out my clothes as best I could.
20th September Suat Altin Insaat Kayseri Erciyesspor 1 Akhisar Belediye Genclik VE Spor 2 c. 1,000 (c. 50 away) Super League
Two of the longer names in the Turkish League met in the fine Kadir Has stadium - on the light-rail line from the centre of Kayseri.
The slightly surreal atmosphere was at least helped by the presence of a band and a drummer amongst the small group of ultras.
On 33 minutes the home side went ahead when a left wing cross was driven in by Ahmet Kilic.
But despite retaining the lead into the break it did seem likely that the visitors would reply and sure enough they got the equaliser when prolific Greek striker Theofanis Gekas headed in from a corner fairly soon after the restart.
Much later and in the final minute, with Erciyesspor pressing, Akhisar broke away and Gekas was there at the far post to slide in the winner.
The result would leave the visitors joint top of the Super League after three matches.
Back via the light rail I had a kebab and couple of glasses of red wine while watching Galatasaray on TV (and later W. Wonka in Turkish)
21st September Sivasspor 0 Konyaspor 0 Super League c. 4,000 (small group of away)
I had taken the bus from Kayseri to Sivas and then stayed in the very comfortable Buruciye hotel in the heart of the city.
Where it was a short walk to the historic centre which includes some fine minarets, a mosque and other impressive buildings.
As in Kayseri there were few, if any, Western tourists walking around.
The 4 Eylul stadium is also not too far from the centre (it will be replaced by a new stadium further away)
It’s of the older style with open curved ends and covered side stands.
This match produced only half chances in the first period and though the home side stepped up the pace in the second half they failed to break down the visiting defence.
The nearest they came was when Moroccan Mehdi Taouil hit the bar with a cross/shot with about fifteen minutes left.
As we heard the call to prayer late in the game the home forwards failed to conjure up the necessary final ball to get the win.
On the way back to the hotel - perhaps inevitably - a kebab followed by some baklava.
22nd September Istanbul Basaksehir 1 Trabzonspor 1 Super League c. 5,000 (c. 4,500 away)
Its tempting to underestimate the home side (who used to be called Istanbul BBSK) with their small number of fans and being overshadowed by the famous Istanbul giants.
But they play in a nice new stadium and they certainly held their own against Trabzonspor who brought a large group of fans (presumably nearly all based in the capital ?)
The visiting team also fielded Guinea star Kevin Constant as well as Algerians Medjani and Belkalem plus Abdul Waris of Ghana.
But in general Trabzonspor lacked fluency and became very frustrated.
Frustration that boiled over in the second half with a big bust up with the referee which also resulted in a couple of fans running onto the pitch to confront the officials.
So much for the new ID card system and the extra security.
The home side added to the massive away support’s misery when they took the lead through Bosnian Edin Visca’s right foot effort just after the break.
But just when it looked like it would be a loss for the Black Sea team they got a very late penalty and substitute Cardozo blasted it home to salvage a point.
I took the very convoluted route back from Basaksehir via bus, metro, walk and another metro to Taksim.
As an aside the Istanbul metro has been extended (the good news) but lacks the smooth connections (the bad news) of other systems.
Illustrated by the fact that it is normally a lot quicker to get the bus from Taksim Square to the airports.
And in another aside I should mention that the new ID scheme/ticketing system has clearly affected the number of fans at many matches.
Though as Turkey is not renowned for providing attendance figures its hard to tell by how much.