Friday, November 19, 2010

Istanbul Chronicles: Sultanahmet, fat cats, expensive dining out

Great first day in Istanbul

After a tedious check-in and passport control at the Russian side, we finally took off and the 1 hour 40 minute flight to Istanbul lasted a mere second due to us blacking out as we gained the altitude and expert piloting… only to be followed by a rough landing. We arrived at our hotel at 6am and amazingly enough, we were allowed to check in at the time (originally they said we were supposed to check in no earlier than 12.00pm).

The room turned out to be pretty great – a solid new three star hotel with a terrace for breakfast and an occasional smoke for my friend (5 days, 4 nights, 60 euro per person, I kid you not). We caught up on some sleep (our bodies and brains ached for it) and went on to have a day-long stroll about town seeing most of the major attractions in Sultanahmet and around it, starting with the Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern and ending at the Spice Market (where we found ourselves by accident and it was quite an experience… not for the faint of heart).

The most enjoyable thing was the awesome mood the reigned in and around us – the weather, the people around, the nice conversations that were started out of the blue, the Mosques, the ever present Istanbul cats that have no shame and yet are sweet and fantastic looking (are they sort of like cows in India or what?), we also particularly enjoyed the calls to prayer that at certain times are heard anywhere and everywhere though loudspeakers.

We then went on to have a great and overpriced lunch at 4pm on our way back to Sultanahmet.

All in all, a good start of our first trip outside Europe and America.


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