Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Trip Start May 27, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Turkey  ,
Thursday, June 2, 2011

After a 4 hour layover at Athens airport, we were finally on our way to Istanbul.

We arrived, picked up our bags, and entered the arrivals area into, well, it wasn't quite chaos but it was close. Our hotel had provided us with a free airport transfer so we needed to find the sign with our name on it within the huge crowd of people waiting for pick ups. We did eventually find it. Then, it was funny because about 3 different people came up and shook our hands, introduced themselves, and then told us to wait here, the driver will be here in 5 minutes. One of them eventually came back and led us to our driver.

I tried out some of my Turkish on the driver, but unfortunately, didn't know enough to respond back when he replied (haha) but I think he appreciated my effort. Anyway, we made it safely to the Romantic Hotel and we were promptly checked in and shown to our room. It was already late afternoon at this point so, we settled in a bit and then decided to explore the neighborhood.

We walked up to the Blue Mosque and across to Aya Sofya, then down to Gulhane park. Unfortunately, I started to get a blister so, we cut the walk short and went back to the hotel. We ventured out again a bit later for a dinner of doner kebabs. We ate on Divan Yolu and then walked up to the Cemberlitas Hamam where we found, what else, El Torito! We skipped the Mexican chain but I did get a dondurma (ice cream) from the cart right there. It was interesting to try. Their ice cream has orchid powder (salep) in it which makes it more elastic than the ice cream we are used to.

We wanted to go for a drink but weren't sure where to go so we decided to try the Romantic Hotel's rooftop bar. On the way back, we sat in front of the Blue Mosque and the call to prayer started. It was a magical beginning to our adventures in Istanbul.

After a quick drink at the hotel, we called it a night.
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