Turkey trip, arriving there

So this series of posts is over a month late (as I flew out on March 31st), and I’d like to apologize for that delay. If there’s a consolation, it’s that I do have more time to think about what I wanted to say when giving my thoughts on my fantastic trip. So, without further ado, here’s the summary of the travel day to Istanbul!

Flying into Istanbul was a cinch, albeit I got dinged with a “Sorry, your check-in luggage is just too big” fee in Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport; it literally was a matter of inches due to how close it was. Anyways, once I arrived it was a matter of meeting my mom, who’d flown in an hour earlier from the US. It went well, but given how massive Istanbul Airport is, it took maybe twenty minutes or so to get to the appropriate meeting place–we ended up finding each other in front of one of the immigration checkpoints. From there, leaving was a cinch as we’d already gotten our electronic visas prior to departure. So, it was now time to find a way to get to the city.

We’d discussed either taking the new metro line into the city and working our way to our hotel, or getting a bus/taxi to the city center. After another ten minutes or so of consulting the maps and tips we brought, we’d decided on sucking it up and getting a taxi; the idea was that we were just happy to get to the hotel. What then happened was, when we went downstairs from the arrivals area, was that we ultimately paid roughly 45 euros for a private taxi, at a kiosk just outside the door. At the time we knew we’d paid a bit too much for it since our research indicated it should only be about half that price; our final taxi to the airport when it was time to depart Turkey ran us twenty euros less. Looking back, it was worth it to not have to worry about picking up anybody else and just getting a chance to take it easy. What about the drive, then? Other than the fact that it started to rain a bit it was straightforward. The drivers around us were a bit nuts, but as I told my mom, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary compared to Moscow. The forty or so minutes it took for us to get into Istanbul proper afforded us a chance to take in the surroundings, and it felt like night and day. Picture a ton of apartment blocks of varying quality and age spread out over sprawling hills, then imagine that scenery giving way to more urbanization and you’ll get an idea for what the suburbs are like. Oh, and our driver went through the incredibly narrow side alleys to get us close to where we were staying. We knew that Fatih, the district where we were based the entire time in Istanbul, is where a lot of the tourist attractions are. What we didn’t realize was just how packed it was! Though, the sidewalks being incredibly narrow didn’t help us as we had to navigate a bit further to get to the street where our hotel was. It was mercifully far enough away from the main road to give us some peace and quiet, and I know I was super happy to get into the room and drop off my bag.

Once we checked it, it was time to eat: my mom and I both hadn’t eaten since the meager plane meal. The helpful receptionist told us that finding a good place that locals ate at was a quick five minute walk, which turned out to be one street wtih restaurants on both sides. However, the one thing that we’d totally forgotten was that, this being during Ramadan, everybody was coming out to eat after the breaking of the fast. Whoops! We had to circle around the strip a bit before ultimately settling on a place that looked like they had some room for us. Once inside, we spotted a table that was free, but the hostess told us it was reserved. However, it turned out that they were running late, so the space was given to us under the condition that we’d move over once they showed up. This arrangement worked for us, and we were soon tucking into the fresh-off-the-grill meat, as you can see in the picture below. It didn’t take long before the people with the reservation showed up, but they were two very amiable Egyptians who happily shared the space with us. We chatted over the food, and we soon learned that they lived in London but visited Istanbul quite often and had made this restaurant their go-to whenever they were in town. Eventually it was time to leave, and we were able to finally get relax for the day. All in all, it was an interesting introduction to both Istanbul and Turkey that left us excited to see what else was around!

This was the incredible doner kebab we had! It absolutely raised the bar for future kebabs we had, and nothing else came close during the duration of the trip.

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Restaurant: Kasap Osman

Hoca Paşa, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye


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