Here's our first couple of days in Istanbul. I've missed loads out, There's simply so much to see and do, and we never even scratched the surface. I'll do the next couple of days later on and hopefully finish tomorrow. Just remember we are budget travellers, and not just tight Brits!
Saturday (7 Nov) - Arrived by EasyJet at 1315. Visa easy, make sure you get it before immigration. Shuttlebus already booked and waiting for us. Took an hour or so. The journey gives you a flavour of how awesome and beautiful Istanbul is. Booked into Hanedan Hotel (see review). Straight out and at it. Money changing – easy enough (cash for cash), got a decent rate of £ = TL240 (no commission, but be careful at some places). Followed the tram line down to Eminonu. Absolutely brilliant area, so full of local life colour and energy. All the action on the water takes your breath away. Treated ourselves to one of those famous fish sandwich – watch the odd small bone. Cost 4TL – yummy! Walked back up to Sultanahmet, and found the Grand Bazaar. Chokker with tourist groups, quick exit. Just wandered round for a couple of hours before an early night.
Sunday - Call to prayer at 0545. We lived in Saudi for 4 years so well used to prayer-times! Gorgeous morning, a bit hazy, ships hooters in the distance. Lovely breakfast on the Hanedan roof terrace, glorious views all around. Kadikoy, and a trip into Asia, was our destination today. Slow walk down to Eminonu for the ferry. For some reason the kiosk wasn’t open and taxi drivers were touring for business. Decided we might need a change of plan, so walked across Galatea Bridge, which was lined with locals fishing. Over the bridge on the right (Karakoy) is a ferry stop. Walked down, and great, the ferry goes to Kadikoy. Bought our jetons (TL1.5), and got the ferry 5 minutes later. Wonderful 25 minute journey, stopping briefly at Hyderapasa train station. Kadikoy is brilliant. Be careful crossing the road from the ferry terminal. Then just enjoy the place! You’ll want to go back, again and again. Got the ferry back to Europe from Hyderapasa train station, as we needed to have a look around the train station, which is a beautiful building Galatea Bridge was absolutely mobbed. Walked back up the hill and to the hotel for a rest. All the way to the hotel from Eminonu the pavements are busy and everything is buzzing. You’ll pass the main train station (Sirkeci). Try and imagine the Orient Express arriving in it’s heyday! Have a look around, the museum is great – and free! In the evening we just took in the sight and sounds, and encouragement from the restaurants. We found a cheap and cheerful pasta place, where a huge bowl of 3 different pastas of your choice cost 4TL, and 2TL for a thirst quenching softie. No beer for me so far, a record in the making! Early night, Bosphorus Cruise tomorrow.