Istanbul happened this year at the end of February because of a flight offer we couldn’t refuse from Tarom. We booked our flights in October last year and since then we had nothing to do but wait for the trip to actually happen.
So here we are, on the 19th of February in the Bucharest Otopeni Airport boarding for our flight to the first trip of the year. We started with a small delay, because the weather conditions were not very good on the Istanbul Airport, but we did manage to arrive around lunch time.
From the Airport you can get quite easy to the city center, there are a subway train and then a tram that can take you there in about an hour, but only if you manage to understand how to buy tickets. For us it was a bit difficult to understand the system, although I had read prior to the trip how it works, but I still didn’t get the idea. Although it might sound easy (you get a travel card from the machine which you can fill and refill how many times you want), it did take us about 20 minutes to figure it out and finally get in the train. The good thing, however, is that this card is valid for all means of public transportation (including the ship taking you from the European part to the Asian one).
We chose our accommodation in a very good position and considering the fact that we booked the flights almost 6 months in advance, we also got a very good deal for a 4 -star hotel next to the important attractions of the city (The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace).
So here we are, checked in at the hotel, outside we had an absolutely horrible weather, with fog and quite cold, in our first day of Istanbul. Not too happy about the weather, but still quite optimistic about the next days.
Since we got to the hotel quite late, we decided that first day would be only for a walk to nowhere in the city so that we get a bit used to everything around us.
We first went to have a late, but well-deserved lunch and we basically chose the first place that came in our way. A restaurant close to the Blue Mosque, I think it was the Turkish version of a fast food restaurant. Everything was already cooked, but still fresh and absolutely delicious. I was happy to see that they have quite a variety of vegetarian dishes, but also meat ones.
This was the first encounter with the Turkish cuisine and on the spot I was convinced that this trip will be an amazing food experience. But more on that on the next days. Food in Istanbul is quite affordable, for our first meal we paid around 35 TLR (around 11 EUR).
For the next 3 -4 hours we walked around the city with no specific purpose and by night we got to the Galata Bridge. Here’s full of restaurants, quite touristic I would say, with waiters trying to convince you to chose their place. They all have the same prices, same food, but some of them will say :
‘I can tell you see yourself inside my restaurant, having dinner and drinking a tea!’ Some of them are very insistent, maybe a bit harassing, but if you ignore them, you will manage to survive. Next to the Galata Bridge , there are some boats that serve fish sandviches. It was a recommendation from a friend, but we didn’t try them that night.
This was our first day in Istanbul. It ended with quite a long walk back home from the Galata Bridge, but it was good because it got us to bed in no time and we managed to wake up early the next day for the first day of actually visiting.
The first conclusions after this first day would be :
– Turiksh people are quite sociable, especially when they see tourists. They can sometimes be very insistent. They invite you in their shop, their restaurant, they almost run after you if you don’t intend to buy.
– They always ask you where you are from and they know for sure 2 – 3 words in your language and the name of some famous football player.
– The traffic is quite hectic, everyone seems to be driving by their own rules
– It’s a very active city, especially in the evening when people come out from work.
– Everywhere you look, you see stray cats, some of them very friendly
– Visiting Istanbul is more about interacting with the culture and the people, rather than visiting museums.
– Istanbul has a bit of everything : modern people, conservatives ones, new and old, tradition and capitalism and everything seems to blend together quite well.
– And my favorite : there is lots of street food everywhere you look : chestnuts, snails, all sorts of kebabs, freshly squeezed fruits juices, you name it, everything is there.
This would be it for the first day, not to much to tell. The action starts with day 2 🙂