Today is Sunday, September 18th and we arrived in Turkey on the night of September 14th. We took a 12 hour bus ride that day from central Turkey to Istanbul and arrived at about 9:oopm at the huge otogar (bus station). We were told there would be a minibus to Sultanahmet, the area where we were staying in Istanbul. Well, turns out there was no minibus but there was a minibus to a tram/metro station near Sultanahmet. A nice guy who spoke some English told us when to get off the bus and there we stood with a metro and a tram station on either side of us and no idea what we were supposed to do from there. We looked around for a ticket booth but didn’t see one and of course no one spoke English so we got out our guide book and it was confusing as to what we were supposed to do to get to Sultanahmet. At this moment a man comes up to us and asks us if we need help (always a bad sign!) We say we are trying to figure out how to get to Sultanahmet and he shows us a brochure of a hotel there and tells us he will get a taxi for less than one US dollar and take us to this hotel in the brochure. We were torn whether or not to go with this guy but we didn’t know how to take the public transportion and it was late (around 10pm now). The guy flags down a cab and we get in. We go to some other hotel in some other part of Istanbul but close to where we want to be (we think). Then the guy gets in a fight with the taxi driver and everyone in the street is watching. We don’t know what to do and of course we had not made reservations anywhere so we couldn’t tell the taxi driver “Take us _______”. We start following this guy from hotel to hotel. Basically, he is just taking us around to hotels with the hopes that the hotels will pay him for this “service”. Meanwhile, Mike and I are sweating to death walking around in this humid weather with our packs on and getting nervous about whether we will ever find an acceptable hotel/hostel/pension near our intended destination. After about an hour of walking around some interesting areas, we are helped by a few nice people who direct us to the street where all the backpacker accomodations are. Finally! We arrive and find a rate and room we find acceptable. And it’s a good thing because…..
We got sick. Both of us have some sort of virus and after more than 2 weeks with clogged sinuses, I have concluded I have a sinus infection. Plus, now we both have the ol’ traveller’s diarrhoea. So, we were glad we paid the extra money for a room with a bathroom and TV (something we rarely have) because we have been stuck in our hotel room. Last night we did go to the grand bazaar (more than 4500 shops), which was interesting but we got tired pretty quick. Today, we went to the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya (a church turned mosque), and Topkapi Palace (home to the sultans in the 1400s) but we rested in between. And speaking of…Mike is resting right now and will probably kill me if I don’t get back to our hotel soon (a few doors down).
We leave for Valletta, Malta tomorrow morning. Our flight is at 5:00am and we need to be at the airport at 3:30. And of course we haven’t made reservations anywhere (we sort of stopped doing that since it is no long high season) but at least we get in at 8:00am so we’ll be looking in the daylight. Stay tuned….
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Tags: Category #13 Turkey