Arriving to Istanbul

Istanbul Travel Blog

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This morning we woke up at 4 am in the morning as we had to be at the aiport around 4:45! So in between the excitement and the time we had to leave, I did not get too much sleep! This trip is been my Christmas gift to my mother…. So, mother and son together to the Turkish land!

From Barcelona we took a flight to Zurich and from there to Istanbul. People don´t enjoy spending too much time flying and changing planes, but I just love it! ☺ I have so much fun getting of and on the plane, shopping around and looking at people walking by while I am having a cold beer.

Well, going back to my trip to Istanbul, here comes my first travel tip. When you land go straight to the VISA counter.
Most people don´t know where it is so they go straight to the passport control lines. When you have spent some time waiting for your turn then they say you need a VISA. As you enter the building you will find it on your left hand side, right next to the passport control booths. We paid 10 euros each.

My bank did not have any Turkish liras, so I had to exchange some money at the airport. 1€=1,7205 YTL and they charge you a 4% comisson. The aiport is very well organized and very clean too, so my first impression was very good. We thought about taking a train to the hotel, but we were tired and we read in my Lonely Planet that a taxi to the old Istanbul was only 20 euros, so we took it. As you leave the building you will find a long line of oficial yellow taxis.
By the way they are called “Taksis” ☺ Our taxi driver did not speak any English nor Spain, so there was not too much communication! He was driving like Fernando Alonso in his best times, and for some reason he had no idea how to get to the hotel ☺

People in the hotel were so nice… they took out suitcases to the room, gave us some information about the area, and they even explained to us how the TV worked! (as we hadn´t used a TV before! Hahahh) Eventhough we were tired, we left the hotel straight away heading to the Beyoglu neighbourhood, right across the Galata bridge. We arrived after lunch time, so we decided to visit the north of the Golde Horn! ;) The main road is called Istiklal Cad which is the city´s most famous shopping and entertainment strip.
Get a map before leaving the hotel, as street names are not very well indicated and people have difficulties giving you directions in English.

Once you cross the Galata Bridge, do not follow the main road, just take a steep street right on its left side. It is a hard walk, but it is the fastest way to get to the Galata tower and to Istiklal Cad. It is January, so as the day went darker, the temperature got really cold! I don´t recall having so many coffees in one single day! hahah Ohhhh don´t forget to order an Apple Tea. I don´t like tea, but I just love the way they do it here!.

I took my Lonely Planet with me and I read some nice reviews about some touristy Turkish shows. We asked in the hotel´s reception and they reommended us among all shows listed in my guide, the Galata Tower show! A small bus picked us up at the hotel and took us there with some other people.
Once we got there, we took an elevator to reach the 6th floor , and from there we had to go up some more stairs. I thought I would only find tourists in the show, but what a great surprise, more than 60% of the people was Turkish! As we sat down they asked us where we were from and they placed our country´s flag on the table. That way everyone knew where  was the other people from. The show was fun, there was a live band playing Turkish music, a show man singing and making everyone participate and several dancers. The highlight? A belly button dance!  At the end of the show we didn’t take the bus as we wanted to go back walking…  Goodnight fellow travelers!
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Istanbul Hotels & Accommodations review
This is a 4 star hotel located between the Galata Bridge and Topkapi palace. It is not specially good, but it does the job if you are looking for a ho… read entire review
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photo by: Memo