Julia's back on board
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 533 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Nicole (England), Hakan (Turkey)
I was exhausted and feeling a little dejected when i made it to Istanbul at 15.00, more than two hours later than i had expected. My embassy would be closed by the time that i reached it, so this would add on several more days for them to process my passport application, as now it would include an extra weekend. Having checked into Cordial House Hostel (11YTL for a dorm bed), i went and ate at my favourite little restaurant in Sultanahmet and then returned to the Hostel to chill out for the remainder of the day and make use of the free wireless.
I had a couple of important tasks lined up for Tuesday, which were to apply for my fourth passport of the trip and meet Julia for the third time of the trip. Her flight wasn't due in until 14.20, so i spent the morning at the British Embassy in Taksim, filling in all the necessary forms. To get a 48 page biometric passport would cost 355YTL ($222), which i think is incredibly steep, but at least the service was attentive, fast and informative.
I was finished by 11.30 so took a walk down Istiklal Caddesi and then caught the tram and metro out to Ataturk International Airport. Julia's flight was on time and we were re-united around 14.40, a little over two months after we separated in Armenia. It seemed a bit odd after so long, but within an hour or so, everything seemed back to normal and it was like we had never been apart.
We were booked into a double room at Cordial House Hotel, which was 40YTL a night, and i think its just about the best budget option in town. Once we had settled in i decided that Julia should sample some traditional Turkish food, and to follow up from the kebab she had already eaten, i took her for a Big Mac meal :) Can't beat that for Turkish cuisine!
On Wednesday we took a morning walk around Sultanahmet, taking in the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya and Topkapi Palace, all from the outside. After a spot of lunch we crossed Galata Bridge, which was brimming with fishermen, all of whom seemed to have caught a number of small fish, but nothing that looked remotely edible. We walked through Tophane and up towards Beyoglu and Taksim, so Julia could take her first look at Istiklal Caddesi.
I had received an email from the British Embassy on Tuesday afternoon, so wanted to go and check that everything was ok whilst we were in the area. To my surprise the passport was already printed, 13 days ahead of schedule. A lady called Nicole was the vice consul and she was a really nice woman, who had not only processed the application extremely quickly, but also had lots of information on the Syrian visa, Israel stamps and the possibility of me obtaining a second passport. So my experience with this embassy, just like the one in Estonia can only be described as extremely positive. I'm not sure what was wrong with the embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan, but they need their heads banging together there!
With a spring in our steps we wandered around Taksim for half an hour and then returned home, as i was starting to feel a little tired from the cold that i had caught.
On Thursday morning we checked out of our Hotel and went for an early lunch of Pide and Lahmacun, in a nearby restaurant.
Having taken a walk along some less touristy streets in the district, i had to return to the Hotel for a rest and Julia went to the Grand Bazaar and surrounding environs for a couple of hours. At 19.00 we caught the tram to Kabatas and left ourselves with the devilish task of climbing up the hill to Taksim with all of our bags.
I had actually met with Hakan twice the last time i was in Istanbul, so having dropped our bags off at his house, we went out to a sheesha bar to smoke a water pipe, drink some tea and have a backgammon re-match and this time i came out victorious. Sadly the bar ripped us off on our bill, but apart from that it was a really enjoyable night and gave Julia some further insight into what Turkey is all about!