Missed Part 1?
After spending a fun afternoon in New York City, I headed back to JFK Airport for my overnight flight to Turkey. I settled in my nice window seat, watched some good movies (Rio and the Butler), and fell asleep. I am pretty lucky when it comes to long haul flights – I can sleep the entire plane ride! Before I knew it, I landed in Istanbul a little after 10:00am. I went through customs (note – US citizens must enter with a visa), picked up my bag, and took a taxi to my hotel.
Home Away from Home
I loved the hotel my friend Ali booked. We stayed at the X Flats Pera in Beyoglu. Pera is close to the rail system, Istikal Street (shopping and restaurants), Galata Tower, and about 15 minutes from the old city. It is really a cute area and the architecture was spectacular. Travel tip: If you are staying in a city for quite some time – consider purchasing or renting (in Hong Kong I was able to do that) the country’s electronic “smart card” for buses and trains (what the locals use).
Our balcony above and one of the rooms below. The interior design was very Restoration Hardware-esque.
Since check-in was not until 2:00pm I dropped off my bags and headed over to Old City. When I returned, management upgraded our room for free! We went from a one bedroom to two bedrooms.
Rewind – Why am I in Turkey/Georgia?
My friend Ali (childhood friend) and her husband relocated to the Republic of Georgia and this trip was to visit them. Because a majority of Tbilisi-bound flights pass through Istanbul, Ali suggested we meet there first.
Sultanahmed or Old City
So back to Day 1. After a few navigational errors I made it to the Blue Mosque, also known as Sultanahmed Mosque. It was beautiful! the mosque derives its name from the blue tiles on the domes. The inside is closed when the call to prayer occurs (5 times/day).
Across from the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sofia (Ayasofya). It is a former Greek Orthodox Church, later a mosque, and now a museum.
Touring the Hagia Sofia – in front of some magnificent tile work. I try to limit the number of people in my photos, but don’t be fooled – it was crowded.
Afterwards I headed to nearby Arasta Bazaar (not to be confused with the Grand Bazaar). It was really spacious and not that crowded. There was broken tile in the walkways, which I thought was creative.
Turkey is famous for their baths, also referred to as a Hamam. I knew I wanted to purchase some Turkish towels so I stopped by Jennifer’s Hamam.
This is another store… but look at the selection!! So many colors to choose from.
After a little shopping I headed back to the hotel before Ali’s arrival. Jennifer 1 Jetlag 0.
Next time: More touristy things in Istanbul
Also, thanks to Amanda who sent me her amazing itinerary from her Turkey trip. I will def have to make it to Turkey again since I only visited Istanbul.
Any plane ride tips?
Have any travel tips?