The Traveling Mogridges have just returned from Istanbul and I think it is ideal for me to go ahead and start right this second, without any delay and jump right into our story.
Last Friday we headed to the airport to catch a Turkish Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Istanbul. I found Turkish Airlines to be mostly pleasant with several perks not even found on some of the nicer European airlines. Once we got off the ground we were immediately offered a complementary piece of Turkish Delight. After the comfortable three hour flight that followed, we arrived at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. We had pre-purchased our entry visas and had them printed and in hand. Once we made it through customs we began the traditional “Where’s the taxi stand?” song and dance. However, before we could even make it out of the doors of the airport we were stopped by a plain-clothes “police officer” who, after several attempts, managed to get us to put our belongings through what appeared to be an unattended x-ray machine. Neither of us really knew what to think of this. Although it was very strange there was nothing that came of it, so I suppose it could have been legitimate. That being said, we did find about 10-15 shops scattered around Istanbul selling what I could only assume were “official” police patches, hats, and uniforms, so who knows. Once we made it outside we again were accosted by a man wearing a curly mustache and a well pressed suit offering us VIP service express from the airport to our hotel. For the most reasonable price of 40 turkish lira, this gentleman was offering us express, non-stop, service from Ataturk to our hotel in Askaray, which he assured us was extremely “VIP”. Being tired, hungry, and generally frustrated after our run in with the luggage police”, I decided to take the man up on his offer. Unfortunately, as soon as we got into the “VIP Express Limo” (read: van) the price suddenly went from 40 Turkish Lira to €40 a difference of about €30. Needless to say, we got out of the van and into a standard taxi. All in all I would say we made the right choice as there was little to no traffic and the entire ride costs us around €15 much cheaper than the asshole at the airport would’ve let us believe.
Once we arrived at our hotel (Hotel Polatdemir), we found ourselves right in the middle of Istanbul.
The hotel was decently appointed with a good location. It was both very close to public transit and walking distance to many restaurants and shops, all of which were decked out in an absurd amount of multicolored LED lights. Seriously, there must have been a sale or something.
After a quick stroll through the Aksaray neighborhood to get our bearings, we decided to find some food. The concierge at the hotel tried to send us to a seafood restaurant that would pick us up from the hotel in a “VIP” coach and return us once we were done. After a quick Trip Advisor search, we instead decided to opt for a well reviewed restaurant just a few meters away.
Tatseven turned out to be a great little Turkish restaurant with extremely fast service and very low prices.
After filling our bellies with humus, doner, and stuffed peppers (all for about €10), we head back to the hotel and got some much needed sleep.
In the three busy days that followed we managed to sample a plethora of Turkish foods (including the best lahmacun I’ve ever eaten), visit a few traditional bazaars, skim across the waves of the Bosphorus for a quick stopover in Asia, and explore all of the amazing sites that make Istanbul such a beautiful city. I think we’ve covered enough for one day, so until tomorrow…
Up Next: Food in Istanbul
(Photos in this article were sourced from Google images.)