Travel

A Long Weekend in Istanbul

Istanbul

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.

Turkish Airlines

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. 

Polatdemir

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.   

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Tatseven turned out to be a great little Turkish restaurant with extremely fast service and very low prices.  

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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.)

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Year in Review

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Happy New Year everyone!  As I continue ramping up my activity on this blog, I thought it might be a good idea to take a brief look back at where The Traveling Mogridges have been over the past year.

As some of you will remember, I spent way too much time last year putting together a very nice travel calendar.  The purpose of the calendar was to offer friends and family a way to keep up with our continuing travels.  Whether or not it was ever used for that purpose is a question that may never find an answer.  However, I am going to use it as a guide for taking a look back at where we thought we were going and where we actually went.

Calendar-YIRLets take a look:

January:  Nailed it!

February: Two for two!

March:  Easy one!  Three for three.

April: Boom goes the Dynamite! Four for four!

May: YIKES!  Off the rails!  While we didn’t make it to Dublin, Malmo, or Copenhagen, we did manage to work in a pretty amazing cruise around the Greek Isles…  More to come on that topic!

June:  Nailed it!

July:  Fifty/Fifty.  We still haven’t made it to Scandinavia.

August:  Not even close…

September:  Oktoberfest.  Best. Thing. Ever.  More to come on this one!

October:  Nopers…

November: Easy one here.

December: Nailed it.

Although we had a few misses this past year, we more than made up for them with other travels.  The Traveling Mogridges managed to add trips to Greece, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, France, and Monaco (among others) to our 2013 travel schedule.

Coming up in the next few weeks, I’ll cover the 2013 trips that I didn’t get around to.  I also have a strong feeling that the 2014 Travel Calendar may show up sooner than later!  Keep an eye out for it!

Old Friends and New Beginnings in 2014

As we come to the end of the first full week of 2014, I would like to take a moment to remember those who we lost over the past year.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the nostalgia, it’s time to cast our gaze upon the future. I would like to take this time of new beginnings to officially relaunch “The Traveling Mogridges” blog.  Like a phoenix rises from the ashes, so too will “The Traveling Mogridges” be reborn, better and brighter than before.  2014 is going to be a very busy year and I have a lot of catching up to do.  Look for MUCH more frequent posts, lots of new changes to the layout of the blog, and, as always, more traveling!

To ensure we kick this thing off with a bang, I’ve uploaded a little Amsterdam NYE Firework footage.  Enjoy and check back soon for more!

 

Oddities from the Eastern Bloc

Prague HeaderAlright!  Now we’re getting the hang of it!  I hope you guys are liking the new shorter posts.  I certainly know that I am!  Let’s keep the momentum going by taking a look at some of the stranger things we found in Prague!

The captions are where the magic happens, so click on a pic to get the full story.

Now that’s more like it!

Soon:  “Urinals from around the world!”

 

Prague in Black and White

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If while I have promised you to update much more frequently over the following four advert. I have made no such promise about the length of each posting. With this post I will start a new tradition. Brevity has become the name of this game.  We will begin this little exercise in concision by taking a look at some of the black and white photos I took while we vacationed in in the Czech Republic last February.  I hope you enjoy!!!

Also, this was the first trip where the wife and I consciously tried to take more photos of ourselves.  Here’s a sample of some of our black and white pics.  Enjoy!

Next time:

The Weird and the Wonderful:  Oddities from the Eastern Bloc

Time to Catch Up!

Ketchup Headder-Recovered

I believe we’ve all had enough of this silliness. It is time to get to business. It is time to catch up!

One post, every other day, that is my plan.   If I can’t maintain that type of pace, then I have no business keeping a blog in the first place.   Honestly it should be quite easy.   I have no shortage of material to write about.   I suppose at this point my only other option is to give up and burn this mother to the ground.  Either way, I suspect it will be a fun ride from here on out.

So without further ado, I present to you a series of posts I like to call “The Traveling Mogridges Play Catch Up!”

Prague Mini-Post: Food

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Roasted meats, dumplings, cabbage, and beers of all types…  Czech food is hearty, to say the least.

Feel free to read more here: Czech Cuisine.

Now on to the photos!

Next: Prague in Black and White!

Prague: Behind the Iron Curtain

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The Traveling Mogridges have been back at it!  This time, we journeyed behind the old Iron Curtain to pay a visit to one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe:  Prague.  With this first visit to an Eastern Bloc country, I have tons of stories to tell.  That being said, it’s been a while since I’ve posted an entry to the old blogaroonie, so I’m going to start off with a nice short one.  I don’t want to pull a muscle or anything…

Let me start with some historical fun!  Prague is one big time capsule of a city.  While the rest of the modern world was busy with finding the next big thing, the Czech Republic… err… Czechoslovakia was suffering under the repressive Iron Fist of the USSR.  While I’m certainly not here to argue the pros and cons of Communist rule, if one had to find an undeniable silver lining, it would be in the preservation of Prague’s old world charm.  Hollywood figured this out years ago, using Prague as a stand-in when shooting period pieces requiring an old European feel that’s quite difficult to find in modern Western Europe.  Without droning on and on, I will simply say that Prague is great.  That’s the best way to describe Prague: Great.

Ok, on to the fun.  I plan on doing several posts about Prague, but this is the one that I’m aiming to keep short.  With that said, here’s a nice slideshow featuring some of Prague’s “Greatest Hits”.

I’ll be back in the coming days with posts about Czech food, architecture, and some of the oddities that we found along the way.

Munich: Part 3

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I’ve let this post hang over me for far too long. It was probably a mistake to wait so long to write about a Christmas topic, as I assume most of you are still getting over the post-holiday hangover.  I’ll make it short and sweet.  I promise.

So, without further ado, I give you: Munich Christmas Markets!!!

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Christmas Markets are a popular tradition in European cities and towns.  Germany has a particularly strong tradition for these markets, with Munich being perhaps being the king of them all.  Throughout the city, small stands are set up creating a sort of magical Christmas village feeling in the shadows of the cities greatest monuments.

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Christmas ornaments, candles, nativity scenes, and other assorted holiday goods are for sale.  To keep up one’s strength while visiting these booths, I strongly suggest visiting one of many food stands that dot the market.

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Fresh grilled sausages, holiday Glühwein, and an assortment of other German holiday snacks are all for sale at the market.  I have to say that our visit to the München Christkindlmarkt is without a doubt them most Christmasy experience that I’ve ever had.

Check out some of what we found at the München Christkindlmarkt:

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Next time:  Belgian Beer Bash!

As always, prints of many of my travel photographs can be found here:

Patrick Mogridge Photography