24 Hours In Istanbul Turkey
We were in Istanbul 10 years ago and I really did not like it. I don’t know why, maybe it was because I had the flu or maybe it was because we stayed in crappy accommodation but I just did not like it.
I was determined that this time I would have a fresh look and give Istanbul another chance, after all it is one of the worlds ‘great cities’ whatever that means.
The YHT high speed train terminates on the Asian / Eastern side of the Bosphorus in an area that is miles away from anything relevant to visitors and not helpful to anyone. We had decided to ditch our public transport policy and get a taxi to our hotel in Sultanahmet on the western side of the Bosphorus. Great plans and all that….. no taxi would take us across the Bosphorus and while we were looking for a taxi it started to rain and not just a shower a downpour and we all got drenched to the skin.
So with the taxi plan in the bin we had to do PT – a train and then a tram. Sounds easy – ha this is Istanbul its not easy. The train was OK and then we got off to find the tram OMG there were 100’s of people all pushing and shoving, we had trouble with the InstanbulKart vending machines (only in Turkish) and we were soaking wet from the rain.
My resolve to like Istanbul was slipping.
In the end we decided to walk the 1.5 km to our hotel – up a very steep hill with a full pack in the rain on slippery over crowded pavements. Halfway there I had to stop for a drink and a sandwich before I fell over.
Refueled we got to our hotel which was in a lovely old Otterman mansion and we had a beautiful room overlooking the Bay of Marmara.
The hotel owner recommended a nearby rooftop restaurant for dinner that evening with views to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topaki and the Bosphorus. We ate a delicious dinner and watched the sunset over Istanbul.
OK Istanbul maybe you are alright.
We only had 24 hours in Istanbul before catching another night train to Sofia in Bulgaria. We both wanted to return to the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market as we had enjoyed them the last time.
The Grand Bazarre and Spice Markets were once great trading markets where traders from all over the world came together to sell and trade their goods and if you look carefully you can get glimpses of what it was like back in the day with chai boys running tea to traders and food being delivered. However the crowds were insane so many people jostling for space in tiny alleys and walkways. There were only a few actual spice stalls left in the spice market many of them now selling tourist tat and the Grand Bazaar was not what I remembered.
So hot, tired and over it we went back to the hotel and read a book until it was time to go to catch the train to Sofia. Once again Turkish rail in its wisdom had put the long haul western bound trains an hour from the centre of where anyone wants to be so we caught a tram and then a train during peak hour to get to the western YHT train terminal.
I went to Istanbul with a resolve to find something I liked about Istanbul and I tried I really did but Istanbul I will not be back.
Stories - Asia To Europe (Mostly) Overland
Follow On Instagram
This endpoint has been retired