Monday, June 20, 2011

Turkey Travelogue: May 22nd

On arriving at the airport in Istanbul, we were all very tired given the time adjustment and overall lack of sleep. After disembarking, we had to go through immigration and then collect our baggage. Customs was laughable considering other places we've been, but I'm not complaining. It consisted of walking by a small, unmanned desk!

Kelly had prearranged transport with Backpackers Travel to take us to our apartment in the historic district of Istanbul - Sultanahmet. (We know from experience if you can avoid getting a taxi in a place where you don't speak the language, do!) The contact was holding up a sign with Kelly's name on it which made them easy to spot. We had to wait around a few minutes however before leaving the airport, so Kelly could get a sim card for his android phone from Turk Cell. He thought it would be more likely for vendors at the airport to speak English and therefore easier to get what he needed. With the sim card, we would then call folks in country and have internet.

The transport from the Ataturk International Airport consisted of a roomy van and Backpacker Travel provided water and juice for our ride into town. The road went along the Sea of Marmara which was lined with park after park. We could sea old walls (from Ottoman time and probably before) for most of the ride and many large barge type boats anchored at various distances out in the sea.

The driver had some problems finding our apartment, but he finally found the right door for the Violet Apart. We had an awesome view of the Hagia Sophia!

Our view from the apartment
But you know what they say, "You get what you pay for."  The apartment itself was smaller than we'd hoped and the shower seemed to be a bit of an afterthought among other things. That being said, we made do and enjoyed our time despite the shortcomings of the accommodations.

The Burn's room

Our room
After getting settled in, it was only 1 p.m. So, we decided to have a meal nearby and then walk around Sultanamet. We really needed to stay awake in order to adjust to the new time zone, but we were all too tired to really do much or go see anything. After walking around and taking a few pictures, we ended up stopping at another cafe and just sitting and sipping beverages and eating ice cream. 

Our entourage
Turkish flags flying outside the Hagia Sophia
The Blue Mosque 
Jeff and Sheila trying to stay awake
Finally, we could stand it no longer and went back to our apartment to get ready for bed. We managed  to stay up until 7 p.m. local time (12 p.m. Raleigh time) - that put me and Kelly at 30 straight hours without sleep.

I pretty much slept straight through to 7 a.m. the next morning. I did wake up sometime in the middle of the night and took this picture of Hagia Sophia with the moon shining and birds flying above.

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