Since arriving back in Japan from my holiday, I’ve been sick. Coming down with a cold something. Started off with a sore throat, now a runny nose and headaches. Haven’t been sleeping well since I got back either. Jetlag and body clock still adjusting. Got back late Sunday night and was back to work on the Monday. No recovery time. Temperature also dropped by about 10 degrees between my first and second week in Turkey. And the weather is getting cooler in Tokyo with the onset of winter. Am trying hard to ward off this cold before it gets worse. Already on the tablets and lots of water and peppermint tea to flush out the system and keep hydrated.
Saturday, October 1, 2011 (Part 1 of 3) (Day 1 will be split over 3 posts.) Touched down in Istanbul at Ataturk airport early afternoon (around 3pm). I did a good job of packing lightly. My backpack weighed less than 9kg. I have mastered the art of packing lightly. It only took me 10 years! Made my way from the airport into Sultanahmet – the old city/ touristy area of Istanbul. Took the dirt cheap option of public transport – a train and then a tram into the city. Super easy. Super cheap. Only 4 turkish lira (2AUD) for an hour ride into the city. Alighted at Sultanahmet tram station and made my way to the hostel for the night. Had booked a really cheap hostel for the night.
Basically needed a place to stow my luggage, because I’d be up early the next day at 6am so didn’t see the need to pay for an expensive hotel for what would be a 12-hour stay. Just somewhere to get me through the night and leave my luggage at in the morning. Man, I had forgotten what it was like to stay in hostel dorms sharing with a bunch of randoms. Constant noise, people rustling about and packing their bags at ungodly hours of the morning – 2:30am! Really?! And at any given time someone would be trying to sleep in their bed (made even worse when you’ve been allocated the top bunk!) which meant you had to try and be as quiet as possible and avoid turning on the lights even in the middle of the afternoon. Sheesh… Kebab. (Had to throw in a lame Turkey pun).
Arrived at the hostel, dumped my bags and went out to explore Sultanahmet in the remaining last hours of sunlight. Sultanahmet is the tourist hub of Istanbul. It’s full of camera-wielding tourists (myself included) and tour groups being shuffled about. There’s plenty to see, that’s for sure. The Blue Mosque, Sultanahment park, Aya Sofia, the Basilica Cistern – all within metres of each other. Where to start?! Not to mention all the al fresco dining options. I walked about getting my bearings and taking some photos with the last few hours or so of daylight. Gorgeous weather – high 20s.
Photowalk of Sultanahmet: The Blue Mosque which presides over Sultanahmet:
Lots of street food carts selling watermelon, corn cobs and fresh pomegranate juice. I love pomegranates. Fell in love with the fruit in Egypt.
The Blue Mosque by night:
Across the road from the Blue Mosque is the Aya Sofia.
Aya Sofia by night:
Walked along the cobbled streets of Sultanahmet…
Checked out some local Turkish cuisine:
Lots of stores selling Turkish sweets. I was just window shopping at this stage:
I think Turkish Delight really means Dentists’ Delight!