Before we begin, I guess it must be said that my sis and I planned pretty extensively for the trip to Istanbul. From accommodations, tram fares, ferry fares, operation hours of sites to be visited and the likes. Its amazing what you can do on a laptop these days. Here's a little useful site for those who like to travel. I could brood over this site for hours really planning where to go and what to see. It was very helpful, so you should check it out.
Anywho, we booked our accommodation online via booking.com i think. Be sure to check out trip advisor reviews. Just in case the pictures speak a different story than the reality. And for pocket money my sis and i both brought RM 700.00 each which roughly translates to 470 Turkish lira's. They didn't have Lira currency in Malaysia so we had to change ringgit to USD and EUROS first. We also packed quite a sum of dry foods with us, which helps a lot with costing.
Our trip to Istanbul started on the morning of the 26th of June. We caught a flight via Qatar airways which transited in DOHA for barely 20 minutes. Supposedly it was an hour but our flight was slightly delayed and by the time we touched down the transfer plane had already finished boarding. You can imagine the panic and the rush getting to the boarding gate. Especially with my mom in tow ^^v. Buuuut, all was well and we reached Istanbul (sabiha gokcen airport) at around sixish. Sunset in the summer is around 8.30, so it was still pretty light out.
We caught a cab to La Perla Suites, in Beyouglu for 30 Euros. This is the rate for 3 people. The agent was also kind enough to give my sister his Istanbulkart for free which I will explain its function in just a bit. Oh, a note of caution for those who require the use of receipts for cab fares, it seems they charge extra for this particular service. I'm not sure why that is though.. -__-?
The apartment we chose cost around 1500++ RM for the whole duration of our stay which was 7 days. It was made to fit around 4-5 people. Not exactly a 5 star hotel but enough to keep comfortable. The reception always has someone who can speak English, which was nice. And they were very helpful and courteous. We didn't do much that night considering the long journey so that pretty much wraps up arrivals. Oh and i noticed that the tap water and showers supplied hard water. Meaning soaps don't sud too well and it would be wise to stock up on some drinking water which are cheap around 0.40TL/1.5L bottle.
On the 27th we woke bright and early to send my mom to the Istanbul Technical University (Macka Campus) for her training session, which was actually pretty darn close to our apartment, but seeing we didn't want to get lost the first time we caught a taxi for about 5 minutes which cost us 7TL. I must say transport was a bit pricey, that is if we converted to RM. Afterwards we went straight to Taksim square metro via taxi as well. We were later to find that the metro was only 10 minutes walk from the apartment. Here was where we first used our istanbulkart.
|This is the landmark for the Taksim metro station|
Alright so for the first day we chose to visit Topkapi Palace and the Archeological Museum. Below is the route to get there.
Take the funicular at taksim ---------> kabatash - take tramway (T1) -------> Gulhane station. Here's the map of the tramways and public transports which is handy to have on you phone for quick access.
|This is the underground metro station at Taksim Square. Its really clean ^^|
Aaaaanyways back to Topkapi Palace. Entrance fee is 30TL, with an extra 15TL is you wish to visit the harem. Buuut, we decided to purchase a useful little something called the Muze pass, 85TL for 3 days entry to all sorts of museums around town. It also eliminates the need to line up ^_~. (which is an outright horror in summer >_<) *will also show picture later when i update. Mwuhahaha
Topkapi palace is known as the oldest palace in the world and was the residence of the ottoman sultans for majority of their reign. The grounds are seriously sprawling. Many of the inner interiors were not open for pictures, but there were countless royal jewelry and clothing to look at. The architecture and mosaics were also very pretty. The harem, which is a large building for the private quarters of the sultans along with their favorite concubines whom were governed by eunuchs. Personally i found there to be many incongruities with Islam and the actual practices which took place here -_-v. It would be wise to set a side a whole day to marvel at just this one destination. The place is so large, I am not even kidding 0_o. I think my sis and I took about 5 hours just to look around. Even then we didn't really cover everything.
|These kinds of food stalls are all over the place and these bread/bagels are sold for 2TL without filling and 3 with filling which you can choose from chocolate (like nutella) and i think cream cheese.|
|The dorms of the eunuchs of the harem|
Next stop, which was actually on the way up to Topkapi is the Archaeological Museum with Entrance fee of 15TL. We were slightly unfortunate since a major part of the museum was under heavy renovation for seismic retrofitting. But there was still a lot to see. By this time though my sis and I was practically crawling from the cramp in our legs. Apparently 100 meter run conditioning should have been on our list of preparations back home.
That night we slept like logs. My legs honestly felt like tree trunks. -_-v. But I was very much pleased with the ground we covered.
Coming up.... Aya Sophea & Blue Mosque ^0^