Apart from one five day visit to Istanbul most of our interactions with Istanbul have been limited to overnight stays. It’s almost a year since we had a layover in Istanbul before boarding our Ukraine airlines flight to New York, and two years since we arrived with 11 suitcases and the rest of our worldly belongings on a Turkish Airlines flight from Los Angeles as part of our Turkish migration.
An overnight stay doesn’t do this city justice. It’s a sprawling mass of history, hills, and huge welcomes that need to be savored rather than rushed. But once again we’re treating it as a huge departure lounge for somewhere else.
Each time we visit, we realize how much we love it here and how we have to come back again to spend a few days. It’s only an hour’s flight from Bodrum and the domestic flights are inexpensive. On our other two overnight stays we lodged out by the airport to catch an early flight, but this time around our departure time meant that we could.
After dumping off our bags at The Yazar Hotel, a sneaky little budget hotel located down a back street within a short jaunt of Gülhane metro stop, we headed to sunset at the Blue Mosque. We’ve been here a number of times, but as the light changes, so does the view of this impressive Mosque.
Then it was off to explore the cobbled backstreets of tourist-centric Sultanahmet. It was a mild evening but there were only a few tourists around, and although the restauranteurs and shop owners made their presence known, the touting wasn’t overt. Our first stop was at a virtually empty cafe where we got into a political discussion about Trump with the Kurdish waiter, and then talked about the religious changes in Turkish. With both conversational taboos were covered, we downed our beers and headed out in search of dinner.
We wandered further into the labyrinth and found a cozy looking restaurant for dinner for a charred chicken kebab and grilled hollumi salad. By this time the Efes was doing it’s worst and after we toured an impressive sub-terreanean desert and turkish delight shop, we got disoriented and ended up going round in circles, so our trip back to the hotel took twice as long as it should have.
The hotel’s restaurant was located in the roof eves. Not the most salubrious setting for breakfast, but it had an impressive view of the city and Galata Tower in the distance. There was enough time for a second cup of turkish tea before heading back to the Gülhane metro for the 60-70 minute trip back to Ataturk Airport.
Only one metro, three planes and a tuk-tuk stand between us and our first night in Cambodia.