Now that it’s out of season, the International Terminal at Bodrum Airport is like the wild west. No there’s no shoot-outs and bar brawls… it’s more like an empty prairie with tumble weeds blowing through it.
The domestic terminal is no better, where airport staff outnumbered passengers 4:1.
We arrived bright an early for our flight from Bodrum to Istanbul via Atlas Jet, and had a 3 hour wait until boarding as we’d accepted a lift off a fellow traveller who was leaving on an earlier Turkish Airlines flight.
We kept ourselves entertained by firing up our wi-fi hotspot (Vinn wifi) and catching up on all the latest social media.
(NB: The International Terminal has subsequently closed for the season).
Bodrum to Istanbul
The flight to Istanbul was quick and uneventful. We struggled through the airport with our backpacks. It was the first time we’d man-handled them with this much weight in them, and in the back of my mind I wished my pack had retractable wheels on it to make the transition easier.
I’d arranged an overnight stay at White Palace Hotel in the Sirinevler neighbourhood of Istanbul. It was only a few stops on the metro from Ataturk, and we were opting for a close-to-the-airport location for our 5am departure. It was basic but cheap and located in a lively neighbourhood.
We stuck out like a sore thumb. Two, past their sell-by-date back-packers amid a barrage of locals going about their day. We desperately searched for the White Palace and failed miserably. But true to form, a friendly street hawker got a group of his buddies together and helped us find it.
We dubiously passed a water canon and army presence on the way, but didn’t let that deter us. I wanted to stop to take photos … but was hustled away by the other-half.
We only had the afternoon and early evening in Istanbul, so decided to head straight for one of our favourite locations – The Spice Market. Yes it’s touristy (and there were armed guards with AK47s at each entrance) but I love the sounds, smells and vibe of this place.
It’s only a small location so it’s quick and easy to walk around, but it brought back fond memories of our last trip here with our good friends Catherine and Brian. We met them in Istanbul before taking them to Bodrum, and we walked the spice market together, and bought and consumed way too much hazelnut and pomegranate Turkish Delight for our own good.
We went in search of more of the same as the next stop on our trip was going to be New York to see them again. We ended up buying two 1kg boxes of premium Turkish Delight … full of various tangy fruits and nuts. We didn’t have to delve into either box for a taste as we received so many free samples from the shop owner.
We opted for a walk along the lower level of the Galata Bridge, which is only a short stroll from the Spice Market. We only fancied a snack, and had to swerve the first batch of restaurants who tried to hustle us into a table to sample their overpriced menu.
I’m sure we could have found a much cheaper restaurant down one of the back-streets, but because we were only in Istanbul for such a short time, we were willing to pay a little extra to get the iconic views.
We walked all the way to the end of the row of restaurants and came across Balik Noktasi.
The menu here was a lot more reasonable, and we had beers and shared a plate of deep fried Hamsi (European anchovies). The food was good and the service was excellent. The manager spoke great English and as they weren’t busy he stopped by our table for a long chat with Neale …. about football!
There’s nothing I like better than watching the majestic dance of the boats and ferries navigating the waterways, and the fisherman testing their luck on the Galata Bridge.
It took about an hour via the metro to get from Galata Bridge back to our hotel, so we didn’t hang around Galata Bridge too long, but this taster of Istanbul’s sights and lights was enough to keep us sated … and wanting to come back for more.
One thing we did notice, besides the heavy police and army presence, was the amount of mosques that were being renovated … interesting indeed.