Day1: From Berlin to Istanbul

Continue reading: →Day 2: Istanbul - Trabzon

Famous Aya Sofya. Once a church, now a mosque.
Famous Aya Sofya. Once a church, now a mosque.
Time for a another airline: After flying with carriers like Biman Bangladesh Airline, Balkan Airlines and United Airlines, I was quite sure that flying with Turkish Airlines wouldn't kill us. And so we let them take us from Berlin straight to Istanbul (correct spelling: İstanbul). After a non-spectacular 3 hrs flight, we walk along a long, modern corridor in Atatürk Int'l Airport before passing passport control - no problem. Our luggage has already arrived as well. Customs - no problem, welcome to Turkey. All in all it only takes a couple of minutes. Entering Turkey can be much more complicated and time-consuming, as I experienced some years ago when I traveled to Turkey from Bulgaria. At first, we're heading for an ATM to withdraw the ridiculous amount of 200,000,000 Turkish Lira - worth around € 130. Next stop bus station.

Minarets of Sultan Ahmet (aka Blue) Mosque
Minarets of Sultan Ahmet
(aka Blue) Mosque

The airport bus is taking us to Aksaray, from where we can take a tram to Sirkeci train station. Before looking for accomodation, we want to buy train tickets to Kars in Eastern Anatolia. Unfortunately, the train is already booked out. Finding a good hotel is no problem at all (see →information on accomodation below). Our Georgian visa is already valid - and it will expire after 5 days. Which means, that we will have to cross the border to Armenia within the next five days. Via Georgia. Somehow. And so we go back to Aksaray, from where we take the (finally working!) subway to the main bus terminal in Esenler. It doesn't take long to find buses heading for Trabzon at the Black Sea coast. A friendly Turk shows us some bus companies offering coaches to Trabzon. Departure next day, 3 p.m. Duration: 17 hours. Quite a long time. But Trabzon is already pretty close to Georgia. That is good news, and so we can calm down and go back to the heart of Istanbul. It is already past 6 p.m., but streets are bustling with life. Between adjacent Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque, hundreds of tourists and countless touts offering virtually everything flock together.

The touts cannot spoil the mysterious beauty of Bycantium aka Constantinople aka Istanbul. Huge mosques, Roman aqueducts, old muslim city walls and vibrant streets between all this - it's my second visit to this marvellous place, but I marvel at it as if it would be the first time.

After enough food for the mind and soul, it is about time to get some real food. We decide to go to a recommended small and cheap street restaurant. It's called "Cag Kebab", right behind the bazaar, and it is indeed cheap - low quality food for little money. What a pity - a spoilt diner.

The only thing that can help the situation is to pour down the meal with a cool Efes beer at one of the countless rooftop bars along Kutlgün Sok.

Continue reading: →Day 2: Istanbul - Trabzon

 

 

  • Regular return flights from bigger cities in Middle Europe with carriers like Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Czech Airlines, Malev etc. usually cost around € 250., although cheaper carriers recently mushroomed. It's worth to check the internet months before the trip.
  • One-way flights from Istanbul are quite cheap: Within Europe, prices seldomly exceed 100 USD, flights to destinations in the Far East are around 350 USD.
  • The best way to get from Atatürk Int'l Airport to the centre of town is the Havas-Bus (€ 3.3) or courtesy buses - a service even cheaper hostels offer.
  • Trains to destinations in the Asian part of Turkey (e.g. Ankara, Kars, Izmir usw.) start from Haydarpaşa train station. Regular ferries run there from Karaköy, which takes 15 minutes and costs € 0.5 only. Trains to destinations in Europe, for instance to →Hungary, →Romania, Greece, →Bulgaria etc., leave from Sirkeci Garı in Eminönü.
  • Most long-distance buses leave from Esenler bus terminal, which is a bit away from the centre. Take the tram to Yusufpasa in Aksaray (around 15 min), than change to the subway to Esenler Otogar (around 20 min). Arriving at the bus station late at night is not a very good idea - there's no more public transport.
  • Buses simply run everywhere: To Bakı (Azerbaijan), Germany, →Tbilisi, →Yerevan, →Amman, Tehrān, Damascus, →Kishinev, →Bucharest and so on and so forth.
  • It's easy to get around in Istanbul by tram, metro, water taxis, buses etc. A single ride is mostly around € 0.6; tickets should be purchases in advance.

 

 

  • There's definitely no lack of hotels in the city. Many hotels and hostels concentrate near the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) along Kutlgün Sok and Akbıyık Sok.
  • Most cheaper places charge between € 15 and € 35 for a fully equipped double room per night. Among them is the Cem Hotel: A spacious double with a bathroom costs € 35 during the summer (breakfast included); internet and laundry service available. Hotel Cem has a very nice rooftop and staff is very friendly (Cem Hotel, Kutlgün Sok. No. 28, Tel (0212)516 5041, E-Mail info@cemsultanhotel.com).
  • There are also many hotels around Sirkeci train station and elsewhere. It's even possible to get a bed in a dormitory for € 5 only.

Lotus Hotel Istanbul

34086 Istanbul · Yavuz Sultan Selim Dist. Vakif Mektep St. No.1 , Fatih


Since: 2005
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 20
Rates from: US$47
Rating: 9.8/10

More Information
Set in a prime location of Istanbul, Lotus Hotel Istanbul puts everything the city has to offer just outside your doorstep. Featuring a complete list of amenities, guests will find their stay at the property a comfortable one. Take advantage of the hotel's 24hr room service, family room, coffee shop, business center, concierge. Guestrooms are designed to provide an optimal level of comfort with welcoming decor and convenient amenities like air conditioning, television, desk, hair dryer, complimentary bottled water. The hotel offers various recreational opportunities. For reliable service and professional staff, Lotus Hotel Istanbul caters to your needs.

Retropera Hotel

34437 Istanbul · Sehit Muhtar Mah. Taksim Ave. Yogurtcu Faik Str. No. 2


Since: 2013
Location: Map
Number of floors: 5
Number of rooms: 16
Rates from: US$39
Rating: 9.8/10

More Information
Retropera Hotel is conveniently located in the popular Taksim area. The hotel offers a wide range of amenities and perks to ensure you have a great time. Service-minded staff will welcome and guide you at the Retropera Hotel. Shower, satellite/cable TV, ironing facilities, internet access – wireless (complimentary), desk can be found in each guestroom. The hotel offers various recreational opportunities. Retropera Hotel is an excellent choice from which to explore Istanbul or to simply relax and rejuvenate.

Divan Istanbul Asia Hotel

34899 Istanbul · E5 Karayolu Uzeri 209 Usta Kaynarca Pendik


Since: 2009
Location: Map
Number of floors: 25
Number of rooms: 231
Rates from: US$130
Rating: 9.7/10

More Information
Divan Istanbul Asia Hotel is perfectly located for both business and leisure guests in Istanbul. The hotel offers guests a range of services and amenities designed to provide comfort and convenience. All the necessary facilities, including room service, airport transfer, disabled facilities, 24hr room service, car park, are at hand. Non smoking rooms, inhouse movies, seating area, internet access – wireless (complimentary), hair dryer can be found in each guestroom. Enjoy the hotel's recreational facilities, including massage, steamroom, sauna, indoor pool, fitness center, before retiring to your room for a well-deserved rest. No matter what your reasons are for visiting Istanbul, Divan Istanbul Asia Hotel will make you feel instantly at home.

Deris Bosphorus Lodge Residence

Istanbul · Inebolu Street No.5/A Kabatas


Since: 2011
Location: Map
Number of floors: 4
Number of rooms: 7
Rates from: US$180
Rating: 9.7/10

More Information
Located in Kabatas, Deris Bosphorus Lodge Residence is a perfect starting point from which to explore Istanbul. The hotel offers a wide range of amenities and perks to ensure you have a great time. Concierge, safety deposit boxes, elevator, Wi-Fi in public areas are there for guest's enjoyment. Designed for comfort, guestrooms offer air conditioning, internet access – LAN, washing machine, satellite/cable TV, hair dryer to ensure a restful night. Entertain the hotel's recreational facilities, including garden. Friendly staff, great facilities and close proximity to all that Istanbul has to offer are three great reasons you should stay at Deris Bosphorus Lodge Residence.

Stories Hotel Kumbaraci

Istanbul · Kumbaraci Street No.66 Beyoglu 34435


Since: 2011
Location: Map
Number of floors: 5
Number of rooms: 24
Rates from: US$149
Rating: 9.7/10

More Information
Located in Beyoglu, Stories Hotel Kumbaraci is a perfect starting point from which to explore Istanbul. Offering a variety of facilities and services, the hotel provides all you need for a good night's sleep. Restaurant, bar/pub, laundry service/dry cleaning, Wi-Fi in public areas, babysitting are there for guest's enjoyment. Hair dryer, television LCD/plasma screen, daily newspaper, bathrobes, coffee/tea maker can be found in each guestroom. The hotel offers various recreational opportunities. No matter what your reasons are for visiting Istanbul, Stories Hotel Kumbaraci will make you feel instantly at home.

Pera City Suites

34430 Istanbul · Mesrutiyet Ave. Orhan Adli Apaydin St. No.17/A, Beyoglu


Since: 2011
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 10
Rates from: US$120
Rating: 9.7/10

More Information
Pera City Suites is a popular choice amongst travelers in Istanbul, whether exploring or just passing through. The hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay. Airport transfer, bar/pub, safety deposit boxes, coffee shop, room service are on the list of things guests can enjoy. Designed for comfort, guestrooms offer hair dryer, kitchenette, bathrobes, refrigerator, air conditioning to ensure a restful night. The hotel offers various recreational opportunities. Pera City Suites is an excellent choice from which to explore Istanbul or to simply relax and rejuvenate.

Tempo Hotel 4Levent

34415 Istanbul · Sanayi Dist. Sultan Selim Ave. No.139 , 4.Levent


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 35
Rates from: US$107
Rating: 9.7/10

More Information
Tempo Hotel 4Levent is conveniently located in the popular Levent / Maslak area. The hotel offers a wide range of amenities and perks to ensure you have a great time. Service-minded staff will welcome and guide you at the Tempo Hotel 4Levent. The well-appointed guestrooms feature coffee/tea maker, air conditioning, hair dryer, shower, complimentary bottled water. The hotel offers various recreational opportunities. Tempo Hotel 4Levent is an excellent choice from which to explore Istanbul or to simply relax and rejuvenate.

Symbola Bosphorus Hotel

Istanbul · Portakal Yokusu Avenue No.17, Ortakoy, Besiktas


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 15
Rates from: US$169
Rating: 9.7/10

More Information
Located in Ortakoy, Symbola Bosphorus Hotel is a perfect starting point from which to explore Istanbul. Offering a variety of facilities and services, the hotel provides all you need for a good night's sleep. Smoking area, car park, family room, concierge, 24hr room service are on the list of things guests can enjoy. The well-appointed guestrooms feature laptop safe box, complimentary bottled water, coffee/tea maker, shower, bathrobes. The hotel offers various recreational opportunities. No matter what your reasons are for visiting Istanbul, Symbola Bosphorus Hotel will make you feel instantly at home.

Star Hotel Istanbul

34400 Istanbul · Akbiyik Street 16 Sultanahmet- FATIH


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 12
Rates from: US$53
Rating: 9.7/10

More Information
Located in Old City Sultanahmet, Star Hotel Istanbul is a perfect starting point from which to explore Istanbul. The hotel offers guests a range of services and amenities designed to provide comfort and convenience. Take advantage of the hotel's restaurant, bar/pub, 24hr room service, Wi-Fi in public areas, room service. Relax in your comfortable guestroom, featuring internet access – wireless (complimentary), non smoking rooms, television LCD/plasma screen, ironing facilities, satellite/cable TV. Access to the hotel's garden will further enhance your satisfying stay. Discover all Istanbul has to offer by making Star Hotel Istanbul your base.

Palanga Bosphorus Hotel

34347 Istanbul · Palanga street 24


Since:
Location: Map
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 24
Rates from: US$169
Rating: 9.7/10

More Information
Located in Ortakoy, Palanga Bosphorus Hotel is a perfect starting point from which to explore Istanbul. The hotel offers guests a range of services and amenities designed to provide comfort and convenience. Smoking area, laundry service/dry cleaning, concierge, shuttle service, salon are there for guest's enjoyment. Guestrooms are designed to provide an optimal level of comfort with welcoming decor and convenient amenities like internet access – LAN (complimentary), internet access – wireless (complimentary), balcony/terrace, separate shower and tub, hair dryer. The hotel offers various recreational opportunities. Discover all Istanbul has to offer by making Palanga Bosphorus Hotel your base.

 

 

 

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