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 Travelogues

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.

 

 

 

 

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