Day 2: From Istanbul to Trabzon

Continue reading: →Day 3: Trabzon

The bus would leave at 3 p.m., and so we have some more time to explore the city. Many of Istanbuls highlights are within walking distance from our hotel. Among them the huge palace Topkapı Sarayı. Slowly we proceed to the main gate - and are shocked. A several hundred metres long queue at the ticket counter underlines its popularity. Ticket prices are hefty, too - € 10 general admission fee, another € 10 for the Harem and, exactly, € 10 for the treasury. Topkapi palace turns out to be much more expensive than it was at my last visit in 1995. The palace area is as big as our time is short, and so we postpone the visit. Hopefully, the queue is shorter when we come back to Istanbul. Another useless attempt at the Aya Sofya - € 10 admission fee and hundreds of tourists.

Detail of the huge mosque Sultan Ahmet
Detail of the huge mosque Sultan Ahmet

Some years ago, there was something like a student's discount for Aya Sofya, a mosque which was turned into a museum. However, the city was clever - student's discount can only be granted when the students are accompanied by a teacher. Due to the crowd, we walk to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, which is free of charge. A couple of picture postcard selling boys hunt down the tourists on the stairs to the entrance. The courtyard of the mosque is particularly beautiful, but even more impressive is the interior. Sultan Ahmet is also known as the "Blue Mosque", but from outside one is pondering why. It's the interior that makes you understand. Naturally, the entire floor is covered by carpets, with huge candelabra hanging only a few feet above the prayer's heads. The arrangement of minarets, domes and half-domes (see picture) outside and the ornated Arab scripts inside leave many visitors with their mouths open.

After that we stroll along the Bosporus with its stony beach, where some Turks are busy trying to catch some fish or having a refreshing (?) bath. Among them some women - of course not in swimsuits but in full get-ups. We slowly head to the bus terminal, where the bus to Trabzon is already waiting. As usual, it's a big modern bus. But there's a significant progress - today, most buses are non-smoking. During my first visit, it was possible to smoke during the ride, and passengers used that extensively. Even for smokers like me, bus rides where somewhat of a nightmare because of the bad air. Only around 15 passengers were sitting aboard, but this changed during the next hour when we zigzagged through Istanbul to pick up more and more passengers here and there. After another short stop in İzmit, the real ride starts. As on every Turkish long-distance bus, there's a steward announcing the stops and distributing rather smelly eau-de-cologne after each rest. This time, it's not a steward but a stewardess, one of the bad-tempered species. Some stops later, we find out that she's actually a nice person. She introduces us to a young Turkish woman who wants to speak some English. She's 18 years old, studies in Istanbul and is on the way to Trabzon to visit her relatives. And so we spend the next stops with her and the stewardess, having a cup of tea or coffee together chatting. The faintest attempt to pay for the tea is useless - they don't let us. During a longer stop at a restaurant we grab some chicken, rice and vegetable for dinner. Typical canteen food of poor quality, but therefore rather expensive - € 6 for the two of us is not what I call regular Turkish eatery prices.

Continue reading: →Day 3: Trabzon

 

 

  • The trip from Istanbul to Trabzon by bus takes around 17 hrs, the fare is € 23, which is not much for 1,100 kilometres. Buses stop every two hours, sometimes for 10 minutes only, sometimes for a longer time at restaurants or shops.
  • When in Rome: Note that it's not a good idea to take off your shoes aboard. It's not forbidden but an unwritten law - obviously for a good reason.

 

 

  • On the bus...not very convenient, but it's catching two birds with one stone.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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