Sign in or Create your own Travel blog
Select Location: 

View Entire Trip

Share |

Wednesday 1 Mar 2023
Istanbul, Turkey

Back in Istanbul...

2 a.m. flight from Cebu to Istanbul. The flight from Cebu to Manila was pretty empty so we hoped there were lots of free seats available for the following flight to Istanbul. It wasn't to be it was a packed solid flight and the Turkish Airlines planes are not great for legroom in economy so my knees were crushed up against the seat in front and I barely had any room for my feet because I had the ukulele with me as well underneath!!

Maybe dozed off for 30-minutes in the entire 13 hour flight... ah whatever. Lack of sleep is something I've become used to over the past three weeks!!

I managed to get a second hotel stay in Istanbul to get another 24-hour layover! This time though I was determined to get at least a few hours in Istanbul itself to make the most of the visit. I also wanted to use my good Sony camera which I hadn't yet actually had a chance to use on the whole trip lol! I picked this bad boy up before the trip because I seemed at be needing a good camera but I just ended up using my phone camera and drone etc!

By the time I checked into the hotel and was ready to go into Istanbul it was probably around 2pm but I hadn't factored in the Istanbul traffic so the taxi drive into the city centre was approximately 30 to 40 minutes due to traffic. That left around 3 hours before I then had to get a taxi back to the hotel to have dinner by 8 p.m.. it was going to be a quick visit either way.

Not knowing anything about Istanbul I also needed to find somewhere central to start so the receptionist suggested a place called Taksim. Within 15 minutes I was on the road to Taksim but we encountered some really heavy traffic so I spotted a huge series of mosques straight ahead and I just asked the taxi driver just drop me off there instead which coincidentally was beside the Haga Sofia which is the most famous mosque converted from a church. It was actually a lot better as a location to start rather than Taksim which is really just a shopping area.

I wandered around for a bit I was still in my summer Gear from the Philippines and the temperature in Istanbul was down to around 6 degrees centigrade. I had brought my jacket so I was just wandering around in my shorts with a big padded jacket taking photos with the camera. Even though it was just a short time I got a good sense of the whole east meets west vibe that is famous in Istanbul. The streets themselves look like something you might find in a small village in Germany but then in the background you hear prayer call from the mosques so it's a complete contrast. Everyone is really friendly too.

I had been warned in the lobby of the hotel to make sure that the taxi drivers didn't rip me off so always use the metre (similar to Cebu then) but then I forgot to consider that I might get ripped off in restaurants too! I popped into the first restaurant, Sultan Pub, that I saw opposite the Hagga Sofia without first checking for reviews. Rookie mistake!! I would later read the reviews saying that it was way over priced and some food wasn't as good as expected, but by the time I was reading the reviews I already ordered so was too late.

I was still figuring out the conversion rates for Turkish lira from Euro and I still had the Philippines exchange rate in my head at the time so when I saw the prices I was dividing by 50 when I should have been dividing by 20. As a result when I had ordered the kebab and chips and a beer and a Turkish coffee, thinking I had gotten a good deal, the total bill came out as €29 which is a huge amount considering the same food would probably cost around €11 in Dublin! Additionally if I had gone to any other restaurant on that street I probably would have got the same food for around €6!! I was actually wondering why the restaurant was completely empty I thought it was just a quiet time of the day but then when I passed by other restaurants later they were all packed lol! In my defence I hadn't slept so I was making bad decisions. While the kebab itself was pretty small, it wasn't greasy and the coffee was actually a good experience so wasn't a complete loss and I can finally say I had a real Turkish coffee!! Still though it's pretty incredible that they just overcharge based on their location and are purely trying to rip tourists off. Anyway word to the wise: avoid that restaurant!

Before heading back to the hotel I obviously had to buy a box of baklava sweets. I'll probably munch them in the morning after breakfast while I'm packing up for my final trip back to Dublin!

0 Comments for this Travel blog entry

Philippines 2023

Travel blog by peterforan

Getting saturated in tropical rain on scooter

Getting saturated in tropical rain on scooter

Philippines has been on my must-do list for a while now, particularly as everyone was gushing about it while I was in Indonesia. This trip was supposed to have been done around 2018, but delays and then Covid hampered things a tad!

visitors: 17,073

Currently in:

Dublin, Ireland

Buy this Blog on CD!  More...

Makes a great gift for anytime!

Photo Album

  • Mosque at...



    Mosque at sunset
  • Istanbul from...



    Istanbul from the Marriot 14th floor
  • Nice freebie!



    Nice freebie!