Daytrip to Istanbul

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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul
April 30th 2012
Published: April 15th 2018
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I have always wanted to see Istanbul. I think the city looks so pretty on the water and with all the minarets that tower from the different mosques.

After our trip to Budapest a few weeks ago, I had caught the travel bug again big time!

My wife and I discussed places for future trips and I suggested Istanbul. She did not like that choice. She did not want to visit Turkey due to her Armenian heritage from her Mothers side. I asked if I could go alone, and she gave me the ok.

Our flight to Istanbul is very tough to get on as a stand-by passenger, and even tougher to get on in business class, which is why I had not done the trip before. I scouted our flight schedules and saw that the flight was wide open for travel on April 29, so I began to plan.

I mentioned the trip at work and one of my co-workers said he wanted to join. That would be Jerome(Castex21). We departed Indianapolis on Sunday April 29 at 7 am, on Delta Connection flight 5891 to New York-LGA airport. This was an EMB-170 aircraft and I was in first class seat 1A. The flight was smooth and took about an hour and thirty minutes. I had a few Baileys on ice and napped a little. I had worked the night before and so was very tired.

Our approach to NY was awesome! It was a clear day and we came in over the water, out from Newark airport towards the Statue of Liberty, and then over southern Manhattan, towards Citi Field, and then finally into LGA. I had great views of the landmarks mentioned, along with Brooklyn Bridge, the new Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, and the Flushing location of the World’s Fair.

I should have had my camera out…..

Once at LGA, we took the airport bus over to JFK airport. It took about 20 minutes and cost $10. We passed by the hangar that temporarily housed the Space Shuttle that will be going to the Intrepid Air Museum. That was a cool sight to see!

The flight to Istanbul did not depart until 5:05 pm and it was only about 10am at this time, so we went into the Delta Sky Club to relax. I showered in there and then just sat around drinking some gin and tonics and eating the snacks they had. We left the club at about 4 pm to go and board our flight. We were on Delta flight 72, which was a 767-300 aircraft. I had seat 3G in business class. The flight was smooth and routine. I had the same meals that I had a few weeks ago.

The starter was the duck medallions and pumpkin bisque soup. The main course was the beef tenderloin, with wasabi mashed potatoes and snap peas. That is a great meal!! Had a few gin and tonics and then slept most
of the flight. I was tired so I slept very well! At one time when I woke up, I saw on the flight map, that we were directly over Budapest. I lifted the window shade and looked out and sure enough, I could see recognizeable landmarks such as the Danube River, the Chain Bridge, and Castle Hill! Another cool photo shot missed. An hour before we arrived, I had the egg crepes and chicken sausage for breakfast. Our approach into Turkey took us over Bulgaria and the Black Sea. We turned south over the sea and passed by the city of Burgas, then continued over the western part of Turkey. We flew over the Sea of Marmara and made a right turn into Ataturk International Airport. When we arrived into Istanbul, it was quick and easy to get our $20 visa, but then the immigration took over 30 minutes. We quickly went out to the metro and rode it to Zeytinburnu stop, where we transferred to the tram. We then rode the tram to the Sultanahmet stop. It was packed and so we were glad to finally get off. We found our hostel quickly and went in to shower and change. The hostel was the Old City Esma.

The first place we went was to get some lunch at a little shawarma stand on the corner. After that, we walked over to the Hippodrome area, and into the grounds of the Sultanahmet, or Blue Mosque.

It was very pretty, especially inside. We had a man try to get us to visit his carpet shop and we were telling him that we had about 15 hours to see Istanbul and did not have time, but he was really trying. Jerome finally just shook his hand and told him thank you, but no thank you and we left. We walked over from there to the Hagia Sophia, which was closed, but at least we could see it from the outside. Then it was on to Topkapi Palace. We had some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice from a street vendor, which was very tasty! Next, we attempted to visit the Basilica Cistern, but the line was very long, and with only a day to see lots of stuff, we moved on.

We walked to the Grand Bazaar to do a little shopping. It was about 5 pm by this time. It was fun to haggle with the merchants and we did get some good stuff.

I bought a few items for my family, including a candle lantern. Those candle lanterns are amazing and I wish I could have bought more, or at least a larger one. The Bazaar is a lot of fun, but also very overwhelming at the same time. We became separated in there and although we looked for each other for over thirty minutes, we had no luck. I walked back to the hostel to see if Jerome was there, but he was not. I waited a little but then decided that I had to move on the see more stuff. I took the tram down to the Eminonu stop. I was going to just walk around the whole area, and maybe even cross the Galata Bridge to visit the other side of the Golden Horn, but I happened to see a Bosphorus cruise getting ready to depart. It was only 10 lira for over an hour, so I went for it. This ended up being the highlight of my day. It was very cold out on the water but I stayed on top of the boat and took in the views. It went up past Ortakoy, and under the Bosphorus Bridge before turning back to Eminonu. I had some tea while on the cruise and fell in love with the whole tea custom in Istanbul. I especially loved the apple tea!

After the cruise, it was about 9 pm, so I caught the tram back to Sultanahmet and did a little shopping. I then went back to the hostel and found Jerome. We went out and ate at a little place, where I had some chicken kebab and an Efes beer to drink. Very good meal!! After dinner, we took the tram back to Eminonu so Jerome good see that area too.

It was now nearly midnight and so we went back to Sultanahmet to get some night photos of the mosque and the Hagia Sophia. At about 2 am, we went back to our hostel to get ready to depart. We had a 3:30 am shuttle to the airport. The shuttle ran late and stopped for more people on the way, so we were concerned on making it in time or our 5:50 am flight to Amsterdam.
The Delta return flight to New York was full, so we had to use KLM through Amsterdam to make it back home.
We did get to Ataturk airport in time and did make KLM flight 1610 to Amsterdam. It was a 737-800 aircraft and I was in coach seat 11A.

When we arrived into the Amsterdam area, the pilot said there were bad thunderstorms and so we had to circle over the Dutch countryside for about 30 minutes.

We finally made into Amsterdam, still on time and went to out connecting flight. It was raining very hard there. I purchased some hagelslag, which I always do when in the Netherlands.

Our next flight was Delta 231 to Boston. We cleared for business class again, and I was in seat 4B on the Airbus 330-300 aircraft. This flight was also smooth and routine.

We had another excellent meal, with an appetizer of shrimp and scallops, a main course of a beef fillet, and dessert of an ice cream sundae. I also drank 5 gin and tonics. During the meal, I watched the movie Goodfellas, which is one of my all time favorites! After the movie I listened to my ipod and dozed off until landing. I was so tired that I skipped the light meal that was served just before arrival.

Arrival into Boston was very fast and easy.

We were plane to curb within 10-15 minutes easily. We went over to terminal A for our connection to Indianapolis.

Our final flight was on Delta Connection flight 5873, an EMB-170 aircraft. I was in coach seat 5C for the two hour flight. I just napped and had a screwdriver to drink. There were thunderstorms in Indianapolis but we manage to skirt between them and get in without any delays. It was good to be back since I was exhausted. I am too old for these daytrips, lol!

I really enjoyed Istanbul and would love to return and see more!

Thank you for reading!

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