First stop in Istanbul, Turkey

As some of you know, we spent the last 40 days in the Middle-East. Our flight was a round trip ticket from Bucharest, where we ended the European part of our round the world trip. We went back to Bucharest only for a few days, deciding on our next itinerary. After comparing prices to get from Bucharest to Istanbul, we opted to fly with Pegasus Airlines. Our first choice was the train but they do not run all the way in Turkey anymore and we would have had to catch the bus at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. Our next option was the bus, but a 12 to 14 hours bus ride was not appealing as we will most likely be spending a lot of time in Turkish buses. The minor difference in price to fly made our decision an easy one.

The security video on board Pegasus Airline was notably different; showing people dancing around in the airplane. With Pegasus you have to pay to select seats, we choose not to pay so we ended up in the same row but on different sides of the aisle. The guy between us was nice enough to switch places with Seb so we could sit together. The flight was uneventful, beside the fact that we had to pay for water. A low-cost airline was substantially different from Austrian Airlines where we enjoyed free wine!

Because it was night time, just before landing in the Asian side of Istanbul, we could admire all the green lights of the many minarets. We had to wait for a while at the passport control, but it was wonderfully easy to go through as we had previously applied and received our e-visas. We picked up our bags and followed the signs to the shuttle bus. We withdrew some money from the ATM and arrived just in time for the 8pm shuttle. We sat in and enjoyed the view of the endless city center, crossing the bridge to the European side.

After a really good night sleep in our little apartment, we woke up late. We were a bit slow getting started so we left only in the afternoon. We started our exploration of Istanbul by walking all the way to the Grand Bazaar. We saw a large number of big mosques on our way. We walked for a while in the Sultanahmet neighbourhood, the area where they actually make the shoes. It is pretty impressive to see the amount of little sewing shops, the multiple stores filled with boxes, the many people running to the market with brand-new shoes. We enjoyed again being in another Arabic city. It would probably have looked a lot more different than Europe if we didn’t arrive from a month in Jordan. Istanbul is a good mix of Europe and Middle East; a really huge city with a myriad of shopping opportunities.

The next day, we tried to buy a bus ticket to go to Goreme, in Capadoccia. We asked the lady at the tourist information office located near Taksim Square, and she wasn’t really helpful. We walked on the street she indicated and went in the first office. It felt like we were bothering the people working there by wanting to buy tickets, so we walked across the street to the next bus company where we got our tickets and a smile! We chose to try our luck in Cevahir Mall for some hiking boots. We took the subway and got out in the right area, but not quite on the right street. We spotted the Trump Tower which seemed to have many shops, we walked in and found the information desk and asked the smiling girl where to find the other big mall. In Turkey, when entering a mall, one needs to go through security just like the airport. Cevahir is huge and crowded. Unfortunately, we had no success finding hiking boots. We came back and looked around for the post office but somehow we missed it, so we decided it was time to go back to our little nest. After supper, we packed our bags and prepared our lunch for the long bus ride planned for the following day.

Sunset over a mosque
View of the Bosphorus
Cloudy day
The cats are king
Shoe factories in the streets of Istanbul
Open air storage area
Pedestrian street close to the Bazaar
Grand Bazaar
Turkish delights
Taksim Square
Taksim Square
Galata Tower
Inside Cevahir Mall

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