09.05.2011 - 10.05.2011 11 °C
Hello again. It is amazing what a few hours sleep will do. Everyone is up this morning after a bit of a sleep in. For the most part everyone should be on Turkey time!
Let me tell you a bit about our first impressions of Istanbul - we are in love with the city and the country and we have just barely arrived. Even at midnight the airport was buzzing with activity. After relieving us all of $60.00 USD for a Turkish visa we were through customs and being welcomed by our tour guide, Omer! It was on to our luxury Mercedes coach and in to the city.
The first impression of the city is that of a very modern city, not quite what I expected. Compared to Cairo, Istanbul is paved roads, modern apartments and, seemingly, quite clean. I was actually very surprised. As we rounded the corner we caught our first glimpse of the night-lit Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The minarets were all lit up and looked captivating.
Looking at the ancient walls of the 'old city' you might have thought you were in Quebec City! And then we really got our first taste of Istanbul. We were transported back in time as our very large coach moved through the narrow streets. We stopped to help push a broken down truck (see the photo below).
We arrived close to our hotel and unloaded all of our luggage. A short walk down another narrow street brought us to the Q Inn. A lovely little property in a great location. After after 20 hours of travelling the bed certainly seemed like the most appealing part of the room. However, we opted to check out the local bar for a well deserved beer. Did I mention how friendly everyone is in Istanbul? As we entered the bar we were invited to join a group of rowdy locals. Being the shy types that we are we opted for our own table. The beer was good and cold (and cheap - $3.00). Everyone came by our table to introduce themselves and invited us back again tonight.
This morning we were greeted with a typical Turkish breakfast; olives, cheeses of many varieties, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread (a Middle East staple) and Nutella. The only thing we are missing is coffee - the hotel serves very strong tea! Oh well!!!!!
We are off for a full day of touring - off to Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Pallace and the Hippodrome....there may even be some shopping as there are so many opportunities!