Napoléon Bonaparte once said: "If the whole world was a state, Istanbul would be the capital of it". Well he actually used Constantinople istead of Istanbul :-) So I actually had to visit the capitol of the world and I really liked it! I took about 900 pictures, but don't worry, I already selected the best ones. I couchsurfed again and I had a very nice hostess: Esra. She made my stay even better. This ist part 1 of 2 pages.
I got a very cheap flight from Bratislava. I had dinner with a friend from Slovakia first and went to the airport directly afterwards. My plane was not heading to the main airport on the European part of Istanbul, instead it went to Sabiha Gökçen Havaalani airport, which is located on the Asian part, approximately 45min from the city center by shuttle bus. Even at night, or by that time morning, it wasn't a big deal to get to the city center.
I arrived on Thursday very early in the morning, because my flight was delayed for more than an hour. It was easy to get from the airport to Taxim, which is the public traffic junction of Istanbul. From there I took a taxi. I gave the driver the directions my hostess Esra had sent me before.
As the taxi driver and I didn't find the place on the first try, the driver asked me to get in the cab again and offered to help look for it. He really took care of me and waited in the car until my host Esra picked me up!
This is just a short story to start with. I started with a very good impression and I was not disappointed all the days I stayed there!
Esra, my Couchsurfing hostess in Istanbul
My hostess Esra, a translator, was a very cute and smart girl and totally open minded! From the very first moment she treated me as though we had been friends for a long time already. I really appreciated this, of course :-)
Getting around, food, and shopping in Istanbul is really cheap compared to Vienna. You can calculate a discount of almost 50%. For instance, a can of cola on a very crowded and touristy place is two Turkish Lira, and that's about one Euro. Taxis are especially less expensive compared to Austria.
Spice Bazaar with many flags for elections
Actually, except of this stereotype-looking picture, there weren't many women wearing headscarfs...
The city of Istanbul is very big and lively. With approximately 15 million people living there, you can imagine how busy the streets are and how different and crowded nightlife can be :-)
Compared to other journeys, I had more time to discover the city, so I had some time to just hang out.
This cat followed me, propably a spy-cat?
The city itself is similar to European cities, except for the mosques everywhere. I spent lots of time in the Blue Mosque, the Sultan's Palace, the Spice Bazaar and the Big Bazaar.
Blue mosque - famous for having six minarets
Before praying, people wash their feet and hands
I also went inside - without shoes, of course
After the blue mosque, I visited the Hagia Sofia.
Gatekeepers of Hagia Sofia
Inside the former church
Pretty amazing architecture
Picturing the blue mosque again
With my hostess Esra and her friend Emrah, we walked from the Bosporus bridge along the river up to the next one, which took almost two hours as far as I remember.
Bogaz Köprüsü - Bosporus bridge
Me and Esra at Bospurus
Lovely boat in the river
... love to fish :-)
The same day (Friday), we went out to party at Taxim.
Want some sweets?
Esra and me
The club was called "Araf". We had a really great time there. I showed them that not all "people from the North" are cold. :-) Moreover, we don't run out of energy. :-)
Araf club at the beginning
Emrah, Esra and me having Raki
Araf club in the end
Istanbul at night
I also spent a night taking pictures of the scenery in the city center. I got some good shots of the Hagia Sofia, the blue mosque.
Night in Istanbul
Sultan Ahmet Camii
Galata bridge at night
A nice well
A small park, close to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia
This is part two of my article about Istanbul. In this part you will find more about the Galata Tower, the Galata brdige, and my experiences in Kadiköy on the Asian part. You will also find pictures about the Grand Bazaar and the Sultans Palace Topkapi. Last but not least, my overall conclution about my stay in Istanbul.
Continue to Page 2