was fun but more expensive than we expected!
Our plane was overbooked and we were offered 500 euro cash or 800 euro voucher but we declined (which I regret! 500 euros is 500 euros!). Malaysians do not need a visa (WOOHOO)and Dutch citizens can buy one for 10 euro upon arrival. I strolled through immigration and waited for Dutchman (who was at the back of a loooongggg line at the visa counter, only to realize that :
i) I have his wallet
ii) I also have his mobile phone
I wasn't allowed in again so I peered through a glass wall til I saw Dutchman's grumpy, tired face huahua. We weren't allowed to pass each other anything so we had to walk right to the end of the hall where I was permitted to hand him his things.
One of the perks we got from the hotel was a free pick-up from the airport. He drove like a madman but hey, we survived.
After resting, we checked our guidebook to see how we could walk around. Well, got conned and apparently we're in the middle of bloody nowhere(certainly not in Sultanahmet!)so we had to spend extra for cabs the whole time (most taxi drivers in most countries are a bunch of thieving bastards but Dutchman says life is hard for them so they have to try! I agree to a certain extend).
The cab sent us to Taksim where we got tugged into a touristy restaurant. I ordered the 'imam bayildi' (the imam fainted) and the Dutchman started with mixed mezes. I didn't quite faint form my 'imam bayildi' as it was cold and the cheese had congealed but it wasn't bad either. My main dish was much better (some lamb stew thing on a sizzling stone plate). All in all, dinner was about 60+ euro (including one bottle of red wine).
We woke up, ready to conquer Istanbul. Istanbul is seriously crowded (13 million residents and shitloads of tourists). We had to pay 20YTL per person for the Aya Sofiya.
The Aya Sofiya (also known as Hagia Sophia)was the largest cathedral in the world before it was converted into a mosque (and is a museum now). It is thousands of years old.While it is beautiful, the amount of people in it means we couldn't quite enjoy our visit (constantly herded like sheep and no, we weren't with a tour). There was just too many people and perhaps our expectations were a little too high.
One thing I can't complain about is how pretty the city itself looks with colourful tulips (Holland should be ashamed!).
Entry to the Blue Mosque cost another 40YTL(20 YTL per person). Like Aya Sofiya, it was crowded.
As we were tired, we stopped at a lovely, relaxing cafe -attached to a hotel called YesilEv- where we had wine, sandwiches and cakes. The one remarkable thing we had was this chocolate cake with pistachios and almonds:
Last touristy stop for the day: Topkapi Palace! Lovely gardens but it's very spacious so the buildings by itself, weren't terribly impressive (ie. library- one bulding, sultan's quaters- one building, wives quaters-another building, visitor's room -one building and so on!). It had some pretty gorgeous views though!
Tired from all that walking and "oooh aah"-ing, we decided to stop for some awesome Turkish desserts. Dutchman ordered a strawberry tart and I ordered some kind of pudding (not the famous rice pudding) with what I think was rose water and pistachios. It is truly the most amazing thing I've ever tasted (the kind where you eat a spoonful and think "OMFG, this is bloody amazing!"). I don't know what it's called, unfortunately (it had some Turkish name but I didn't write it down). The cafe is close to the Cisterns. Picture below!
Wow, writing this made me realize how much we did on our 2nd day 0_0. We're not the kinds who do much (more of the see one thing ,then laze at cafes the whole day haha).
People fishing along a bridge
We were quite tired by then as we'd been searching for a bookstore (seriously hard to find!)and we both desperately needed to pee;)
Anyhow, we decided to have dinner at what was once a British jail, called the"Galata House". It's run by a husband-and-wife team of architects. The man is Turkish and the wife is Georgian (or something like that anyhow!).It was just so cute seeing these 2 old people,pottering about attending to customers. Food served there is mainly simple Georgian fare.
Main: Cakapuli - Georgian Lamb Stew (we both ordered the same thing)
Chocolate Meringue Cake
Blancmangewith cognac sauce
Dinner cost about 85 euro(including one bottle of red wine and 2 cups of coffee).
More photos later. This entry is long enough!