Istanbul is the proverbial city at a crossroads.
We’re thrilled to be partnering with Viator to discover Istanbul. Our tour will include a bus tour, a boat tour, and a brief visit to the spice market. With a little luck, we’ll finish before sundown and be able to squeeze in a short visit to either the Blue Mosque or Haiga Sofia. Since our time is tight, we’re concentrating on seeing the old city.
Come evening, we’re meeting up with our friend Katie from KatrinkaAbroad.com. We’re counting on Katie's local expertise to expertly guide us through a Turkish eating extravaganza. Traditional baklava, coffee, and maybe even ice cream are all on my list!
I've been researching public transportation routes to and from the airport so we can get around quickly and economically. We’re also planning to get our Turkish visas in advance to save time at the airport.
Leaving to Chance:
We’re leaving the evening completely in Katie's hands – we trust her judgement when it comes to delicious food and neat things to see after sunset and we can’t wait to follow the leader!
What will we do with our backpacks? Fortunately, the Istanbul airport is a rare one with public luggage storage. I’ve already made a note of their location and hours.
With so little time and so much to see, I’m happy to be joining a tour. I don’t want to waste any time getting lost or waiting in line and I really just want to see the highlights. This is a great example of how a guide tour can save you time, money, and hassles.
Splurges and Souvenirs:
Our visas, at $60 apiece, are splurge enough for us!
Fortunately I had copies of my receipt (side note - what is the point of a paperless visa when you need to bring along papers to prove you have one!). The receipt proved to be equally confusing to officers, who eventually stamped our passports and slid them back to us. We stood there for a moment a bit stunned then we sprung into action! Have you ever seen the Ikea "START THE CAR" commercials? It was basically an airport version of that, with us trying to inconspicuously sprint away from customs before they changed their mind about e-visas.
If I could re-do any aspect of my trip, it would be my tour of Istanbul. I would have followed the self-guided tour of the old city detailed by my fellow travel bloggers The Barefoot Nomad, who did Must See Istanbul in 6 Hours. (Update! It's been over a year since I wrote this post and I'm STILL recommending this blog post. Seriously, it's awesome!)
Previous stop: Day 6: Brussels
Next stop: Day 8 On Route to Bangkok
Related: Our Viator Tour of Istanbul
Update! We've since been back to Turkey! Here's what we were up to:
Ancient Ebru Painting In Istanbul
Istanbul's Top Budget Hotel
Holy Wisdom in Trabzon, Turkey
12,000 Years of History in Southeast Turkey