Ah Ireland, you greeted me with a bit of sun and a bit of rain, it’s like I never left! I can’t believe it was only 2 weeks ago that I left on my Nepali adventure and that it’s already over. Tomorrow I will be back at work as if nothing had happened. It’s going to be a rough week.
My flight from Kathmandu to Istanbul was unremarkable. I lucked out and got one of the newer planes so I had an individual screen and the flight just flew by (see what I did there? 😉 ). I got to Istanbul at 2pm and debated whether to brave it by myself or do the touristy thing and book a hotel from the airport. I decided to be a sucker and try out the hotel booking places in the airport. DO NOT DO IT. Especially with a company named AVRO tours. It was one of the worse decisions of the whole trip.
I thought I had gotten a decent enough deal at 85 euro with a return taxi for a single room. This was after some serious haggling and it was the best offer out of all the places at the airport. Turns out there are shuttles coming back from the Sultanahment for €5 every hour or so. I could have saved a bunch on my return.
The hotel they booked me into was supposed to be called the Garden Rose. When I got there it was called the Rose Bouquet. The only way the hotel resembled a Rose is in that it was also fed by piles of shit. The staff were horrible, the room was dingy and had leaks in the ceiling, the hot water was not working and the electricity went out a couple of times. Not really worth the 60 euros a night. Overall very bad.
That was the bad part of Istanbul, the good part is the city itself. I had been waiting almost 20 years to see Hagia Sophia. I studied it extensively in my last year of high school and did many sketches of it and it had always stuck in my mind. It was a blast to finally be there even though half of it was covered in scaffolds. I took the full tour and even bought the audioguide! I loved it.
By the time I finished it was almost 6pm so I headed over to the Basilica Cistern before it closed. I had heard it was worth seeing and I figured if I could only see 2 things, those were good things to see. Let me say it was definitely worth it. There is a magical feeling being there under the city in a place that is thousands of years old. I only wish I had had more time to spend there as they were closing and I only had 30 minutes to see it.
When I got out the sun was setting and it was time to grab a bite. My camera battery died at that moment and my charger was in my backpack which had been checked all the way to Dublin so I have no pictures of that evening. I had a nice cheap Chicken Shish and some lovely Baklava. Not a bad way to end a great afternoon.
I slept in the next morning and woke up to have my horrible free breakfast. I won’t dwell on it, I’ll only insist: AVRO Tours and the Rose Bouquet: STAY AWAY. The car was supposed to collect me at 10 am to take me to the airport. By 10:20 nobody had shown up. I asked the hotel and they told me off because it was not their problem. I called the company and they said not to worry, the car would get there. I was worried as I had a plane to catch but just waited. The car was 40 minutes late and I was rather stressed out. On top of the Ataturk airport in Istanbul has to be one of the most secure airports in the world. I got Xrayed twice and passed 2 more controls before I got to my gate. Suffice it to say I got to my gate just in time. 🙂
The flight to Dublin was on an older plane so I read a book all the way. I couldn’t see the screen as it was behind the curtain protecting the business class passengers from us economy rabble. I did get a first row seat so I had plenty of leg space.
I am now in my apartment writing this and planning out my next trip. I can’t wait to leave again. Tomorrow is work and then acting class so at least I’ll have something to look forward to!