Friday, June 29, 2012

Istanbul: Day 1: Landing

Yeni Hotel, Istanbul.

Yeni Hostel

Snafu at the Ataturk Airport. Didn't get picked up as arranged, so took a taxi to Yeni Hotel, which agreed - without hesitation - to pay the difference between what the taxi charged me and what I would have paid the hotel. I liked that.

The taxi got lost on the way to the hotel, and I'm glad I gave him the phone number before we took off from the airport so he could call the place on occasion. Plus ask various bystanders.

I also liked that the hotel let me check into my room early. I enjoyed a cup of coffee in the hotel's cozy lounge while I waited. 

And I liked that even before I got into said room, the mgt told me they'd be moving me to a different room for the rest of my stay, as there was construction going on outside my room. A new metro station.

Good wifi. 

Yeni Hotel, Istanbul

Pleasant room, lots of light, although that's a mixed blessing in Istanbul's heat. A floor fan. Decent wardrobe and desk. Blinding white sheets and good bath towel. Good-quality sliders (shoes) for room and bath.

Yeni Hotel, Istanbul
Gigantic shower (the size of a room!) with good hot water, plenty of hooks. Toilet is fine. Sink is outside WC. In fact, the WC and sink were just outside my room, so it was almost like having them en suite.

The hotel/hostel - I get confused about which is it - is owned by two brothers and their two sons. The father-son pairs switch off day-to-day operations, each taking several-day shifts. The hotel is over 100 years old.

Yeni Hotel, Istanbul
There's a spiral staircase with marble steps that are worn in the center edges from so much foot traffic.


A dull headache plagued me all day. Bummer.


Before I left Georgia, I contacted my financial institution to notify them I'd be in Turkey and asked that they check things on their end to make sure I wouldn't have any unhappy surprises on my end. I'd read that Turkey has an unfortunate reputation for bank card scams, and U.S. financial institutions get a little nervouse when they see transactions coming out of Turkey.

I went down to an ATM to get some money and damned if I didn't run into a problem. Fortunately, this ATM was just outside its bank, and I went inside and got help from a bank staffer. He made sure I used the machine on the right instead of the left, as apparently the one on the left really didn't like dispensing lira, preferring instead, euros or dollars. Also, it didn't want to give me the amount I requested, so I went for a lower amount. Communication, ATMs, communication, what, do you think we can read your minds when you've got a problem? Just telling me a transaction is not possible "at this time" is unhelpful. Sheesh.

I relieved myself of a hefty wad of Turkish lira for my three-week hotel stay, then after a nap to (hopefully, but unsuccessfully, rid myself of the headache), I ventured out again.

The hotel mgt had already proven itself to me, despite the airport pick-up issue, that it believed it important to keep guests happy, thus I felt relaxed about paying the full amount up front.

Venturing out

Often there's a pull between the "should" of doing something versus the desire to just be in a place. The benefit of being in a place for three weeks is that there's plenty of time for both.

I did go out and poke around. Walked down to the water. Walked through some narrow streets. Had lunch.

Istanbul bride and groom
I saw the same birds one sees in Georgia almost every day: a newly-married couple. In this case, it was a bride and groom at a gas station, and the bride was inserting herself and her immense dress into a small car.


So far, the biggest cool factor for me are the so-called modern trams. It's difficult for me to tell the difference between the funiculars (I find this word so annoying. Shouldn't this be the name for some sort of waffle cone, really?) and a train and a 'modern' tram, but whatever. The cool thing is they're riding on the street just like a train. On narrow streets. With two tracks, one for each way. With lots of people right, right, right next to them.

Istanbul from Red River Restaurant

Transportation song

Istanbul is a people-moving city. Trams, ferries, taxis, cars, buses, subways, trains, and feet. There are 13 million residents of Istanbul - given the number of tourists I've seen in what is the low season, that's a lot of DNA swirling about.

I wonder if in a million years there won't be a layer of mammalian slough-off, just as there's a layer of paleo-soil from way back. Skin, spit, and other bodily effluvia. We will one day be oil.

This video has the sights and sounds of Istanbul traffic. 

I went down to the water - the Bosphorus - and watched the ferry traffic.

Istanbul, Bosphorus

Vendors sold roasted or boiled corn on the cob, roasted nuts, mussels, fish, and other sundries.

Istanbul, mussels and lemons

I had lunch at the Red River restaurant. Go figure.

Not bad. A cheese/basil wrap.


A shower

The shower. There's something about taking a shower in an immense room that is so luxurious. The feeling, not the room. Plenty of hot water. Nice.

A slide show of Day 1 in Istanbul below:

Istanbul, Day 1

1 comment:

Jen2010 said...

A lovely first day.