Istanbul - Making the Most of Layovers

6th Aug 2012
Photo of Istanbul - Making the Most of Layovers 1/6 by cookydoh
The bluest sky I've ever seen
Photo of Istanbul - Making the Most of Layovers 2/6 by cookydoh
Inside the Hagia Sofia
Photo of Istanbul - Making the Most of Layovers 3/6 by cookydoh
Topkapi Palace
Photo of Istanbul - Making the Most of Layovers 4/6 by cookydoh
Topkapi Palace
Photo of Istanbul - Making the Most of Layovers 5/6 by cookydoh
Topkapi Palace
Photo of Istanbul - Making the Most of Layovers 6/6 by cookydoh
Outside the Hamam, walking around Sultanahmet

If spending $40 less on a ticket from Paris to Mumbai means a 10 hour layover in a city like Istanbul as opposed to taking a direct flight between the aforementioned cities , I don't see why you shouldn't use those $40 to see a new city.

As of 2012, the on-arrival visa was $20, provided you also have a valid Schengen visa. Metro tickets from the airport to the city start at 1.5 Turkish Lira and I spent a little under $5 on four metro tickets. Since I was around only for a few hours and I'd pigged out most of my fifteen days before that in Bruges, Paris and Barcelona, I bought a Turkish coffee and a doner kebab and some fresh-squeezed orange juice around the Grand Bazzar. Those worked out to $8 and some change. Entry tickets were between 10 TL and 20 TL most places and that worked out to about $15.

A day trip to Istanbul is hardly doing it any justice at all, if you ask me. But what if you did 5 of those for every time you planned a bigger trip? It's almost worth it. And if I'm allowed to give out some of my secret tripping plans out, I'd do a whole two weeks over the rest of Turkey and be happy doing 5 day-trips in Istanbul. Inshallah.

Slept the night there because I had just flown in and was flying out later the following day. For free. Hah!

A friend who worked in Turkey for a short while said this was probably a severely under-rated place, but most definitely deserved a quick visit. It was a brief walk from the Blue Mosque and a soothingly eerie (if that's a thing!) walkway set up inside what is rightly called "Sunken Palace".

Sauntered in and out of various parts that make up the palace, looked up historical references and fell in love with the intricate tile work.

I took another metro from near the Basilica Cistern to the Grand Bazaar, realizing only minutes later that I could've walked the distance. But it was August and warm and I stopped by the street to drink a glass of fresh orange juice. As I entered the Grand Bazaar, with it's ginormous canopy and countless stores filled with carpets, shishas and lanterns, I made my way past haggling shopkeepers and their ever-ready-to-bargain minions. I tried getting yappy with a local over a Turkish coffee and picked up a couple of souvenirs before buying myself a doner kebab and hopping on another metro that took me back to the airport.

The Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque and the Basilica cistern are all within walking distance of one another. A quick metro ride into the Sultanahmet area and I was at the famed Blue Mosque. I draped myself in a kaftan they provided at the entrance and spent the rest of my time sitting inside on it's carpeted floors, gaping at the intricate tiling and art work, while trying to get spiritual.

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