Saturday, October 24, 2015

Turkiye/Greece 2015 - Istanbul Part 1:Taksim

The infamous red tram in Istiklal Street, Taksim.

I actually have no idea what triggered me to buy flight tickets to Istanbul. No, not because of those Malaysian dramas, Cinta di Capadoccia or Istanbul Aku Datang. =P, I just watched Istanbul Aku Datang last week though, (almost a month after my trip. It was a nice film. 
I just remembered wanting to travel again about a month after my Palawan Trip. But I don't have any specific place in mind.
It's a bit unusual since I normally prefers somewhere with beaches and islands but I bought it anyway.
To be completely honest, I don't really make a thorough preparation.
I packed my bag just the night before and convert my money at the airport before flight. That turned out to be worst decision ever. 
I didn't planned to not prepare, it just happened that during my last week before going I got swamped with work and teaching a PT3 student.
Talking about bad timing.

I had a 3 hours transit in Abu Dhabi before 7 hours one in Belgrade.
I met 2 Malaysian students who were heading to Frankfurt during Abu Dhabi transit, but bored as hell in Belgrade. I planned to apply visa in Belgrade so that I can spend some time in the city, but in the end, I don't.
So I spent 7hours doing basically nothing - sleeping, walking around, reading novel, prolonged my brunch as long as I could, took pictures. Surprisingly hours passed and I'm off to Istanbul.

Nikola Tesla Airport, Belgrade.

Day 1 - 3rd October 2015 (Saturday)

I reached Istanbul at around 7pm local time. It was freezing. I took a shuttle bus - Havatas to Taksim Square for 11Lira. 45minutes later I arrived in Taksim and walked through the square, through Istiklal Street looking for my apartment. It was hard at first since to my surprise, the locals can't speak English well, even the younger generations. Its getting dark and I've went back and forth Istiklal Streets 5 to 6 times already before finally figuring out the place. After relentless asking and asking and connecting the dots from all the vague answers.

I stayed in a single room in Jumba Apartment, run by two sisters Pinar & Alev that I found through Airbnb.
It was a very nice  room apartment in an old building in the heart of Taksim. Just walking distance from the Istiklal Street.

My room

The hallway and the kitchen

The neighborhood.

Adorable guardian.


Jumba Hostel

This is where I checked in/out and had my breakfast the next morning. Alev & Pinar runs the hostel as well but as for now only the apartments are being advertised in Airbnb.

Day 2 - 4th October 2015 (Sunday)

My toasted bread made by Alev. Tasty.

After breakfast, I proceed to explore Taksim and the rest of Istanbul, but first I have to walk through Istiklal Street again.

There are a lot of McDonalds & Burger King in Istanbul. 
In Istiklal Street only, I counted 3 McDs and 3 BKs.

After around 10 minutes walk, I reached Taksim Square, where the underground metro station is.

You can see a number of Syrian people sitting around the square, the locals call them Suri. 
They seems like they already settled here in Istanbul.

One thing I love about Istanbul, is the transportation system. It is super convenient. You just get yourself an Istanbulkart at the airport and you can use it for all the public transportation, shuttle buses, metro, and trams.

If you didn't get it at the airport, here in Taksim Square, there are one machine inside a booth at the side of the square where you can buy it for 10Lira. 
But during my time, the machine was under maintenance, there were no Istanbulkart office or booth or ticket counter you can buy it from. I tried asking around, despite the communication barrier, because some of the locals will try their best to answer my questions, So after a while, I finally manage to get the Istanbulkart from this ice cream shop below. Right in the metro station. Somehow, they sell it there.  

The Istanbulkart and MetroMap I found in my apartment room.
I guess you can find it at the airport as well.

So first thing first, I decided to find Galatasaray Stadium. (Yes, i went to Istanbul and first thing I look for was a football stadium. T_T) It was in Seyrantepe according to Alev, when I asked her during breakfast earlier. So I bought a Metro ticket to Seyrantepe. 
But when I get there, the stadium was on the other side of the highway where the metro stop located.

Turk Telekom Arena

Apparently when there are no match during the week, the stadium wont be open to public, I couldn't even find the entrance, and the souvenir shop I was looking for to buy Galatasaray muffler for my brothers.
This is the closest picture of the stadium I manage to take. I can go through the revolving door but not pass the ticket counters. Shameful effort though.haha 

Failing with Galatasaray Stadium, I return back to Taksim but not by Metro, I went by bus to go to the Bosphorus baywalk.

Besiktas merchandise shop.

I was told by local that Besiktas was actually the one having the biggest fanbase among locals in Istanbul, and their brand new stadium are currently under-construction.

Soon to Besiktas home ground.

Bosphorus Straits behind me, one of the bridge that connects Europe side to Asian side of Istanbul.

I did not took any of the Bosphorus cruise though, I decided to just walk around and have a chat with locals.

Dolmabahce Palace.
Entrance fee is 40Lira.

Inside a small mosque next to Dolmabahce Palace.

My late lunch.
I had these things in my mind when I came in Istanbul, the street kebab cost only 6Lira and Ayran, the famous local drink, a diluted yogurt actually. Couldn't finished it at the end. Cost around 2.5Lira
You can get these anywhere around Taksim Square.

Then I wanted to find one of the rooftop cafes in Istiklal Street and taste their Pistachio Baklava.
So I went to Mado, ultimately when you're on the roof, you can see almost all the cafe has a rooftop bar and seatings.  

Having tea in Tulip cups is a must when you're in Turkey.

Having tea with a local.

Some of the graffiti in Istiklal Street

As it happened, that day was the match between Arsenal and MAnchester United. I plan to watch it if there any of the cafes showing EPL. They did. But apparently Besiktas was playing at the same time, So my chances to watch the game are now drastically down to zero. So I just headed back to my room.

When I reached back to my room, Pinar called me and asked if I can moved to another room. 
Probably they have guest coming earlier that was supposed to be after I checked out tomorrow, but already arrived, and she'll be staying for longer period than me, and since I'm already checking out tomorrow morning, they asked me to stay in the double room just for the night. with no extra charge.

I said okay. The room was bigger anyway.

I could say that I'm satisfied with my accommodation. Therefore I could recommend it to others. 

I have early morning flight to Denizli the next day. Next post coming up. 

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