A week in Istanbul, Turkey

8th November 2016

After a few weeks in Central Asia, it was about to get really cold. A plane ticket to Turkey cost less than a load of warm clothes so Turkey was the next destination. Istanbul has a lot of history and it is famous for kebabs. I was ready for a week of eating a lot of meat, drinking tea and seeing lots of mosques.

Istanbul university - Turkey
Istanbul university – Turkey

Getting to Turkey

From Bishkek it was a 5 and a half hour flight and back 3 time zones so it was only a 2 hour flight; kind of. I had some old man sat next to me on the flight listening to Arabic music on his phone which was pretty annoying.

First impressions of Istanbul were positive. I got into the city on the Asian side, crossed the river on a ferry and then walked through the old part of the city. Cheers Hostel is right by the Hagia Sofia mosque and it’s got an awesome view from the top floor lounge/bar. Go stay there if you go to Istanbul.

Fishing for dinner off the main walking bridge in the city - Istanbul, Turkey
Fishing for dinner off the main walking bridge in the city – Istanbul, Turkey

The situation in Turkey

You hear a lot of bad things about Turkey from western media. Media outlets tend to lie so I decided it’s probably not a bad place to visit. As it turns out, it’s as safe as many other countries but there is a big police presence in the city. Walking into busy places and markets you see police stood at the entrances with guns. That’s a good thing right?

Istanbul spice market - Turkey
Istanbul spice market – Turkey

Sights

I didn’t see many famous tourist sights other than the two main mosques; Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. They are both awesome and worth a visit but there’s not much to say about them. You take your shoes off, go inside and see the building. Cities are about walking the streets and there’s lots of interesting places in Istanbul.

You see all sorts of busy markets with people just living their lives doing what they do. There may be the typical tourist shit but most of Istanbul felt genuine. Sitting down on the side of the street drinking tea, eating kebabs is what the city is about for me.

Fishing on the Asian side of the city - Istanbul, Turkey
Fishing on the Asian side of the city – Istanbul, Turkey

Food

Turkey has a lot of famous food. I was hoping to try some new food but it was similar as what I have already had in neighbouring countries. Armenia and Georgia had similar food, the Balkans had similar food. I was a bit disappointed but I guess the neighbouring countries stole most of the food from Turkey. I don’t know, but either way there was a lot of good food in the city.

Istanbul has so many kebab shops in all different shapes and sizes. You see giant doners, sideways doners, wood fired doners. So many different doners and even the bad kebabs tasted good. Food prices compared to Eastern Europe was expensive but you can find a kebab for no more than £3.

One week of Istanbul’s best kebabs and lots of Turkish tea was enough. It was time to leave before I got way too fat.

Fish market - Istanbul, Turkey
Fish market – Istanbul, Turkey

Next stop Egypt

Egypt is one of the countries at the top of my list and it’s also the first country in Africa for me. I’ve been putting it off for so long for some reason. Now it’s time to just go and if I hate it then there’s decent countries nearby.

I’ve only met a few people who have been to Egypt (holiday resorts don’t count as Egypt) so it’s going to be a surprise. Cairo is supposed to be super hectic so there should be lots to see.

Cats are everywhere in Istanbul
Cats are everywhere in Istanbul
Thats a lot of eggs - Istanbul, Turkey
Thats a lot of eggs – Istanbul, Turkey
Turk telecom - Istanbul, Turkey
Turk telecom – Istanbul, Turkey
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