We landed in Istanbul early afternoon. As I mentioned in my Venice post, we had a 15hr layover before our flight home. Turkish Airline offers FREE accommodation for such layovers. However, the process of getting through all of it is a nightmare. I lied, the process is easy – you just have to show your airline tickets and passport. Waiting was a nightmare. Two whole hours! Once everything was organized, it was about the 20minute bus ride to our hotel.
While we were waiting to check in, we befriended a woman from Libya. She was traveling to DC. She barely spoke English, but we managed to communicate. She wanted to tag along for our quick trip to downtown Istanbul. We waited for about 30ninutes for our cab. Rush hour traffic was a nightmare. An hour later, I was standing right in front of Hagia Sophia. One of my favorite structures in the world. I was in awe.
I was dreaming with my eyes open.
Unfortunately, we missed the last tour. My heart broke. I was left to admire it from outside only. So we did just that. We walked around the square for quite some time before catching a cab to the Grand Bazaar….it was time for retail therapy. And that is what we did. By the time we arrived, shops were starting to close up; we had 45 minutes. We bought lots of sweets. After bargaining around for small souvenirs, it was time to leave.
While writing this post, I was browsing through my Facebook feed to reminiscent a little. I found this particular post that I need to share on this blog. Enjoy!
Four wonderful/hilarious things happened within the first four-hours:
- We befriended a woman from Libya, who decided to tag along on our adventure to see Hagia Sophia. She speaks very little English but is pretty damn cool. Within an hour, she told me that she is my Libyan mother.
- En route to Hagia Sophia from our hotel, I was in the car trying to communicate with an Indian, Libyan, and our Turkish driver. At some point, the cab driver and I decided that we should drive on over to Asia, but somehow both of my mothers figured out what we were up to so we ended up at the spice bazaar instead.
- The salesperson at few shops we went to were openly hitting on me. The evil looks on my mother’s face were priceless.
- I ate enough Turkish Delights for this lifetime.
It took me all of half an hour to fall in love with Istanbul.
I think it was a perfect layover. I will be going back to Istanbul in future, but if you happen to come across such layover, I highly recommend booking that ticket. It’s nowhere enough time to explore Istanbul, but any amount of time spent in this city will be worth every second.
Hoscakal, Istanbul…for now.