Welcome to Day 3 of Janet and Randy's Turkish Adventure 2015
Sunday, March 29th, 2015
Hello, I thought I'd start of the journal today and give Janet a bit of a break. We were told yesterday that Turkey will convert over to Day Light Savings time on Sunday Morning. Considering we changed over 2 weeks ago in North America, it seemed a bit odd... but ok. We woke up at what we thought was 9:30, but ended up being 8:30. Considering we went to bed at 11p the previous evening the rest was very welcomed after a long travel day.
We very slowly got ready and by the time we got to the restaurant, they were about to close up the morning buffet. The buffet and food was very impressive. So many different types of foods to try. We finished breakfast and then decided that we wanted to get SIM cards and a prepaid plan for our mobile phones. So we headed over to the mall that we saw last night and found a Vodafon store. The sales guy helping us struggled with English, but we really appreciated his help. He got us SIM cards and a plan. It was pretty simple and inexpensive. He did say that it would take a couple of hours for the phone card to activate.
We went to the Metro station and realized that we needed a Metro card (Istanbulkart). We couldn't locate a place to go buy the card, so we ended up wandering around a bit. Eventually we found a little store that was on the street that sold the card. The guy told us that we only needed one card and could share it. So we loaded it with some Turkish Lira and off we went.
We wanted to head to the Sultanamet area. We had figured it out previously that we would need to take the Metro (underground), to the Funicular, and then to the Tram. Of course with each of these they are separate fares. Considering how fare we had to go it seemed like a bit of a flawed system. Oh well, this city is a few thousand years old, and it's better than what my home town has to offer.
We got to the Sultanamet area and started to wander around. We headed to Hagia Sophia...
Being a Sunday, it was rather busy in the Sultanamet area. We did some wandering around, just looking at the magnificent buildings. There was a large lineup to get into the Hagia Sophia, so we decided to walk around the outside of it. On the backside, we noticed an entrance to the Hagia Sophia tombs. There was no charge to get in, and there was no line, so we decided to check it out.
There were 4 different buildings with the tombs of sultans in them. The insides had amazing stained glass windows and designs. These were just the tombs, and not inside the actual mosques.
We wandered down a side street and checked out a restaurant called Seven Hills that has a rooftop terrace with amazing views of both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. We weren't really hungry at the time, but thought it might be good to go back in the evening and check out the night view.
We headed over to the Blue Mosque to see if there was a big lineup to get in. We walked through a courtyard to get to the entrance. At first I thought the line wasn't that bad, but then realized that it snaked back around the building. So, we decided to pass on entering at this point. We'll come back during the week when it isn't as busy.
We had spent a few hours wandering around and were getting tired (and solicited by numerous people to buy rugs, or take their tours). So, we went to the tram to head back to the hotel. There was quite a crowd waiting for the tram, and when the tram arrived, it was already full. So, we ended up being crammed into the tram with a bunch of people (more pushed into the tram that crammed). After a couple of stops, the tram emptied out a bit, so we were able to snag 2 seats for the remainder of the trip.
From the tram, we took the funicular, and then the metro to get back. The metro stop was right near the shopping centre. Since our phones still hadn't activated, we went back into the Vodafon store to see the guy that had helped us earlier. It took a little bit, but he finally figured out that the money we paid hadn't been transferred from the store to the carrier. So, we were able to get our internet and calling working. However, we weren't able to text each other, or the salesman in the store that was on the Vodafon network. So, it might just be a network issue. But the main thing was getting the internet, so we weren't too worried about it.
Once that was settled, we headed back to the hotel and went up to the club lounge for some drinks and snacks. It doesn't seem that people here put ice in their drinks as the hotel itself doesn't have any ice buckets or ice machines, and there wasn't any ice machine or bucket in the club lounge. Last night when we were in the lounge, we had asked if we could get some ice for our drinks. So, the lounge worker went into the kitchen and came back with a bowl of ice for us. When we arrived into the lounge this afternoon, he immediately disappeared into the kitchen and came back with a bowl of ice for us without us even asking! Now that's service! Dude is awesome !
We relaxed in the lounge for a bit, and then went back to our room and spent time organizing photos and working on the journal. After hanging out for a while, we decided we better head out and get some supper. I found a place on Yelp called Dogu Karadeniz Pide Sarayi. It is a soup, salad and pide place. Pide is like a Turkish flatbread. We had a cheese and beef pide (the beef was actually a beef pepperoni-type sausage). It was tasty, and had some other spices that made it taste much different than a normal flatbread/pizza you would find at home. Luckily we had decided to split one, because it was very filling!
Then it back to the room to relax. Need to hit the bed early as we have a food tour to get up for the next morning.
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