Monday, 18 July 2016

Turkey Part 2: From Istiklal Street to Galata Bridge

Day 2 started bright and early.
We woke around 7, went upstrairs to put food in our bellies (YOLO, yeah right!)
Breakfast spread was incredible!!
So many things to EAT!!
As you can see, i was pretty excited. More so that i clicked a picture of my breakfast EVERYDAY! but thats for another post!

My Plate

 We had beautiful view of the city while we had breakfast

And this guy eyeing out food!

We headed out after breakfast.

Outside our hotel.

 Taksim Square was 5 minute walk from our hotel.

Taksim Square

Istiklal street itself is about 1.5 km with alot of shops and restaurants on both sides.
After crossing all this you enter a smaller street which had a lot of shops that sell guitars and other music related stuff (zero knowledge about all this, so 'music related stuff' would suffice),
loads of souvenir shops there too. Have a look around but I'd suggest not to buy, you'd find the exact same thing in Grand Bazaar at a much cheaper price and so many variety to choose from. So have a little patience and move on!
But if you do see someone selling fresh fruits, try the strawberries, they are incredible, so big and juicy and oh-so-sweet, nothing like you've ever tasted in Pakistan! 
Bought this box of strawberries for 5 TL (0.650 OMR / 176 PKR)

Istiklal street

Me, in front of Galata Tower and please don't forget the garbage bin behind me.

Small street leading upto Galata Bridge

You'll pass Galata Tower on the way to Galata Bridge, it is usually always crowded but that day there was nobody there because of the rain. We didnt go to the top thinking we'd go some other day when its bright and sunny.
Keep walking further down small narrow streets, these streets would slope downwards, so be careful!

In the end the street would open up to a busy sidewalk, with Galata bridge on your right.
It is such a gorgeous sight!

Street going to Galata Bridge
The walk from Taksim Square to Galata bridge was about 3 km (Dont forget to take your runners)
If you cant walk this much, you can take a Funicular from Taksim Square to Kabatas than a tram from there to Karakoy.

We walked on the bridge, the whole view was so picturesque, birds flying around, blue water, with lots of boats, ferries and loads of people!
A whole line of restaurants run below the bridge. It was still early in the day so we didn't stop for lunch, and they looked deserted, like no customer, nada. 

Below Galata Bridge

Galata Tower from the bridge
We crossed the bridge, bought a grilled corn and went in a ferry for a trip to the Bosphorus bridge, the weather was beautiful, so we thought why not.
The ticket per person was 12 TL (1.500 OMR / 415 PKR)
Being the geniuses that we are, we decided to sit upstairs area which was open and it got cold pretty quick!
We were freeeezing!
But we did manage to take some really nice photos, so totally worth it! :D

Grilled corn

Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe and Asia

We came downstairs to sit in a warm and toasty cafe after we captured a good amount of photos of us making awkward poses and yeah, some scenery too.
The whole trip took round 2 hours.

Reaching back to Eminonu, we opted to have a lunch of the famous Balik Ekmek (Fish sandwich), which by the way 'N' did not like at all. She had a Doner Sandwich from a nearby doner place.
The sandwiches are made on a very fancy decorated boat, which just adds to the attraction. The sandwich itself if just a piece of grilled fish with lettuce in a thick bread. You can add a dash of lemon juice, which is provided at the table. The price of the sandwich was 8 TL ( 1 OMR / 277 PKR)
I liked it!
It was simple, fresh and yum!
It was difficult to get the fishy smell out my hands after that though, had to wash my hands many time, use sanitizer, even used a perfume. Too 'wehmi' 

Guys selling Balik Ekmek
Balik Ekmek

Pineapple Slice for dessert. 1 TL each.

We walked back to the hotel to rest for a bit. We've already walked for 8 km, my feet were about to fall off. So tired.
Went out again after 2 hours for some tea and dinner.

We had traditional Turkish Tea with Simit(Turkish Bagel) that we bought from red carts that you'd find all over Istiklal street. Tea was 2 TL for a cup and 1 TL for Simit.

Dinner that day was Islak from Taksim Park Restaurant at Istiklal Street. Burger filled with spicy beef patty and the whole thing is dunked in tomato sauce. Its soo good!
Cost 3 TL each (0.400 OMR / 105 PKR)
Its a must have if you go to Turkey!

Islak Burger

Overall day 2 went pretty good. we tried loads of food, bought a few things, got really tired with all the walking. 
We came to the hotel around 9:30 ready to crash, and i was asleep before my head hit the pillow!

Thats all for today.
I'll leave you with a few pictures of Isiklal Street at night and a picture of me of course.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Turkey Part 1: From Muscat to Istanbul

Those of you who follow me on Instagram (@sidraamjed) know that I went to Istanbul with my sister-in-law ('N') 2 months back. This being our first trip to Turkey, we did all the touristy things, went to all the touristy places but we tried the food that the locals eat, which was incredible by the way (will get to that in the next post)
This trip was amazing in so many ways, first and foremost, it was just me and my sister-in-law, so just a girls' trip. Secondly, leaving behind the blistering heat of Muscat, the gorgeous weather of Istanbul was a welcome change, temperature ranged from 16°C to 22°C throughout our stay. The overall cost of the trip was really cheap as well (Thank you FlyDubai!)

So, for the next posts I will write as much as I can about our trip to the city of two continents!

The whole idea of this trip started in February, when J was just going through his facebook and saw deals from Flydubai. Husband couldn't go because of work. 'N' had some work related thing in Istanbul as well, so this deal came just in time. We booked our flight the very next day.
The cost of per ticket was 89 OMR (24,208 pkr), which was really cheap as compared to the normal fare for Istanbul which range in between 170 to 220 OMR (depending on the airline)


So on 3nd May 2016 we packed our bags and got ready to experience Istanbul!
Our flight was due to depart from Muscat International Airport(MCT) at 12:35 pm and set to arrive at Sabiha Gokcen International Airport at 20:25 pm, with a 3 hour transit at Dubai International Airport(DXB)

Beautiful Oman
In Front of Me
You can see the Burj Khalifa in this picture. Okay, just barely.

3 hour transit time wasn't that bad either, which we spent roaming around the dutyfree shops.
We had lunch (KFC, another very 'healthy' choice)at the Dubai airport. One drawback to travelling with Flydubai is that they dont serve complimentary meals during their flight, which i was quite disappointing with, You can buy the meals in-flight though. I'm always looking forward to meals in a flight, like a kid, seriously!
But we took this in stride considering we were travelling on pennies!
We did have food before we boarded so we were pretty full, and we had a stash of chips too!

The overall experience of travelling with flydubai was above average. The seats were okay, leg space was a little tight, but the seat next to us was empty, so it compensated for that. The staff was just okay thought, my sister-in-law had to literally wait an hour for a bottle of water!

We landed at Sabiha Gokcen Airport at 8:25 pm. After getting our baggage, the first thing we did was get credit for the sim (cousin's sim). The service provider was Turkcell and the package we opted for was 1 GB internet and 30 minutes of international calls for 40 TL (5.300 OMR / 1450 PKR). This took us about an hour.

Enroute Istanbul

Before landing
Sabiha Gokcen International Airport

The hotel we chose was near Taksim Square and the best way to travel from the airport was through Havatas bus service. The bus departs every 30 minutes from right outsie both the airports (Sabiha Gokcen and Attaturk) to designated stops to many parts of the city. You can travel to your hotel by taxi or through a shuttle service that you can book in advance, but they are both pretty expensive.If you're travelling on a budget, like us, than Havatas is the way to go. 

The ticket from the airport to Taksim was 14 TL per person (1.800 OMR/ 508 PKR), which is pretty cheap as compared to the taxis, they charge around 80-100 TL

We did a lot of research on this, and booked our hotel near the Havatas Taksim Square stop.

It was raining when we landed, sight for sore eyes!
The bus took about 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Taksim Square,. Out hotel was a 5 minute walk away (Thank God for trolley bags!). It did get pretty cold walking in the rain, \but we cme prepared with jackets and umbrellas (which by the way we didn't have the time to open). arrived at the hotel soaking wet! 

Dinner that day was just Pringles and water as it was late, and we were soooooooo tired (the 'o's in my so, making you realize how tired I was. This does not make sense. But please get it?)

So this was the first day!
We were excited for the adventure to begin, tummies full of junk food, reached our hotel in one piece, a good day all in all!

Next post would be our Day 2 in Istanbul, our walk from Istiklal street to the Galata Bridge!
See ya!