My trip to Istanbul is a bit different to most people as I am here on research business trip. There will be parts of my trip that I won't be reporting on, as I'm sure you can understand.
So yesterday I arrived. I had already obtained a speical visa so I did not need to purchase one prior. Immigration only took around 30 minutes to clear and to get to my baggage. I had been concerned about whether I would be questioned because of the visa ect When I handed over my passport the immigration officer went through it and then asked "visa?" I had to find the special visa and as soon as I showed him he was happy, stamped it and I was on my way. Nothing like what I thought would happen, after having travelled to the USA many times on business, they seem to give me a harder time! After clearing immigration it was on to collect my baggage, it is always one of those nervous times when you hope that all your luggage has arrived. When I went to get a trolley I founded out that you need to pay for the use of the trolleys. As you clear immigration and walk down the ramp on the right hand side is a small booth which can give you change (I didn't know this but someone pointed it out to me which I was very appreicative for). My luggage arrived very quickly and I was on my way... so I thought!
When you walk out of the baggage area you are greeted by a sea of people holding up signs, look through them I didn't see my name..... Through the hotel I had organised a transfer but they had messed up my arrival time, this was partly due to the company I am working with here in Istanbul I think giving them a wrong time ect.... anyway I had to phone up the hotel to check that the transfer had been organised ect. After about a hours wait they did arrive. They were very helpful as I had a meeting organised for that afternoon and they had agreed to take me there, drop me off and then bring back my luggage to the hotel (that's what I call service!) By the way I am at the Tan Hotel.
The drive was an interesting one, last time I had arrived in Istanbul was in the evening and I don't really remember all that much of the trip into the city, this time it was around 3pm and peak hour. Yes the traffic was not the best as everyone had warned me, but it was nice to take in the trip. What I did find interesting is in the traffic jam the people in the center of the road selling stuff, is it nuts or something (I'm sure someone can tell me) In Australia we can have window cleaners at the traffic lights, I think I much prefer the sellers you can find over here!
The weather was cold and wet so it was also nice to be in a warm car.
As part of my special visa, I am have to use a production company here in Istanbul for all the permits ect, so after the meeting I had to opportunity to have dinner with the members of this company. Those of you who have seen the Food Question I posted, will know I was a bit concerned about what exactly my first meal would be..... it was fine. We went to a place called utis in Emirgan. When you walked up to it, the restuarant is a beautful light and very white place. The front windows are full of the delicous desserts they have on offer and you can see the different food sections including the Doner Kebabs ect. I was shown a menu in english but my hosts decided to order for me.... this could have been dangerous! They asked me do I prefer Lamb or Beef or Chicken. Hmmmm I went for the Lamb, cooked medium . When the food arrived there was a wooden platter which had pieces or lamb, cooked to perfection, lightly seared, very jucy, flat bread, a mixture or sauteed spinach and mushrooms and a slow cooked roasted potato. Really nice and I very much enjoyed it. We also had a selection of breads for the table, I just soooo love the bread here, it is something that I remember, but had forgotten just how good they are.
Anyway after a very long conversation and "getting to know" them and they of me, it was time to call it a night, even though it was only 7pm. They drove me back to my hotel, ohhh the traffic once again, I would be so scared to drive a car around this town, the city of Sydney is bad at the best of times, but they are just crazy over here, pulling in where they like, the airport transfer car when it was taking me to my meeting reversed the wrong way down a busy street! Anyway made it back to my hotel in one piece and checked it very quickly. The man who checked me in was very friendly and had everything organised for me, my bags were in my room when I got there also. After relaxing for abotu 3o minutes I decided time to go and have a walk around. Rugged up with a jacket and scarf I walked down to have a look around the Blue Mosque. Ohhh what a sight at night, you see the photos and all but when you are here it is so special. I walked around to take some photos and wandered down to the fountain which is lit up with different colours, once again taking lots of photos. Pretty much I was left alone, except someone did want to clean my shoes, I had forgotten all about this. I often wear boots when I travel and in many countries find that I am approached to have my shoes cleaned, I simply told him no and he tried a couple more times and then took the hint as I just kept taking photos and was more interested in that. On my walk back to the hotel I passed many vendors selling their wears and hot food, it smelled so good but I was full from dinner. After stopping off to purchase some beverages from a local shop it was time to hit the sack as it had been a long day and tomorrow is an even longer day.
More tomorrow!Edited: 12 March 2014, 05:03