In this latest series, I will be going through all the countries I’ve travelled to on my mission to visit every single country in the world. In this article, we will be covering country #83: Turkey. If you haven’t gotten a chance already, read this story first to find out why I’m trying to visit all 193 UN-recognized countries.
To be frank, I wish I had more time in Turkey. Despite having the chance to visit the country twice, the first time was simply a long-layover while the second time was a 48-hour overnight stopover in Istanbul. I will have to come back here someday and visit it properly.
VIDEO – Country #83: Turkey
Blog post on Turkey
- Istanbul Layover – How To See The Famous City Yourself During A Short Layover
- My Spending Breakdown While Visiting Romania, Istanbul, Zurich, Chicago
- My Spending Breakdown While Travelling In Russia, Malta, Cyprus, Ireland
Dealing with snobby people in the airport
When Karen and I arrived at Istanbul airport, we were met with a bunch of snobby people. We had redeemed our flight using our Aeroplan miles and so we flew in business class. An arrogant woman looked at Karen and me and said in a condescending tone: “this lineup is for business class passengers ONLY”. I showed her my ticket and she looked shocked.
This is our second time in the Istanbul airport and we always end up dealing with snobs in this place for some reason.
Bus to the Istanbul city centre
We tried inquiring about the free city tour for passengers of Turkish Airlines who have a long layover in Istanbul. Sadly, our flight time table didn’t match the tour time and we were not eligible to join.
We ended up going to the city centre ourselves by taking the local bus. Along the way, we witnessed people fighting outside as one idiotic driver left his door open and a bus hit it. Istanbul is definitely chaotic a chaotic place. I did admire the cityscape of this historical city.
Over the years, I played a bunch of computer games titled: Civilizations 2, 4, 5, and 6. In this game, you can construct a world wonder called Hagia Sophia. When I went to Istanbul, I was delighted to finally get the opportunity to see this place. It’s so awesome to see a world wonder in person after seeing and reading about in a video game.
And I’m happy to report that when I finally visited it, that it did not disappoint!
The outside of Hagia Sophia was beautiful and it was even more impressive inside despite the renovations that were taking place.
The next stop after the Hagia Sophia was the Blue Mosque. This Mosque looked spectacular on the outside. Sadly, the interior was not as grand as the Hagia Sophia. For me, it felt anti-climatic when I entered inside.
When we felt satisfied with sightseeing, Karen wanted to buy some souvenirs for her friends and family. Turkish delight was the first thing that came to mind as we visited stores located in the city centre. Karen was not getting the best customer service here and the sales staff was very impatient dealing with us. The Istanbul city centre is not the friendliest place in the world.
Back to the airport to visit the Turkish Airline lounge
After Karen purchased a bunch of Turkish delight, we went back to the airport to check-in and check-out the famous Turkish Airlines lounge. This place was over the top! It’s probably in the top 3 best airport lounges I’ve ever visited. The food here was fantastic and there is plenty of amenities available.
Second time in Istanbul
Several months later, I would get another opportunity to visit Turkey. During my European trip to visit Malta, Cyprus, Moldova, Russia and Finland, I had a 48-hour stopover in Istanbul. This time around, my experience was friendlier. I took the local bus to go to my hotel and I found it interesting by taking local transportation.
I ate at a local restaurant near the hotel I stayed at and found the people there to be warm and friendly. They didn’t try to scam me which was great. This told me that there’s another side of Turkey as long as you leave the touristy areas.
I now know that when I visit Turkey again, I will make sure not to spend too much time in the touristy areas. While I do want to see Cappadocia one day, I also look forward to checking out the little known cities in this country.
I feel that by doing that, I can get a much better travel experience in Turkey.