On our Turkish Airlines flight from Dusseldorf to Istanbul (737, seats 23E and 23F), JT was complemented by one of the Turkish Airlines flight attendants on his good pronunciation of ‘thank-you’ in Turkish.This led us to say how we had been in Turkey 2 years ago, and we mentioned we had visited Malatya. Her father was from Malatya. She offered to write suggestions on things for us to do this time, and came back near the end of the flight with a list. She had many ideas listed, and sat with us to discuss each one! It was such a nice gesture, as we know the flight attendants are busy on these shorter flights.
We left the Istanbul airport around 11:30pm, after buying visas, clearing customs, and finding left luggage lockers for Katie’s large backpack. We carried JT’s small backpack with a change of clothes and stuff needed for the night, while we carried Katie’s small backpack for souvenirs.
We took the subway and tramway to Sultanamed. On the way we met a man who works for Turkish Airlines, who helped us determine if we would be able to catch the last tramway for the night, and who also graciously offered us a place to sleep (but we had a room reserved already, and would be charged full price if we didn’t show). Many of the Turkish are indeed so hospitable!
Once in Sultanamed we walked to the fountain between the Blue Mosque and the New Mosque. Once here, we found many people out celebrating the setting sun, as it was Ramadan. The celebration and lights and festivities were indeed magical and beautiful. We had so much fun wandering around the Hippodrome plaza and walking through a little market that had been set up there. The market reminded us of a Christmas market, but was much better. There was also a play/concert that went until atleast 4am.
We eventually walked away from the festivities towards the Galata Bridge. It was about a 30 minute walk, but the time passed quickly as the walk down the tramway line (which had stopped running at midnight) was really a nice walk down memory lane for us. We got to the Galata Bridge, where we were amazed to see how calm and still the water was. We walked just halfway over the bridge, and stopped to watch the lights on the intercontinental bridge dance at 2:30am. We then walked to our hotel, Hotel Sevila (Booking.com), and finally checked in. The hotel was certainly 1 star, but it was very reasonably priced for being in the middle of the Sultanamed district.
We crashed for a few hours, had the included breakfast, and then walked over to visit the inside of the Blue Mosque at 8:30am. We then walked to the Spice Market (along the same path as the previous night). Here we bought various souvenirs for ourselves and others who helped us on this trip. Said souvenirs included a pair of tea glasses with spoons and saucers, soap, helleva, evil eyes, turkish delight, a bowl, and black tea.
With all the souvenirs in Katie’s backpack, we took the tramway and subway back to the airport. We got Katie’s big backpack out of the left luggage locker, and went through customs and multiple security checkpoints.
Now we are on our Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Houston. This flight has free wifi, plus the 3rd seat in our row ended up being empty, so we we have the row to ourselves! Granted, we have children in the row ahead of us, behind us, and diagonal to us – but so far they haven’t been too bad.
One thing to note is how many stray dogs and cats there are in Istanbul (especially cats). We noticed all the stray cats when we were in Istanbul two years ago, but we had forgotten the extent (and the extent to which some pull at your heart). Last time JT petted many cats, and got scratched by a few, and had to get rabies shots when he returned to America. This time, we knew to not get too close, but so many of the cats are so sweet if you do anything to show then you are friendly towards them. Last time we saw ‘Turkish Grace’, a stray Maine coon mix that looked almost exactly like Grace. This time, our hearts broke when we saw a tiny creature walking on the sidewalk ahead of us that we knew was either a large rat or a kitten. As we got closer, we realized it was a small kitten. It had the good sense to run away from us, but stayed peering out at us from some of bushes.