Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sunday Nov 21 - Istanbul

Up at 5am for our 9am flight to Istanbul on Olympia airlines. We're picked up at our hotel and taken to the airport for a quick check-in and then the long wait. It was a quick flight with great service and even a nice meal was served.


Upon arrival in Istanbul we had a long wait on the tarmac as the plane's parking spot was occupied.
4 of us had already obtained our Turkish visas for a ridiculous amount of money back home, and the other 4 simply walked up to the desk at the airport handed over $10 and had their visas without any hassle or photos.
Istanbul is the only city in the world to lie on two continents, Europe and Asia. The drive in is too foggy to see the Asian side. Because of the fog there is a long line of ships waiting to cross into the Black Sea.
Naval traffic through the strait is one of the largest in the world.

The European side is located in the historical region of Thrace and Asia in Anatolia. Most of its neighborhoods are on the spur of the extreme south-eastern Europe, separated from Asia by the Bosphorus Strait and Marmara Sea. On the European side of  Golden Horn Bay deep divides European neighborhoods into two sectors: the old Constantinople, south and north New City, the neighborhoods Karaköy (Galata), Geyoglu (Pera), Katabaş, Taksim, Beşiktaş, Ortaköy and others more stretched deep landward or along the Bosphorus site.
There are 18 million people in Istanbul. A lot of the population was out fishing on this bridge we crossed on the way to the hotel.

The ten of us were then taken to our hotels by the guide, 6 to 1 hotel and 4 of us at our hotel.
 The 4 of us decided to hang out together for the day. first of all we had naps and met up at noon. I logged onto the free wi-fi in the hotel and uploaded some photos. It was fun to see the Turkish login.
This was one of the news stories I translated. We knew that the Muslim holiday was taking place but had no idea that there were this many accidents.
We met up and found, by pure chance, a really nice place for lunch around the corner from the hotel. The owner couldn't have been nicer and served us our first Turkish tea, which became a mainstay during our trip. We were surprised to find chicken schnitzel on the menu. One of our party ordered it and we all had a sample and it was delicious. It appeared on almost every menu after that.






Our hotel is located near Taksim Square (Turkish: Taksim Meydanı) situated in the European part of Istanbul, Turkey, is a major shopping, tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, and is the location of the Cumhuriyet Anıtı (Republic Monument), which was built in 1928 and commemorates the formation of the Turkish Republic.
Here we are as we head out exploring after our lunch. The fog is slowly burning off.







Taksim is a main transportation hub and a popular destination for both tourists and the native population of Istanbul. and a nostalgic tram runs from the square along the avenue, ending near the Tünel (1875) which is the world's second-oldest subway line after London's Underground (1863). Surrounding Taksim Square are numerous travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, pubs, and international fast food chains such as Pizza Hut, McDonald's and Burger King
The square has been an important venue for political protests during much of its existence. Groups from all sides of the political spectrum in Turkey try to demonstrate in this square in order to use its visibility for the benefit of their cause.  Following many violent incidents, all forms of group protests were banned in the square and the police units maintain a round-the-clock presence to prevent any incidents. The ban doesn't apply to surrounding avenues or streets.
Just before our trip on October 31 2010, a suicide bomb went off next to a police bus. The bomber died, while 15 police officers and 17 civilians were injured.
We came upon a group of protesters and having observed the police presence around us decided it would be better to move on.



 İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), a long pedestrian shopping street, ends at Taksim Square. We've never seen so many people out shopping as there were along here. Every store you could think of from around the world has a location here. Cafes are in every nook and cranny. And the food in the windows!!













 J and J sampling the above goodies.




More photos along this street.


 Stopped in to visit thischurch before we stopped for a tea break.
Time to head back to the hotel and then out for a quick bite.



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