Istanbul, Beyond Your Expectation

1:08 AM

I have committed myself to write and run a blog again. Though I’m not sure that there will be many people reading it, but well at least I have told everything I could share about. When I did not write anything for the past years, I feel like there’s something missing, there are loads of things missing. Yeah, it takes a long time for me to realise. I've always liked to share information, my experiences, my thoughts or my ideas to people, world widely. There is some kind of pleasure that I get, even though I am so self conscious about my style of writing, which isn't good at all and sometimes I am not so confident with my own writings, but the show must go on, right? Besides, the old people say "Practice makes perfect", so people, I bring you back my blog…

This post is going a bit to the past, around January 2013. 

For you who recognise that aircraft logo, yes, it’s true… It's Turkish Airlines. My 2013 was warmly welcomed with Turkey. No, not that beautiful bird that you eat on thanksgiving, but the Turkey I meant is that unique country located in 2 continents, Asia and Europe. Those continents are bordered by Marmara Sea. Whoah! Have you pictured the uniqueness already?

Back then in 2013, not so many Indonesian travels to Turkey. Some of my Indonesian friends even don’t know that there is a country named Turkey (no offence to my friends, but tbh shame on your shallow general knowledge). That’s bad because Turkey is actually very beautiful and captivating. Its capital city, Ankara is located in the Asia Continent, while its famous city, Istanbul is located in the Eastern Europe. That time I only went to the European part, mostly in Istanbul and it’s been very great! Istanbul was once called ‘Constantinople’ a capital city of the Roman and Byzantine, Latin and the Ottoman Empire. It was the wealthiest European city before it slowly falls and conquered by the Ottoman Empire (taken from Wikipedia).

Back to my experience, I arrived around 5 AM in Istanbul Ataturk Airport. It was still dark and the temperature was low, like, around 5 degree Celsius. Yes, I went there in winter. And that was my first experience going abroad in winter. Ah, I almost forgot to mention, that I went there with my little group from the dance club I am joining. We went to Turkey to meet the Turkish dancing team and for cultural exchange purpose. When I arrived, the airport was still not busy and crowded. While waiting for the shuttle bus that will take us to the hostel, we spent time at the airport looking for coffee or hot chocolate at Starbucks, plus looking for the wi fi!

I took some shots of what's going outside the airport from the inside because it was a freezing cold morning and I'm still adapting to the coldness.

Istanbul honestly has exceeded my expectations. I never thought that it’d look highly similar to the Western European cities. I mean, the old town of Sultanahmet is wonderful! The old styled buildings, the pavement roads, the neighbourhood, the streets that full of fancy restaurants (There are some really fancy restaurants, but the rest is so-so, not like the one you’ll see in Paris, but it is enough for my expectation). Also, I didn’t find any difficulties regarding foods here. As an additional info, Turkey’s population is made up of 90% Muslims, so it made me easier to find halal foods.

That was me in the night when I strolled down the Sultanahmet streets to the Blue Mosque (also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque). It is a grand mosque located near the Four Season Hotel and was constructed in the Ottoman era (not sure when, though, but it was around 1600-ish). I went inside, but we’ll need to pay first. Remember, woman needs to cover their heads and man can not wear shorts. (Anyway I am sorry that I couldn’t get you detail about prices, or exact distance because this trip was 2 years ago and I wasn’t taking any notes for this blogging purpose. Promise I’ll do better on the upcoming travel stories). Alright, the unique thing from this mosque is it’s located really close to Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia was an orthodox church that was converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II in 1400-ish and now it’s become a museum. Hagia Sophia is very unique because you can feel both church and mosque atmosphere here.

Besides Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, I found these beautiful buildings and cafes around Sultanahmet Area.

And also the trains! Really help me to travel a lot here, since I don't use any travel service. The train is quite punctual with clear schedule and directions, it's really clean and comfortable as well (compared to Jakarta's commuter line that day). This Turkey trip is my first backpacking trip so I was soooo excited! Since this post is going really long, perhaps I'll share more of my Istanbul journey on another post. 


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