We arrived from Baku at past 8 am. The immigration lines were quite long in spite of many open counters for foreigners. Fortunately, the one manning the lines beckoned to me and a few others behind to an empty counter for Turks. The officer didn’t seem too happy about it as he was busy fiddling on his phone. He perused my passport for quite a bit of time, holding-up the page with my visa up to the light, most probably checking the hologram. He even did the same to my Azerbaijan visa. I just stood quietly but in my mind was like, “what the hell?” He finally stamped me in. Whew!
Collected our luggages and went out to the arrivals area. Our hotel didn’t answer my email asking for a hotel transfer so we were at the mercy of dozens of counters offering transportation. We went to the counter that was the least aggressive and paid USD 25 to bring us to Gulhane Corner Hotel at Sultanahmet.
After the peace and quiet of Baku, Istanbul came as a shock. The Sultanahmet area was choking with traffic as cars, people, and trams competed for space in its narrow streets. Our driver parked the car, took out our luggage and walked us down a side street to our hotel. It was too early to check-in so we just left our luggage. We headed down the street and stumbled on a branch of Golluogloo which my sister highly recommended for bakhlava.
Very good, indeed, especially when served with ice cream and thick Turkish coffee.
Our initial introduction to Turkey was via our taste buds! I’ve always loved bakhlava and finally I got to eat it at its home ground.
The guy manning the store was extremely friendly and chatty and said he wanted to go to the beaches in the Philippines. He was also nice enough to book tickets for us at the Hodjapashah for the 7pm “show” featuring Dervish spinning.
Spent the rest of the morning at the Topkapi Palace which was full of people being a weekend.
TIP: Buy the Museum Pass (125 TL) at the Archaeology Museum where there’s a shorter line. It’s enroute to the palace anyway.