We checked-out of Gulhane Corner Hotel, our home for 4 nights, after visiting the National Museum of Archaeology in the morning. We had originally planned to just take the tram and the metro to Taksim, having gone the route the day before but decided on taking a cab at the last minute as we were not sure how we were gonna pass the narrow turnstiles at the stations. As always, cabs are nowhere to be found when you need them. After about 10 minutes of waiting, a cab stopped in front of us and unloaded passengers with luggages. One thing I’ve noticed in Istanbul, at least at the Old City, these past few days is that cars just stop anywhere unmindful of the traffic light. I had hesitated to take the cab as we were on a single lane street and it was a green light; however, the delivery van driver behind didn’t seem to mind. We quickly loaded our stuff and got on the cab. 35 lira was kind steep for a short ride to Taksim but it was better than not getting a ride and the driver knew the exact place we wanted to go– the corner of Istikal St where LC Waikiki was. He dropped us right in front of our hotel when we pointed it out.
Taksim is totally different from Sultanahmet. The vibe is more modern and energetic. Rather than small souvenir shops, modern stores in renovated buildings line the wide road.
What I like best about it though are its proximity to my favorite retail shop, LC Waikiki, a few hamam, and Galip Dede Cadesi the street where the music instruments shops were.
The Old Man from Tourist Hell
Since Agoda’s system has been going haywire the past few days, I just decided to head to Hotel Mara to personally book our stay there. The young English-speaking lady was very pleasant and wrote down our reservation. When we checked-in today, there was an old man at the reception who seemed to be the owner. It took time for him to assign our rooms. He also insisted on us paying cash even when I pointed to the card machine. He kept repeating, ” change money.” He then claimed that the card machine was broken contrary to what the lady yesterday said. I knew how to do card transactions from my experience working the front desk of the gym and I could tell he was just pretending to transact, punching the wrong buttons. Such a greedy old man! When asked to convert the Turkish rate to dollar, his conversion factor was way too high so we just decided to go out into the rain and look for a money changer. Really greedy! Couldn’t even wait until late afternoon (we were hoping the lady receptionist would be there by then) for the payment. We were tempted to just move to another hotel but it was raining and it was close to 12 already. We finally paid and got the card key to one of the rooms. We were told the other one would be ready after 30 minutes. When we returned at 4pm, the room wasn’t ready yet. At 5pm, we were given the card key to a room which turned out not to be ours. After a bit of explaining, he finally got it right. Gheez. It almost destroyed by excitement to be at Taksim. Anyway, all is well that ends well. I do miss our spacious rooms at Gulhane with its large windows and chic interiors. Much cheaper too.