Arriving in Instanbul
DAY 1 – Our journey this morning began at 4 a.m. when we had to make our way to Leeds-Bradford airport and then to London, Frankfurt and finally arriving in Istanbul at 5.30 p.m. Arrival procedures included having to buy a USD20 visa stamp before going through immigration. There were huge rows of people queueing for visas stamps and initially caused a little panic in us, after such a long day on the road. Fortunately, the queues progressed quite rapidly and it wasn’t as horrific as we’d thought. There were different fees for different countries, majority of which falling into the USD20 category. Interestingly, the fee for Canadians was USD60. Some of the Canadians joked that probably their government had upset the Turkish government in their dealings and hence the penalty rates. I suspect that it’s more to do with trade relationships, and nationals from countries that had high trade dealings are exempt from fees.
Anyway, once we got our stamps and passed through immigration, our pickup and delivery to our hotel was very smooth. Our hotel for tonight was the Point Hotel, in Taksim Square. We were a bit disappointed about this as during our previous visits, we had always stayed at the 5-star Conrad Hotel which was closer to the waterfront and many of the places of interest. The Point Hotel is a modern hotel, uphill from the waterfront and just off Taksim Square. Its redeeming factor is that the hotel is all hooked up to WI-FI and internet services in the rooms are free of charge.
After our 4:00 a.m. start, we weren’t too keen to venture out for dinner and instead had room service and then caught up on some work on the net.