27 May 2013
Our MAS flight was at 1230am. Perfect timing for the kids coz it’s bedtime. The journey took 10hours and the boys slept 8 hours throughout! Yay! I have booked front seats with basinet knowing my kids needed the space. Bukan nak pakai sangat pun basinet tu sebenarnya coz Z was more comfy sleeping in my arms. He was a bit too panjang already. Muat tu muat tapi sendat. Tapi memang berbaloi bayar extra for the front seats coz dekat dengan toilet and more leg room for Z to roam around. Peramah pulak si Z this time. Jalan sana sini up and down the aisle senyum2 kat orang. He wasn’t too interested on the movies. Unlike the big bro yang melekat kat seat tengok movies and cartoons back to back.
Us before the departure KLIA–funny story happened here. I dropped my boarding pass and my name was announced to come to the info counter to collect it. Somebody found it. Whoever you are, thank you stranger! Glamer kejap I! Sekarang boleh la nak rasa funny. Di waktu kejadian? Hoh! luruh jantung!
Arrived Istanbul Ataturk International Airport at 6am. The immigration process was a breeze sebab we were with kids! Yay! Tak payah beratur just go straight to the counter. Sementara tunggu the rest of the family beratur on the normal lane, we went to get our luggage dulu. Don’t go to airport money changer coz they include commission. From Malaysia, bring Euro. Sampai sana baru convert Turkish Lira. Money changer bersepah2 outside there. RM4=EURO 1 = TL2.40.
Kat airport sana, trolley kena bayar. Insert coins ala2 kat Giant tu. Turkish Lira or Euro coins are accepted. Nasib baik I ada Euro coins with me from previous Euro/UK trips dulu. 1 Euro kalau tak silap. Tapi they have a counter to tukar coins too–so no worries if you have only notes with you. Cuma pastikan bawak small notes lah. If not, jenuh nak tuka 50 Euro notes into coins ye dak?
Our ride was already waiting for us. Huge minivan! Terkejut kejap. Dah macam bus pun ada. 10 of us memang selesa betul dalam tu. The boys boleh ke depan ke belakang main lari2 (to my dismay of course! Grrr!). I engaged with a tour package for our sightseeings and visits around the city. It’s TSC Travel. I found them masa google to find travel agent yang boleh bawak pi all the tourist places also boleh bawak pi tempat makan. We had no problem with halal food in Turkey (but for peace of mind, we asked jugak if they are halal).
We went on the package with the guide for 4 days only. Each day ada specific itinerary. As I go on, you can see where we went, what we saw and so on. The last day baru free and easy jalan sendiri pegi sana sini.
We stayed at Innova Sultanahmet in the Sultanahmet area. Smack in the middle of the tourist centre. Walking distance to Blue Mosque, Ayasofya and Grand Bazaar. Small boutique hotel which ticks all our criterias. Friendly staff, clean and modern, no fussy funny tourist requirement and most of all I am satisfied on how they responded to my emails. Superfast even on petty leceh questions like “do you have iron and ironing board in your rooms?”.
In front of our hotel. Innova Sultanahmet was newly refurbished a few years back that’s why it looks nice and new compared to the the neighbouring hotels. Depan hotel ada pharmacist. Belakang ada banyakkkk kedai makan and mini market (ala Speedmart) where we bought Z’s diaper supplies. Also ada supermarket (ala Guardian/Watson but bigger) and tram station just around the corner. Lokasi yang sangat strategic!
Day 1 begins
Our guide’s name is Emine. A very nice friendly lady. After checking in, we went to the Asian side for brunch. Istanbul is the only city in the world that lies between 2 continents i.e. Asia and Europe. But in general, they are a European country and European people. 2 benua ni dipisahkan oleh Selat Bosphorus. The straits of Bosphorus is sooo cantik. Oh God! My pictures are not doing justice of how beautiful the place is.
Clear skies, sunny day, amazing view–need I say more? That’s one of the bridges connecting Asia and Europe crossing the Bosphorus strait. Breathtaking!
Brunch by the sea–if you see closely, there’s a glass panel and the windows are opened. But memandangkan kami ada 2 budak tak reti duduk diam, we requested for the windows to be closed for safety reason. The windows are also glass panel so sekali pandang memang nampak macam tak de window pun. See right through it. Aaahh, tengok view pun dah kenyang kot?
After brunch we went to Istinyepark Shopping mall. Well, spent an hour je kat situ to change some Liras and change Z’s diapers. Mall is a mall sama je mana2 country pun. Minum2 kejap kat cafe and off we went to the next destination The Miniaturk.
The Miniaturk is a place where they build replicas of the historical building in Turkey and put it all in a garden
Bird’s eye view of the mini park. It was really hot and sunny. But the wind was cooling.
We visited a mosque and tomb of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, the companion and standard bearer of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). Kat sini they really respect pemerintah zaman dulu. Mosques are built to commemorate and tombs are often visited by the locals. Not just for tourism but it’s their culture to do so. Emine asked us if we do that back in Malaysia. We told her no we don’t visit the makam of our Raja and Sultan.
This mosque is considered small. There are many many mosque in the city and they are huge!!
These are not even tourist tau. These are their locals.Baca doa kat makam.
Next destination–Pierre Loti Hill. We went to the peak to view the stunning view of Golden Horn. Kat atas ni ada cafe where people drink tea and makan2 while enjoying the view.
The Golden Horn is an inlet of the Bosphorus dividing the city of Istanbul and forming the natural harbor that has sheltered Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and other ships for thousands of years. It is a scimitar-shaped estuary that joins the Bosphorus just at the point where that strait enters the Sea of Marmara. It has witnessed many historical incidents.
From the top
This was our last pit stop for the day. By this hour we were flat to the ground dah. Penat yang amats! It was 4-ish petang and we went back to the hotel to settle down and rest.
That first night, we just ordered room service and eat in. Tak larat dah nak explore keluar dinner. By 8pm lepas jama’ Maghrib-Isyak, we were in bed already. Jet lagged of course sebab Malaysia time was already midnight. Turkey is 5 hours ke belakang time gap dengan Malaysia. Tapi since it’s summer, the day is longer. Maghrib is 8pm, Isyak is 10pm. Subuh is 3am and I had no problem waking up sebab my body clock is Malaysia time. Pening sungguh first day tu.
I’ll continue in my next entry. Until then!