So, we are headed to Brussels and I noticed that my ticket had a 13-hour layover. I tried to get a free hotel from Turkish Airlines, but that didn’t work out. (More on that later) But we were offered a tour of Istanbul for free99! So we took it. I mean…what else were we gonna do in the airport for that long?
The tour started at 9am and we left on an air-conditioned bus. Which was pretty neat because around 9am, Istanbul got kinda hot. We made our way into town and stopped at an office to drop off our bags, which was nice, but they kept warning us to take our valuables and passports because they were not responsible and that “they’ve had some trouble with people losing their passports in the past”.
Now, I travel with my laptop and cameras and this makes my bag heavy as shit. I sat there weighing the options of keeping my bag with me can carrying the 15 some odd kilos up and down these damn hills, or leaving it in the office and risking someone taking my stuff. I mean…had they walked away with that heavy ass bag, they earned it. My back and posture eventually won and I left the bags there. Said a prayer that no one tries me today and left with the group.
We walked up up some steep hills and passed through the Hippodrome Square, saw the German Fountain and even caught sight of the Obelisk of Theodosius. We passed by a couple of mosques before finding our way down this characteristic small street to a restaurant. We sat down and we were awaited by a prefix breakfast of boiled egg, bread, cheese, olives, and apricots and figs. It was pretty decent. We ate our dainty breakfast, sipped on some coffee and tea and went on our way.
We got back on the bus and went to board a boat to cruise the Bosporus straight. Sailed that bad boy for about an hour and a half, tried to learn some things about what we saw but honestly we couldn’t hear that poor lady over the engine. We saw some cool sights but after being on a boat for a while, you just want to take a nap. The boy ended up annoying me by doing bottle flipping to entertain himself.
We got off the boat and headed back to the restaurant for lunch.
Now, let me tell you about this lunch, y’all. We thought we were just gonna go here and get some simple ass lunch like we had for breakfast. These people came out with 4 courses. We started off with soup and was like “okay, this is cool”. Ate the soup and the bread so quick I didn’t even get a picture. Then they came with some fried cheese thingies. Which were sweet and delectable. THEN they came out with the main course which was just simple chicken and rice with vegetables, but it was pretty good. Just when we thought it was over and we were ready to go, they come out with dessert. (REALLY?!?) Dessert was these small balls soaked in syrup. It had the consistency of pancakes but when you put too much syrup on them. It was just okay. But we were FULL.
After lunch we waddled back down the hill to the office and collected our things to head back to the airport for our 3pm drop off.
Listen, this tour ran like clockwork, we learned a lot (when we were paying attention) and they fed us the whole time. The tour guide was thorough and really nice and even the boy was entertained for most of it. They even gave us these cute little scarves thingies that could be converted into headbands and sweat grabbers and whatnot. It was a cute touch.
Overall it was a really good experience and we may do it again for our 23-hour layover on the way back. If you are ever in Istanbul’s airport, see about checking out this free tour during your layover. I’ll write soon about how it all came about. Promise.