Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Turkish Delight

Another week draws to a close and I have visited another country for the first time - Turkey. I have to admit to having absolutely no preconceived ideas about what it might be like.

Upon arrival at the airport there was the usual 300 meter race from the place to immigration only this time if you were a non-national you had to pitstop at the Visa on arrival desk get a 15/10 euro/pound stamp in your passport before presenting your passport. I thought it would be like the long wait I had at Qatar airport but both queues moved quickly and my and my colleagues were soon through.

Our next challenge was the local currency - I had no idea what the exchange rate was - so with some judicial choosing of "the amount in the bottom left option" of the ATM soon armed us with sufficient amounts of Turkish Lira to get a taxi.

Having had some quite "entertaining" Taxi journeys in Dubai I thought I would be experienced for mostly anything - this was soon put straight. The majority of cabs in Turkey are bright yellow Tofaz's which are locally made. They are rather basic and lacking in space to say the least - but this did not stop our Taxi driver do his best Aryton Senna impression to the hotel some 30km away. It would have been OK if I had the option to use a seatbelt in the rear - however the receiving end for the belt was conveniently hidden from sight in the boot of the car. Cue - 40 mins of hanging on for dear life.

I stayed in the business center of Istanbul so sadly did not really get to see the much more beautiful and historic old center of Istanbul. However we did go out for an excellent sea food meal (salt roasted Sea Bass - was simply amazing) at a restaurant with a great view across the Bosphorus.

I could not agree with people more who coined the phrase that Turkey is the gateway to the East. However I was really surprised just how the "European" and the "Asian" side differed greatly in atmosphere and architecture. One of the local Turkish guys (who did an excellent job looking after us) described the industrial area we were in as "sorry about this - it looks like Bosnia here".

I had a nice time in Turkey - the customers and local guys were warm, friendly and very keen to help. The only reservation I had was the Princess Hotel I stayed in is in urgent need of a refurbishment. I will be staying in the luxurious Movenpick next time.

3 comments:

Dubai-Informer said...

RAMADAN KAREEM to all readers and bloggers from the Dubai Informer

Georgia said...

Taksim Square is the place to stay in Istanbul - it is bustling, it is crazy, it's outrageously cool. I recommend Gemir Palais Hotel for charming staff and a great location.

CG said...

I just love the way a taxi driver will do a u-turn straight over the central reservation (yes, straight over the curb) if you tell them that you want to get to the other side of the dual carriageway.....yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
And all without signals to boot.