When our connecting flight to #Rome was canceled and it resulted in a 6 hour and 15 minute layover in #Istanbul I wondered what could we do for 6 hours in #Istanbul. Unfortunately, our arrival time didn’t coincide with the free tours offered by #TurkishAirlines so I headed to #TripAdvisor to see what we could do in 6 hours. I decided to the #BlueMosque (Suleymaniye Mosque) and take a trip to the Arasta Bazaar to check out some local goods. But first, we had to get to #Turkey.
I thought I was used to the early morning flights but I’ve learned that a 1:00am flight is much better than a 5:00am flight. Our flight left at 5:45 and not knowing what to expect at the airport because of the holiday, I wanted to be there at least 2 hours early. So I ended up getting 2 hours of sleep and Jaden never went to sleep at all! When we arrived to the airport, we were able to go to the line for internet check in. There was no one in line but the regular line was really backed up. Then when we went to security, there was no one in line there either. It was so weird but I didn’t complain! We breezed through all checkpoints and arrived at our gate.
This was my first experience with Turkish Airlines and it was okay. The planes seem old but the crew was nice and the food was very good. Once we arrive in #Istanbul, a visa (at a kiosk machine) was necessary so I purchased one for both Jaden and me and we headed out through passport control. I got to the ATM and realized that I didn’t have my debit cards; my US debit card or my Qatar debit card. So I thought I’d get some cash from my Qatar credit card and it was denied! I remembered that I hadn’t arranged for travel with my cards so I called them, got it set up, went to a different machine and was finally able to withdraw some cash. I was still in good spirits at that point but Jaden, apparently, is a bit impatient.
We hailed a taxi and head to the #BlueMosque. When we arrived, it was a steady moving line to enter the mosque. We gathered scarves to cover and removed our shoes prior to entering. Once inside, I took in the beauty of it all but was soon disappointed in how much of a tourist site it was. There was an area roped off where people were praying and it seemed like we were inappropriately invading their space. The crowd was a bit noisy (much noisier than other places if worship I’ve visited recently). We really only spent 10 minutes inside and we headed out. Luckily the bazaar was pretty much adjacent to the mosque. But before we went to the bazaar, we stopped for food.
We ate at Elif Cafe. They offered local cuisine and Turkish coffee, of course. I had a kabob mixed plate and Jaden had a chicken wrap. The food was good but some improvements could be made. I also had a very good Turkish coffee and an excellent mint lemonade. We sat there for a bit then headed to the Bazaar. It wasn’t like the souq in Qatar that I imagined it to be. I guess that’s the Grand Bazaar. There was shop after shop and repeat merchandise. There was plenty of jewelry and trinkets. It was cool to experience it and it certainly beat hanging in the airport for 6 hours!
Halfway through our afternoon, Jaden realized he lost his cell phone. Turns out he left it on the plane. Trying to find the lost & found in the Istanbul airport was insanity! After asking 6 people and going in circles for 40 minutes, we finally went through doors that were clearly marked as no entry and sure enough…there was the lost and found. Once we retrieve the phone, I turned and left to go to the bathroom and realized I’d left my camera at the lost & found! *sigh* I was ready to get on the plane at this point.
But no! We still had an hour left before boarding so we went to the Prime Class CIP Lounge for snacks and beverages. It was much needed and well deserved. From there, we headed to our gate and boarded our flight to Rome! My junior nomad is getting his passport stamped! #NomadnessTribe
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Over the last couple of days I learned that a dear colleague and friend had an accident back home. A go fund me site has been set up for her, Trisha Austin. I’ll include the link below if you would like to read about it and consider donating. Trisha is a nurse and is a wonderful person. In just 1 day, the site has raised nearly $10,000. It just goes to show how special she truly is. I’ll be praying for a full recovery for her and keeping her and family in my thoughts & prayers during this time.