Thursday, April 27, 2006

Onto Istanbul

After Rome, we went back to our usual hotel in Paris. This time, I managed to see Trastevere on the train ride back to the airport. We kicked around Paris for a few days before catching a flight out to Istanbul. We almost didn't make it because our wake up call never came. Fortunately, while a little later than we wanted to be, we managed to catch the RER back out to CDG.

Never again, will we take Swiss Air. Zurich's airport is supposed to be the best in Europe; if that's the case, I hate to see the worst. It's small and cramped and our flight was delayed, so it was with great relief when we finally hit Istanbul.

I had no idea what to expect when we landed, I was expecting a third world type airport for a third world country, but was pleasantly surprised to see a very modern civilized airport. Fortunately, DH had made arrangements with our hotel to have someone there to pick us up, and so an hour after we were supposed to arrive, we come out to see a placard with our name on it.

The driver didn't speak English, but at least he could drive. For those who're used to very populated cities, the traffic won't be much surprise to you, but for me, I was amazed at how everyone just drove like there were no lines on the road. Cars just made lanes where they saw fit, but everyone was fairly courteous, and knew when to back off, and when to press forward.

Our hotel was situated in the Russian district, a ways away from Taxim, the tourist area. The streets are even more convoluted than they were in Rome, and even after 9 days of being there, I never did figure out which way to turn once I came out of the hotel. I did manage to memorize enough landmarks to find my way back, which is probably the better thing to do.

The hotel was a four star hotel, and the staff were excellent, very highly recommended hotel. On arrival, we were given complimentary drinks, a fruit basket and a small bottle of wine. We vowed after that, that we're not going back to any 2 star hotels anymore.


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