Without doubt, this has been one of the easiest overseas trips that we have EVER made.
We started out at the brand new Atlanta International Terminal (opened about 2 weeks ago). It was fast to check in, security took about 5 minutes and the food court had lots of enticing options.
We had bulkhead/emergency exit seats which meant that we could stretch out our legs and sit comfortably. The 8 hour trip went by amazingly fast. Michael spent a fair amount of time working while I watched shows, napped and played games on the DS.
We arrived in Amsterdam airport at 8:30am local time (2:30am by our body time). The airport is easy to navigate although not particularly efficient in operation. I did have a very nice “sub” sandwich with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil!!
After a 3 hour layover, we boarded our KLM flight to Istanbul and I was asleep before loading finished…..do not even remember take off!!! We ended up with no one sitting next to us but had to deal with a little boy behind who kept kicking the seats. His Dad wouldn’t do anything about it so finally Michael turned around and told him to stop. It obviously scared him because he didn’t touch it after that!!
We arrived in Istanbul, purchased our visa, went thru passport control, picked up our bags, found an ATM for cash, purchased SIM cards for our phones, went back to the ATM for MORE cash and hailed a taxi. Everyone was extremely helpful, especially at the cell phone kiosk where the woman spoke little English.
One interesting thing that we saw was a woman going thru passport control and wearing a Burka. The security person made her lift the veil so that he could see her face.
The taxi ride was normal for us….jumping curbs, driving in the oncoming lane, barely missing opened doors, merging aggressively and animatedly talking and pointing out sights as he was speeding along (60 mph on a small road).
We commented on how pretty the Minarets and Mosques were. He looked at us in amazement and told us that those were just “normal” ones. Now I cant wait to see the ones that he considers to be really nice!!
One of the sights that he pointed out was a huge new mall that had just opened. The architectural design was interesting as were the list of tenants…..
We had booked a room at the Airport Holiday Inn and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. After checking in and catching up on emails, we went downstairs to eat dinner.
There were two restaurants, one was a buffet and the other served Ottoman style Turkish food. As we entered, the waiter questioned us to make sure that we were really wanting Turkish food, and once satisfied, he started making suggestions for our feast.
The first thing on the table was tough, crispy bread that had a simple, but magnificent flavor. There were two types of butter with one being our normal stuff and the other a Pecorino (sheep) butter that had a pungent, tangy flavor. It was more like a cheese than a butter!!
We began with a sampler platter of appetizers….
Going clockwise, we had tomato, cucumber, cheese, beef & rice mix, lemon, spicy rice, humus and yoghurt. We were supposed to have eaten the lettuce as well, but, in the past our stomachs have not appreciated freshly washed lettuce, so we abstained.
As soon as I took the above photo, the waiter grabbed our camera and insisted that he take a photo of us so we posed and smiled….
The meal consisted of chunks of spicy meat, more spicy rice mixture, a chunk of bread similar to pizza dough and two flat breads. The breads were thin and had a coating of oil and spices from where the meat had been pressed against them. The pepper was mild and was actually the “cooling” part of the meal.
After eating until we couldn’t move, we ordered Turkish coffee and our waiter gave us a tutorial about it. He suggested that we get it with a “medium” amount of sugar and he also warned us against drinking the entire cup as the dregs are left in the bottom of the cup.
Outside the elevator, we found this HUGE couch and couldn’t resist….