Arriving in Istanbul

25 04 2013

After a long trip fraught with flight delays, I finally arrived in Istanbul on a late afternoon.  Upon arriving, the first thing most foreigners are required to do is buy a visa sticker for your passport.  It’s not expensive at $20 US dollars, but it struck me as just a way to make extra some money off travelers since they didn’t go though any verification, it was just a simple cash transaction.  This was not what I was expecting.  I have seen the visa process for other countries become quite arduous.

So, with my visa sticker bought and documents in hand, I proceeded through Passport control and picked up my delayed bags that arrived on another flight about 40 minutes after I did (long story I can expand in comments if you like).  I entered to the main hall of Ataturk Airport to the typical swarms of guides and drivers holding signs with names.  No need to be distracted by that scene, I am certainly not so helpless, important, or frightened to require a guide to hold my hand when I arrive in a foreign country.  Getting past that scene, I immediately looked for a cellular provider’s booth.  I was able to by a prepaid SIM for my unlocked iPhone from Avea for 50TL.  Not bad for 1GB of data, and definitely cheaper than the roaming costs that can rack up while out of country.

Getting from the airport to my hotel was my first big decision.  There are lots of options, but I narrowed them down to two.  Take a taxi (approximately 45TL to Sultanahmet) and risk getting a driver who takes me the long way around just to get more money out of a tourist unfamiliar with the area, or take the Metro that would require taking my luggage up and down flights of stairs and through multiple stations (5TL).  I opted for the taxi.  However, I had a little resource that would help me deter any unscrupulous taxi driver.  Before I left home I downloaded an offline map app that uses my iPhone’s GPS without cellular data. If we are going the long route I’ll know it right away and can correct the situation.  It wasn’t necessary, but it did give me assurance I wasn’t being taken for an expensive ride.

The taxi arrived at my hotel in late evening after a 25 minute ride, I checked in, grabbed a bite to eat from small nearby restaurant, and despite being exhausted from travel and jet lag, I went on a short night photo shoot in rainy Sultanahmet Square.  As expected, this wasn’t short, but I finally settled into bed at midnight with dreams of the coming days to explore Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque on a rainy night in Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque on a rainy night in Istanbul.

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25 04 2013
The Mind of RD Revilo

Reblogged this on RD Revilo.

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