We had a blissfully uneventful flight, leaving SFO at 6:30pm Sunday, flying for 13 hours, and arriving in Istanbul at 5:30pm Monday. Turkish Airlines does food right, even in the cheap seats:
Interestingly, in addition to the usual airline magazine, entertainment listings and shopping catalog (all of which were in both Turkish and English), there was also a Turkish-only publication chronicling the coup attempt of July 15 and the widespread opposition to the coup by citizens. (Later edit: On the return flight back to the US, all copies of this publication were in English, so I guess that they re-stock depending on the destination of the flight.)
As we were waiting for our driver, we noticed that the pillar that we were standing by had a number of bullet holes (most of which were taped over with silver tape, to make them less obvious), reminders of the June 28 attack at the airport:
On our drive from the airport to the hotel, we noticed many large Turkish flags draping buildings:
Onur and Jen mentioned that the flags were a new development since their last visit — a showing of post-July 15 patriotism, similar to the flags that sprouted everywhere in the U.S. after 9/11.
On the way from the airport to the hotel, our driver casually pointed out Byzantine ruins along the way (in Turkish). I highly recommend traveling with a bilingual Turkish son-in-law!
After checking in to our hotel & freshening up, we set out on foot to get dinner at a kebab restaurant recommended by the driver.
Within the second block, a person carrying a shoeshine box passed us, dropping his brush in front of Keith as he passed us. Thankfully, having spent lots of time reading about scams against tourists on the Turkey Travel Planner website, I recognized the shoe-shine scam and we elected not to pick up the bait.
We passed the Yeni Camı (New Mosque) during the call to evening prayers:
(You get a good idea of the historical context of Istanbul when a mosque that was built in the 1660s is the “new” one.)
We had a delicious dinner at the kebab restaurant overlooking the mosque built by Suleyman the Magnificent and the Bosphorous Strait:
I’m definitely going to have to learn how to make muhamara — a delicious red pepper and walnut spread, eaten with fresh-baked pita. I had ayran as well – a slightly salty yogurt-based drink. It was quite interesting.
We’re looking forward to walking our feet off tomorrow!