Wednesday, November 08, 2006

About Istanbul

is a metropolis of 15 million people and occupies both sides of the entrance to the narrow, 32-kilometer (20-mile) long Bosphorus Strait connecting the Mediterranean and Sea of Marmara to the south and the Black Sea to the north. From its founding as Byzantium by the Greeks in 600 B.C., this strategically located city has been a focus of maritime trade and commerce as well as an outpost and threshold for cultural exchange and conflict between Europe and Asia. The modern city's layout and architecture show the influences of both the Roman-Byzantine era when it became Constantinople, the world's first Christian capital, as well as that of the conquering Ottoman Turks, from 1453, when it became the seat of the world's largest Muslim empire. Today, Istanbul is Turkey's economic capital and home to nearly half the country's wealth.

Istanbul location:

Istambul shape and structure:

Sketch of the basic structure:

Istanbul centre:

Istanbul touristic centre:

Istanbul transport system:

Travel to Turkey_2

Here I show the location of my airport. I fly always with low cost companies, so I always arrive in the secondary airports of the cities. In this case my airport was Sabiha Gökçen International Airport.

Second part: first night in Istambul.

I arrived at night in Istambul. My airport, Istambul-Sabiha, is in the asian part of the city, so I was flying over the european city, the Bosporus and the See of Marmara. My first impression was: wow! I had never been before in such a big city. Almost 15 million population concentrated in the space between two continents and sees.

I was a bit nervous. It was the first time that I crossed the borders of the European Union. I entered in an unknown land.

After paying the visa (only 10 euros, a very fast process) I crossed the doors to the arrival area where Andi was waiting for me. Then we started to be lucky.

In the airport he met a friend from the University who was waiting there for an italian friend. The italian guy came in the same plane than me. The turkish guy offered us to go with him in his car (the cheapest way to the city center). We introduced each other and went together until his flat. They were celebrating a meeting for the friends of the summer working-camp. It remembered me very much my first experiences in Germany. All of them were great people. We were taking a turkish coffee together and later we went to take the take the dinner together to the share of the Bosphorus.

Which kind of dinner did we take? A typical turkish meal, of course: KOKOREÇ. What is Kokoreç? MHHH... Maybe you don't want to know it... It is a kind of bocadillo (sandwich) made with intestins of sheep. It is very famous, because it is forbidden in the European Union. It does not meet the hygienic requirements of the European Union.

Also we were taking sunflower seeds (pipas in Spanish) and turkish beer: EFES.

They invited us to stay with them one night and join them in a trip to the islands of the Black See, but we were very tired and also Andi had left all his stuff in a hostal. The bedroom was paid, so we decided to leave and rest a bit in order to go on with our own plans.

We took a DOLMUÇ, the particular mini-buses that one can find everywhere in Turkey; we crossed one of the huge bridges over the Bosphorus, the biggest one that I have seen in my life, until the famous square of Taksim. Then we went by taxi also crossing the Galata Bridge until the core of the touristic area, just between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Our hostal was in a very good location. When we arrived it was almost five in the morning and we needed to rest very much, because in the morning we should wake up early to take the train to Ankara. The first night was over, but it was enough time to make me loose all my doubst about my trip.

Everything would be fine!