Turkish Airlines for the Win
Three extra days of travel back to the U.S. was worth it, because it meant we got to spend time in Turkey—first stop, Bodrum— second stop,Istanbul.
Going through Turkey also meant we got to fly Turkish Airlines, which must be one of the best airlines to still exist. Remember when flights didn’t charge you for everything? Well, it’s even better than that. Not only are some flight attendants dressed as chefs, and they serve pretty decent airline food, but they also give you: slippers, a pillow, a blanket, socks, ear plugs, toothbrush/paste, and an eye mask. I’m probably forgetting something.
Bodrum is Beautiful
We spent two nights in Bodrum, Turkey, but only one day seeing the sights. Off-season proved an awesome choice to visit, as the night club scene was nonexistent and the tourists were sparse. Both hotels we stayed in were welcoming and generous. El Vino hotel far exceeded our expectations. They put us in their suite rooms and prepared a special Turkish Breakfast for us in the morning. Having spent almost two weeks being dirty climber kids this kind of treatment was almost overwhelming.
We spent our one day in Bodrum exploring the city—gawking over the giant sailboats, drinking turkish coffee and tea next to the Bodrum castle, and visiting the ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). The day ended with an hour flight to Istanbul.
Pink Hotel Rooms in Istanbul
It wouldn’t be a trip to another country without a few terrifying cab rides. Our van ride from the airport to our strange little hotel was one of those rides. We arrived late to our hotel and spent a short amount of time taking in the strange pink decor in our room, and starring at the Blue Mosque outside our window.
We didn’t mind that the call to prayer, blasting from the speakers of the Mosque, woke us before sunrise. It’s not often that you have that experience. Our day started with a buffet style breakfast with views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The first place we went was the Blue Mosque—it’s huge! I’m not sure the word beautiful does the Mosque justice.
Just like most tourist destinations, what you see in photos and the actual experience is quite different. It’s hard not to get caught up watching the strange things folks with cameras will do for a good (sometimes bad) photo, but we all did our best to stop and take in the views of the Mosque.
Istanbul is Colorful
I wish I had a week to explore Istanbul. The Arasta Bazaar gave us a glimpse into what the Grand Bazaar most likely looked like. The brightly colored plates, rugs, scarfs, towels, spices, and shoes were hard to resist, but the price tags made it easy.
The city is easy to navigate and the train from the airport will take you straight to the center of it all. Standing in the middle of the courtyard with the Blue Mosque on one side and the Hagia Sophia on the other is breathtaking. The city feels old with a modern twist—16 hours in Istanbul is not enough.
Photos: Andrew Bradberry