Little did I realise that I would be going to another new country and increasing my country count again this year. Last Easter Weekend, my spouse and I headed to Istanbul for 4 nights. It's always been our tradition to go somewhere during the long Easter weekend: starting in 2015 it was Paris, then Dresden the year after, then Oslo, and Paris again for last year. This year, we were considering Lisbon as well as Istanbul, and somehow Istanbul won this round. So we booked our flights, and on Thursday afternoon, I left work slightly early to catch my flight to Istanbul.
I must say Istanbul is a city that gradually eases up on you. I was very busy during this time, and frankly speaking, I should have done my homework. I didn't really prepare aside from cursorily reading the Istanbul guidebook that we had. I had this idea that I could simply use my templatic knowledge of how typical European cities work, and apply it to Istanbul. That didn't work out quite well. Expectations were violated. You know, things like buying tickets for the metro. You would imagine that there would be vending machines at the stations. There were, but they were for some reason all not functioning. So we had to buy our tickets from somewhere else. We eventually found a kiosk that sells tickets, so we marked that in our maps and made sure we got valid tickets before heading out.
The layout of the city is also interesting, of course, this is because of the waterways that bisect the city into two continents. This means however that there's a sense of being funnelled into a few typical routes. Instead of being able to easily crisscross the city, irrespective of whether you're in the north, south, east, or west, somehow you have to go through these few delimited arteries, which meant that we always found ourselves in the same tram or metro lines, riding it back and forth in both directions several times.
In any case, we enjoyed our stay. We arrived quite late on Thursday evening, heck, it was actually Friday morning, and since we arrived at the new Istanbul Airport, it was a rather far ride from the airport to the city. We checked in really late, and just slept in. However, starting on Friday we headed out to explore, checking out museums, palaces, tombs, basilicas, cisterns, mosques, and towers. We also found our favourite baklava place, which out of four days, we went there three times.
Overall, we did enjoy this long weekend. There are still plenty of things to see in Istanbul and therefore I could imagine going back there again at some point. Pictures will follow, so stay tuned!