After the long haul of the flight with the mask over our face for 4 straight hours, We landed at Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Turkey. But yet the mask had to stay on for a little longer. I had a little breather where I dropped my mask took a deep breath and then stuck it back on, and then resumed my journey. In Turkey masks are mandatory and worn by everyone. The Airport was empty once again, and the whole arrivals process was quick…. so quick that we ended up sitting down for half hour before our luggage started coming through on the turning belts….(That has never happened before!)
We landed mid day at 5’oclock, so the evening belonged to us. With the flight being only 4 hours and the overnight stay we were not as tired as we usually are after a flight and decided straight after checking in to our hotel we will start exploring.
Right where do I start with this one….. Claiming to be a 4* hotel near SultanAhmet Square, it ticked the boxes we needed for what we were after and also fit the budget with a little extra to spend! So Bonus and Bonus….. that is until we got there…..
On arrival, we were a bit dubious as the reception area had no real reception- it was just a long….. urm reception area. Nothing else, nothing to lounge on, or anywhere to sit and have a drink, but having said that it was super clean and it was nicely decorated….
We went for a family room. The boys room was quite big, 2 large beds, and sofa seat and fitted furniture. The bathroom was sufficient. The room we had for ourselves had a double bed and there was literally no room for anything else. It was cramped to a point that we had to leave our own suitcases in the boys room. Lets be fair in saying that the internet pictures of this place are far more glamourous then the hotel itself.
The hotel boasts a spa- once again its not the best. There is only one changing room for male and females (OMG! I could not deal with this! we are in Turkey!) It has one tiny corner where it seems like they have tried to make an effort to do something with, the pool was tiny- enough to do 2/3 strokes and we reach the end of the pool- it felt deeper in depth than in length!! but…. yes there is a positive, the steam room and the sauna was really good, really clean and big!
I am not going to knock the Hotel, it is a good Hotel, for the price we paid of £100 per night for a joint family room including breakfast, I cant really expect it to a haven, but this hotel definitely does not fit the 4* rank it has, its a 3* or below. If I had known it was a 3* I probably would not complain as much.
Having said that the staff from the kitchen staff, to the receptionist to the cleaners were overly eager to help us throughout. So all in all, its not a bad Hotel, it just doesn’t say what it is on the label and that’s what I am cheesed off about more that anything else.(*roll eye*) For a city break, it will do the job I want it to do.
First stop- the reason why we came here- the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia which now has a small quarter available for prayers. I know there was a lot of controversy around the conversion of the Hagia Sophia from a Museum to a mosque, but I do need to advise it is just a small area that has been given for prayers. This area is accessible to anyone who wants to see inside the building and also pray.
The beauty of this is we can go inside without having to pay, so if you really did want to see the construct without the full museum tour- this is perfect.
Turkey is very strict in its wearing of the mask- Everyone wears a mask- its a norm! if I did put my mask down for a little while- you can be sure that someone will tap you on the shoulder and advise you to put it back on politely. This was actually really nice- and shows that people have a love for themselves and others and also a love for their country by adhering to the rules.
We tried to get into the Blue Mosque but were told it was closed due to renovation, and not due to open for maybe a couple of years….. so we decided to take a walk around. We ended up at the Terrace of the Seven Hills Hotel to have a breath-taking look at both the Blue Mosque and Sophia Hagia from what is the tallest building in Istanbul (Apparently although after this we learnt that a lot of hotels say the same thing, we are tourists, we believe everything people tell us!)
My brother’s family who arrived to Istanbul a week earlier, were spending the last day and so we decided to join them.
We met up with the family at The Panoramic Istanbul Roof Terrace- apparently the highest building in Istanbul which boasts the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. (**rolls eye. where have we heard this before?**). It truly was breath taking I wont deny that, but yet the food was not quite to our requirements. It was expensive (for Turkey!) but also just bland. This is definitely a place I ticked off and not going back or recommending to anyone. If you want, just go see the views- but make sure you eat elsewhere!
We were lucky in that we got to listen to the Adhaan (The call to prayer) from here… from both the Mosques. Truly a beautiful experience. It was our first day, we did not want to do too much, so we wined and dined (somewhat with bland food) and then we ended up with Shisha at night (which was just as awful). But the beauty was I caught up with my sister in law.
Before the end of the day, we walked down the beautiful streets of Sultan Ahmet square. The perfect end to our half day in Istanbul….
More to come on Istanbul. Stay tuned
Istanbul Day Two: can be found here
Love and Regards
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