We had several hours to spare before our late flight to Istanbul and we had no plans. So we found out that we wanted to use our last day in Israel on something we doesn’t do too much while traveling: Just relax at the beach.
Fun facts about Israel
– There are more than 40 kosher McDonald’s in Israel. The only one outside the Jewish state is in Buenos Aires.
– The glue on Israeli stamps is kosher.
– Israel has the highest number of museums per head in the world.
We went to the supermarket to buy something to eat and drink during the day, and we also bought “Ting Dong” for some activities on the beach. Then we checked out, borrowed towels and went down to the beach, just a short walk away.
We found two beach beds and a parasol near the water, and the plan was to stay there as long as we could! The beds and the parasol cost 30NIS for the day.
It was great to just relax, listen to music, play with “Ting Dong”, take a bath and get some sun on our bodies. But unfortunately this wasn’t the right day. Around 3 o’clock it began to blow, it became cloudy and was too cold to lie on the beach.
We packed our things and went back to the hotel to change our clothes. And they ordered a taxi for us.
It’s okay that we had read online that we should be at the airport in good time, but we arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport almost 5 hours before our flight.
Right outside of the airport we got stopped by a security-guard. He wanted to know why we had so much baggage for only two days in the country. And we explained and had to let him know the whole itinerary. And it was OK. But I was taken aside. He asked if I had something dangerous in my bag (hand luggage) and I had to open it to show him. Then I had to go through a metal detector. And finally we were let inside!
2 or 3 hours before departure they opened the check in.
First we had to show our passports. They examined the passport picture thoroughly. And for some reason she wasn’t sure about my photo… She studied the photo 5 times, asked for another ID-card, studied some more, then she asked her colleague if he could take a look, and he did. And Yeah, he saw the similarity. For a bit I thought that they didn’t want to let me out of the country. What is it about my passport photo? It’s only a year old (changed the last one before expiring date because it was a bit unlike me, and they studied it thoroughly in Mexico).
We then had to scan our passports, so through security check before passport control. There we got a Exit Permit we had to scan later before departure.
We arrived in Istanbul just after midnight. We had our e-visa, and just needed to go through the passport control. But that took a while! So crowded even in the night.
With our bags we found a taxi who took us to the hotel (Lamp hotel) inside the Old Town. But something was wrong, and the man in the reception said he had waited for us and that we could sleep next door. Why? What? We were so tired and the only wish was to go to bed, so we nodded and followed him.
What a room! The sheet, eh, the duvet was dirty, the towels where wet, and we didn’t even have a toilet seat. This wasn’t a nice room with the view of the Blue Mosque we had booked. What a downer! But we got to sleep, or at least tried.
The next morning we complained, and he got a bit irritated, not on us, but possibly the neighbour who didn’t have the room as it should have been. But he would arrange a new room for us.
Fun facts about Istanbul
– Istanbul is the only city in the world that spans over two continents: Asia and Europe.
– Although it is not the capital of the country, Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey with over 13 million inhabitants, of which 99% are Muslim.
We found a nice place to eat some breakfast before we went to find a museum. But we found the Big Bus Hop on Hop off, and took a round with it before we jumped off near the Grand Bazaar. We just walked fast through.
Then we went to the Arasta Bazaar right near the hotel. We bought some tea and a couple Shisha pipes (water pipes).
We then went back to the hotel to get our new room. This time we got the room with the right view, with a clean bed and dry towels. And off course, a toilet seat! (I just have to let you know that because of what happened we got some tea, water pipe, and breakfast the next day for free – They were so sorry).
Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) was next! We walked up (short walk from our hotel) bought some tickets and wandered around for a while. Then we got to the Archaeological museum and at last Topkapo Palace.
And it’s so interesting how they did it! So nice details, so straight lines, and again we wondered how it’s at all possible.
Did you know?
– Only Pantheon in Rome has slightly bigger dome than the dome of Hagia Sophia in the world.
– When the dome of Hagia Sophia was placed, walls began to lean outward because of the weight. Then walls to support to dome were built.
– For more info about Hagia Sophia.
We were exhausted and needed some food! We sat down at a restaurant, ate local food and a really sweet dessert, drank some tea and smoked Shisha pipe. They had a show with Turkish dance and music, so we stayed for some hours. It was just so relaxing 🙂
It was a long day, so it was wonderful to go to a clean bed…