Day 100 - Elounda - Istanbul
Trip Start Apr 10, 2011
108Trip End Jul 25, 2011
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Where I stayed
We gave ourselves plenty of time at Heraklion airport because we needed to make sure we could check our luggage all the way through to Istanbul despite the change of airline from Olympic to Agean in Athens
We finally took off at about 12.35pm so our concern shifted from getting a customs stamp to actually making our connecting flight. Again luck was on our side because somehow the pilot managed to make up time and shaved our 50-minute flight back to 35 minutes.
Things could not have gone any better in Athens either, with the Customs VAT claim office positioned right by our departure gate. So in the end we made the flight with about 20 minutes to spare.
The flight from Athens to Istanbul took 1hr 15mins. On entering the arrivals hall we thought our luck for the day had changed when we saw a list of countries requiring a visa to enter Turkey
The whole process took quite some time, so by the time we reached our baggage carousel it had been shut down and our bags, along with a couple of other stragglers, were the only ones left on it.
When we finally made it into the main airport, it was sheer chaos. There must have been a local sports team arriving at any moment, and there was a very noisy welcoming party waiting for them. Despite all this we managed to find the person holding up the sign with our name on it fairly easily and strangely enough were taken to our hotel in a coach that we had entirely to ourselves.
Even though we only had a couple of short flights today, it turned into a pretty full on travelling day, starting at 7am and finally arriving at our hotel at 5pm. Thankfully we were welcomed to a fantastic hotel, positioned very close to both the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. It’s hard to believe that we have been on the road for 100 days today, and have finally reached our final destination in Europe before starting our trek home. Very mixed feelings about that all round.
After settling into our room and enjoying our welcome drink on the roof terrace, it was time to set off to find a place for dinner. Before coming to Turkey we had warned Mikayla that she might be the target of some unwanted attention, due to her blond hair and blue eyes. However, Sarah was the one who seemed to attract all the attention. We wandered along the street, being stopped by someone positioned outside each of the restaurants along the way and they all wanted to know her name and tried talking her into coming inside. It got a bit creepy though when one guy couldn’t keep his hands off her, stroking her head, hair and all the way down her back for the entire time it took him to explain every dish on the menu. She became really uncomfortable with it. And he wonders why we didn’t decide to eat at his restaurant. We finally settled for a guy who was both friendly & funny and who also promised the girls free childrens cocktails, which won them over. It proved to be a great choice because we were led up to a terrace overlooking the Sea of Marmara just before it becomes the Bosphorus Strait out of one window, with a great view of the Hagia Sofia out of another window, and the Blue Mosque out of a third window. – Welcome to Istanbul!!
Following dinner, Sarah had all her new mates along the street, calling out 'Hi Sarah’ as we made our way back to the hotel. We must have all slept really well because no-one has any recollection of the 3.30am call to prayer from the mosque loud speakers.