Istanbul, Turkey (DoubleTree by Hilton) Istanbul – Piyalepasa
It was a slow start for me this morning. For the most part, I slept well but knew that if I wanted breakfast I should probably get out of bed and go down to where breakfast was being served.
At the breakfast buffet, I found a number of familiar “Hilton” breakfast items and a several new items, probably more familiar with the Turkish guests. I’ve concluded that older civilizations perhaps have a much more varied and sophisticated diet than what we have in the western civilizations. Maybe having access, being on a major trade route, to a wide variety of spices, produce and meat for a couple of millennia is probably the reason why. For me, I’m still a “meat and potatoes” eater and find it difficult to try new things. Breakfast is not a time for me to try something new. That I know.
I really had a difficult time leaving my room. From my terrace I have a great view of the city, but I knew I needed to visit an ATM to have local currency and also get to know the neighborhood. At the front desk I asked where the nearest ATM would be located and he said the gas station across the street, though a colleague of his last night said it was undependable. He also said I might take a taxi to the downtown area where there are many machines. (What? Take a taxi to go to a ATM?) I decided to walk down the road to see what I could find.
When I left the hotel, I noticed that we were next to a mosque. I thought I had heard a call to prayer either last night or this morning. I must be used to the call to prayer (or worship) since it you can hear it up to five times a day. Here is a recording made of the Blue Mosque Evening Call to Prayer:
Along the way, I put my nose in several markets as I walked along Piyalepasa Boulevard. All the while thinking, “How can a city of 15 million not have an ATM on every block?” In any case, this task for today gave me the opportunity to explore the neighborhood so I left it at that.
Guess I was expecting more people on the streets walking around. Traffic was light and everyone was going about their business. After about 20 minutes I saw a couple of ATMs across the street. Piyalepasa Boulevard is a four lane road with two lanes of traffic going each way. And there were no nearby crosswalks, so I took my chance and waited for the traffic to ease up and walked across.
I was in luck, the first ATM charged no fees and offered currency both in the local Turkish lira and euro. I made two transactions each for the local lira and euro. My new debit card arrived at Prean and Viktor’s, but it would be until the 10th of July when I had a debit card (with no fees), so need to stock up on euros. I could use my Chase debit card, but I get charged for each foreign transaction, which isn’t much – just the idea of paying a fee to access your own money.
With that being done, I crossed the boulevard again and walked back to the hotel. At the hotel I met with someone who I’ll work with to arrange a couple of tours while in Istanbul. After talking with her, she had plenty of options to research as I left to return to my room.
An afternoon nap seemed like a good idea, then started to write my travel blog again after I woke. It had been over a week since I wrote anything, so it took a few moments to get back into the swing of writing again.
I was having problems uploading pictures to my picture blog, but I turned everything off and re-booted and it was working again. The Internet is very restrictive in Turkey and some sites, for whatever reason, are not accessible. For example, I tried to look something up on Wikipedia and was denied access.
While I was working on my blogs I ordered a pizza. I only ate half of it since I wasn’t really that hungry. I only ate half of my meal last night too. This isn’t a bad thing because I need to shed a few pounds. After working on my blogs and doing additional research, it was time for bed.
Tomorrow I’m taking the shuttle to the downtown area near Taksim Square. It is supposed to be lively with a variety of shops and restaurants.