After arriving in Istanbul and clearing immigration, I made my way outside and past the armed guards to wait for my hotel shuttle.
The pick-up area was absolutely chaotic, unlike any airport I’ve ever visited. Nearly a dozen lanes of cars, some even driving over the curbs to get around. It was intense. After about a half hour of waiting, my shuttle arrived…20 minutes behind schedule.
Courtyard Istanbul International Airport
So this hotel was a no-brainer. Not only was it near the airport, but it came to only $53.79 with tax. Plus with the promotion they were running, I’d have free breakfast as well.
After passing through the fortified gate staffed with two suit-wearing (and probably armed) guards, I was at the entrance. I then grabbed my luggage and proceeded through the metal detector and x-ray machine and into the lobby.
After getting past all that, check-in was a breeze, and I was upgraded to a room on the top floor overlooking the city via my Marriott Platinum Status. I was also informed that the mini bar was complimentary during my stay.
The room was furnished better than most Courtyards that I’ve stayed at, and although the mini bar wasn’t nearly as stocked as a paid mini bar, I certainly wasn’t complaining.
I definitely loved the room location as well, as it provided a great vantage point to watch the sun set.
I freshened up and headed downstairs to catch an Uber into the city
The Ubers were quite fancy here, and even at surge, the price was only $26 for a ride into the city. I actually had eight seats in the back of a Mercedes-Benz van to myself.
The driver confirmed my destination, and in almost perfect English, asked me if I was from the area. I replied that I was actually from the United States, to which he said, “Oh, I don’t speak English”. So it was a quiet 45 minite ride.
After arriving in the city, I made my way down to the waterfront by the Ortaköy Mosque to get a glance at the Bosphorus Bridge, which crosses the Bosphorus strait, connecting the continents of Europe and Asia.
The area down by the water was just magnificent. The streets leading down the hill were lined with shops and food stands, and at the end was a plaza with a view of the strait.
Since I didn’t have any luck with using the ATMs and ordering from the food stands seemed rather chaotic, I found a restaurant and decided to have a nice sit-down meal.
The meal was better than it looked. Underneath all that gravy was a delicious steak. As for the service, however, it definitely felt indifferent.
After I was done eating, my waiter came by with the customary glass of Turkish tea and quickly followed with the check.
I then proceeded to explore more of the shops and waterfront area before requesting an Uber for the ride home.
My driver arrived quickly in a nondescript Volkswagen van. Once inside though, I was taken back. This freaking thing was limo-fied!
I rode back in style in another eight-passenger van. My driver, Tunca was very proud of his ride and was excited to explain to me all the features.
Much to my surprise, there was even a coffee pot in the back! I know the Turks love their coffee, but wow!
I arrived back at my hotel after an enjoyable 45 minute ride and cleared security before making my way back up to the room.
Before heading to bed, I sampled one of the Turkish beers in the mini bar and snapped another photo of the bowling pin with the city in the background.
The next morning, I went ahead and got an early start and skipped the hotel breakfast, since they’d probably have a much better selection at the lounge.