Another hiatus after so long. I have a feeling I’m only writing 1 blog post per month nowadays. Or even worse haha!
So getting back to my recent travels, I took a 3-week holiday to Europe, escaping hectic life and embracing wanderlust. I honestly love to travel solo, as it is a great experience to discover yourself, and you wouldn’t need to depend on anyone else and cater to their needs during the trip.
The main goal of my trip was to visit my family at Ireland for Christmas, as well, mumsie hasn’t met me for so long and i’ve been summoned! LOL
Here is my Itinerary and how I got around
Flight Path & Itinerary
Dec 18: Depart KL
Turkish Air, RM4,400 for all Turkish Air Flights
Dec 19 - 23 Istanbul
Dec 23 - 27: Dublin, Ireland
Ryan Air RM150
Dec 28: Brussels
45 min Train RM40
Day 29 - 31: Antwerp
2 Hour Train, RM120
Dec 31 - Jan 5: Amsterdam
Ryan Air RM150
Jan 5 - 7: Dublin, Ireland
Jan 8: Arrive KL
Total Transport for flights & train: RM4,860
It could have been cheaper but since I was flying on peak periods, prices skyrocket up
So for my first post I’m going to write about my trip to Istanbul. It is a city I’ve wanted to go to as it has a clash of cultures there. Since it is on the borderline of East & West, you would be able to see how history has unfolded itself to make Istanbul what it is today
As for conversion rate:
Turkish Lira: RM1.2 = 1 Turkish Lira
SOME IMPORTANT TIPS TO FOLLOW:
- Don’t ever talk to anyone on the street trying to converse with you, they are con men trying to bring you into their shop/club to charge you ridiculous prices.
- If someone is asking you for a lighter, they’re probably doing the same thing as well to try to get a conversation out of you
- Police tend to pick on people asking for your passport etc (This is due to terrorism threats in the past). Just tell them you didn’t bring it, and tell them which hotel you’re staying at. If you’re sceptical, just ask them for their Police ID.
- If you’re shopping, make sure to haggle like crazy.
- Some taxis don’t use their meter. Haggle away!
Firstly, I would recommend you to stay at Sultanahmet (The Old City) as it is close to all the major attractions in the city. If you’re here to party, You can stay at Taksim (The New City).
I stayed at Cheers Hostel which is smacked right in the middle of Sultanahmet. It is one of my fav hostels so far, as it has a really homey feeling, and it even has a bar upstairs. The price was 10 Euros a night (RM48), and it comes with free breakfast. Score!
It also won the latest “Hoscar Awards 2018” as the best hostel in Turkey. As for the rooms, it is pretty spacious, clean, well ventilated and the mattresses are thick. I personally love the bar upstairs as that’s where everyone hangs out after their day, getting a few pints while playing games there. There were so many new friends which I made there.
The only downside is that since it’s a small hostel, there are limited bathrooms available, so you would need to plan your timing out haha.
Lastly, The hostel also provides transport TO the airport for 5 Euros upon checkout.
Cheers Hostel, Alemdar Mahallesi,
Zeynep Sultan Camii Sokak No 21,
Total Accommodation Costs: RM240 (50 Euros)
Upon arriving at the Ataturk Airport, one of the cheapest ways to the city is by train. You would need to take a train and a tram to reach Sultanahmet (approximately 1 hour journey). It’ll cost you 5 Lira per train/tram ticket, or you can opt to get their prepaid card over there (Similar to our touchngo) which you can reload it if you’re planning of going all over the city.
A taxi would cost you about 70 lira to the city, so I guess if you’re going in a big group, it’ll be worth it as you wouldn’t need to cram in the train especially during rush hour.
Sultanahmet is pretty much walkable everywhere, but if you’re feeling a bit lazy you can take the tram (This is where the card comes in). And as for going to Taksim Square for your parties, you could either take the tram, or a taxi (approx. 40 lira)
Total transport Costs: RM66 (55 Lira)
Honestly the menu there is pretty standard, which focuses on their doners and kebabs, so get ready to get a full meat load when you’re there. At a normal restaurant around the city, it’ll cost about 15-20 Lira per meal, and if you head slightly to the suburbs, you can get it for about 8 Liras. (On Average i spent 10 Liras for Lunch, and 20 Liras for Dinner.).Snacks such as corn, breads, chestnuts etc will cost you about 2-10 liras
Turkish coffee isn’t to my liking, as it is really grainy, unfiltered coffee. But it does go well with a Turkish delight
If you’re feeling atasy, you can always visit Saltbae’s restaurant, Nusr-Et there, where you can spend from RM200 - RM2,000 for a steak. But well, its Saltbae right?
As for beer, it is about 18 Liras per pint, and cocktails are about 20 Liras - 50 Liras
Total Food Cost for 5D4N: RM192 (160 Liras)
Beer & Drinks: RM180 (160 Liras)
What should you do at Turkey?
1) Free Walking Tour
As I would always recommend, go for the Free Walking Tour which covers most of Sultanahmet. There are a few walking tours to join, so you can always choose the timing to your liking. The tour was pretty personal, as there were only 8 of us, which I thought was pretty grand.
The tour will take approximately 3 hours, and basically the highlights of the tour are The Blue Mosque, The Obelisks, Hagia Sophia, The Old Settlements, The Grand Bazaar and The Spice Market.
Cost: RM12 (I tipped 10 Lira)
You can check them out here:
Istanbul-FreeTour - 10.45am
FreeTour.com - 9.15am, 1.15pm
The Blue Mosque
Inside the Blue Mosque
is Dabbing still a thing?
My manager is not amused ;)
2) Hagia Sophia
This is one of the main highlights at Istanbul, with crazy history. Hagia Sophia was a church, which turned into a mosque, and now is a museum. One of the interesting things is that they didn’t remove the Christian elements when they converted it into a mosque, and just plastered over it. When they changed it to a museum, they removed the plaster and you would see Mother Mary and Seraphim next to Allah S.W.T & Prophet Muhammad signs. Crazy huh?
To visit Hagia Sophia, you would have to pay 40 Lira for the entrance fee. If you’re planning to visit all the museums in the city, you can opt to get a Museum Pass at 85 Lira.
Cost: RM48 (40 Lira)
3) Basilica Sistern
It is one of the most iconic places you could see at Istanbul and was built in the 6th century. Some of you may remember it from the famous 1963 James Bond Film: From Russia With Love.
Used to store water in the past, there are 336 columns over there and the columns are all different. They used scraps in the past building it, and the interesting ones would feature medusa’s heads.
Cost: RM24 (20 Lira)
4) Hamam Bath House
An experience you should also try out is their Hamam. It is a Turkish bath where ERRYONE GET NAKED.
You’ll still have a towel on, so no worries on it. Basically it’s just like a sauna where everyone chills, and you can also opt for a scrub or a massage there. I went to one of the local ones near the spice market, so it costed me only 24 Lira. If you go to the touristic ones, it’ll cost you about 80 Lira
Cost: RM29 (24 Lira)
4) Belphorus Cruise
I chose to do this as I had a free day, this is a short cruise heading down the golden horn, where you can see the east and west side of Istanbul from the river. I would say the best time to go is during spring, as you’ll be able to see the vibrant colours of the city
We also stopped by 2 of the old hunting palaces, and it was beautiful
Cost: RM105 (22 Euros)
views from the cruise
Old castle ruins
that needed jumpshot
Gates to the palace
The Sultan's hunting palace
5) Taksim Square
No trip to Istanbul is complete without having a night out at Taksim. It is the main shopping district, where you can get plenty of brands over there. But the main important thing is having a drink there! I managed to go to some interesting bars where I learnt Turkish folk dancing and trying out some epic shots!
Do head to Beer Time for nice live music & dancing, and Pendor Corner bar, and try out their "honono" cocktail :)
You can see how lively it is at Beer Time
Pendor Corner Bar, they had a metal band that night
So Here is the breakdown of cost at Istanbul
Total cost: RM896
Not too bad ey? I guess that concludes my Istanbul part of my travel, stay tuned as I’ll be writing about the rest of my trip!