Monday, May 6, 2013

Day 3 in Istanbul, Bosphorus Cruise & Night Flight to Israel

I started the day earlier than yesterday, today was a travel day and I needed to check out of my hostel.  I got  to breakfast around 9 am, then I went downstairs to book a shuttle to the airport for my flight to Tel Aviv.  The shuttle I needed to catch left at 3:30 pm, giving me less time to hang out in Istanbul that I had expected.  My flight was not scheduled to leave until after 9 pm, I would be stuck at the airport for around 4 hours, the alternative to the shuttle was catching a boat across the Bosphorus, then a bus.  I decided taking the shuttle was the best option.

After breakfast, I went to meet the director of the language school in Istanbul I may teach at beginning this summer.  The meeting went well, he told me the school's philosophy, explained they need native English teachers, they have Native like teachers from Poland, Syria, etc. who speak no Turkish and teach only in English, but they also need a Native English speaker for their classes.  The meeting was short, which was good for me, I did not have much time before I needed to catch the shuttle to the airport. 

I left the language school and went directly to the place where the Bosphorus ferries depart.  As soon as I got off the train, there was a man advertising Bosphorus cruises for 10 Euro, this was the standard price, I went with his company.  I checked the time to be sure I would get back to my hostel in time for the airport shuttle pick up.  The cruise was 2 hours, the company assured me we would return within the scheduled time, I decided to go on the cruise. 

Me on Bosphorus Cruise Ferry 
The Bosphorus cruise lasted 2 hours, I started off the cruise sitting on the top deck, it was cold, I did not have my hoodie or a jacket with me either.  I lasted on the top deck for most of the first half of the cruise, the views were amazing.  Seeing Istanbul's sights from the Bosphorus gave them a different perspective, I took a lot of pictures.  My favorite site on the cruise was the Rumeli Fortress, I had not visited this site in person.

Rumeli Fortress from Bosphorus 
Bosphorus Cruise 
The second half of the cruise I went down to the enclosed cabin, where it was much warmer.   I still got great views, I went up to the top deck when there was something I wanted to take a picture of, but I mostly stayed in the warmer bottom compartment.  A woman sitting next to me gave me a piece of paper, as best she could she said write something on it to throw in the water, my guess was write a wish.  I wrote my wish on the  paper and at the appropriate time, threw it into the Bosphorus strait, turned out I was early, the woman said, OK,OK, no problem.  

After the cruise I rushed to get back to my hostel.  Our cruise ended around 2:30 pm, I got turned around a couple of times, I wanted to be sure I did not waste time and accidentally walk across the bridge to the Asian side of Istanbul.  I remembered a hostel mate told me, the Bosphorus area has many underground passage ways, follow the crowd when it appears there is nowhere to cross.  I followed this advice and found my way back to the train station. 

I did not realize I was only two stops away from my hostel, if I was not on a tight schedule I would have walked.  I got back to my hostel around 3 pm, I asked the man at reception if I should wait outside for the shuttle, he said no and told me I had time to get something for lunch.  I left my luggage with him and bought a Doner, I ate it at the hostel, the shuttle showed up almost exactly at 3:30 pm. 

The shuttle to Istanbul's airport on the Asian side took about 1.5 hours, I talked to the man sitting next to me, an Israeli/Canadian dual citizen on his way to visit his mother in Kyrgyzstan.  He gave me advice for my Israel trip, we talked about the politics of the region, and of course, we spent some time talking about my CIA experience.  

Asian side of Istanbul from Airport Shuttle

I read my Kindle while I waited for my flight to Tel Aviv, I had a lot of time to kill, and the airport had no WIFI.   I ate dinner at Sbarro's pizza, the pizza did not taste like it does in the US, but it was palatable.  I considered getting Arby's but I saw nothing I wanted, they did not have the US menu, it was designed for Turkey.  The flight to Tel Aviv was delayed, the flight finally departed after 10 pm, I was very tired of sitting in the airport, happy when we finally started boarding the plane. 

The flight to Tel Aviv was uneventful, I flew Pegasus, a super economy airline, the opposite of Turkish air.  Pegasus charged for everything, beverages, snacks, if you did not pay, you were not getting anything on this flight.  I bought some gummy bears, they were the Turkish Haribo we get in the US, not the delicious Haribo made in Germany I have been eating most of my trip.  I did not buy any water until we got to Tel Aviv. 

Ben Gurion Statue at Tel Aviv Airport
There was a round of applause when the plane touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.  I do not know if people were happy we were in Israel, happy we arrived after the delay, happy the flight was over, maybe all of the above.  I went through passport control, made it to baggage claim, got my luggage and caught a taxi to my hostel.  The hostel was lively last night, there was a guitar/singing session.  I arrived at the hostel well after midnight, but people were still up, enjoying the 24/7 Tel Aviv atmosphere. 

Day 3 in Istanbul Photo Album

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