Originally posted on 1/30/13
Been away from posting unintentionally, but with good reason. We took a wonderful weekend getaway trip to Istanbul, but despite best attempts and intentions our internet connectivity was weak and infrequent. But sometimes when you travel that's for the best--it causes you to be more present and focused on the experiences. At the same time it makes it nearly impossible to use all the wonderful online resources you've found to make your trip easier and more fulfilling, such as maps, public transportation guides, and brilliant tips from other traveling bloggers.
When I first visited Istanbul I picked up a sim card for my phone at the airport and happily navigated my way around. I was even able to use my Android phone as a hotspot for my iPad, so techy am I! This time I picked up a new sim card, not being able to find the old one, told the lovely Vodaphone folks I needed a data plan, and off I went. Three hours later the phone still wasn't working, so we found another Vodaphone outlet and learned the weird intricacies of Turkey's cell phone policies. Apparently once you use a foreign mobile in Turkey for a 10 day period you can never use it there again unless you register it with whatever agency registers foreign mobiles. Huh. So we popped the sim in my husband's phone and finally had some connectivity. Next trip to Turkey one of us has to buy a new phone.
All our preparation paid off, and in 2.5 days we managed to see Ayasofya, the Basilica Cistern, the outdoor Tarlabaşı Sunday market, have sahlep and rest our weary feet at the Grand Bazaar, buy spices (and were gifted "Turkish viagra") in the Spice Bazaar, cruise the Bosphorus, photograph around Galata Tower, visit two hamams (it was very cold last weekend!), climb the hills into the Cihangir neighborhood (twice!) for some delicious and traditional Turkish food, wander parts of Istiklal, and eat tons of meze and fish. I'm certain I spent at least $10 on fresh orange and pomegranate juice, too.
For all the benefits of online maps and other resources, in the end, I would have given a ridiculous sum of money for a laminated Streetwise Istanbul. You can be sure I'll be packing one for Paris next month.
Tomorrow I'll give an update on the sleeping and other hacking attempts. They've