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Kebab, Kalamari & Koshary [EY Y, A3 Y & J]

Kebab, Kalamari & Koshary [EY Y, A3 Y & J]


Old Feb 29, 16, 8:59 am
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Kebab, Kalamari & Koshary [EY Y, A3 Y & J]

After looking through all the awesome trip reports from DanielW, I am inspired to document my trip to Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt in the same style.

Regretfully, my pictures are not as nice!

Day -2

A journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step.

Our first step was the coach to Malacca, two days before Chinese New Year. My grandmother still lives there and spending CNY at her place is a family tradition.

An hour’s wait before Malaysia allowed us in but we counted ourselves lucky to reach our destination in around 6 hours despite the heavy traffic.

My parents took 12 hours to cover the 200+ KM between Singapore and Malacca in their car. A new record.

Day 0

After all the usual feasting and meeting up with relatives, we headed to KUL, the nearest international airport with Transnasional.

Bad traffic meant that the usual 2.5-hour journey became a 4-hour one and we decided to scupper our plan to visit Mitsui Outlet Park.

With our Freccia Alata status with Alitalia’s MilleMiglia, we bypassed the long economy queue and even managed to get our checked bag tagged as priority.

Perhaps due to the weakness of Malaysian currency, it cost us around ~480 USD for traveling from KUL to IST and then CAI to SIN on Etihad.

Chinese New Year décor at the KLIA Satellite Terminal.

While waiting for boarding, we had showers and supper at Plaza Premium Lounge, courtesy of the two complimentary Priority Pass entries offered by our credit cards.

Last edited by chongsss; Feb 29, 16 at 9:11 am
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Old Feb 29, 16, 9:23 am
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Ey 470 KUL - AUH

First impression of Etihad was very positive.

The Airbus 332 has a 2-4-2 layout and we got seats 19H & K.

Etihad’s amenity kit was impressive; eye mask, socks, ear plugs and toothbrush were all found in the pouch.

Noise cancelling headset even for Y class.

The flight would take slightly less than seven hours. Etihad’s IFE E-Box had quite a wide selection of content to choose from; I watched Tale of Three Cities, an interesting Chinese movie which was based on Jackie Chan’s parents’ lives, before dozing off.

Breakfast was a choice between the western option of scrambled egg, Malaysian option of nasi goreng with satay or vegetarian option of raisin pancakes. Nasi goreng out of KUL didn’t disappoint.
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Old Feb 29, 16, 9:43 am
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Day 1 AUH / EY 97 AUH - IST

We got a remote gate at AUH and had to be bussed to Terminal 1.

We had a 4-hour layover in AUH and our Freccia Alata status got us into Al Reem Lounge.

It was pleasant enough but nothing special.

Since it was our first time in AUH, we got out early to explore the airport.

AUH Terminal 1 was the older terminal and it was connected to Terminal 3 by a walkway.

New and old liveries:-

We got a bus gate and the Airbus 333 which would take us to IST was parked beside the plane which brought us from KUL.

Like the earlier flight, menu was distributed.

Love the nose-wheel camera during take-off.

Western breakfast was my choice while my wife opted for the calzone.

More of E-Box:-

Flying over the snow-capped mountains in Iran

Our flight route flew over the Gulf before entering Iran and then flying across Turkey.

We were way ahead of schedule when we were near Istanbul and were treated to some very good views of the city.

Europe on the left, Asia on the right.

Due to the holding patterns, our plane had an interesting flight path.

Arriving at IST, TK-central.

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Old Feb 29, 16, 10:03 am
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Day 1 (cont'd): Istanbul

There were long lines at the immigration but they were moving fast enough. We got Turkish Liras from the HSBC ATM after immigration and soon we were on our way to our accommodation by public transport after topping up our Istanbulkarts.

We had to transfer from Metro to Tram at Zeytinburnu.

Our Airbnb apartment was conveniently located within 2 minutes’ walk from Tophane tram station and steps away from Karakoy’s hip cafes. It was a penthouse with fantastic seaview and it only cost us around 90 USD per night.

After settling down, we headed out for a walk.

First stop: Eminönü for some balik ekmek. Delicious as always.


Mısır Çarşısı or Spice Bazaar was just across the road.

Spices for you, madams?

Chestnut man

Queuing for coffee

Done with Ying’s orientation with Eminönü , we headed back across Galata Bridge and walked our way up Istiklal Caddesi.

Sunset over Eminönü

Fishers at Galata Bridge

Galata Tower

The Public Hotel on Istiklal Caddesi

Dinner is of course (Iskender) kebab.

Last edited by chongsss; Mar 4, 16 at 10:21 pm
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Old Feb 29, 16, 1:50 pm
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Nice start. Looking forward to the rest
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Old Mar 2, 16, 2:10 am
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Love all the photo's of Istanbul, chongsss. Such a colourful and exotic city with the subtle mixture of Asia and Europe.
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Old Mar 2, 16, 1:52 pm
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When people ask where they should go, I almost always answer Istanbul
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Old Mar 3, 16, 7:46 am
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I was in Cyprus and Istanbul a few weeks ago. Would love to read your TR and thoughts.
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Old Mar 3, 16, 8:49 am
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Originally Posted by farbster View Post
When people ask where they should go, I almost always answer Istanbul

Especially great this time of year too - love the weather and relative lack of tourists.
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Old Mar 4, 16, 10:18 pm
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Day 2 - Istanbul

We were among the first few who arrived at Topkapı Palace and proceeded to get our Istanbul Museum Pass. It cost 85 TRY and allowed us entry into 12 museums around Istanbul, including Hagia Sophia and Chora Museum.

Model of Topkapı Palace


Just couldn’t help but imagine the amount of palace intrigue that happened behind this gate for almost 500 years.

View of a bridge across Bosphorus.


Although it was my third time in Topkapı Palace, this was my first time inside the Harem.

Loved the amazing Ottoman calligraphy.

After almost three hours at Topkapı Palace, we hopped over to Hagia Irene, the first church built in Constantinople.

It was surreal having the whole place to ourselves.

Lunch was köfte and şiş kebap at Sultanahmet Köftecisi. Was surprised that there was no crowd at all and it may have something to do with the bombing.

Of course we have to visit Hagia Sophia when we are in Istanbul.

Still awed, despite the scaffolding.

Showing its history as both a church and a mosque.

Comnenus Mosaic

Sultanahmet Mosque was closed for visit during prayers' time and we made a detour first to the rather compact Mosaic Museum at Arasta Bazaar.

Cat at Arasta Bazaar:-

Sultanahmet Mosque was reopened after Asr prayers.

We found our spot and enjoyed the peace.

Checking photos.

For the cats, it's feeding time.

After a brief stay at Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, we got ourselves lost in the labyrinth of Kapalıçarşı or Grand Bazaar.

Walking back, we couldn't help but stop for balik ekmek again. Yummy

Ended the day with a stop at Dem, one of the many hip cafes around Karaköy. Pretty glad that we stayed a stone's throw away from here.

To be continued...
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Old Mar 5, 16, 2:40 am
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Great photos chongsss. You've really captured the exoticness and variety of Istanbul. Thanks.
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Old Mar 5, 16, 11:18 am
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Day 3 - Istanbul

Good morning Istanbul.

It was a gloomy morning. Our first stop would be Kadiköy and ferry was the best method to get there from Karaköy in my opinion.

Istanbul Modern from Bosphorus

A similar Istanbul Şehir Hatları ferry.

Haydarpaşa Station, currently defunct. Nobody knows its fate yet.

Giant Turkish flag welcomed us at Kadiköy.

I would try to catch a live football game whenever I am in Turkey and the Süper Lig match between Fenerbahçe and Kasımpaşa was the only match during our short time there.

In 2014, the Turkish government introduced the controversial law which made it mandatory for fans to have Passolig cards in order to purchase tickets to matches, leading to fans' protests and boycotts.

Despite the additional bureaucracy, we bit the bullet and followed the recommended way of getting our Passoligs at the stadium (versus applying for them online). Since Fenerbahçe was the home team , we went all the way to Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium and got ours at 21 TRY each.

Although we were able to get Passoligs at the ticket office, we had to go to buy our tickets online or at one of the NKolay kiosks located at certain convenience stores.

We ended up having to pay the proprietor a little more as Turkish ID numbers were required to purchase tickets at the kiosk and he had to get his friend to purchase the ticket for us over the phone.

It started to rain by the time we were done and we seeked shelter at a cafe where we had mantı and börek for brunch. Yums.

After the rain cleared, we took the ferry to Eminönü where we changed to a bus which brought us to near Chora Museum.

Extensive restoration work was underway for the museum and the scaffolding was erected around the exterior.

A recurring theme in Istanbul.

Only the narthex and pareclession were open to visitors as the naos was closed for restoration work.

Despite the partial closure, the frescoes were still magnificent.

There were other places of interest nearby and we had an interesting walk in the historic yet less-touristed neighbourhood.

Coca Cola

"Our love story"

Fethiye Museum is one of the museums covered by Istanbul Museum Pass and we went in to have a look at the mosaics.

Continuing our walk through the interesting streets of Fener. Both of us suspected that the neighbourhood could be gentrified in the not too distant future.


Colourful houses

Fener was where many Greeks used to stay (many had emigrated from Turkey) and there were still Greek school and churches in the neighbourhood.

Phanar Greek Orthodox College reminded me of Harry Potter. I don't know why.

Inside Church of St George, seat of Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Bulgarian St Stephen's Church, one of the world's few surviving prefabricated cast iron churches. The exterior was boarded up for restoration as well.

Golden Horn

We arrived back at Eminönü just in time for the 4pm Bosphorus Cruise (12 TRY)


Vodafone Arena should be completed by my next visit.

Bosphorus Bridge

We turned around near Rumelihisarı. The entire trip took us slightly more than one hour and I would recommend it to every visitor to Istanbul.

Dinner would be hamsi and midye dolma.

Couldn't resist the Tantuni when we walked back to our accommodation.

Pretty cool ad for Banksy exhibition at Karaköy.

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Old Mar 12, 16, 1:19 am
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Day 4 - Istanbul

Mrs began the day at Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı while I lazed around at our accommodation.


Post-Hamam tea

One of my favorite Turkish dishes is menemen and I had to introduce to Mrs. She agreed that it was awesome.

The plan for the day was to visit Miniatürk since we didn't have time to visit the rest of Turkey.

The bus departs from Eminonü and honestly, I could never tire of this view.

It was drizzling when we arrived but thankfully the rain didn't last long.

Shelter found

Trojan horse

Nemrut Dagi. Mrs was convinced to visit it someday.

Süleymaniye Mosque

Hagia Sophia & Sultanahmet Mosque

From the other end


After Miniatürk, we headed back and checked out another of Karaköy's numerous cafes: FiLBooks. Sadly the cake was disappointing.

Took the 6.20pm ferry to Kadiköy and we had enough time to stop for a snack. I was once again reminded that things are cheaper in the less touristy neighborhoods.

For example, 4 TL for a balik ekmek in Kadiköy compared to 8 TL in Eminonü.

Add one TL and you could have a drink too.

We just followed the crowd to the stadium and it took us some time to locate our entrance. Our Passoligs were scanned and we were let in after two rounds of security checks.

The stadium was starting to fill up while the teams were warming up.

Attendance had been down since the introduction of Passoligs but it was still a decent crowd, especially considering how expensive the tickets were. We paid 105 TL each for our tickets in the cheapest category and it made me wonder how the locals could afford to go for matches regularly.

Didn't get to sit throughout the match and the local fans offered us their melon seeds. We definitely got to enjoy the full Turkish football experience.

Penalty! Robin Van Persie would convert it.

Mrs was impressed with the atmosphere. Me not so much. Nowhere near the level of Beşiktaş fans at Inonü.

The match ended up 3-1 to Fenerbahçe and everyone headed home happy.

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Old Mar 13, 16, 6:20 am
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Originally Posted by chongsss View Post
Very cute
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Old Mar 15, 16, 8:14 am
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I visited Istanbul on a cruise in 1979. Unfortunately only 1 day. Topkapi really impressed me.

Would like to go back on a proper visit but I don't think now is a good time sadly to say.

Very nice pictures.
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