I arrived in Istanbul on a crisp, cool afternoon following a short flight in from Skopje, finally finishing off my four day journey that started in Stockholm. I had managed to parlay a single one-way award ticket into a three-night adventure where every stop was wonderful in its own way. Istanbul, however, was the jewel in the crown, so to speak. It was wonderful. It was beautiful. And it was snowing.
Apparently snow is rare in Istanbul. This was my 5th consecutive city over the previous 7 days where my arrival was heralded by snow. It was a light flurry, no real accumulation, and it gave the city a beautiful glow, over and above the regular level of amazing that its history and culture provide.
I watched the sun set as I rode the metro into town from the airport and quickly dropped my bag off in the hotel room in order to enjoy the sights at night, a view I had not previously experienced. It was awesome.
The streets of the Sultanahmet were quiet, save for the occasional taksi or streetcar rolling through. A few tourists wandered about near me but nothing like the crowds of a summer day. I was nearly alone with the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Sarai, able to celebrate them all by myself.
The cold eventually started to set in, as did hunger; it was time to find dinner. As I walked back towards my hotel – I had seen plenty of restaurants in the neighboring streets – I happened past an outdoor café with a group of musicians playing in the back. And there was just enough heat available that I figured I probably wouldn’t completely freeze. I settled in for an Iskender, an Effes and a set with the band.
I’m sure that it wasn’t the best music ever, but they were clearly enjoying themselves and that was all it took for me to also enjoy the experience. Not every night on every trip has that magical sensation. This was a special night in many ways.
- On the streets of Skopje
- In flight: Ljubljana to Skopje on Adria Airways
- A ljubly day in Ljubljana
- In flight: Munich to Ljubljana on Adria Airways
- Berlin in an hour. At night. In the winter.
- In flight: Stockholm to Berlin on SAS
- Checking in: Hotel Eurostars Berlin
- Maximizing award redemption value. Sortof.