Hmm… I’m still struggling as to how I should structure my [Europe 2016] travelogue… I guess I’ll get there eventually, in a couple more days time.
So maybe I should start with the easiest topic: my accommodations throughout my two weeks vacation. Let’s start with the first one today. My apartment for 3 days and 2 nights when I first arrived in Istanbul.
I booked this apartment through AirBnb at the very last minute. Truth be told, my original plan was to fly in to Istanbul, spend one night (preferably somewhere near the airport), and then fly out to Barcelona. But thanks to SQ flight re-scheduling, I got to spend an extra day for my first leg in Istanbul. With two nights instead of one, it made little sense to stay near the airport, so I looked further away.
At that point of time, I have already booked my return leg’s stay in Sultanahmet, so I thought I should try Taksim, in the Beyoğlu area. After all, this is another highly recommended area to stay in Istanbul, and better still, the Havatas airport shuttle stops in the vicinity.
So I spent 5 minutes scouring AirBnb for properties around Taksim Square. There’s quite a lot of them. Now, I’m cheap, but I also know I should not go for the cheapest option because the cheapest option usually sucks. So I went for the second cheapest option. That’s how I ended up with this apartment.
Well, yeah, it looks kind of old and run down from the outside. If you like to judge books by their covers, then bad news for you, because if you decided to come to Istanbul for a vacation, most of the apartments and even hotels are like this. Because most of the buildings in the heart of Istanbul are run down buildings like this.
Of course, you can get nicer properties further away from the city center. Or you can always pay much more for a fancy hotel if you like something that looks nicer. For example,
Also, because most of the buildings here are very old, there’s no lift. If you have a big and heavy luggage, and you get a property on the fourth floor for example, then…
Lucky for me, I got the first floor apartment, so the climb was not terrible…
Also, if you were following me on Facebook, you would’ve known that I was terrified of the dog that sets up base just in front of the above mentioned fancy hotel, barking all day long. But I quickly learned that unlike in Malaysia, dogs here don’t go after humans (me) in general. They only go crazy at the sight of other dogs, or when some moronic young kids try to kick them.
Okay, enough bad news. And actually, this kind of situation will affect you not just in this specific apartment, but in most AirBnb apartments and cheap hotels in Istanbul.
Now, some good news. My host Isik is a very nice person. I think he is a full time AirBnb host, because the entire lot where my apartment was, belongs to him. And he has a couple other lots just down the street. I think he probably has about 10 properties in total on AirBnb.
So far, I’ve seen many of my friends use AirBnb, and most of the time their host would wait for them at the property itself, or even just tell them where to get the keys. With Isik, he made me stay at the bus drop off point and personally came to meet me and escort me to the property (10 minutes walk with luggage in tow). I thought it was a pretty nice gesture, because if you are new to Istanbul, it is probably quite easy to get lost in the midst of all the narrow alleys.
Let’s talk about the location of the apartment itself…
If you look at the picture above, the narrow alley goes out straight to Taksim Square. At most 100 meters to the Taksim metro station (LRT/MRT), and another 100 meters to Istiklal Caddesi, the most happening street in Beyoğlu. To put it simply, the location of this apartment is perfect! That’s the single most important reason why I am bloody pleased with this apartment.
Let’s show you the insides of my apartment unit…
Of course, the books were useless to me as they were all Turkish books, and I quickly discovered that the TV was useless to me too even though there’s satellite TV channels. I mean, Turkish dubbed CNN and Disney channel were pretty pointless…
But apart from such minor details, I liked this apartment. It’s small, but adequate. And it’s clean. And the bed is comfortable. And the couch is even more comfortable. And there’s free drinking water (look at the kitchen picture). Tap water is not guaranteed safe to drink in Istanbul by the way, refer to WaterSoftenerGuide.com for more on that. And the high speed internet is really insanely high speed!
And it’s cheap! I mean, relatively cheap. I paid US$ 73 (US$ 8 of it for AirBnb fees) for two nights in this apartment. Did I mention that you can pay double the price for a room less than half the size of the apartment just across the alley?
I don’t think I’m not sure if I will ever visit Istanbul again. But if I do, I guess I will come looking for Isik again.