The road to Bali was long – both distance- and timewise.
It is not that easy to reach the other end of the world. Fortunately, Istanbul stands very close, and it offers multitudes of opportunities for flights to almost anywhere. Not to mention that the prices there are much more affordable than those from Sofia (the year is 2012). We decided that it would be more reasonable to fly from there so we organized a bus from Sofia to Istanbul.
Nothing can be compared to a 10-hour bus ride if you have an inflatable pillow at your disposal. The only potential obstacle would be the frantic border control that’s beyond reason – getting off, queuing for passport check, taking all the luggage out, more checks ( sometimes they make you open your suitcase and show all your belongings), arranging the luggage again and getting on the bus again. And you have to multiply that by 2 since it was the same at both the Bulgarian and the Turkish border. On our way back from Bali, the procedure took around 2 hours.
Our arrival in Istanbul was in early in the morning, thus we had the whole day to explore the city. Without a doubt, staying longer will help you better feel the buzz and the people living there, but for 10 hours we covered some ground.
Despite the gloomy weather and the attempts of rain, we managed to overcome our sleepiness and darted into Istanbul. We crossed the Bosphorus with the public boat transport.
On the Asian side of Istanbul, the weather started getting very unpleasant for any outdoor activities – rain coupled with a chilly wind. Regardless, we needed to have breakfast in order to deal with the bad weather. After a “humble” breakfast, we started walking by the seaside promenade in order to explore and then got on a boat at another one of its stops. The weather was still horrible – as if it was trying to convince us to go sightseeing some other time.
On returning to the European side, we chose a hill from the map and started ascending it. From time to time, it offered a view of the Bosphorus or of something else. In an instant, we found ourselves on a shopping street with many people, and soon after that at the square with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Our unhappy faces were mainly due to the lack of sleep and the stench of feet. Some say it is healthy – I hope in the long term my lungs will be satisfied. We continued our city center tour – if it can be called like that, at all. We reached small, authentic streets, bazaars, and even a university. It was already early afternoon and the fatigue made us enter a restaurant and recharge our batteries by having a beer.
After that, we only needed to trudge back to the bus station, take our luggage from there, and to get to the airport. Istanbul – Doha, Doha – Singapore. In a nutshell – Five star experience. Our next memory was that:
|Some say sleeping in Singapore airport is an experience itself.|
On our way back from Bali, we had a long stopover in Doha. We decided to spend some extra cash at one of the special airport lounges where we feasted and then each of us relaxed on two fauteuils. A bad memory from Doha were the very powerful air conditioners. We had to put on every piece of clothing we could find in the hand luggage. Probably to compensate for the scorching 50 C outside, they were set to work at 15 C, which is very strange since the sinks were set to provide hot water only. At the lounge, the table was reloaded every 30 minutes and looked like this:
Is this the road to Bali? Feasts, beautiful cities, and promenades? If that is going to be it, we are more than ready. After all, traveling to the other end of the world is not that bad! ✈ 🚌 ⛵