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1 May, arriving Istanbul
Butik Grand Anatolia Hotel 160TL

We flew Qatar Air from Johannesburg to a hot and windy Doha and, after a night in that city, on to Istanbul, arriving at 18:30 Turkish time. It was an inauspicious start to our sabbatical. Ataturk airport was manic on MayDay, the too few officials on duty managing to ensure a three-hour processing time between disembarking and boarding a taxi for the drive into the city. I had booked a cheap apartment via HostelBookers, but we arrived in the narrow street outside Amore Anex to be told they were full and had no knowledge of our booking. Not good news at 22:00. We ended spending $80 for a windowless basement room beside the kitchen of a nearby alternative – well over our daily budget of $65 all in. On the plus side our plane banked north over Asian Istanbul, flying with the city and Bosphorus clearly visible below us up to and over the Black Sea, then banked south over European Istanbul, again displaying the Bosphorus, the Aya Sofia and the blue mosque in the evening light.

Ataturk airport -
Ataturk airport - "queue" at passport control
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