18 September 2003 Thursday - Amsterdam - No Photos

The whole day was spent, unfortunately, in transit. We got to Amsterdam, and had a long layover from 1:00pm until 7:15pm. Kathy insisted that we go into town rather than sit around the airport for six hours. I would have rather hung out in the airport, listening to my mini-disc player, writing in this journal or reading a book (currently "Excuse me, Your Life is Waiting" by Lynn Grabhorn). I told Kathy I didn't want to go back yet again to the Riksmuseum, but she would have been unhappy sitting in the airport, so we went into town. The trip into town, however, was a bit more involved-and expensive-than she expected.

Our first step was to take a planned shower, but in order to do that, we changed money at an outrageous rate (compared to last time we were there). I had sixty Australian dollars cash that I brought from the last time we were in Australia, and that landed us about twenty Euros. The showers cost more than we remembered. I think twelve Euros.

After the shower, we planned to go into town. First, we had to find a locker so we could stow our heavy carry-on luggage, so we weren't wheeling it all over downtown Amsterdam. That meant we had to get enough Euro coins to pay for the locker. We ended up exchanging for more Euros because we also had to pay for the train ride into town, which was cheaper than we remembered, 5.50E per person. This time I had to cash forty U.S. dollars and I only got thirty Euros or so. I guess the dollar isn't doing so well against the Euro.

We took the train into town, which is a half-hour ride. We walked around town, ate a light meal consisting of a meat-stuffed pastry and some vegetables in a kind of quiche-like thing.

We walked around a bit more, then took the train back to the airport, got on our airplane after 7:00pm, and took off for Turkey. In the end, we didn't have much time in town, maybe two hours, and between the locker, the train fare, and lunch it cost us about forty dollars. Ouch. Only after the money was spent did Kathy realize it, and she said that on the return trip, we could stay in the airport!

The plane ride was about two and a half hours long, but it seemed much longer because we were already tired from flying from Minneapolis to Memphis and Memphis to Amsterdam, plus now we were physically exhausted from sleep deprivation and walking around downtown Amsterdam for two hours.

We arrived in Istanbul around 11:30pm (the time-zone change added an hour). We had to purchase a very expensive visa which cost one hundred US dollars to get into the country. Once purchased, we had to go through the usual passport control, customs, pick up our luggage (which luckily all made it) and immigration. Our guide, named Tendu, met us at the airport and she took us to our hotel, which is the Arena Hotel.

The Arena Hotel is nice, but has a few problems. First of all, our room is on the top floor, which meant our "scenic view" consists of a small triangular window that is shoulder-high. It's so small that only one of us can look out at a time. Secondly, the roof-line has slant, which means we can (and do) easily bump our heads getting out of bed.

Thirdly, the shower is on the same slant, so you can't stand up in there. You basically have to sit. Fourth, in the morning, I had a short shower, but when Kathy showered, all the hot water was gone. Needless to say, first impressions of the hotel weren't very good, and Kathy's mood wasn't very good either.