Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Istanbul for the Second Time

    I've qualified for many of AIA's conventions, but it's been many years since I last attended one. This is also the first time that I'm on a long-haul trip without the wifey. Although I've been to Istanbul before, the reimbursements that AIA offered on this trip made it practical to attend the convention. It was also a good chance to take a break from work. Hence I found myself on the long ride to Turkey...
    The weather was surprising warm (much like Singapore's). It was fortunate that we were put up at one of the best hotels in the city, the Hilton Bomonti.
View from the hotel room on the 22nd floor
   There wasn't time to do much as we arrived late in the afternoon, so we decided to go for dinner while doing a bit of wandering. We soon found ourselves in the famous Taksim Square. We then made our way down the adjoining Istiklal Street where we had our dinner. The main thoroughfare of Istiklal Street is flanked by old buildings which now house modern brands such as H&M and Adidas. In between the buildings small roads branch off into many small alleys with quaint drinking holes and restaurants, much akin to Singapore's Clarke Quay or the area around Paris' St Michel. When the sun goes down, things start to heat up...
My colleague commented that the festive atmosphere resembled Chinatown during the Lunar New Year light-up launch. 
     Day 2 consisted of a hosted tour, organized by AIA. It was a time to bond with colleagues and I especially appreciate the time conversing with Kevin Toh, one of the more senior consultants in the district. We visited the Dolmabahce Palace and took a cruise along the Bosphorous. You can check out my Facebook for more pictures. Dinner was hosted by the district in one of the trendiest clubs in Istanbul, Reina. The restaurant overlooks the Bosphorus. One thing I've learnt in Istanbul, never order steak. "Medium" comes out "well-done", dry and hard (on both occasions that I had beef).
     Day 3 was by far the most enjoyable. Thus I've reserved a whole new blog post to it...

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