Not heading into the city for fun and adventure just isn’t me – in the end I had to do it. Ramblin’ Randy doesn’t stay in the airport!
If You Wanna Get Technical
I actually spent the night in Istanbul this time, so technically that should remove this stop from the “Extreme Layover” category. However, I did furiously rush into the city inside a very short window of time–a feat itself from the new Istanbul Havalimani Airport, so far out of town–so I wanted to report on that. So, here goes.
I arrived into Istanbul late, touching down after 11PM, from Malta. I’d need to be on a plane back to Los Angeles the next day at 1:10PM. It was the end of another amazing but tiring trip, and I hadn’t yet decided on whether or not I was going to attempt a run into town the next morning. For now, I just knew I needed sleep. This was the second time staying at the Yotelair Hotel (Airside): a hotel located inside the airport, right at the gates! There are a handful of big airports that offer connected hotels, but this is the only one I know of where the hotel is actually past security and immigration, right there at the gates. So awesome and incredibly convenient.
You can book the Yotelair HERE!
I’m a planner, so it was very unlike me waiting to the very last second to decide if I was going to leave the airport or not. I’d succeeded at an “Extreme Layover” in Istanbul back in 2018, but that was from the old airport, which was much closer to the city center and connected via train. So easy! But this new Airport was at least an hour away from the city. This place was so inconvenient – literally located in the middle of nowhere! The giant airport was enormous and beautiful enough – but why so far away?
I’d even researched the handful of tiny towns around the airport, but absolutely nothing was going on there – it was Istanbul or nothing. It was a tough decision, because when you factored in travel time back and forth, plus having to be at the airport two or three hours before you fly, it really was cutting it close. But not heading into the city for fun and adventure just isn’t me – in the end I had to do it. Ramblin’ Randy doesn’t stay in the airport!
The Amazing Race
Here’s how the timeline shook out: I was up by 6AM. I checked out of the “Yotelair” and headed to the Turkish Airways lounge to stow my bag in a locker. Super convenient! (It’s never fun schlepping your luggage into town.) We’ll talk more about the lounge in a moment…
By 7:10 I was in the back of a cab speeding towards the city. I was blessed with little traffic, being dropped off at 7:44AM. It was time for “breakfast in Istanbul!”
I didn’t have time for a mistake. I’d researched the best breakfast spots and decided on a place called Mangerie. But once I exited the cab, I couldn’t find this place for the life of me! I had the street address – and the numbers on the front of the buildings told me I was in the right place, but no Mangerie. I started to panic. I couldn’t mess this up–I didn’t want to settle for a Starbucks. Finally, after asking a couple of people on the street, I was directed down the side of a building and up a staircase to find this special place on the top floor. I was here, and just in time for their 8 o’clock opening.
Who’s the Boss(phorus)?
The view was fantastic and one of the main reasons I chose Mangerie. The top-floor, covered deck had great views of the Bosphorus Strait, with Asia right across the water. (The strait divides “European” Istanbul with “Asian” Istanbul – the city lies on two different continents.)
The traditional Turkish breakfast was fantastic, and pretty healthy for the most part (minus the Nutella). The service wasn’t great, but I didn’t let that bother me. I was enjoying the food and the views way too much – and just elated at the fact I’d add Istanbul to this itinerary. “Breakfast in Istanbul” is just a boss move.
After the meal, I paid the check and hailed a cab to take me back to the airport. We were rolling at 9AM and back at the airport by 9:25AM. I was blessed with easy traffic each way.
Though I’d been to the new Istanbul Airport once before, this was my first chance I had to enjoy the lounge. I loved the convenience of those luggage lockers. The food was good and it was cool to see chefs preparing meals out in the open. There were many different seating areas. My favorites were the big chairs that were like mini-cubicles. They gave me privacy and a place to work. I was happy to have a little lounge time before my flight out.
RAMBLIN’ TIP: Should you attempt your own “Extreme Layover,” just make sure you have enough time. While I got to Mangerie in just 35 minutes, it’s not all the way inside the center of town. I remember, in 2020, it taking me well over an hour to travel to town from the airport. You never know what kind of traffic you’re going to get. If you can, try and schedule an overnight (or two) so you have a little time to explore.This entry was posted in Extreme Layovers