The cold air hits me the minute I step out of the plane in Istanbul. I probably feel more cold considering the weather in Spain was warm and perfect. I grab my bags and head outside to catch a taxi to the hotel. The taxi driver speaks no English, but eventually calls the hotel to get directions or so I think. We continue driving through narrow busy roads of Istanbul. From time to time he makes random phone calls and my heart keeps beating faster the further we seem to be leaving the city behind.
The taxi comes to a screeching halt and we sit idly in it, he starts talking in Turkish and I talk in English, making for a very entertaining conversation. A few minutes later someone else gets into the taxi and now I am about to have a panic attack, wondering what was gonna happen next.
Maybe I could trade some Spanish wine and cheese and 5 pairs of running shoes for my life or maybe I could just jump out now and start running. Running away is not an option since I do want all my wine and cheese and souvenirs. Just maybe I could stay for the ride and hope I get to my destination or maybe I need to calm the fuck down and stop being paranoid.
Considering I am writing this post, it is safe to say I made it to my hotel and all was well in the world or at least in my world.
Istanbul was different from what I expected. I thought I was going to be inconspicuous and be able to explore without guides and touts trying to get to me. However, the most bizarre part for me was being asked by every person if I was American. I typically get asked if I am Indian (which I am not), but this was very confusing. Apparently the give away was my attire. Who knew jeans and t-shirt screams American !
I am used to traveling and exploring on my own, however, here it seemed out of the norm to be on my own. Despite all the touts, the haggling and every person trying to sell me a carpet, (none were flying carpets) they were friendly and sometimes a bit too friendly. Everytime I stepped into a store they wanted to offer me Turkish tea or coffee. I am no tea or coffee drinker, but I would accept it and hope that I wasn’t going to be drugged and dragged away for a ransom.
Oh well that all comes with my wild imagination, but I knew if they were to kidnap me, they would probably offer me a ransom to go away.
At one point I was lost and going in circles. Yes I am one of those people who could look at a map and still be lost. I end up talking to a tourist police officer who ends up walking me in the right direction of my hotel and then offers to show me around the next day.
I meet him and he shows me around Istanbul and taking me for lunch and dinner to places I would have never ventured into on my own. We have lunch on a boat that apparently goes out and catches the fish and after that it becomes a floating restaurant. While I was constantly questioning his hospitality in my head, he said that talking to me was his way to improve his English. What a win-win situation, he improves his English and I have a first hand experience of Istanbul through him.
No matter how hard I try, putting my experience into words is impossible, so here are some pictures through my camera lens.
Ps : Please click on the picture for the slideshow.