I didn’t intend on coming to Turkey. In fact, I was encouraged to buy the ticket from Morocco, three days before I arrived in Istanbul. I actually never intended on going to Morocco, but somehow I ended up being there for almost a month.
With no time or care to arrange a place to stay, I got on the airplane after being thoroughly searched and was off to flying over the Mediterranean. It’s a little funny, because I didn’t actually know what airport I was flying into. I got out of the airport as quick as I could, asked if there was a metro and the only response I got was “No Metro.” I figured maybe it was down or something? So I hopped in the first bus that I found, rode for a while, looked at where the sun was shining, and started to realize that I was not at the airport I thought I was at.
I got off the bus, went to a cyber cafe, had lunch (it was delicious and cheap) and got on another bus that took me to the end of one of the metro lines. Yes, I was a long way from Istanbul. The metro took me downtown to where all the tourists were, and then I realized I needed to get out. Too much tourism for me. Thankfully, in a few hours I found a place to rest. A random guy who only spoke Russian was enticing me to go down this back alley, but eventually he showed me a hostel that was a reasonable cost.
So now of to the exotic part. Istanbul is a somewhat Muslim city (compared to Morocco during Ramadan) in a Muslim country, so the architecture and food compliment that. The infrastructure to Istanbul is immense and constantly swarming with tourists from all over the globe. I have to say that Istanbul is quite enjoyable. There are some downsides, like not being able to drink the tap water, but other then that and tourist prices in tourist areas, it’s a nice place. I might add, learn some Turkish. In a couple days I learned how to count, say please and thank you, as well as asking people how they’re doing and knowing the responses. It can seem a little daunting at first, but it’s well worth it considering the better treatment you’ll get. And there’s also something about the Turkish language that doesn’t quite seem as difficult as a language like Finnish or Arabic.
Last night a couple young German gentlemen invited me out to dinner at a well known restaurant that Ataturk frequented. I haven’t been doing too much tourism in Istanbul, being that I’m waiting for my partner to arrive before I engage, but this seemed like a good idea. Plus I wanted to celebrate a little for finishing the first draft of my book and getting a job offer in Spain.
We arrived to the restaurant, and being able to order food and drinks in Turkish really helped. It seems more commonplace than not when a Turk says they speak a little English, that’s about it. Although I have met a few during my walks who speak impeccable English.
The waiter showed me some of their appetizers, and I couldn’t resist. I had to try the Lamb Brains. I asked one of the Germans if he could film me eating it. With a little bit of salt and fresh parsley, it hit the taste buds just right.
Afterwards we went in search of another place to have drinks. A place that wasn’t so pricey. So maybe here I could offer a little advice with bar hunting. If you’re goal is have good drinks at a cheap price, don’t go to a bar. If you want good drinks at any establishment, you’re probably going to have to pay for it. I ordered tequila shots and was given vodka. It was OK vodka, but when I tried to explain to them that it was vodka, they showed me the bottle of Jose that it came out of, and then all their English went out of window. So it was a little funny being served vodka and told it was tequila. None of them drank, so none of them knew. Highly convenient I thought, but still a memory to put smile on my face with an eyebrow raised.
On the other hand, I would highly recommend shopping at the local markets and food stores. The fruits and vegetables are incredibly inexpensive and the chocolate.. Oh the chocolate.
Stay healthy my friends.