Istanbul... ain't no trip to Cleveland.

Istanbul Travel Blog

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That title will only mean something if your a big fan of dry humor and off the beat Wilson brother films like Bottle Rocket. And wow that is totally off the subject of this entire trip :))

I hit Istanbul in a huge daze. 40 plus hours of travel by mainly Eastern European train (no sleeper carts on this round) and the last go a 12 hour bus ride from Sophia to Istanbul.

First off to let you guys know if you do come this route of train route into Turkey:

1. Have Euros and Dollars or Lira on hand for your visa. They get really pissed at you (especially bus drivers if you don't and you have to borrow from them and then the people on the bus scowl at you as they wait for you to go get the money to pay for it as they sit crammed in a regular bus to haul them into the middle of Istanbul.

.. yeah that was how I did it.) So, have the cash. Canadians... be pissed off as you want- your dishing out the most. Only refugees from Chad are dropping more dough than you- yours in 60 lira or roughly €30 and $48 (Chad, sorry 200 lira.)

2. You are getting a 90 day visa... be very aware of your date. If you want to know why look at one of my later blogs which I will probably call Deportation or Expulsion or Banishment or Confessions of a Illegal Immigrant. They all sound good... one of them will do.

3. You are going to a massive bus terminal in a part of Istanbul you don't need to worry about. As far as I know all bus companies provide transportation by van to the Taksim Square part of Istanbul. Look at my later blog which I will title Transportation: Ferries, Trams, Busses and Taxis on advice on what to do from there.
pay close attention to that date....

So those are the heads up I can give you in coming by bus into Turkey, especially if Istanbul is your first destination.

For me- I didn't have such advice and I didn't think to look it up. I just showed up a city of 17 million, 8 million in city center and no guidebook, map or any idea how the language worked. When our van dropped us off, I was absolutely clueless as to where I was. Having no other options I just grabbed a cab and had him take me to Sultanahmet. I knew to go there and that was about it. I knew the hostels were somewhere near the Aya Sophia and Blue Mosque. My friend Sara was suppose to meet me two days later at one of the hostels called Bahaus.

Of course, the taxi driver took me for a ride.
Blue Mosque
He took a 10 lira cabby ride and dragged it out to 25 lira. Bastards, bastards, bastards. I'd kick them all in the balls a hundred times if I could... but such is life. I didn't know any better and I just wanted to find a place to lay down my head. I had been dropped off in a part of Taksim... but since I didn't know any better I had no idea I could have taken the tram for 1.3 lira or I only had to pay 10 lira to get where I was going. But he did get me there... kind of. Dumb ass couldn't read a map (and I am being harsh but Turks as much as I love them, some of them piss me off more than any other people in the world. You just want to slap the shit out of them with their stupidity and some of the stunts they pull. Those guys give the good Turks a bad name.)

Well clunking around with my massive bag in tow, my entire life being dragged behind me, I maneuvered around cobbled streets that were not friendly to rolling bags or suitcases.
Aya Sophia or Santa Sophia
I finally found a street full of hotels and hostels. To be honest Istanbul was more of a disappointment than a mind blowing place to be at first. It just didn't jump out of me as the city with the "it" factor. I immediately was starting to regret my decision which I had made to try and stick out one year in Turkey- hopefully in Istanbul. But whoever said first impressions are the most important hasn't traveled much and was just about getting laid (my opinion.) Istanbul, writing this eight months later, is one of my favorite and most treasured places on Earth.

I guess there is nothing more to say here. I picked Orient Hostel out of a slew of Hostels because it had sturdy beds with comfortable mattresses, a more open and relaxed feel and a brighter room/atmosphere. Later I would find I had made the best decision possible on that street.

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pay close attention to that date..…
pay close attention to that date.…
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Aya Sophia or Santa Sophia
Aya Sophia or Santa Sophia
photo by: Memo