Sah bar, Besiktas, $2,000 bet and making friends in Turkey

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Sara and Gohkan at halftime

My friend Sara arrived on the 24th of October. She and my friend Chris Nikkel had been here earlier in February and made friends that they still kept in contact with. She was coming to help make my transition a bit smoother by introducing me to them and given me a low down on the city.


Having her there gave me a nice little jolt of refreshment in an otherwise completely unknown city, situation and culture. Being in such a daze from the rough two days of straight travel I didn’t so much on my own, but walk around the city to the water front, get to know people in my hostel, sleep and more sleep !


When she arrived we hit the ground running and we met several people she had befriended while previously there.

Sara and Gohkan getting low, low low after the game... Gohkan you may be able to see is $2000 heavier :))
They were shocked to see her, and being in Istanbul for eight months now I can see why- it is rare to see return travelers from a place like the U.S. The last person  we met up with a man named Gohkan and he ran the Bahaus Hostel where Sara was staying. Of course they both asked why I wasn’t staying there and I had to tell them I didn’t like it as much and the rooms and hallway smelled like urine and vomit when I first got there. It’s easy to say I make great first impressions ;) Honesty is a bitch eh.


Well Gohkan said he was joining friends for drinks and to watch the big football game that night. I was hoping he would invite us because I dig European football and I really wanted to watch that game in a good place.

Gohkan, another guy, Ferrat.
Well being a good Turk that he was, he did and that set things in motion that today I have benefited from. Through Gohkan we found out this was not just a big game for Turkey but for him… he had placed a $2000 bet on the underdog Turkish team Besiktas and they were playing powerhouse Liverpool. He seemed pretty calm for someone who’s whole savings rested on a game of seemingly an unfavorable outcome.


We ended up at what became later my favorite watering hole in Turkey- Sah Bar. We met my good friend Kursat there and the owner of the bar, Ohnor and Kursat’s business partner Ferrat and Swat one of the bartenders and several others. It was, to say an unbelievable night. Besiktas shocked the world with a 2-1 win over Liverpool in decisive fashion and from that ushered in a belligerent night of partying and good spirits.


Later Kursat would be instrumental in helping me land my first job in Turkey and helping me understand the culture and that a helping hand from a Turkish friend is an invaluable item to hold.
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Sara and Gohkan at halftime
Sara and Gohkan at halftime
Sara and Gohkan getting low, low l…
Sara and Gohkan getting low, low …
Gohkan, another guy, Ferrat.
Gohkan, another guy, Ferrat.
Me and the owner of Sah bar, Ohnor…
Me and the owner of Sah bar, Ohno…
Kursat, me Gohkan
Kursat, me Gohkan
First pose down... And yes, Kursat…
First pose down... And yes, Kursa…
Second pose down... the boys are b…
Second pose down... the boys are …
photo by: Memo