“If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be it’s capital.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
I arrived to Turkey a little bummed out simply because Turkey has always been on my list of countries to visit and knowing that I only had three days in Istanbul was disappointing, but neccessary because I was able to score a cheap $80 airline ticket to Bangkok! When I arrived to Istanbul Ataturk airport I immediately encountered problems because of political reasons at the time. Luckily after about an hour of waiting I was finally able to pay the $30 visa fee and receive my visa. After getting my bag I hopped onto a bus and made my way to Taksim Square, which is basically where all the fun exciting things are…. for tourist at least! Dining, shopping, and the busy nightlife can all be found here. When I arrived to Taksim I immediately jumped onto the Hostelworld app and began looking for a hostel. I found a hostel called the Big Apple, which was located right behind the Blue Mosque and so many other beautiful monuments. When I arrived to the hostel I was a bit early, but luckily they had beds available and I didn’t have to wait long. I caught up on a bit of sleep before waking up to start my day. When I woke up I met a really cool Australian dude named Dan and decided to join him upstairs for breakfast to learn a little more about him and his time so far in Istanbul. Dan had been traveling through Turkey for a couple weeks, but had only just arrived to Istanbul the night before so we decided to go out sightseeing together and try some of the local cuisine. As we began wandering we stumbled across a little music festival and decided to sit down and listen to some of the music and enjoy the dancing before continuing on our journey. After the festival we decided to visit the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
As it began to get dark we made our way back to the hostel, where we made our way back to the rooftop to start drinking and preparing for the night. After about an hour another person finally showed up, once again it was another Australian! Aussies are everywhere!!!!! Her name was Emma and she was also a really sweet person. We sat around this table drinking whiskey and learning about each others lives. After a while we decided to make our way to Taksim Square to see some of the nightlife that Istanbul had to offer. Emma decided that she was going to stay in because she had gotten way to drunk the night before, so Dan and I hopped into a cab and off we went! When we arrived to Taksim Square we were completely shocked! There was so many people out and about for it being a Monday night and the clubs/bars were absolutely insane! Turkish people know how to have a good time! After getting completely smashed and singing our asses off in Karaoke we decided to make our way back to the hostel and call it a night. The following morning Dan was completely dead and didn’t want anything to do with life, after throwing up a couple of times he decided to stay in the room and get some rest. So I made my way up to the rooftop to eat breakfast and while I was there Emily showed up and asked if I wanted to join her for the day and I kindly accepted the offer. We walked around different parts of the city and had a beautiful lunch on the rooftop of this hotel looking over the whole city. You could see the ocean and all of the beautiful bridges. After lunch we decided to walk through Karakoy, which is like the “hipster” part of town. Here you’ll find plenty of vegan restaurants and lots of backpackers. After grabbing a smoothie from a vegan restaurant called “Lit Cafe” we made our way to the Galata Tower. This tower at one point in time was the tallest structure in Istanbul. The tower was built in 1348 when Turkey was known as Constantinople.
We continued walking through all the small side streets, checking out all the tiny family owned businesses. After a couple hours in Karakoy we made our way towards Taksim Square. After about a 3 mile walk we arrived to Taksim. We checked out a couple of the museums as well as some of the clothing stores. One of my personal favorites was the Taksim Cumhuriyet Art Gallery, all of the art inside of this gallery was made by students with special needs. All of the art was used as a form of therapy to help each child with their disorder. At the end of the boardwalk we ran into yet another festival! It just so happened that we were there for the last day of one of Istanbuls annual festivals, the Beyoglu Festival. Here they had some really good music and even better food. After talking to some locals and enjoying the local cuisine we decided it was best to head back to the hostel because we had a long day of traveling ahead of us.
We caught the train back into the district we were staying in and when we arrived the owner was standing at the door way with a bottle of whiskey and some red bull. He didn’t really give us the option to say “no”….. well I couldn’t say “no” to free whiskey, so we started getting right to the piss again! I managed to pack my bag and get that ready for the following day and spent the rest of the evening getting drunk with my friends at the hostel. The following morning we woke up at about 11 and we all agreed to have a farewell lunch at a little restaurant up the road. We decided to spoil ourselves and paid the equivalent of $10 to indulge in a amazing beef stew that is cooked in a clay pot, a fine Turkish tradition. Then of course we ate lots of Baklava, which is a sweet pastry made with layers of film and chopped nuts and held together with syrup or honey. After a couple beers my airport shuttle arrived out front of the restaurant and off I was back to the airport where my journey to SE Asia will begin!