By far the best and yet also the worst part of travelling can be the journey. Today was definitely pushing more towards the latter.
I love plane rides. I love anything to be honest that makes me feel like I’m doing something exciting, I’m practically an adrenaline junkie. However the trip to Turkey was anything but an exciting one. It had its exciting moments but those moments were very quickly overshadowed by the long waits and sheer boredom.
It was an early start to begin with. I woke at 5:00 in the morning, left at 7:00 to meet a couple of other fellow travellers and caught a really cheap bus to Birmingham airport. Everything went smoothly up until that point. Travelling in a group is the definition of waiting around. Waiting around for people to show up. If that isn’t time consuming add a delayed plane. The plane was set to depart at 11:15 but didn’t depart until 12:00 and having been at the airport already since 8:00 we were exhausted.
The journey was as most people said “only” 4 hours. No. A long, dreary, boring 4 hours and although the food, looked, smelt and tasted good it didn’t go well in my stomach.
After finally landing in Istanbul at 18:00 local time which wasn’t too bad but then it was the waiting game all over again and we finally reached our hotel at 20:00 by which time my stomach was churning and my mouth was a constant frown, waiting to throw up any second. When the group leader said we were to be down in an hour for dinner I wanted to go upstairs to my room and cry but I sucked it up, had a tablet and with 12 hours of travelling just gone past I was so ready to explore Turkey and redeem my excitement.
Our first night in Turkey was very encouraging for the days to come. We had our first experience with Turkish food at a restaurant where the men enjoyed getting a reaction out of the girls. “Beautiful Angel”, “You…Good face” they would say constantly while they smiled, winked and tried their best to give us extra friendly service.
I tried what was called Gözleme peyrili or Turkish pancake with cheese as it sounded somewhat exotic and different but turned out to be just some naan bread with some cheese in it. It tasted as you would expect it too. Very simplistic and although it was nice it was not a true representation of Turkish food. I learnt my lesson.
After a nice meal to bond with the others in our group we then headed out to see the streets.
Night life is amazing in Istanbul. Live and very atmospheric. There’s a buzz that comes with walking around at nighttime, coming from a western country, you become alert and you begin to observe your surroundings. Everything that surrounds you is interesting, the residents in the houses above the shops, the architecture of each different house, the foreign names of stores that you don’t understand but you like to say anyway. You try to become part of the enviroment, make it your own so that you can make the most of the time that you spend there.
We came across a street band who sang well known Turkish songs while playing guitar. A big circle crowded around to listen, one which we were part of, some natives sang along and a few of us danced. Everything was picturesque. It was just pure fun.
It was almost 12:00 but most of the food stores and restaurants were still open, waiters would rush to the front of the door to invite us in even if we didn’t show any interest of going in, it was all very friendly. An ice cream man tried to catch our attention by ringing some bells and attempted to guess our nationalities but failed terribly so we all had a good laugh for a while.
The night very quickly came to an end as we headed back to the hotel and finally made preperations for the first night in Istanbul.