Three Days in Turkey

21 Jan

On the day of my 21st birthday, I boarded a flight for Istanbul. I felt a mixture of elation and mostly fear, as this was my first trip overseas by myself. But I was not going to be alone for long. I was going to meet up with a group of youth for a cruise around the Greek Islands.

After two stopovers and an interesting trudge through Singapore airport I arrived at Istanbul fairly early the next day. I didn’t follow the instructions on my hostel booking for transport, because I can never follow instructions and the thought of trying to navigate the public transport system was a bit overwhelming. Here, at the airport, I learnt my first important lesson–do NOT give your mobile number to seemingly helpful gentlemen at a shuttle bus company. They may try to call you several times after you’ve been dropped off at your hostel.

The ensuing drive to my hostel made me realise that Turkish people think that road signs are merely suggestions and that you can drive in whichever part of the road you like at whatever speed you like. I was in the front seat, so it was a bit scary.

When I got to my hostel I couldn’t get into my room straight away so I sat in the lounge for a couple of hours. A nice guy whom I will forever call American Adam* helped me buy a plane ticket to get to Bodrum so that my new airport “friend” wouldn’t have to contact me anymore. I was so grateful.

The view from my hostel room. The walls inside were painted bright pink!

Eventually I got to my room. I didn’t emerge except one time to go to a little store next door to buy some water and deodorant. Then I slept the entire time I was in Istanbul. I regret this now because I was in a really good part of the city–close to the Eye of Sophia particularly. But I was too scared to venture out on my own.

The next day I was taken to the domestic airport where I tried to book in with the wrong company and also had almost an entire water bottle leak in my bag. My flight was also delayed slightly, so I spent quite a number of hours just sitting there. I met a professor who spoke to me for a while and then eventually got on the plane to Bodrum.

I was picked up at the Bodrum airport by three gentlemen. One of them turned out to be the owner of the hostel that I would stay at for the next two nights. I christened him Turkish Adonis because he was extremely good-looking. The other two guys I think just came along for the drive.

The view outside my hostel room.

At the hostel I met an Australian guy called Dave who had been working there for a while. He loaned me his power adaptor because I had mistakenly taken the wrong one with me. I stayed out talking for a while with him and another guest before the jetlag kicked in again and I went to bed.

The view from the breakfast area.

The next morning I booked in to a day boat trip and was picked up. I soon discovered that I was one of very few people who spoke English and liked to keep most of my clothes on. European people don’t seem to be prudish or as concerned as Australians about skin cancer, but the Turkish sun wasn’t as hot and burn-inducing as Australian sun.

The water was beautiful–an amazing deep indigo colour. We stopped at the Black Island where Cleopatra apparently stayed for three years and credited her beauty to the mud baths she took daily. She must have had beautiful skin. Actually, she was supposed to be some great beauty but if you ever saw a coin with her bust on it, she had a very unattractive profile.

The view from the Island.

I’d caught the attention of a group of about five young Turkish blokes. They decided to befriend me. Only one could speak basic English so he tried to translate for all his friends. It was difficult to not feel extremely uncomfortable as they talked and snickered amongst themselves and also tried to flatter me enough so that I would go “walking in the city” with them later that evening. I refused this offer, telling them that I was going to go back to my hostel to sleep, complete with hand signals and a shaking head. One said that he thought I was very beautiful and then another told me that his friend was lying. At least that’s what I think he said but I’m not sure if he meant it. Either way, I felt slightly crestfallen.

More coastline views from a later stop.

The next day was the day I was to go back to the airport to meet up with my friends for the tour. I packed up my stuff and said I was ready to check out. Orhan, aka Turkish Adonis, invited me to drink some tea with his family before he took me back to the airport. It was quite pleasant for the most part. His sister showed me a stuffed animal that she had made and his mum kept pouring me more tea. At some point I realised the his father was upset about something and then the family had a huge fight in front of me. I was left sitting there feeling particularly awkward while the father was weeping and the sister had stormed off somewhere. I didn’t know whether to stay or go or what the fight was about.

After a few minutes of awkward silence I decided to find Orhan and see if he was ready to take me to the airport. I have a sneaking suspicion that the father wasn’t too happy about the fact that Orhan was taking me, an unaccompanied female, back to the airport. It appears that Orhan didn’t really care and also decided to drive slightly erratically just to see what my reaction would be.

I got to the airport at last and thanked Orhan for my stay and then I sat for an hour or two until my friends finally got off their plane and emerged from the airport. I sauntered up to the only familiar face I knew and felt immense relief to finally have some company. We then all piled into a bus and headed off to our hotel where we would begin our tour.

But more on that another time.

I was fascinated by Turkey. If I ever got the chance to go again, I would jump at it. However, I would definitely take someone with me, preferably male. I would investigate the city of Istanbul more and I would visit Gallipoli too and probably even go back to Bodrum. Ah, next time. Hopefully there is one.

A last shot of some scenery.

*American Adam was staying in Istanbul to start up a clothing design company. He actually gave me a business card, which I kept in a little notebook the entire holiday with the intention of emailing him to thank him for his kindness. I don’t know what happened to that notebook and for the life of me I can’t remember what his business was called, but I still feel the need to thank him.


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