Spending my time abroad was always a big dream in the last years of staying at home and not being able to travel. And with this also of course traveling abroad. So, with staying one year in İzmir for my volunteer service in Pi, a big opportunity for me is to have the possibility to travel around turkey.
So after our trip to Marmaris (which Chris described as extraordinary in his previous blog), we (or at least I) wanted to see more of Turkey. So with some holidays spare from March and April we decided to take a week off and chose Istanbul as our final destination. Starting to plan our vacation we noticed that the parents of one of us came in this week of our planned trip. To solve this, we decided to split our group a little bit, so that we travel to Istanbul as four people and come back to İzmir as a group of five. We booked our bus tickets, got up really early (it’s always too early) and went to the Otogar. We took our bus and our trip to Istanbul began. After nearly 7 hours of the bus ride (and don’t forget the breaks to pee), we finally arrived in Istanbul. So getting off the bus we grabbed our backpacks and we set ourselves into motion. And of course, our first problem wasn’t far ahead of us. We already read on the internet that you can buy the İstanbul card in every metro station. So we just went to the next metro station and tried our luck. But of course, the first card machine wouldn’t sell us the İstanbul card. It was also not available from the second machine. And also the people we asked couldn’t really help us out. So we thought that we should buy the tourist tickets to take the metro and get at least to our Airbnb. But instead, we finally found a machine that would sell us the İstanbul card. Relieved to have managed this we bought it, took the metro, and arrived at our Airbnb. A nice little apartment with an even nicer host who we would share the apartment for the next 6 nights with. Leaving our things in the apartment we went to get our first impression of İstanbul.
We went to Kadıköy and met there a friend Chris, Toni and Mattes knew from İzmir. But before that, we experienced a beautiful sunset over the European side of İstanbul. Then we went to eat something. Also, Fenerbahçe played this evening and we decided spontaneously that we wanted to take a little look at the stadium. And right after we arrived at the stadium Fenerbahçe also scored the first goal of the game. What an atmosphere (would have been called a “Hexenkessel” in Germany). And Mattes, Chris, and I were almost instantly a little bit jealous of the crowd inside the stadium experiencing this, which was impossible for us the last two years. But since there was nothing for us to do we went on again and of course, came directly in the way of a drunk man who looked for some stress. But luckily none of us was really in danger and we were able to leave the place fast and we went back to our apartment. There we officially finished our first day in İstanbul with a big karpuz we bought on our way home.
Starting the next day with a good bakery breakfast we decided to go to the European side of Istanbul to do a first little sightseeing tour. Our first station was the Galata Tower. But before we got Museums Cards for us (and I can guarantee that the photos on them are real masterpieces of art). For the next stop, we got of course at the wrong station of the tram. But somehow (Google Maps) we still managed to get to the Hagia Sophia (spectacular) to go afterward to the blue mosque. Unfortunately, the blue mosque was renovated so we just saw some parts of it. After experiencing this (and taking the time to enjoy the view of the Hagia Sophia) we got hungry and looked for something to eat. But since we were in the (and with the I mean THE) tourist hotspot of Istanbul we realized pretty fast that we needed to go somewhere else for lunch. But even then it was quite interesting to see how fast the waiters of the restaurants would approach us and talk to us in German (at least “Wir haben die besten Angebote” or “Wenn es nicht schmeckt geht’s auf’s Haus”) But after finding a nice place to eat and taking the ferry back to our apartment the day was already over. And we needed to prepare for the upcoming arrival of our special guest… (what do I mean?)