Istanbul, it wasn't on my list, but it turned out to become my favorite city thus far. I didn't plan all my cities beforehand. I only had three when I started. When I met Ryley in Paris, he showed me his whole plan and Istanbul grabbed my eyes. We were supposed to meet up in Istanbul, but unfortunately he couldn't make it! My stay in Istanbul was second home hostel and it truly made me feel like a second home there. Here are the stories of the people in the hostel!
May 28 - June 7, 2015
Rachel and I have been to a few trips together the first couple of days in Istanbul. The most memorable on should be Rachel, Jaleh and I were on an adventure to Princess islands. It was quite an adventure because we took the wrong ferry first lol. It took us nearly 2 hours to get there when an express only needs 30-40 mins. We hiked all the way to the top and there was a ruin house and horse skeleton waiting for us! I also went on a trip to Asian side with Rachel. We had awesome fish kebab from a stand and mani/pedi for 10 euros (Yes, totally random!) She's a cat lover and I think she probably would prefer hanging on the rooftop with kitties all the time if possible. She's also a Gemini like me. Lovely!
Finnish Tea Lover
Oh I had an amazing yet a little bizarre discussion about death at Blue Mosque with Jaleh. It's interesting to see how similar yet how different people look at the death. It must be the atmosphere. When you are at a religious place, it sort of brings all your deepest feeling back. She loves tea for sure and constantly looking for special foreign ones. We found that McDonald's in Turkey serves Turkish tea as well. We also found it's hard to find Turkish ice cream even when we were in the most touristy places.
Stu is probably the only guy that I know that travel this long. It was 4 year at that time and still going strong. He was on his way to India by hitchhiking (unbelievable!) Likes alcohol/beer and smoking. I feel he was somewhat going on his self destruction. Anyway, Stu has his kilt on whenever he went to party. It was scene in Turkey for sure and he insists wearing nothing underneath the kilt. He's also a very good karaoke singer. I still remember his favorite 3 songs are "This year's love,""Chasing cars," and "When you say nothing at all." Due to his personal reason, there's always a bit of sorrow about him. All I can say is life is too short to waste on regretting. You just need to find a reason to keep going. Wish you all the best, Stu!! (Hey, you can check out his blog "Looking for Stu." He's funny!)
Graham always says he's anti social and prefer being left alone, but I found that he's quite good at chatting. He was on his way to Iran and eastern Europe and Istanbul was his entrance to the east I guess. I learned a lot by the talk they had about Eastern Europe. In my mind, all I know is what I learned on the textbook about being in Soviet Union and they are poor. They just touched on the surface. We need to really experience the life there to really say how they live their life. Fun facts about Graham, he doesn't like cats, but cats like him. He didn't drink much just because he didn't want to mess up his beard. He can drink for sure. He's Irish. He's VERY VERY proud of his hometown, HOWTH (Ireland.) He was being recognized as Ottoman Turkish because of his beard.(but he's ginger!)
Dance in My Blood
Yani is my fellow New Yorker traveling around the world looking for amazing food. We had some awesome kebabs. His family came from the Philippines and you know they can dance! Yani has a happy, optimistic personality that just drew people closer. Hope your food searching trip still going strong, Yani!
Emre is a friend of friend's. He's a real Istanbulian and an amazing animator. Emre was under western education so he has a lot to say about the cultural and political situation in Turkey right now, i appreciate that he provided me with a different perspective. Thanks for taking me to the palace and other local areas :) It's good to be an Istanbulian for one day.
Second Home Hostel
They are so welcoming and you will truly feel it's your second home. If you like Turkish tea every morning, stay here. If you like home cooking Turkish meal, stay here. If you like hanging out on the rooftop, stay here. If you like chicha, stay here. If you like cats, stay here. It's really close to the main attractions in Istanbul. Memo, Can, Muhammad and Tugba made a very warming welcome for me. Thank you, guys!
Things I've learned in Istanbul
- The women are not allowed to worship with men in the mosque. They just have this tiny space by the door in Blue Mosque.
- They have this boiled potato topping with vegetables and bacon. We have the exact same food in Taiwanese night markets couple years ago.
- There are 14.5 million people living in Istanbul.
- Transit ferry between Asia and Europe is their daily life!
- Football fans are extremely crazy about the game and they took city streets as their playground!