A couple of weeks ago, I went to Istanbul for four days. This was a spontaneous journey that I went on with some friends. In this article, I’ll write a bit about my adventure in Turkey.
As soon as I stepped foot out of the airport, it was clear that the atmosphere was completely different from that of Denmark. More than nearly being struck by traffic, I was struck by the impression of the chaotic bustle of people in this animated city. The slow pace of life in little Denmark seemed to be a far cry from the energy of the megacity that is Istanbul.
On my way to the hostel, I was bombarded by people who wanted to sell me anything from towels to guided tours. I was aware of the fact that I must’ve stuck out like a sore thumb as a pale Brit with a large backpack. Not wanting to become a mark, I had to be vigilant.
Another strange thing that I noticed was all of the stray cats and dogs in the city. This was a bizarre experience. I later found out that dogs are taken in and rather than being euthanised, they are given shots and vaccinations. They are then are released back into the wild. Their ears are then clipped to show that they have had their shots.
Here’s a stray dog in the shade:
And here’s a cat that caught a mouse in a restaurant’s terrace:
Istanbul is a beautiful city with an ancient history. Down every turn, there are remnants of ruinous old buildings and structures from the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire. The sheer scale of this expansive city that has a population of 13.85 million people was no better illustrated than on a ferry that I took down the Bosphorus.
Views such as this one paved the coast line for miles on end:
There are numerous majestic mosques and ancient sites all over the city. I saw the Sultan Ahmed Mosque or the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia Museum, and the Chora Museum to name a few. I haven’t added any photos of the mosques, because I don’t think that the ones that I’ve taken would do justice to their beauty.
The Grand Bazaar was one of the highlights of my trip. This exotic market is like a maze that is full of trinkets, scarves, and gold. I bought a scarf as a present and I haggled for it. It reminded me of this scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian:
While I was in Istanbul, I ate many tasty genuine kebabs. It made a nice change to eat out. In Denmark, people generally tend to stay in to eat because it’s too expensive to go to restaurants. But the cost of living in Istanbul meant that I could afford some luxurious dining.
I saw so much in a relatively short period of time. Istanbul is an awesome city. There is a more visible level of sadness, such as child beggars, which you don’t see in Copenhagen. However, this was an adventure that I will not forget.