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My 1st Solo travel to Istanbul

My 1st Solo travel to Istanbul

If you had asked me if I’d ever travel alone, especially abroad, my answer would have been short and
simple “No ways”. I remember when one of my friends went to Zanzibar alone for his Birthday, when
I saw his pictures on Instagram my response was “I wish I had even an ounce of your bravery”; little
did I know that in less than a year from then I would find myself walking the streets of Istanbul like a
local. What a liberating feeling. I got even more confident after meeting two other ladies that were
also doing it solo, one from Denmark and one from Kenya.
I must say in Istanbul they have a very healthy transport system though there are some Taxi drivers
that are spoiling it for everyone. During my stay I got hustled twice. First was on arrival by the taxi
driver of the very first taxi I took from Taksim Square to the Hotel. What he didn’t know is that I had
looked at the currencies and had a slight idea of how the conversions should look like, so when he
wanted to hustle me 20€ I told him straight that that is not going to happen. This is the same guy
that wanted to take a longer route so that he can charge me more but even then I was wide awake, I
had checked the kilometres to the hotel and how many minutes it would take me, so using his phone
I chose the shorter route than the one he had selected. Second one was the guy taking me to the
airport, who wanted 10 TL on top of the amount reflected on the meter. If you’re sleeping, they will
eat you alive out there. That is why it is of utmost importance for people to gather as much
information as possible about the places they will be visiting before taking that next plane out.
The first two days after my arrival in Istanbul I used the Hop on – Hop off Big Bus which is something
I recommend as it gives you a proper induction to the city. I got to see all of the famous attractions
in Istanbul such as the Blue Mosque, Taksim Square, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Dolmabahce
Palace and the likes. Istanbul is such a busy city, and with the wide selection of tourists attractions
that have a rich history that dates way back, it is the tourist’s haven. I must say when I first got to
Istanbul, I was not impressed with the old buildings around the city. I just could not understand it
until I got to know the history of the city a little better. Because Istanbul is surrounded by water, the
people had to build very high walls keeping their structures away from any form of destruction by
the waters.
They say the best way to learn about the culture of a nation is by interacting with the locals. Which is
exactly what I did. On day 3, I decided to walk around the city and visit all the interesting places I
went past. Because most of the places I wanted to see were in Morden Istanbul, this meant I will
have to walk across the Galata Bridge. That was so intriguing for me because I had wanted to talk to
the fisherman on the bridge so that’s the first thing I did. I met this lovely Gentleman José who was
very friendly and volunteered to take my pictures as I was busy trying to get the best shots with my
selfie stick. He told me that the fishing culture is very big in Istanbul, which then explained my next
question that was going to be “why is it that people there like having a braai so much”. That kind
man even showed me how to fish, unfortunately all my attempts were unsuccessful and I had to
leave it for another day. However, from my observation I have concluded that people in Istanbul are
generally not a friendly bunch, especially women; infact you almost feel like you are non – existent
to them.
The best thing I did for myself was booking the Princess Island Cruise, the weather was nice and
warm though it changed drastically on our way back. I met a lot of lovely people on that day
excursion, Nelly from Kenya, a solo Traveler like me and Twins from India that were there with their
Mother. We shared our travel experiences, the similarities and what sets our countries apart. The
atmosphere on the islands is very relaxed and touristy, what I found strange but also appealing was
how Turkish citizens also go out in scores every weekend to spend a day at the islands.
After the cruise it was time for me to go back to the hotel and prepare for my departure in the
morning. We grabbed some street food and made our way back to the hotel. I enjoyed my stay at
Movenpick Golden Horn Hotel in Eyup, the hotel lived up to it’s reputation. What I enjoyed the most
is the fact that it was a bit out of town though it killed my pocket when traveling to and from town.
The hotel however does offer complementary shuttle to town but sometimes the times did not fit in
my schedule but it came in handy when I could use it. It was a very relaxing and rejuvenating
holiday, it ticked all the boxes, put more fire to my love for traveling, inflated my confidence and yes,
now I can safely say I am a solo traveler. I did it, one more ‘can’t’ turned into a ‘can’.

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