Turkey – Arrival in Istanbul and my great HH experience on the way to Ankara
Arrival in Istanbul
After a bus drive of 12 hours from Constanta (Romania), I arrived at 6 o’clock in the morning to Istanbul. After Romania I was really happy to arrive there. As I am used to take public transportation I checked within five minutes the Metro system and was very fast in Kadiköy, a part of the city on the Asian side, where I booked an AirBnB room for the next days.
Constanta was da place at this time I was there – off the season – very cold and just old people walking around and angry dogs, no open restaurants or bars. Istanbul was the opposite, a very energetic and busy place. Also the view with all the mosques and minarets, the small streets full of multicultural people, the nice smell of food they offered on the street I could enjoy very well.
The welcoming there was great. The flat was from Ugur, a totally relaxed Turkish guy with a lot of friendly friends from him was great.
So, I directly had someone to talk, after driving through Romania and Hungary alone. Just the weather was still very cold. I thought, that’s weird – I can go as much as I want to the south – it is still cold. I had a really relaxed time there, also because Ugur and his friends were not religious and very open-minded.
As I discovered the city in the Asian part of Istanbul, the people on the streets don`t scam you. It is a crowded area but with a nice energy. Very friendly – I enjoyed it very much. But the European part was totally different. A lot of people they just spoke friendly with you, because they wanted your money. The prices in general are also higher as on the Asian part.
I visited the blue mosque, there was the entry free.
It is a really nice mosque, but when you already have seen some of the biggest in the world – I was in Cairo, Casablanca and in Jerusalem – so it was nothing special for me any more. I walked around the old Bazar and spoke with a tourist guy, who directly offered me a planned tour through Turkey for about 1000 Euro. I was laughing and went away.
The second time I stayed there, I visited the Hagia Sophia and directly was cached by a tourist guide. All happened so fast – I couldn’t react. After some seconds he already bought the 10 Euro entry ticket for me and started to explain historical things about the old mosque.
After we were ready, he invited me to his shop to drink some tea. I am not stupid, so I knew what will happen. And it happened – we entered a carpet shop – what a surprise. After we drunk some tea the shop owner come to me and started his selling strategy.
I said to him I am also a sales Manager and he will have chance to sell a carpet to me. He asked: “What are doing in Istanbul when you don`t want to buy a carpet? What is your favorite color my friend?” I said again he has no chance to sell his products to me, there will be no way. He was still friendly but he said it would be nice if I leave his shop now. I was laughing again and went away.
Couch surfing in Istanbul
To save my money, I decided to switch for my stay to a couch surf host – his name was Mehmet and I was his first couch surfer ever. I told him that he is also my first couch surf host. He was totally friendly and hosted ma so nice. He cooked for me, I was not allowed to help and we talked very much about nearly everything.
On the next day, we went to Taksim Square and Gezi Park and talked a lot about the occupation. He said that the government for sure will try to break the trees again, because they want to build a shopping center there to make more money as with the park. So, they will try it again and there will be again a big trouble, because the people will not accept to lose this park. Istanbul for general is not the place with a lot of parks – they are very rare there and if you find one, they are mostly very small.
On the next day he helped me with my hitchhiking plan. I think he also was very interested in hitchhiking and wanted to see how it will work. So, we searched on the map for the best place near his house for getting out of Istanbul. He brought me in the morning to a big crossing of the motorway in the direction to the east. After about 15 minutes a guy stopped, took me for about 100 kilometer out of the city. On hitchwiki I was reading that the most complicate issue is to get out of the city, because Istanbul is so huge that the most people on the motorway are leaving the street before the end of the city.
I couldn’t speak with him, but he spend me some cigarettes and an apple. He was totally friendly and wanted a selfi before I left – it was his biggest wish. After again waiting for about ten minutes a truck stopped and took me again for about 30 or 40 kilometers in my direction.
My next lift was a woman, she was a General Manger of a big industrial company and we talked about the politics from Erdogan and that everything is changing in Turkey. She said that his system and the press make so much fear to the people who no one is trusting each other anymore.
On this way he will change the society. For example, hitchhiking in Turkey was very common in the past. But they have so many news about violence and knife attacks in the press that no one still wants to hitchhike or take someone. For travelers it is still working, because the distrust is just between the Turks. But maybe it will come better again after Erdogan will leave his position and a new governor will come. I hope so too.
Beautiful rest place
On the rest place she let me out, because the street had a crossing – one direction to the south for Ankara and the other to the north, to Samsun and Trabzon. I thought it’s a good place to hitchhike to the north. After more than one hours of waiting I wondered that no one took me or even stopped. I decided to go for eating in the self-service restaurant next to my HH place.
When I arrived there with my two backpacks, the waiter directly welcomed me very friendly and said I just should sit down and he will bring everything to me. Remember – a self-service restaurant! He brought me a chicken soup with rice, bred, salad and a lot of cay (the Turkish word for tea) and was sitting down to me in the time I was eating, to start a little conversation.
He was just interested what I am doing, where I am coming from and so on. The standard questions. It works also without speaking the same language. On the end I had to pay about three Euros. A nice place for a rest and a good company as well.
Hitchhiking to Ankara
After again two hours of waiting on the end of the rest place I decided spontaneously to change my plan and to hitchhike to Ankara, because it was still 5pm and I knew I could get there a cheap hostel and on the other side it was still about 300km to Samsun and no sleeping place between.
I registered it was just because of my sign “Samsun” that no one stopped, because no one drove in this direction unfortunately. He was also so nice, spend me several cigarettes and a lot of cookies. He had to go on with about 300 kilometer more to the south and he normally would just drive the ring road around Ankara, but he decided to drive me near the center – at this time with a lot of traffic and very far from his route. For him more than one hour extra. So nice. At this time I agreed with everything good I heard about Turkey. Everyone is very friendly and helpful and interested in foreigners.
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