Going through customs was rather simple. I really did not have to worry about anything. I was a little too exhausted for my liking and I really just wanted to crash.
As a local would do, I took the Havatas Bus from the Sabiha Gokcen airport to Taksim which happened to be the last stop. It was 14TL which is minimal compared to the shuttles and cabs. I realised that not speaking Turkish would be a minor issue when I sat next to a lady that was so curious to know about me but did not know English. So, it was a little strange at first that people drive on the wrong side of the road. The first thing about Turkish driving rules is that there are no rules. Seriously. I do not know how I did not see a major pile up on the highway upon my arrival.
The transport system is great. Please bare in mind that I am comparing the system to South Africa where the transport system is pretty much non-existent. They have scheduled trains (metro), buses, yellow taxis, dolmus taxis, the metro bus and even trams. Levent, my Airbnb host, picked me up from the bus stop after a very kind gentleman called him for me. I decided not to get a SIM Card as all the places I would be living in have WIFI. I am staying in Osmanbey for the first week in Istanbul.
I was exhausted after travelling for almost three days but I wanted to experience the Saturday night life in Taksim. Levent took me out and it was fantastic. Istiklal Caddesi is the main street in Taksim that is full of life. Fine tunes from the buskers, excited chants from the young men; this street sees up to 2 million people per day! It is insane.
It is summer! The sun sets at around 21:00 which is completely new to me! I travelled from a chilly winter to summer. I love wearing slops and shorts. I just want to eat cherries and sit in the sun all day.
We walked all the way to the historical Galata Tower. Absolutely stunning. It was built in the 1300s and it is just an amazing site. All of a sudden, I was not so tired anymore. I tried out some street food; a bread called a simit. It is a little dry so it is best to have it with a bit of water.
Oh yes, about the water. You can buy bottled water everywhere here, in every corner because you simply cannot drink the tap water. This is the first thing that every local tells me. So, you will see large containers of water getting delivered in every neighbourhood. So many motorbikes whizzing about delivering just about anything in this bustling city.
Seriously, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
More to come.
With Love, x