Before I left for Istanbul, I had asked my host for any hiking spots nearby. His response, “Istanbul is hilly so every day will feel like a hike…or, you can go to the Belgrade Forest.”
I was sold as soon as he said forest! Who doesn’t want to speak to the ents in the forest! Historically, this is an important forest in terms of the water supplies for the city. I whipped out my map and figured that this would be a 45 minute bus ride to northern Istanbul. I took off with some water and steady feet.
The forest is quite a distance from the city centre so I did not see any tourists. Locals hang out here for mangals (braai/BBQ) and cycling. It was refreshing; a hike, fresh air away from the busy city centre, no tourists or English – some peace and forest sounds to read under a tree (many trees!!).
Every day did feel like a little hike, though. I would walk from Osmanbey to Taksim and it felt like a hike. I enjoyed it! Actually, I pretty much walked everywhere. I even walked from the New (modern) Istanbul to the Old Istanbul. I thought this was alright until I could barely feel my toes.
Anyway, back to the forest. There was a really good looking security guard that tried to help me out when I was lost but he did not know English and stupidly, I did not learn direction phrases in Turkish. He offered me a cup of tea though. This, I understood because I had been offered tea a couple of times. I kindly declined and carried on about my business. He really looked like he could be a Baywatch cast member. But, for security guards..
After my refreshing hike, I decided to take a walk around the quiet town to find some food. I went to a local bufe and had a rather salty omlet and a cheese tost. I thought it would be a good idea to stop by at a little bakery/coffee shop/cafe. Really lovely shopkeepers, gave their recommendations.
I often have Gloria Jean’s delicious cakes when I am in Durban so it was a pleasant surprise to see the umbrellas with the Gloria Jean’s branding.
A lovely treat! Great tea, beautiful sunny day, what more could a girl want? It was time to get the bus back. More stares, more confusion. I was falling in love with this city more and more.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”