Hookah, beers, backgammon, and bands.
A night out in Taksim in Istanbul, Turkey.
I had already spent a week in Istanbul earlier in the month and bused myself back a bit earlier than I’d intended. While I originally thought I’d be back for maybe 3 more nights I instead found myself with 8 on my hands.
I’d already exhausted more of the tourist track but was perfectly fine with that. I just wanted to chill out. Take some time to figure out what the hell I was doing next.
After my day island hopping I came back to the hostel, ready to just pull out my computer and edit some photos, but I ran into Phil — the guy I’d gotten kabobs with the night before — and Toks, another one of my 11 hostel roommates.
We went for a walk around Taksim and settled into an outdoor bar where we talked of our travels, drank Efes, smoked some melon nargile, and learned how to play Backgammon. Although I am still utterly confused over the rules and strategy. But I’m apparently “good at rolling dice.”
The next morning I met up with both of them again, we grabbed breakfast and then wandered around the Grand Bazaar. My time there was a lot different than the last time I was there, when I wandered alone. Apparently if you go with guys you will spend the whole time hearing “is he your boyfriend?” or “buy something for your girlfriend.” Although the award for best line ever was one of them shouted “Let me sell you something you don’t need!”
In the night I wandered Taksim for a bit. Until, of course, some Turkish guy followed me around trying to get me to get tea with him. And then I decided to call it a night. Sometimes you just need uninterrupted me time.
The next night I went out with Phil and an Australian named Tim. We went for dinner in Istanbul and out for more hookah and beers. I think I smoked more that week than I’ve ever before and my lungs are starting to hate me.
And the next morning Tim and I went to get coffee at Gloria Jean’s, a chain that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere in ages. And then we wandered through a few stores, a few churches.
When we got back to the dorm I couldn’t find my keys. I emptied out my purse and my daypack and my pockets and they were no where to be found. I reluctantly told the hostel owner and he was pretty pissed off and gave me a guilt trip about having to change every single key now. You’d think with entrusting so many people on a daily basis to keys you’d have some sort of system in place for when someone inevitably loses them. But, no. Luckily I retraced my steps of the day and the barista at Gloria Jeans had them in her cash register.
We spent the afternoon at the movies watching something called the Killer Elite that neither of us had heard of (I am so not up on what movies are out anymore). It was OK, but it really just mattered that it was in English.
At night I got tea with Toks and his friend from Istanbul and then we met up with Tim and Mike (another American) and two other Australian girls. We went for dinner and then to a busy street for (covered) rooftop beers.
And the next morning I went off to Istanbul Modern for what I thought was their free day. Turns out it was only a free day for Turkish citizens so I coughed up the money and wandered there for a couple of hours. It wasn’t the best modern art museum I’ve been to, but wasn’t the worst.
I went out for dinner with Mike, got a little fish and none of the free dessert we were promised by the guy at the door. But whatever.
And then it was out for more beers with him and Maia from Switzerland and an Australian brother and sister at another rooftop bar that wasn’t quite open because it was too cold. And then we wound up drinking more expensive beers at a music club with a cover band who played the most random assortment of music.
And the next night I met up with Maia and Katherine for dinner and then Maia and I took a walk to the Galata Bridge and dodged men trying to get us to go to their restaurants. And we stopped for incredibly touristy ice cream, the was at best OK but still a good treat on a not quite as chilly night.
And the next day I took a boat ride to the Asian side of Istanbul with Mike and we got a mixed plate of awesomeness for lunch before taking a boat back.
And then him and me and Maia and Katherine got some dinner and then went out to a bar with Turkish music that we didn’t know the words to and drank some more Efes. After all, it’s the only beer available anywhere.
So, I suppose I spent my last week in Turkey, my last week on that side of the world, drinking beers, smoking hookah, wandering around, and hanging out. And I suppose I wouldn’t have had it any other way.