I am in the process of catching up on posting all my travel photos, seeing as I failed epically to do so whilst traveling. So here we go the first in a set of photo essays.
Istanbul was such an amazing place to visit, especially coming from Asia, it was a nice step into Europe. I was in Istanbul for about two weeks traveling with Sarah, my lovely British friend that I had met in Thailand. We were both extremely broke by this point and decided couch surfing was the way to go.
We ended up splitting our time between two different hosts, the first being a group of three guys in their late 20s, and as we were to find out, active protesters. Staying with them has probably been the best CS experience to date. They took us around to a local CS meeting and on the way home we got pulled into a protest. If you have never experienced riots of this nature then you can really not know what to expect. It was amazing and empowering to see people fighting for what they believe in, and in turn, it was shocking to see the level of force the government was willing to use against them. The crowed was teargassed, and probably for the first and only time in my life I got to feel the pain protesters feel as the spray is carried through the air casing your lungs and burning your eyes.
No staying with these guys was awesome, but we had made prior arrangements to spend the second half of our time at this other guy’s house on the European side of the city. So we packed up our bags and hauled all our stuff across the city and across a continent only to find our host to be controlling and overbearing. It is not that he was mean, it was just that he had this way of making you feel controlled. I think he probably liked the feeling he gets when he orders in Turkish for young English speaking girls, giving them no choice in the matter, but regardless we found our host to be too overwhelming and decided after two days to return to our original hosts.
During the days in Istanbul we spent our time walking the city or lounging around in a park playing guitar. At one point when staying with the second host who had kicked us out at 7 when he had to go to work, we ended up sleeping in the grass in front of the Blue Mosque, exhausted and unable to keep our eyes open.
Istanbul was a treat for me, as unexpected as my time was there it ended up being one of my favorite place. History hangs on this place more obviously then it does in other places, and the unique mixture of cutlers, religions and empires is mixed up an an eclectic blend of experiences, foods, and people.