Istanbul, Turkey

Return to Istanbul

Forrest Mallard

DAY 1 April 16 2016 Istanbul Last night I landed in Istanbul. I was one of the first off of the plane and I think I made it through customs in record time. Happy, happy, life is great, now just have to get my checked bag from the baggage claim.

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I had fun filming Trampy the Dinosaur taking rides on the luggage carousel until after a while I was the only one left at baggage claim and my bag had not arrived. I alerted an airport employee who took my luggage claim receipt and did some research. He did find out that my bag did not arrive in Istanbul, and he had no idea where was.

This didn’t make me very happy. So as I sat in the airport management office filling out a report I wanted to yell at someone, but everyone present was actually trying to help me, so I resolved myself to taking deep breaths and putting all of my frustration into some dramatic huffing and puffing.

7 months of planning and anticipation for this trip, and things had completely gone off the rails in the 1st 24 hours of the journey. If I had to file a claim to get money to repurchase everything that I needed that would take at least a week and who is to say I will get the money to cover everything? HUFF!

But I said goodbye to the nice people at the airport and took a taxi to Taxim area to find my hostel.

Bella Vista Hostel is extremely close to Taksim Square, which is the perfect place to stay in Istanbul.

My advice to people looking at hotels is to stay away from booking hotels in the old historical section of town, as it closes up and looks like a ghost town by 7:30 pm. Taksim Square is alive all night long with restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, and boutiques, and Istaklal Street is one of the best pedestrian avenues in the world. STAY HERE!

I went to bed that night kind of feeling in limbo. Tired, not really motivated, let’s see what happens tomorrow.

The next morning, I didn’t bother to take a shower or do any type of grooming, my clothes and hygiene supplies were in my bag, so at 9 am I staggered to Istiklal Street in my wrinkled clothes, with red eyes, bad breath and the unattractive version of bed head. I was on a search for coffee, one thing that could make all of this just a little bit better.

As I slithered through Istiklal, I was met by a mass horde of ravers that had just finished their nightly clubbing ritual. Red eyes, messed up hair and stumbling along.. it was almost as if they and I were part of the same species. This didn’t make me feel any better.. they, no doubt, had a much better time than I did last night.

Still later, there was still no sign of my bag.. and the online case report said there was still no information where it was. So the complete lack of motivation continued. Then.. around noon.. the phone rang and it was the airline saying that my bag was in Istanbul and I would have it around 4 pm. HAPPY, HAPPY once again. I was able to put aside all of my visions of filing claims and repurchasing everything I would need for my 4-month trek.

In times like this, I feel like celebrating a little, so for the rest of the day, I invited people from the hostel to join me out for Sheesha. A Japanese solo-traveler was celebrating his birthday alone, so the trip out for a quick sheesha quickly evolved into a full on night on the town. The cast of characters included an Azerbaijan guy who somehow also had a Turkish police ID card (this would come in handy later), Japanese birthday boy, a French guy that worked at the hostel, and myself. We started with smoking on the rooftop of the hostel, then went on to the sheesha bar for beer and whiskey, then left to Istiklal street for a Reggae bar that was on the top floor of a 6-floor staircase of doom. As I danced to Bob Marley, my new hiking boots slid and splashed in the shallow puddles of spilled beer. Then I reminded myself that within a few days and weeks, these same boots would be climbing the hillsides of Transylvania, trekking through the Carpathian mountains and trying to find a foothold in the glaciers and volcanic ash of Iceland. That moment seems especially surreal to me. — Also, sometime during the night everyone in my group decided I was actually from China, so they told everyone we met I was Chinese for the rest of the evening.

I was about to embark on my little hobbit journey to places too fantastic I could yet not comprehend. This night out was also my bon voyage party.

After leaving Reggae club, the rest of the guys were determined to carry on, but I had decided to go home, and when I decide I’m going home, there is rarely a chance I will change my mind. I was drunk and exhausted and needed a full night’s sleep.

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