Istanbul is not Constantinople

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Erasmus Hostel

Flag of Turkey  ,
Saturday, February 19, 2011

Paris-Zurich-Istambul and after 6 hours total I arrived. I hopped on a metro and headed into the city at around 20:00.Off at my metro stop, I started searching for my hostel in what was probably located in the sketchiest neighborhood I've ever paid to be in. After searching for 40 minutes I was directed down a dark alleyway where 50 meters in there laid 4 homeless men exchanging apples and a group of locals burning everything they could find in the street to make a massive bonfire. I turned to my right and saw a man hold barber scissors, he looked at me and just pointed to my hostel tucked away in a corner. Well, I was welcomed in by a very nice American and she proceeded to show me around. I really can't complain because at 4 euros a night a hamam/shower/toilet really is expected.

Well, regardless I slept only to wake up early to explore the city. I must say I really do love Istanbul. I worked my way from Karakoy( on the harbor where my hostel was) towards Taksim Square. From there I grabbed a hop on hop off tour bus and proceeded to see and learn about the city. Istanbul is what one would imagine a 2nd world city would look like. Rich in history, but truly overwhelmed by populous. I learned that this was the case because during a 2007 population census the majority of the Istanbul population went back to their villages in order to insure a steady flow of funds for back home, so Istanbul officially has 9 million residents. However, it is estimated that over 20 million people live there. 

Turkey fun facts I learned: 
-Cats live like princes as they are scattered across the city
-The famous Trojan Warstook place in Western Turkey around the site where the Trojan horse rests today
-Julius Caesar proclaimed his celebrated words, "Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)" in Turkey when he defeated the Pontus, a formidable kingdom in the Black sea Region of Turkey
-Istanbul is the only city in the world built on two continents.
-The first church built by man (St.Peter's Church) is in Antioch (Antakrya), Turkey.
-The oldest known human settlement is in cataloholk, Turkey (7th Millenium B.C.)
-Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot near Ankara.
-Turks introduced coffee to Europe
-Turks believe when you pass through rainbow you get a woman
-There are over 60 million people in Turkey
-Last stop of the Oriental train "king of trains and train for kings"
-Oldest Known human settlement, dating back to the 7 millennium B.C.
-I learned more but forget to be honest

During my bus tour I met some wonderful europeans, hop off and walked around to see ALL of the mosques, ate 50 cent foot long doner kebabs, got lost an hour in the grand Bazaar, played with cats, drank turkish coffee and cay(tea), ate street food and ayran(spellings wrong but its this weird natural yogurt water drink) and what I thought was the coolest; participated in futbol riot- As I was doing a hop off on a certain section of the city I wandered into a tower to observe the city from the harbor and when I exited I walked out only to see 1000's of people screaming with swarms of police setting up infrastructure to control them. It was great, I joined in and started screaming what I thought they were screaming to I think what was the opposing team. We lit off flares and danced in the chilly winter weather while police pointed fire hoses and (not to hurt us) hit us with their shields and bats.

The next day I awoke to head of to Bursa to climb the Uludag mountains and see my Turkish friend, but unfortunately I missed my 7 am ferry and was stuck in Istanbul. Which was not a problem at all because I just got up and walked. Oh man did I get lost ending up on the complete other side of the city map, but it was genial. On the outskirts you can really see a lot more poverty as people have dug holes into ancient aqueducts, cisterns, relicts of a city 1000's of years old and nobody seemed to mind. After hours of wandering and few cups of tea later I headed back to my hostel exhausted only to meet a new roommate(one of twelve) who was from Spain. She was very nice and probably around 35-40 years old and she was what I believe the Spanish call a kinki although I still am not clear on what those are. For me she was a "big-ass hippy" and we talked for hours abotu puppets(shes a puppeteer, tritiriera(not sure how u spell it in spanish)) and even went out to go and smoke some hookah or naguileh. It was a great day capped off by a early night to wake up early to catch a flight to Bodrum.

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Paul Finnegan on

Hey Nick, you're cool! Love, Paul

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