Istanbul Pt. 2- Adventures in Navigation

After finally making it through passport control and out of the airport, we hailed a cab to take us to our apartment that was to be located near Istikal Street, which is one of the main tourist areas of the city.  It was almost midnight and we were exhausted! Naturally, the first thing I did was show the cab driver the address to which we needed to go.  The language barrier wasn’t making things any better but we were able to communicate enough with the driver to make sure he knew where he was going.  At first he said he knew the address, but we had a feeling that maybe we should still give him a major street for some general direction and peace of mind.  As soon as we said Istikal Street, he nodded and drove off.

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A view of the Bosphorus River

We zipped around and within 15 minutes it seemed as if we were at our destination.  The driver pulled over, let us out and we paid.  He then pointed over to the next street and said that Istikal Street was in that direction and that our apartment should be in that area.  Being a little hesitant, we grabbed our bags and headed that way.  Sure enough, the next street over was indeed the street we were looking for.  However, finding our apartment was going to prove more of a challenge.

It was midnight on a Wednesday and I was surprised how packed the streets were.  The energy was pulsating everywhere from the techno music blasting out of the nightclubs, to the street-side vendors, to the inebriated people stumbling around.  Its nothing that I haven’t experienced before, but it definitely has a different effect when you’re in a foreign environment.

The local who really wanted me to take his photo!

The local on Istikal St. who really wanted me to take his photo!

Before we went on the wild goose chase, we decided that it was time to eat.  We were both very hungry and one of the first things we saw that seemed like it was going to be an easy decision was McDonalds!  I know what you’re thinking. Why, of all places, would we go there after flying so far all the way from the states?!  Well to be quite honest, we knew that the food choices weren’t going to be a challenge and we were too exhausted to try and make those kinds of decisions at that moment.  And with that, we headed in, ordered our food, ate and then asked one of the young people at the counter if they knew where the address we needed to get to was.  Again, we were pointed in a general direction, so we headed off.

After walking about six or so blocks, we still didn’t run across the street we needed to be at.  We knew that we were going in the right direction because we basically started at one of the ends of Istikal St.  We decided to pop into another store that we saw along the way and ask a young woman.  I showed her the address, and she looked at it for a while.  She then called a co-worker over and showed her the address also.  After conversing in Turkish, they both said that it would be a few more blocks past a store (whose name I don’t remember), down the street and then to the right.  Well the store wasn’t just a few more blocks but we eventually found it.  However, we still didn’t see the street we were supposed to be at.  Our last attempt in asking for directions was going to be at the hotel we saw across the street.  Our hopes were up since most of the time hotel employees know the city you’re in well enough to give you directions.  But to our dismay, they could’t give us anymore information that the previous group of people had.  But we were determined!

With our energy levels rapidly decreasing, we kept going.  We went back out into the street and walked toward the store we were told about. We took a right and went down another two blocks before reaching what looked like one of the major roads that the taxi drove us on.  This kind of threw us for a loop and for some reason we felt like we had gone too far off the path. We decided to suck it up, turn on our cell phones and call the host of our apartment, hoping that the international roaming fees weren’t going to be too crazy.

Street vendor on Istikal St.

Street vendor on Istikal St.

Our host answered and immediately told us to hail a cab and that he would get on the phone with him to give the directions. So we did, and jumped in.  After a short conversation, the cab driver hung up and off we went!  It felt good to sit down after walking around for almost an hour and I started to finally relax a little.  The cab driver proceeded up the street and took a left at the next block, followed by a second left which brought us to the main street I mentioned earlier, but a block over from where he picked us up.  When the light turned green, he crossed the street, went down the block half way and stopped.  We both wondered why he was stopping so soon, and then it hit us.  We were at the apartment!  And yes, the cab driver literally picked us up three blocks away from our final destination.

After having a quick chuckle, we grabbed our things and headed up the four flights of stairs to the apartment.  We immediately dropped the bags in our rooms, got settled into the living room and took a big sigh of relief.  We were in Istanbul finally!  The next adventure was about to begin!  Until then, here’s a preview pic of the next Istanbul post.  Cheers!

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